Behind a USA U16 women’s record 28 points from tournament MVP JuJu Watkins (Sierra Canyon High School/Los Angeles, Calif.), the USA Women’s U16 National Team (6-0) knocked off previously unbeaten Canada (5-1) 118-45 in the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal game on Sunday night in Leon, Mexico.
“Everybody has been levelheaded and confident,” said Watkins after winning gold. “We were confident in all the work we put in and all the hard hours and long nights in the gym. We just came in confident, poised and ready to take on Canada. Everyone here sacrificed a lot to be here, and we really had a lot of fun with it. Wearing those three letters across your chest means a lot more than just playing for the name on the back.”
Watkins, who scored 17 points in the first half, netted all six of her free throw attempts and nabbed six steals against Canada, averaged a tournament-best 20.0 points per game over the six games. Joining Watkins on the FIBA U16 Championship All-Star Five were the USA’s Jada Williams (La Jolla Country Day/San Diego, Calif.), who scored 10 points and dished out eight assists in the gold medal game, as well as Mexico’s Loriette Maciel, Brazil’s Taissa Nascimento Quieroz and Canada’s Cassandre Prosper.
“I’d like to congratulate Canada on a terrific tournament,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S., Calif.), who also led the 2013 USA U16 team to gold. “We were fortunate to be on the winning side of things. We probably caught them on an off night. But credit to our team and the way they executed our defensive game plan. It was a focal point to focus on Prosper as well as Delaney Gibb. They’re both terrific players.”
“JuJu plays like the No. 1 player in the country,” said Williams. “She is one of my favorite people of all time. She’s very special off the ball and on the ball. She’s a great teammate. It’s been a lot of fun to be her PG (point guard) and see her grow as a leader and as a teammate.
“Being on the All-Star Five, I wouldn’t be here without my teammates,” Williams added. “I wouldn’t have the assists or the buckets that I had without my teammates. I’m just very blessed.”
The USA Basketball women have now claimed the gold medal in six of the seven editions of the event (2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, 2019, 2021), as well as one bronze medal (2015), and close the 2021 tournament with an all-time record of 36-1 in FIBA Americas U16 Championship action. Additionally, the game marked the fifth time USA and Canada met in the U16 gold medal game, with the U.S. clinching the gold medal each time (2009, 2013, 2017, 2019 and 2021).
Host Mexico (3-3) won its first medal of any color in the history of the event with a 72-67 win over Argentina (2-4) in the bronze medal game.
Also scoring in double digits in the gold medal contest were Jaloni Cambridge (Ensworth H.S./Nashville, Tenn.), who scored 18 points; and Jadyn Donovan (Sidwell Friends School, D.C./Upper Marlboro, Md.) added 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Ahead 87-35 heading into the fourth period, Watkins checked back into the game with 21 points and had a put-back, a 3-pointer and a layup at the 6:15 mark, which pushed her to 28 points in 18 minutes of play and gave the USA a 100-37 lead. The previous USA U16 single-game scoring record was 26, held by Asia Durr, who set it in the 2013 gold medal game against Canada.
For more information on Team USA fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: