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THURSDAY SPORTS NEWS/University of Oregon guard from West Linn focuses on defense as part of second unit in U-19 World Cup at Cairo

University of Oregon guard Payton Pritchard has helped lead a second unit for the USA Basketball team that is 4-0 in the FIBA U-19 World Cup in Cairo.PRITCHARD

The U.S., coached by John Calipari of Kentucky, defeated Mali 117-69 on Wednesday in its first bracket-round game.

Team USA downed Italy, 98-65, in its final preliminary game, after victories of 108-48 over Iran and 109-68 against Angola.

The U.S. will meet Germany (3-1) in a quarterfinal on Friday.

Pritchard, who guided West Linn High to four state championships and will be a sophomore returning starter for coach Dana Altman's Ducks, is averaging 15.3 minutes per game in the Egypt tournament.

He has 6.8 points, 2.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game, and is shooting 45.8 percent from the field (11 of 24), 30.0 percent from 3-point range (3 of 10) and 100 percent on free throws (2 for 2).

But it's on defense where he and the second string have shined the most.

"If we 'D' up, I don't think anyone can beat us," he said.

"We just compete and give it a full effort," he added. "When I'm in there, that's all I'm really worried about."

Against Mali, "defensively our team was really picking it up, making it tough. We just had a lot of energy."

As for playing a reserve role, "I've got to control what I can control," he said. "I'm trying to be aggressive on offense, and on defense I'm trying to lock up, get deflections and be disruptive.

"I think we're headed in the right direction."

The U.S. would play Canada or France in the semifinals on Saturday, if it can defeat the Germans. Canada has an Oregon Ducks recruit, 6-6 forward Abu Kigab, who had 17 points and 16 rebounds in an 87-65 victory over Angola in the round of 16. Kigab is from Napa, California. He is averaging 15.0 points and 10.8 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game in the tournament for Canada (3-1).

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