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U17 World Championship: Finals Day

July 13th, 2010 · 1 Comment

The first ever U17 World Championship has ended on Sunday in Hamburg with the victory of the United States. The team from Coach Don Showalter was clearly the best squad in the whole tournament but was also the best US Youth Team I have ever seen, not only in terms of talent but also in terms of team play and attitude.

Final Day Games Report

I did not cover the game between China and Germany, so not much to say about it from my side.

Australia tried hard to get a last win in the tournament but it was Nenad Miljenovic who showed his class in the final minutes of the game with 3 consecutive plays that help Serbia to reach the fifth place. Miljenovic, who played an overall disappointing tournament in my eyes, saved his Serbian team from being beaten by Australia when he could have the ball in his hands. Being somehow misused in our eyes in his team throughout most of the games, it was tough for him to shine and make his team better. I will develop this more when I will break down the Serbian team.

The Bronze Medal game was a really close one that was decided with the last shot. The always looking like over-achieving Lithuanian team had the ball in their hands to bring the game to over-time after having lead nearly all over from the beginning but Mantas Mockevicius missed his two last attempts on moves that he normally makes. Canada won however a well deserved Bronze Medal and featured certainly the player with most upside and potential in the roster with the 15 year-old Andrew Wiggins.

The Gold Medal game between the USA and Poland was closer than the result showed as both teams gave a hard fight throughout three quarters. But the lack of a high-level PG on the Polish side and foul trouble of their big men prevented them for staying in the game until the end. However, the United States played certainly their best game in the tournament and were driven by an excellent team defense and the fact that all the players put the team effort first instead of wanting to show their individual skills. A totally deserved Gold Medal was the result for a US team that gave an example in the way to approach these kind of games and showed the necessary respect to any opposition by not making fun of them despite being totally dominant. Congratulations!

Quotes

After the Final, Europeanprospects.com spoke with the Polish Assistant Coach Grzegorz Zielinski about the Silver Medal that his team just won.

For us, it is the first time in history of Polish Basketball that we win a Medal and playing a Final against the USA was a very big dream for us. In the Final, the US team was better, their physical preparation is phenomenal but our team had a very good game yesterday against Lithuania in the semi-final so it was tough for us.

The Polish team really improved since last summer and the U16 European Championship. Coach Zielinski confirmed this.

Yes, in Poland there is very good work done all over the year in the different clubs. We had a good preparation and I think this is the team of the future for Polish Basketball. We showed our best Basketball when the games were close which is a very good thing. Additionally, we improved in the relation between the outside and the inside players so that both type of players were very dangerous offensively for the other teams.

All-Tournament Team member Mateusz Ponitka also gave us his impressions on this success.

Of course, we are very happy. It was our dream to win a Medal. We came here to get out of the regular phase and qualify for the Quarter-Finals and then maybe maybe go for something more. We made a very big progress from last year to this year and today we won the Silver Medal. All the players from last year’s U16 team worked very hard over this season and we wanted to win as many games as possible here and it happened.

Ponitka also confirmed that 5-6 players of the U17 team will go to Lithuania with the U18 National Team for the European Championship later this month. On his personal future, he was a bit more evasive.

Now, I am playing in Polonia 2011 in Warsaw. I have to stay there two more years, maybe one year, I am not sure about it. My goal is to become the best player that I can be.

US Coach Don Showalter told the following on the question which players impressed him the most in the tournament.

We were very impressed with players like Mateusz Ponitka. He has great upside and great potential. On our side, players like Bradley Beal or James McAdoo have the chance to be great players in the future. I hope our players got the idea out of this tournaments how important it is to prepare a game and not to take things lightly. They made a great job of making themselves a team and always when you have this situation and they get together, it is very special. So, in the last 25 days that we have spent together, a lot of the work was to make out of the players a team. Being on the road for so long will help them in their experience when they go to College.

All-Tournament Team

The All-Tournament team was not a big surprise with the following five players being named

  • PG: Kevin Pangos (Canada)
  • SG: Mateusz Ponitka (Poland)
  • SF: Bradley Beal (USA) MVP
  • PF: James McAdoo (USA)
  • C: Przemyslaw Karnowski (Poland)

College presence

The massive presence of US Colleges was a bit of a surprise for me as in general, similar events get only visited by a limited number of mostly mid-major or smaller Colleges. But the presence of the very big names in College Basketball including some important coaches like John Calipari from the University of Kentucky and Billy Donovan from the University of Florida showed how important this championship was. The presence of such a strong US team but also the level of players coming from other nations drew the necessary interest from the NCAA representatives in order to have a record number of Colleges represented for such an event. I just name those that I could identify over the three days I have been in Hamburg but there were certainly a lot more the days before or even from the quarter-finals on.

  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Washington
  • UMass
  • Mississippi State
  • San Diego
  • FAU
  • Stanford
  • Notre Dame
  • LSU
  • Illinois

General comments

Several articles in the German press gave some interesting facts on the tournament after it has ended. The Hamburger Abendblatt reported that the website of the tournament has generated 2.5 million Page Views which was a new record for any Youth Basketball Tournament organized by FIBA. Both the teams and participants spend more than 1.000.000 Euro in Hamburg which included already a hotel bill of 680.000 Euro that had to be paid by the German Basketball Federation. The total budget of the event has been around 950.000 Euro.

The German Basketball federation intends to organize the Eurobasket 2015 and Hamburg has shown interest to become one of the cities that will host several games. The chances to become a part of the candidature with the Sporthalle, which can seat about 5000 people, are very good in order to host eventually a preliminary round or some Qualification phase games. The gym that has been built in 1968 has seen a major upgrade during this World Championship as the city of Hamburg decided to buy the technical equipment (2 big screens, scoring table equipment, electronic advertising material,…) that has been provided by the German Basketball federation. However, the tropical and unusual heat in Hamburg made out of the Arena an oven-like place with temperatures of about 40 degrees Celsius as the gym was not air-conditioned. Let’s hope that if the Eurobasket 2015 will really be played in the Sporthalle that the temperatures will not be as elevated as this time.

In the next days, I will go over the different European Teams, speak about the best players from the other nations and also update the Generation Ranking of the 1993 born players.

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 carlo // Jul 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Xellent last Day coverage.
    USA played above the ring of competitors, hats off!
    Best surprise: Poland for sure, some of their players will have a bright future. They were unlucky to find in the final day the USA team playing their best game in the tournament (words of D. Showalter). But honor to Lithuania as well, without two key-players they almost won the bronze. And Canada showed big improvement towards last year U16 Fiba Americas.
    Most disappointing: Spain, what a difference with last year performance! Then Serbia, although they finished strong. Finally Germany, they started the tourney well building up great expectations but ended up exhausted.
    All-Tournament: the official list is for sure a confirmation of the best players, but let me mention forward Michael Gilchrist. He maybe lacked some continuity but look at his stats: 14.8ppg (USA 2nd. best) with 65.1%fg, 80%ft and 7.2rpg (again USA 2nd. best)!

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