The U19 World Championship 2013 takes place in Prague this year and we arrived in time for the Quarter Finals. All the game taking pace in the O2 Arena, let’s see who qualified for the semifinals.
Lithuania – China 89-58
After a balanced first quarter, Lithuania took the lead in the second period behind the three-point shooting of Justas Tamulis. Zhou Qi was unable to contribute in the first 20 minutes as the Chinese prospect only scored 1 point in the first half. Simas Raupys immediately added another three-pointer and helped Lithuania to bring their lead to nearly 20 points after just two minutes into the second half. China replied with triples of their own but under the impulse of Jokubas Gintvainis, Lithuania kept the gap above 15. Denis Krestinin did his job on both ends of the floor grabbing precious rebounds and scoring the garbage points so that the Baltics started the last quarter with a 26 point lead. Nothing happened anymore and Lithuania qualified for the semi-finals without any problem.
Spain – Australia 76-87
The Aussies had the better start into the game behind the speed of Dante Exum who scored 10 points in the first quarter. He got good support by Nicholas Duncan while Spain was driven by Guillermo Hernangomez and Edgar Vicedo in the beginning. Duncan added another three-point shot so that Spain had to take a timeout as the Aussies scored a nice fast break to get a 7 point lead. Anthony Fisher added his second shot from downtown but the Spaniards stayed in the game because of Oriol Pauli’s scoring. But Exum showed one of his superb speed bursts on the break to score with the foul and bring Australia up at 35-22 after 5 minutes in the second quarter. Josep Perez could cut the lead a little bit for Spain but Australia had the control of the game until the halftime.
Spain started pretty badly into the second period as Australia hit another long range shot and their coach got alled for a technical. Emmett Naar helped his team with several three-point shots and the guys around Exum controlled the game even without their top prospect doing a lot. Despite trailing by more than 20 points, Spain still tried to come back behind Hernangomez scoring in the paint but the Australian team effort looked too much for them. Exum added though some spectacular plays at the end of the third quarter to keep the difference above 20 points.
However, Australia lost their game flow and Spain cut the lead to 12 points on some good defensive plays by Alberto Diaz. But Exum turned the momentum around with a great charge, two free-throws on an offensive rebound and a tough score on the fast break. Diaz continued to play well in this second half and cut the deficit to only ten points on a very tough score with the foul on the fast break. Spain increased their defensive pressure and went to 70-63 but Exum answered with a huge NBA distance three-pointer. This one seemed to have cut the Spanish ambitions as Naar could bring the lead back in double digits three minutes before the end. Exum got a little rest to be ready for the last two minutes and Naar controlled the speed. The tough PG scored one free-throw on the nice drive but Sebastian Saiz answered. However Exum came up with another of his superb drives to give an easy basket to a teammate and seal the deal.
Croatia – Serbia 66-73
Croatia started with a nice Pick and Pop play by Dario Saric while Serbia found Mihajlo Andric twice in the corner for the open shot to get a first lead at 7-4. Nikola Jankovic defended on Saric and forced the Croatian star to play from outside going for a lot of difficult jump shots. On the other hand, Jankovic went for some nice scores on the drive or the Pick and Roll that forced Saric to defend. Andric continued to hit from outside and countered Saric’s scoring in the paint. Vasilije Micic found his big men nicely and gave his team a little break before the end of the first quarter at 24-17.
Nikola Jokic showed his touch and scored a nice three pointer from the top of the key and Micic added one of his own to bring the score to 29-17 two minutes into the second quarter. Saric tried to bring the ball to the rim now by posting up on the low block but he could not handle the Serbian double-teams. When left alone though, Saric found the basket and Mislav Brzoja hitting his second triple forced Serbia to ask for a timeout as the difference melted to only 7 points. Both teams struggled to find the basket but Croatia reduced the gap from the free-throw line a bit. But Micic scored a nice jump shot out of the drive, hence he airballed badly a three on the next possession. Tomislav Gabric has nicely improved over the year and brought Croatia back to –3 with back-to-back baskets so that the score at halftime was 38-35 in favor of the Serbs.
Andric and Micic scored three-pointers to start the second half and Serbia immediately controlled the game tempo again. Jovan Novak added his second shot from behind the arc and the lead went back to 12 points after only two minutes. Saric continued to play from outside but found his team mates better now to give them open shot possibilities. He added a triple on his own and Croatia stayed in the game at the middle of the third quarter. Gavric scored his fourth three-pointer followed by a jumper of Saric and the gap was only 4 points. Serbia had a little run on their side now but Saric knocked down two free-throws. However Andric had a very tough step back three on the Q3 buzzer.
Once again, Serbia had the better start into the final quarter but Saric did not give up and kept the difference below 10 points. Serbia asked for the timeout with 7 minutes on the clock when the Croatian forward added two more points from the line to bring the score to 62-55. Brzoja could have reduced the gap even more on the fast break but he was called for an offensive foul by the referee which was also his fifth. Serbia made the break to +11 on a Jankovic dunk but the power forward was called for a technical for hanging on the rim.
The game was on the line now and it was Martin Junakovic who brought the Croats back to –6 but Nikola Milutinov scored a big tip-in. Gavric was now missing his open shots and Saric was not really present as a leader who asks for the ball. Micic missed two free-throws but it was Novak who grabbed a very important offensive board to keep the lead up. But the game was not over as Saric added 3 more points with 30 seconds left in the game. Micic could not convert from the line once again but Jankovic grabbed the rebound and had to go to the line as well. He netted his two attempts and Saric missed the triple. Serbia could celebrate their semi-final spot.
Canada – USA 67-109
Canada started well into the game despite a massive rejection on their first shot attempt. But the American defensive pressure forced the Canadians to go for quick shots. On the other hand, Team USA attacked the rim where they drew several fouls and got some easy scores. The speed of Duane Notice helped Canada to break the American press defense but after only 5 minutes, the underdogs looked already exhausted and missed close ones. USA used their large rotation to keep up the pace while Canada was pushed by Xavier Rathan-Mayers who missed though several free-throws. After the first quarter, USA was up 30-22 but the game was far from beind decided.
The second quarter remained balance as the US sturggled to hit from outside on a regular basis against the Canadian zone. Rathan-Mayes was the first scoring option for Canada despite missing 8 free-throws in the whole first half. A late run before the half time gave the US then a comfortable lead with Michael Frazier making a couple of shots from outside while Mike Tobey did his job in the paint. At halftime, the US were up 53-38.
Canada lost more or less their team game to start the second half so that they missed multiple shots and gave Billy Dononvan’s team easy fast break opportunities. The lead grew to more than twenty points quickly in the third quarter and the game seemed done. The rest of the game was just some up-and-down running by both teams and an easy victory for the United States.