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U19 World Championship 2013: Medal day

July 7th, 2013 · No Comments

The last day of the U19 World Championship in Prague has brought the decision on who will be the successor of Lithuania who won this title 2 years ago. The United States were the big favorites so read here how the tournament ended in Prague.

In the first game of the day, China won easily against Croatia. It was not very interesting to follow as the main stars did barely enter the  court. So it came out to a game for the rotation players on both sides. China was bombing from outside effectively to get a 30 points lead but the Croats had a run in the last ten minutes to make the end result less awful.

Spain – Canada 72-68

The game between Spain and Canada was the total opposite of the previous one as both teams competed hard. Spain had the better start behind the gutsy play of Alberto Diaz and the inside presence of Guillermo Hernangomez and Sebastian Saiz. For Canada, Trey Lyles made a comeback and gave his team a lot more options on offense. However, Spain could create a 13 point lead until halftime because of their variability on offense and good defense on Tyler Ennis who was calmed down to only 4 points.

The third quarter was the period of Saiz as he continued to do work in the paint with his offensive rebounding and defending Lyles effectively. Canada stayed somewhere around –10 because of the scoring of Xavier Rathan-Mayes while Spain insisted to give the ball to their big guys. Canada raised its defensive intensity in the beginning of the last quarter and could reduce the gap to 5 points as Lyles imposed his physique. The game was on the line but Canada could not really below the 5 points until Lyles scored the dunk with the foul 70 seconds before the end. Spain could not score on their side while Lyles looked for the one-on-one with Hernangomez where he traveled though. Spain missed their free-throws but Canada could not find the basket from the three-point line to tie the score. Edgar Vicedo netted twice from the charity stripe after the defensive rebound to give his team a decisive 5 point lead.

Australia – Lithuania 100-106

Lithuania started the game by looking for their inside players Denis Krestinin and Martinas Geben who were both not major options until then. Australia built on the speed of Dante Exum to beat the defense while Dane Pineau found back his touch near the basket after his poor semi-final. Justas Tamulis scored two triples to make a first little break in the game but Exum combined with the 96 born Jonah Bolden to bring his team back before the end of the first quarter.

The Europeans started well into the second quarter with two nice steals followed by easy points in the fast break so that Australia needed a timeout as the gap had grown to 9 points. This did not help though as Lithuania increased their advantage to 15 points as their shots were falling while Australia was missing multiple free-throws. Exum was controlled by Lukas Lekavicius and Tomas Dimsa but a quick run finished by a three point shot of Felix Kalau von Hofe forced the Lithuanian coaches to call a time out on their side as Australia was back at –8. Both teams traded some baskets so that the Baltics were still up 8 at halftime.

Australia dominated the defensive boards with Pineau and Nicholas Duncan to start the second half and they could find some scores underneath with the long Pineau on several occasions. This helped them to tie the score after only 3 minutes. Both teams raced up and down the court and the spectators appreciated the great intensity on the court. Exum came up with another of his trademark crossover drives to the basket to give the Aussies a 6 point lead. Lithuania looked shocked as they could not find the way to the basket while the young Emus knocked down shots. It was the tiny Lekavicius who broke the ice with the corner three but Exum answered with the triple in transition. Lithuania could reduce the deficit a little before the last break despite some more highlights by Exum.

The start of the fourth quarter was marked by several three point shots on both sides that kept the difference stable. Australia played a zone defense at that moment that gave Marius Grigonis good opportunities from outside. When the Lithuanian guard hit his second three-pointer of the game, Damian Cotter had to ask a timeout to reorganize his team. Tomas Dimsa scored another triple with the foul and Lithuania had the lead back 5 minutes before the end. But Kalau van Hofe scored the jumper and turned the game around again. It was an open fight at the highest level with two teams competing really hard to win the Bronze medal. Lekavicius added two tough baskets going baseline and a garbage bucket to take back the lead. Exum scored the  superb drive with the hesitation step but Lekavicius found the way again to finish on a layup. The teams went to the line on nearly every set now but nobody could use this to create a bigger lead. After Dimsa scored two from the line, the Aussies were unable to inbound the ball so that Dimsa came back to the FT spot but missed twice. Exum airballed a three and Kalau von Hofe grabbed the lost ball to score the layup. Exum tried to beat his man on the dribble but fell down recuperating the ball miraculously to get fouled and walk to the line. He made the first but missed the second. This became more drama as Duncan was called for the foul on the rebound situation so that Simas Raupys got two shots of which he scored only the second. 7 seconds remained on the clock and Australia took the timeout at a tied score. Exum got the ball but could not really beat his defender and tried to pass which was intercepted. Overtime.

Lithuania started better into overtime as Jokubas Gintavinis knocked down a big three while Raupys was present in the paint. Exum had another airball out of the dribble from behind the 6m75 line while Dimsa scored from even further to create a 6 point advantage for his team. Dimsa added another score on the drive beating Exum on defense and Lithuania was up 7 with 108 seconds left in the game. The free-throw trauma continued for Exum who was unable to score two in a row an helped the Europeans to stay ahead comfortably and win the Bronze Medal.

Serbia – USA 68-82

Serbia started really well as Nikola Jankovic found the way to the basket twice while on defense, they could slow down the athleticism with their physical presence. Rasheed Sulaimon reduced the gap with 5 points in a row and the game was tied at 9. The US used some turnovers by the Serbian guards to score on the break and find Jahlil Okafor in the post to create their first lead but Mihajlo Andric answered with three free-throws. Billy Donovan was not happy with the referees on the foul calls while Vasilije Micic added an ave-maria three pointer on the 24s buzzer that was followed by a quick answer coming from Nigel Williams-Goss. Montrezl Harrel rejected Stefan Pot twice in a row to score on the break with the foul to get a 5 point lead with a minute to go in Q1. Except a volleyball goal-tend by Harrel, not much happened until the first break.

Jankovic found the basket on his left handed hook to start the second quarter but Serbia was called a technical for flopping. Micic found Novak for his third three pointer but another turnover against the press gave an easy basket to the United States. Nikola Milutinov scored a nice left handed hook out of the low post play to keep Serbia at –3. The entrance of Mike Tobey gave the Americans a good push on the offensive glass as the big man grabbed two boards in a row. Okafor added a basket on Milutinov and the favorites were up 7. Nikola Jokic made some damage in the American paint with his low post and running game so that Serbia came back to –3 with Micic on the bench. The top prospect came back and found Jokic twice for 5 more points and the difference was only 2 point at the half.

Novak continued his three-point show to start the second half while Williams-Goss underlined why he was the player with the most minutes on the US team in the tournament. Micic got another rest but it was Jokic who took care of the scoring. On the other side, Harrel dunked another one home with his huge power. The game was on an incredible level at that moment with multiple high-level plays, especially on defense. Andric scored the long distance shot to reduce the difference to 1 point but Williams-Goss answered from the corner. Sulaimon finished the fast break on the nice dunk and the gap was 6 points again. Williams-Goss came up with another great play after Novak had a good sequence for Serbia and we went to the last break at the score of 57-51 in favor of the United States.

Novak started with one of his typical head fakes to beat Marcus Smart on the dribble when on the other side Serbia got called for an unsportsmanlike foul on a drive of the American guard. This was quite a shock for the Europeans as they missed their offenses and gave the US the possibility to go up by 11 on three great plays by Aaron Gordon. Serbia started to struggle physically in the defensive rebound and gave the US several second chances that they converted to perfection with impressive dunks to go up by 16 points. This was the definitive break as the US managed the gap now quite well and the Serbians were unable to come back under 10. In the end, the United States were the desserved winners but Serbia had an impressive first three quarters.

All-Tournament Team

  • Vasilije Micic (Serbia)
  • Dante Exum (Australia)
  • Dario Saric (Croatia)
  • Aaron Gordon (USA) – MVP
  • Jahlil Okafor (USA)

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