The ninth FIBA U19 World Championship closed out on Sunday with Team USA taking the big prize in the biannual contest. Greece can take pride in giving the Americans an excellent run for top spot on the podium, mounting a nice second-half comeback that fell short in an 88-80 loss.
After the first quarter, it was an even 19-19 and Leonidas Kaselakis had poured in seven points. The second quarter sealed the Greek fate early, however, as Team USA pummeled Greece in that frame, 27-11.
It was all Greece could do to make it close after that, but close they made it, winning the third quarter 21-14, but to no avail. For the Greeks, top performers included Kaselakis (15 points, 6 rebounds); Kostas Sloukas (17 points, 4 assists, 4 steals); Kostas Papanikolaou (12 points, 5 rebounds); and Nikolaos Pappas (16 points).
Said Team Greece captain Nikolaos Pappas: “[The tournament] was a success, but we wanted to be first! But we are very happy, second in the world is a success…”
In the bronze medal game, Team Croatia saw a bit of what their comeback looked like against the USA in Saturday night’s “instant classic.” After maintaining a single-digit lead throughout the game, the Croatians fell into a tie with about 70 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, though, Croatia had too much Mario Delas on their side. Fitting it was that Delas, on the way to tournament MVP honors, would hit two free throws at 1:11 to give Team Croatia the lead for good: Those points were two more of Delas’ amazing 24 scored in the second half against Australia. Delas added five rebounds to his 12-for-15 field goal shooting, while Toni Prostran (21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) and Tomislav Zubcic (16 points, 6 rebounds) were also outstanding.
Finally, Team France concluded a 3-6 showing in the tournament by losing Sunday’s seventh-place game to Canada, 82-74. Nicolas Lang put in 19 points for France, including a nice 5-for-10 from three-point range. Christophe Leonard totaled a 15/8/4, and Alexis Tanghe contributed 16 points.