The final of the The final of the FIBA U17 World Championships in Dubai has been decided and it will be a repeat of the trophy game from 2012. Tournament favourites the USA along with Australia will contest the final on Saturday, while Spain and Serbia will meet to decide the third and fourth places.
The two countries met in the final of the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championships and on that occasion the USA prevailed with a 95-62 success to lift its second consecutive title. The US will now look to make it a three peat and to remain as the only nation to win this competition since it was formed in 2010. As for Australia, they will no doubt look for a better performance in the championship game this time but will know that their opponents pose a different kind of threat than the other teams in the competition.
USA vs. Serbia, 89-68
The USA cruised into the final with another good display, but it was no crushing victory this time as Serbia mounted a challenge which highlighted the country’s quality in this tournament. Nevertheless, it is the US that progresses to its third FIBA U17 World Championships final, while the Serbians will head into a 3rd/4th decider against Spain. This year’s competition has certainly proved more fruitful than Serbia’s last entry in 2010 when the nation failed to leave the group stages.
The US were hot favourites and set about proving why in a high octane first quarter that saw the reigning champions send home 24 points. Serbia responded with 16 points, but after 10 minutes the difference in class was already evident as the USA held an eight point lead. However, Serbia has plenty of fight and tightened up in the second quarter in a bid to keep the deficit low. And it worked as the unfancied team managed to cut the lead to just three points at the midway stage of the game. However, the good work in the second frame was quickly undone as the US got mean in defence and held their opponents to just 12 points through the third quarter. With an 11 point lead heading into the last stanza, the favourites were in control and eased down the straight to take the victory and a berth in the final.
Malik Newman led the winners with 15 points, while Diamond Stone followed his strong quarter-finals performance with 12 points.
Stefan Peno and Vojislav Stojanovic were the highest scorers in the game with 18 apiece for Serbia.
Australia vs. Spain, 80-74 OT
Australia needed an extra frame to see off a resilient Spain, but will be buoyed by a comeback in regulation. Spain started much the stronger, winning the first quarter 21-11 to hold a healthy double digit lead at the first break. Australia looked more organized in the second period, but the Spanish stayed consistent to open an eleven point gap at halftime buzzer (43-32). The pressure was on the Aussies, but the players responded with a very good defensive display in the second half, holding Spain to 24 points while scoring 35 in return. The game was tied 67-67 after regulation, but in the overtime period the Australian team used its momentum from the second half to win the added stanza 13-7 and in the process booked a place in the final.
Isaac Humphries has been a standout performer for Australia throughout the competition, and in this encounter he picked up 22 points. Thomas Wilson added a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds in victory.
Jaume Sorolla replied with 15 points in the losing effort.