Team USA in on track to defend its title at the U19 World Championships in Heraklion after overcoming tournament hosts Greece in the semi-finals. The five time champs will now clash with Croatia in the showpiece game after the all-European clash with Turkey ended in favour of the Croats.
The USA had its biggest fright of the U19 World’s so far as a spirited Greece used home court advantage to stay tight to their more illustrious opponents. In the other final four game, Croatia has too much for Turkey and eased to a comfortable win.
Greece vs. USA, 82-76
Team USA has cruised through the competition in Heraklion so far, but with the crowd behind them the Greeks provided a stern challenge. Indeed, the Europeans ensured that the game went to the final quarter before the U.S pulled ahead for good. USA started the game well and looked to be on course for another runaway win when they edged the first quarter 17-12. However, the Greeks knuckled under the post and fought back in the second period to tie the frame 20-20 and make it 37-32 through halftime. Any thoughts of the U.S. blitzing the second half were forgotten in the third act as Greece won the stanza 20-21 to make it a four point game (53-57) through thirty minutes. USA drained 25 points in the fourth quarter, finding the extra inspiration when needed, surely the thing of champions? Croatia may have something to say about that on Sunday.
Jalen Brunson topped the scoreboard with 30 points for Team USA, while Harry Giles had another double-double when he registered 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Tyler Dorsey once again led the Greeks as he logged 23 points, followed by Vasileios Charalampopolous with 21 points in the losing effort.
Croatia vs. Turkey, 91-56
Croatia made easy work of a previously undefeated Turkey to make the final of the U9 World Championships. Since losing to the USA in game one the Croats have been building momentum and are entering the title game on a crest of a wave. Whehter the Europeans can ride that wave past a formidable USA is entirely another matter of course. Croatia started very well and managed to carve a 22-12 lead at the first splite before matching that haul with a 22-16 second act. With a 44-28 lead through halftime there was too much for Turkey to overcome and Croatia eased to victory with a huge 28-17 third quarter and a 19-11 closing frame.
Marko Arapovie led the win with an excellent 25 points and 15 rebounds, while Ivica Zubac poured in 20 points.
Egemen Guven was the only Turkish player in double figures with 13 points.