The quarter finals of the U17 World Championships took place tonight and decided which nations would progress to the final four. The action was exciting as Australia passed a tricky encounter against Puerto Rico, Serbia continued its run by downing Canada, Spain scraped past France, and the USA continued to dominate.
Australia vs. Puerto Rico, 76-52
Australia is still on course to repeat its performance in the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championships after gunning down Puerto Rico. The Aussies cruised into the semi-finals and the runners-up last time out will now meet Spain in the final four. The contest never seemed in doubt as Australia looked consistent at the scoreboard from the start, opening up a 41-26 lead in the first half. Puerto Rico improved in the third frame but could not find enough answers to the questions being posed in defence, allowing Australia to cap the game with a 19-8 run.
Dejan Vasiljevic collected a double-double in the winning effort, pouring in 21 points and claiming 13 boards. Isaac Humphries took his own double-double in victory, recording 16 points and 11 rebounds for Australia.
Canada vs. Serbia, 64-71
Serbia impressed in the last round by crushing the United Arab Emirates 31-116, but were made to work harder by a well drilled Canada in the quarters. Despite the tougher challenge, Serbia came through the game and heads to the semi-final of the competition for the first time with the daunting task of playing an on fire USA team. In this game the Serbians raced from the blocks in the first quarter and streamed in 27 points for a 27-16 lead after 10 minutes. Canada eased into the game during the second quarter and in the third put in a stunning defensive shift to restrict Serbia to just 5 points through the frame. With 10 minutes on the clock the Canadians led by three points (55-52), but Serbia found another gear to win the fourth with a 19-9 run to seal the game.
Vanja Marinkovic set the tone with 18 points for Serbia, while Stefan Peno finished a solid all round display with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Jamal Murray scored a game high 24 points for Canada while also adding 8 rebounds.
USA vs. China, 113-71
The United States looked imperious as they put another 100+ points on the board to sweep aside China and reach the semis, where they will meet Serbia. It is looking very much like the USA is the team to beat as it defends its crown and aims for a third successive triumph in the U17 World Championships. The defending champs never looked in trouble after carving out a 11 point lead after 10 minutes and a 26 point lead at the long break. In the second half the favourites unloaded 62 points on their Asian opponents to romp to victory.
Henry Ellenson paced the USA with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double performance, while Diamond Stone added 17 points and 8 rebounds.
Spain vs. France, 71-67
Spain made progress into the semi-final after downing European rival France in the closest game of the evening. The Spanish were made to work hard for success as the French paced to a lead in the first quarter, claiming the 10 minute spell 22-17. A 23 point flurry for Spain helped in the second quarter, as did restricting France to just 11. At halftime the Spanish had wrestled control of the game from the French and led 40-33. Despite Les Bleus staying on Spain’s coattails throughout the second half, the Iberian team had a little too much and managed to maintain an advantage throught the remainder of the game.
Sergi Garcia scored 20 points for the winning effort, while Eric Vila notched 15 points.
Stephane Gombauld took the spoils as best player, with the French power forward nailing 21 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. Gombauld was followed by Amine Noua with 19 points in the losing effort.