United States retains U19 World Championship

United StatesThe United States claimed the gold medal at the U19 World Championships after defeating Croatia in the title contest. However, this was not the runaway victory many had predicted as Croatia showed plenty of fight to send the game to overtime. Eventually though Team USA had too much and edged to its sixth title, a record.

In winning the tournament the United States finished undefeated this year and also managed to defeat Croatia for the second time in this competition. The Europeans fell to the U.S. in the group stage and could not exact revenge here, despite building momentum as the competition moved on. The USA grabbed a massive 48 rebounds during the game, but Croatia kept pace by pulling 42 off the glass.

The teams went head to head in the first period trading baskets through the period until the USA found the bucket late to edge the frame 14-13. It remained close in the second and the Basketball was quality (as it would be throughout), but once again the United State had an extra gear and won the period 20-18 to lead 34-31 through the long break. A three point lead was hardly a forgone conclusion and after tying the third period 16 points apiece Croatia rallied in the fourth to win it 17-20, enough to tie the game 67-67 through regulation. The U.S. were on the rocks and the momentum with Croatia, but the defending champs showed character to control the overtime period and win the game.

Jalen Brunson topped the USA once again with 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists on his way to the MVP, while Harry Giles managed yet another double-double, this time logging 13 points and 16 rebounds.

Nik Slavica was the best scorer in the game with 23 points for Croatia. There were two double-double performances in the losing effort, Marko Arapovic with 16 points/12 boards and Ivica Zubic with 12 points/13 rebounds.

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