United States faced a serious challenge but rose to the occasion to defeat hosts Spain 79-67 in the Final and take home the title at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022 for the country’s sixth straight gold medal.
Jeremy Fears paced the Americans with 17 points while Ron Holland scored 13 points, and Cooper Flagg added an outstanding all-around performance with 10 points, 17 rebounds, eight steals, and four blocks for an Efficiency rating of 30 for a USA team that took control of the game with a 22-4 run in the third quarter. Spain had already secured their best-ever result by reaching the Final for the first time and was led by Aday Mara and Hugo Gonzalez, who both had 16 points, and Izan Almansa added 9 points and 15 rebounds.
The victory improved United States’ all-time record in FIBA U17 World Cup history to 44-0, dating back to the inaugural 2010 edition. Sharman White’s team won their seven games in Malaga by an average of 39.6 points, but the Final against Spain was a tough fight – one in front of a packed arena filled with nearly 7,000 fans.
Despite finishing second in the event, Izan Almansa of Spain was named TISSOT MVP and headed the All-Star Five. He was joined by the USA duo Cooper Flagg and Koa Peat, Spanish teammate Lucas Langarita, and Ilane Fibleuil of France.
Turning point: Spain was leading 47-40 midway through the third quarter, withstanding each punch the Americans would dish out. But the floodgates opened as the hosts committed eight turnovers over a span of nearly 7 minutes, and the United States raced away with a 22-4 run to finish the third quarter ahead 62-51.
Game hero: Cooper Flagg – the American all-arounder flirted with a triple-double in the Final as he collected 10 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, eight steals, and four blocks. One of the youngest players in the Final, Cooper is considered by many scouts as the most promising prospect of the tournament. He averaged 9.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks in the tournament.
Stats don’t lie: Spain committed 25 turnovers, leading to 31 fast-break points for the Americans, who had picked up just nine fast-break points in the first half.