FIBA U19 World Championships
For almost 40 years, the FIBA U19 World Championship has provided the platform for an array of some of the sport’s biggest stars to showcase their talent on the international stage.
First staged in 1979 in Brazil, the USA collected three of the first four titles on offer, setting the early pace but having their run interrupted by a Yugoslavia side in 1987 which boasted the likes of Toni Kukoc and Vlade Divac, who would both become household names for their exploits at senior level and in the NBA.
Greece would take their first honours in 1995 behind MVP Efthymios Rentzias and it initiated a run of four different champions and also four maiden winners.
Spain were next in line four years later, with Pau Gasol on their roster – although it was ‘La Bomba’ Juan Carlos Navarro who fired them to glory in neighbouring Portugal.
To this day, the success of Australia in 2003 remains the only title to have been won by a nation from outside of the USA or Europe. But then they did have the free-scoring Andrew Bogut to call upon as he amassed a stellar 26.3 points per game.
Serbia then triumphed in 2007 – by beating a USA team in the Final that had 2015 NBA MVP Stephen Curry in its line-up.
Once the competition began to be played every two years beginning in 2009, it was to ignite USA who have since lifted three of the last four titles.
Lithuania were the last team outside of the USA to finish as champions, benefitting from an inspired tournament from Jonas Valanciunas who finished as top scorer and MVP in 2011 – backed by huge support with the tournament being held in neighbouring Latvia.
NBA duo Jahil Okafor and Aaron Gordon fuelled the USA back to the pinnacle of the podium in 2013, inflicting what proved to be successive Final defeats for Serbia.
The last edition, held in Greece in the summer of 2015, resulted in USA defending their crown, with Jalen Brunson honoured as MVP.
To qualify as one of the teams that will step out at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship, each nation will have had to cement their place via the respective FIBA Continental Championship competitions at U18 level in 2016.
Now entering its fourth decade after being inaugurated in 1985, the FIBA U19 Women’s World Championship has provided the perfect platform for some of the biggest stars in the women’s game to showcase their talent on the international stage.
The Soviet Union were crowned winners of the first two editions played respectively in the USA and Spain.
Australia took their first title in 1993 with a team that included Kristi Harrower who would go on to become a four-time Olympian and step out in three Olympic Finals with the Opals. At the third attempt, an African team also collected a first win for the continent as the Democratic Republic of Congo beat China.
The USA climbed onto the top step of the podium for the first time four years later as eventual WNBA legend Tamika Catchings propelled them to success.
They would have to wait to dominate after host nation Czech Republic sparked a major party in Brno by winning in 2001, led by another women’s basketball legend in the recently retired Eva Viteckova.
When the USA recaptured their prized silverware in 2005 by beating Serbia in the Final, it was to be the first of a dazzling six consecutive titles.
Their triumph in 2007 saw current senior team standout and WNBA star Maya Moore show her qualities, with Sweden causing a stir by making the Final.
University of Connecticut sensation Breanna Stewart arrived on the stage in 2011 in Puerto Montt, Chile and returned in Lithuania two years later to collect her second title.
At the last edition in Russia in the summer of 2015, it looked like the hosts might be ready to finally snap the USA’s incredible streak in the competition, behind center Maria Vadeeva who just the previous month had played for the senior team at EuroBasket Women 2015 at just 16 years of age. But, USA head coach Dawn Staley racked up another success for her country in a competition she stepped out in as a player, as MVP A’Ja Wilson shone brightly with a sparkling display.
To qualify as one of the teams who will step out at the 2017 FIBA U19 Women’s World Championship, each nation will have had to cement their place via the respective FIBA Continental Championship competitions at U18 level in 2016.