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U18 Americas Look back: United States win fifth straight U18 Americas title, get piece of revenge vs Canada
The FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 will be here before we all know it. To get ready, here a look back at the four qualifying tournaments.
HERAKLION (FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019/FIBA U18 Americas Championship) - United States clinched their fifth straight title at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship in 2018 and did so by getting at least a bit of revenge with the win over hosts Canada in the Final - and now look ahead to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019.
Cole Anthony’s 18 points paced seven Americans in double figures in a 113-74 drubbing of Canada for the USA’s ninth U18 continental crown in 11 editions. Canada took silver for the third straight edition while Argentina knocked off Puerto Rico in the Third Place Game as the two other teams to book their tickets to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019.
Argentina grabbed the final spot on the podium for their first medal since winning the 2008 U18 Americas title.
The Americans came into the tournament in Canada with a 20-game winning streak in the competition, dating back to their loss to Argentina in the Final of the 2008 U18 edition in Formosa, Argentina. Their only other defeat in the history of the event came against Venezuela in the Semi-Finals of the 2002 tournament in Venezuela.
Bill Self’s United States team also was on a mission with its trip north of the border in looking to right the wrong of the previous summer when Canada defeated the United States 99-87 in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 before winning the title in Cairo.
The tournament in Canada was set up so both teams could face off in the Final as United States were in Group A with Dominican Republic, Panama and Puerto Rico and Canada in Group B with Argentina, Chile and Ecuador - Panama playing for the first time since 1994 and Ecuador making their debut.
The Americans eased past the Dominicans 105-73 to start the tournament and followed that with a 118-26 destruction of Panama and a 115-71 blowout of Puerto Rico. Canada for their part defeated Argentina 92-75 before beating Ecuador 115-75 and Chile 97-60 to take Group B in undefeated fashion.
Andrew Nembhard played a major role in getting Canada to the U18 Americas Final with a perfect record.
Canada breezed past Panama 105-39 in the Quarter-Finals but then faced a tough test against Puerto Rico in the Semi-Finals, only pulling away in the fourth quarter and grabbing a 95-89 victory with Emanuel Miller collecting 31 points and 14 rebounds and Andrew Nembhard picking up 14 points and 17 assists.
That set up the much-anticipated Final with the United States, who had blasted Ecuador 132-55 in the Quarter-Finals and then got 51 points combined from Quentin Grimes and Alec White in a 104-92 Semi-Finals win over Argentina.
In preparing for the Final, United States head coach Bill Self showed his team the video of the Semi-Finals of the U19 World Cup the summer before when RJ Barrett and Canada snapped the States’ 23-game winning streak in the competition. Miller was the only Canadian player from the 2017 U19 team in the U18 Final though U19 MVP RJ Barrett was sitting courtside in the stands. But that didn’t matter to the Americans, who only saw the Maple Leaf and wanted revenge.
The United States led 29-20 after 10 minutes but then dominated the second quarter and went into the break up 61-33 and went on to the 113-74 victory. In addition to Anthony’s 18 points, tournament MVP Grimes collected 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Matthew Hurt and Jeremiah Robinson combined for 31 points on 14-of-17 shooting.
“It feels good,” Self said afterwards. “I think that we saved our best for last. I thought we played great the first half, and then kind of pieced together the second half … We caught Canada on a night where they probably weren’t as good as what they have been, obviously, but I do think our energy had something to do with that.”
“PROBABLY HUNGRY, LOTS OF REVENGE, AND JUST TRYING TO KILL US IN EVERY ASPECT OF THE GAME. AND THEY CAME OUT AND PRETTY MUCH DID THAT.”
AJ Lawson paced Canada with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Miller was held to 11 points and Nembhard had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting and 8 assists but also 7 of Canada’s 18 turnovers.
"Probably hungry, lots of revenge, and just trying to kill us in every aspect of the game. And they came out and pretty much did that," Nembhard told CBC.
But the number one goal had been accomplished by the Canadians of qualifying for their sixth straight U19 World Cup and 11th in 14 editions. The other two spots in the 2019 U19 World Cup went to Argentina and Puerto Rico. The Argentineans will be making their 13th appearance in 14 editions - though they were a late entry in 2017 as they finished fifth at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2016 and only were awarded a U19 spot when FIBA upheld its suspension of Brazil, who had taken third at the U18 Americas tournament. And Puerto Rico are returning to the U19 global stage for the second straight tournament and seventh in total.
Marco Giordano helped guide Argentina to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019.
Argentina got to the U19 World Cup by knocking off Dominican Republic 87-70 in the Quarter-Finals as Marco Giordano scored 35 points. Puerto Rico had a much bigger challenge in their Quarter-Finals against Chile, who had hoped to finally grab their first-ever U19 World Cup berth, especially after hosting the 2016 U18 Americas tournament and then losing to Argentina in the fifth place game, which initially ended up being the decider for FIBA Americas’ fourth team. Chile, who won the South American U17 Championship in 2017 for the first time, led by 12 points early in the second half but Puerto Rico came back and George Conditt’s dunk with 15 seconds left decided the game 68-65 for Puerto Rico. Alejandro Vasquez tallied 23 points while Conditt had 9 points, 6 rebounds, 6 blocks, 3 assists and 3 steals in the win. Chile were paced by Varela Arroyo with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
In the Third Place Game, Argentina came back from a 15-point deficit to win 87-79 with Francisco Caffaro collecting 21 points and 10 rebounds while Giordano had 21 points and 9 assists and Juan Ignacio Marcos added 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Jose Placer scored 22 points and Conditt added 20 points and 7 rebounds in the loss. It was Argentina’s first U18 Americas podium finish since winning the 2008 title following fourth placed finishes in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Puerto Rico now have two straight fourth-placed showings and last stood on the podium in 2002 when they were at the top.
The All-Star Five for the tournament had Grimes as MVP with his American teammates Anthony and White as well as Nembhard and Caffaro.