Five must-watch games for U17 World Cup
MIES (Switzerland) - The Group Phase of the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022 includes 24 games on July 2, 3 and 5. All of them have meaning with all four teams from each group advancing to the Round of 16. But which games have the best story lines? Here are five must-watch games and why.
This is not only the first game of the tournament but the first game in the U17 World Cup since United States beat France in the 2018 Final on July 9 in Argentina. The world has been longing for the competition to return after missing the 2020 edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And Australia will be out to show that their recent dominance in winning the FIBA U16 Asian Championship 2022 title can translate to Europe and other teams.
The first day of action in Spain has a real highlight in store as France take on Serbia in a battle of European powers. France are considered one of the top favorites of the tournament while Serbia enter the competition a bit weakened by absences but always deadly. The two teams also played a friendly on June 17 and France made a late run to pull away for a 69-55 victory.
The top matchup on Day 2 of the tournament will be in Group A where France take on Canada. This game very well could decide first place in the group depending how prepared Canada come, having only started their training camp for the tournament two weeks before the first game. The Canadians will definitely have some great athleticism plus likely some good size, and it will be fascinating to see how they match up with France - a team with loads of athletes as well.
The final game of Day 2 will have some extra emotions as Japan take on hosts Spain. Not only is it the surprise second-placed finishers from the FIBA U16 Asian Championship 2022 Japan facing one of the tournament favorites, but Japan are coached by Alejandro Martinez, who was the playcaller for Spain at the U17 World Cup in 2012 and 2016. Both times Spain reached the Semi-Finals but left the tournament empty-handed as fourth-placed finishers - in 2016 at home in Zaragoza. This around, Martinez will be hoping his native Spain lose on Day 2.
The final day of group play will see the two U17 World Cup debutants facing off in Group C. Should neither Slovenia nor Lebanon have registered a victory in the first two days, history will be made at the Palacio de los Deportes Elena Benitez in Marbella with one of them entering the U17 World Cup record books as a winner for the first time.