U17 World Cup Power Rankings Volume 2
MALAGA (Spain) - The FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022 is taking its final rest day and the globe is catching its breath to see if United States can finish off a sixth straight undefeated run to the title. Or can someone else grab the glory? After every team has played four games, let's revisit the Power Rankings and give you a Volume 2.
16 - Lebanon
Previous ranking - 16
Sorry Lebanon fans, but nothing really has changed … it would be a surprise if the Asian team can grab a victory in Spain. Karl Chris Zamatta and co. have performed admirably but the U17 World Cup is a level too high for them. But what an experience to face teams like United States, Australia and now Canada in 9-16 Classification.
15 - Japan
Previous ranking - 10
Japan’s solid showing in FIBA U16 Asia Championship 2022 - where they finished second - didn't translate well to the U17 World Cup, where Alejandro Martinez's team has been overmatched quite badly. They did give Lithuania a fight - losing by just 10 - but Japan were one teams the Power Rankings Volume 1 most incorrectly read.
14 - Egypt
Previous ranking - 15
Egypt didn't do a bad job in the opening game - falling to Argentina by just nine points - but their inability to score really stood out. The African champs may be able to leave Spain with one victory to get them in the 13th place game.
13 -New Zealand
Previous ranking - 12
New Zealand looked to destined to drop a bit more in the Power Rankings after losses by 48, 48 and 69 points in a tough Group Phase, but then the Oceania side gave a spirited challenge to Lithuania in the Round of 16 to lose by only 13 points. Nic Book and Julius Halaifonua have been as advertised while Will Shortt has wowed fans with some amazing dunks. But they weren't enough to get wins.
Previous ranking - 9
Argentina opened the competition on a high with a victory over Egypt - albeit not a convincing one. And the South Americans' struggles to score - especially inside - came to the forefront, and teams could guard tougher on the perimeter and Argentina could not put the ball in the basket enough.
11 - Dominican Republic
Previous ranking - 13
Dominican Republic felt good about themselves to start the tournament with a 12-point victory over Japan. But the team's deficits were exposed by three straight strong European opponents - Lithuania, Spain and Serbia. Still Rodrigo Aybar has proven to be one of the best scorers in the tournament with games of 28 and 30 points. And that scoring punch should help the Dominicans finish strong in the classification.
Previous ranking 13
Mali definitely won more fans around the world from their showing thus far in Malaga. In the opener against Slovenia, they couldn't slow down Jan Vide, who had 31 points in a 65-56 win for the Europeans. But Mali blasted Lebanon and then gave United States a good fight for 15 minutes. In the Knockout Phase opener, Mali were still close with Poland after 33 minutes but couldn't score down the stretch. Malick Diallo and Ladji Coulibaly have been downright fantastic as both are averaging solid double-doubles.
9 - Canada
Previous ranking - 5
Canada were probably the shakiest prediction in Volume 1 because it really wasn't clear how they would even arrive in Malaga, releasing next to no information about the team in the build-up. The North Americans raced by New Zealand by 48 points in the opener but the first quarter or so wasn't convincing. And the Canadians showed they could not match the organization of the Europeans - losing by 32 points to France, 19 points against Serbia and 24 points versus Spain to secure their worst-ever showing in U17 World Cup history. The team has talent and now it's about saving face and finishing the best possible spot.
Previous ranking - 7
Slovenian fans might look at this and say we have won three of four games and we drop a spot, but it's more the other teams being a bit more convincing thus far. Still, being in the top eight in the world in their debut in the U17 World Cup is a massive accomplishment. Slovenia beat opponents from Africa (Mali), Asia (Lebanon) and South America (Argentina) and gave United States a good battle for 15 minutes. Jan Vide has shown his tremendous leadership but Slovenia's run of winning might just come to a screeching halt.
7 - Poland
Previous ranking - 8
Poland gave Australia all they could handle for about 33 minutes or so before dropping the opener and then Szymon Nowicki and co. showed why European basketball is just stronger - beating Argentina, Egypt and Mali. The Polish exhibited a strong will in pulling away from the Africans in the Round of 16 to win convincingly by 18 points. A Quarter-Finals match-up against Lithuania is definitely doable - especially considering Poland beat the Baltic side twice in preparations for the tournament.
6 - Lithuania
Previous ranking - 11
Lithuanian fans already looked at No. 11 in Volume 1 and weren't thrilled and now they might not be happy with sixth place in the new Power Rankings. But they really haven't been convincing other than the win over Spain. As if a win over Spain is not enough … and then a 48-point win over Dominican Republic. But then came two struggles against Japan and New Zealand. Petras Padegimas, Justas Stonkus and Aleksas Bieliauskas have given Lithuania a good big three but they will face a major battle in the Quarter-Finals against Poland - a team they lost twice to in the preparations.
5 - Australia
Previous ranking - 4
Australian fans might look at this say: Wait, we go undefeated and drop a spot? Well, the Crocs really only beat one solid team, and even that they couldn't pull away from Poland in the opening game until the final 7 minutes or so. Then came wins over Egypt, Argentina and Lebanon. Sure they were victories by 45, 36 and 50 points, but they were three non-European sides. Australia face a massive test in the Quarter-Finals against hosts Spain even though both teams know it will be nothing like the friendly test shortly before the tournament start - when Spain won 82-54. Rocco Zikarsky looks like a future superstar in the paint while Joshua Dent is superb all-around, but Australia will need big games from a couple other players to knock off Spain.
4 - Serbia
Previous ranking - 6
Serbia is the first team where purely the actual strength over other teams was really taken into account in the Power Rankings, meaning in theory either Poland or Lithuania should be here because one of those teams will finish in the top four since they are playing in the Quarter-Finals. And Serbia are facing the United States in the Quarter-Finals and are underdogs to actually get the upset and hand the Americans their first loss in U17 World Cup history. But Serbia are a stronger team than both Lithuania and Poland and that is why they are being placed here. Filip Jovic has been outstanding as has Bogoljub Markovic and Ognjen Stankovic. Add Viktor Mikic and Mitar Bosnjakovic and head coach Dragoljub Avramovic is the clear favorite to finish fifth if they lose to United States in the Quarter-Finals.
3 - France
Previous ranking - 3
Wait what? Spain lose to Lithuania and France roll to four victories by an average of 44.8 points and the Spanish are still ahead of the French? Please French fans, before you call out for a revolution against the Power Rankings, here the arguments. Sure the win over Serbia was impressive - especially after falling behind big to start the tournament - but then came wins over a poor version of Canada and Asian sides New Zealand and Japan. And here the bigger reason for the hesitation to have France leapfrog Spain - head coach Bernd Faure might be missing two pretty important pieces as Pacome Dadiet (wrist) and Noah Penda (ankle) both got injured and their status for the rest of the tournament is unclear. Sure, a major strength of this France team is its depth and Illan Pietrus, Alexandre Sarr, Killian Malwaya and Ilane Fibleuil have been great. But there are just those question marks.
2 - Spain
Previous ranking - 2
The collective frustration and anticipation from French fans as to what words are coming now can definitely be felt. So, let's go. The loss to Lithuania really did't move the needle at all. Ask any U17 World Cup observer who are the top three teams and almost all of them would still emphatically have Spain in there - without any doubt that Spain are worthy of being included in there, even though they lost (is this wrong French fans?) So, taking that into account - and also the fact that a loss to Lithuania and second place in the group actually put Spain on the other half of the bracket as to avoid United States until the Final at the earliest - let’s just show why Spain are stronger - this is the Power Rankings after all. If France didn't have those two injuries, maybe they would have been at No. 2. But Spain still have the best point guard in the tournament in Sergio De Larrea - I know France fans, Illan Pietrus has been very impressive - and Izan Almansa has been a beast around the basket. Aday Mara is showing why he's a great center prospect and the grouping of Hugo Gonzalez, Lucas Mari, Conrad Martinez, Alvaro Folgueiras and Lucas Langarita have been rock solid and give the hosts some strong depth. Speaking of hosts ... add the home crowd and Spain get the No. 2 spot - sorry France fans. That explanation certainly wasn't enough for you. We won't have to wait long to see what happens.
1 - USA
Previous ranking - 1
No reason to really change anything at No. 1 - France fans, let's leave this one for now. Sure, the United States struggled for about 15 minutes against both Slovenia and Mali, but they also finished with wins by 33 and 48 points in those games, respectively. Ian Jackson and Ron Holland are ultra-dynamic and Cooper Flagg's worldwide fan club is growing by the hour. Don't forget Sean Stewart, Boogie Fland, Jeremy Fears, David Castillo and the rest of the team, actually. Sharman White's men are also starting to play better and better together - both on offense and defense - and even Spain and France - or even Serbia - will face a massive uphill battle to become the first team to hand United States their first loss.
*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.