29 June, 2019
07 July
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U18 Asian Look back: Australia claim title in first FIBA U18 Asian tournament

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 Asian Championship 2018) - Australia have made their way back to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup as they will play in the 2019 edition after winning the title in the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2018 - in their first appearance in the competition.

Australia missed the U19 World Cup in 2017 for the first time after losing to New Zealand in the FIBA U18 Oceania Championship 2016. That constellation will never come back again with the restructuring of the Oceania qualification with the top two teams from the U18 and U16 continental tournaments heading to Asia to then attempt to reach the U19 and U17 World Cups, respectively.

A bitter moment for Australia as they missed the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 with their loss to New Zealand in the FIBA U18 Oceania Championship 2016 Final.

Sam Frohling played two years younger than the rest of the U18 Australian team in 2016 and there was no way he would miss out on the U19 World Cup again. And the big man led Australia in efficiency at 21.7 per game while averaging 14.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.7 assists and shooting 65 percent from the field for the tournament.

Australia were never challenged in Nonthaburi, Thailand, winning their six games by an average of 44.7 points. They breezed through the group stage with a 75-point win over Thailand, a 65-point blowout of Bahrain and then racing past New Zealand by 49 points in Group C. In the Quarter-Finals, Frohling, Koby Stattmann and co. clubbered Japan by 36 points before beating Philippines by 34 points in the Semi-Finals.

New Zealand rolled through Bahrain (by 32 points) and Thailand (42 points) before their loss to Australia in group play. In the qualifiers to the Quarter-Finals, New Zealand were paced by James Moors’ 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 109-76 victory over India. Then in the final eight, Moors had 26 points and 14 rebounds in an 87-72 victory over Iran to book their spot in the Semi-Finals as well as their ticket back to the U19 World Cup for a second straight time - and third time overall. In the Semi-Finals, New Zealand knocked off China 87-82 thanks to 24 points from Maxwell Darling while Flynn Cameron had a triple-double with 19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

But in the Final, New Zealand could not overcome the dominance of Australia, who beat most of the same group of players 93-55 in the Final of the FIBA U17 Oceania Championship 2017. In Nonthaburi, Australia jumped out to a 15-point lead after 10 minutes. New Zealand fought back to within 6 points but then fell behind by 19 points in the third quarter. Australia watched New Zealand come back to just 5 points down but did not let them closer the rest of the game in a 73-63 win in the Final. Stattmann scored 17 points, Kyle Bowen had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Froling scored 12 points with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks for the champions. Darling scored 20 points for New Zealand, who also had Cameron collect 16 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.

The Third Place Game was between Philippines and China, both of whom reached the U19 World Cup - Philippines for the first time since the first edition in 1979 and China after missing out on 2017.

The two-headed monster in the low post - Kai Sotto and Ariel Edu

Philippines started their Group B campaign by downing Lebanon by 22 points and then United Arab Emirates by 49 points. The Filipinos then never trailed and led by as many as 18 points in a 73-63 victory over China with Sean Ildefonso scoring 18 points and both Ariel Edu (13 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Kai Sotto (11 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks) picking up double-doubles. In the Quarter-Finals, Philippines tallied just 6 points in the second quarter but roared back to a 15-point win over Bahrain with Sotto and Edu both picking up another double-double. The Philippines held close to Australia in the first quarter but then scored just 8 points in both the second and third quarters in a 77-43 loss in the Semi-Finals. But the minimum goal of the U19 World Cup had been achieved.

China for their part finished second in Group B as they beat United Arab Emirates by 91 points and Lebanon by 48 points before losing to Philippines. China rolled past Indonesia by 57 points in the qualification for the Quarter-Finals, where they then downed Asian rivals Korea 90-85, coming back from an 18-point third quarter deficit as Guo Haowen poured in 33 points and Wang Quanze collected a monster double-double of 20 points and 23 rebounds to neutralize Lee Hyun Jung’s 33 points - including 6 three-pointers, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. But China could not get by New Zealand in the Semi-Finals despite 25 points from Guo and 22 points and 8 rebounds from Wang.

In the Third Place Game, China jumped out to a 13-point lead after 10 minutes and extended it out to 23 points in the first half in a 76-57 blowout of Philippines to take the final spot on the podium. Wang was unstoppable with 27 points and 14 rebounds while Xu Jie scored 18 points for the Chinese. Sotto had 16 points and 8 rebounds and Edu had 14 points and 8 rebounds in the loss.

With China and Philippines returning to the U19 World Cup, that means Korea’s streak of four straight appearances on the global stage - and six of seven - comes to an end. Also, Japan failed to make it back-to-back showings after they had gone 18 years without an appearance when they played in Cairo in 2017.