03 - 11
July 2021
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Argentina rally to shock Spain tops trio of Day 1 comebacks

RIGA / DAUGAVPILS (Latvia) - Comeback was the word of the day on Day 1 of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2021 as three teams rallied back from deficits of 14 points or more to win, including Argentina pulling off the shock of the day in beating Spain.

Argentina came back from 17 points down in their win while Puerto Rico trailed by 15 points late in the third quarter but battled past hosts Latvia and Canada wiped away a 14-point deficit to win a high-level showdown with Lithuania.

ARG Argentina 69-68 Spain ESP

Summary: Argentina fought back from 17 points down in the second quarter and eventually survived a back-and-forth battle with Spain in Group C. The Europeans' big lead vanished by midway through the third quarter and Juan Francisco Fernandez provided the game-winning free throw with 35 seconds left as Argentina beat Spain for the first time in the competition since 2009.

Game Heroes: Alejo Azpilicueta Pasqualini came up with a big three-pointer and blocked shot in the final minutes while scoring a game-high 15 points for Argentina.

They Said: "We can't give up in any game. We have to play the full 40 minutes. I think we did that in an excellent way and that's why we won.” -Argentina forward Juan Francisco Fernandez

PUR Puerto Rico 79-75 LAT Latvia

Summary: Puerto Rico brushed off a 15-point late third-quarter deficit and fought back to knock off hosts Latvia and open their Group C play with a big win. Latvia seemed in control of the game but Rafael Pinzon scored 14 of his team's final 20 points and the FIBA Americas side would not be stopped.

Game Heroes: Aaron Clark led the way with 24 points for Puerto Rico, but it was Pinzon who supplied the fourth quarter magic with 14 of his 17 points and he also added 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

They Said: "I was just trying to get everybody involved in the beginning of the game and to see the other team’s flaws. In the last part of the game, I was in my zone so I just kept scoring and we got the W." -Puerto Rico guard Rafael Pinzon  

CAN Canada 80-71 Lithuania LTU

Summary: Canada fought back from 14 points down late in the third quarter to defeat Lithuania for the first time in FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup history - following defeats in 2007, 2011 and 2013. Ryan Nembhard collected 12 of his 18 points in the final 3 minutes as Canada used their superior size and athleticism to wear down Lithuania. Azoulas Tubelis was dominant in the loss with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks for an efficiency of 42.

Game Heroes: Nembhard stepped up late with the big final stretch when his team needed it most. Also of note was Elijah Fisher's 11 points and 4 rebounds while picking up a +/- of 26.

They Said: "We just came into the game with positive energy and kept our heads up. It was a very big win in our first game. We had a great mindset. We said let’s bring it in and turn it up and have some fun." -Canada guard Elijah Fisher

USA USA 83-54 Turkey TUR

Summary: Reigning champions United States were never challenged as they rolled to a comfortable victory to start their campaign in Group D. The Americans led 29-9 after 10 minutes and never looked back, forcing 20 Turkish turnovers and limiting the Europeans to just 30.6% shooting from the field. 

Game Heroes: The United States out-scored Turkey 24-5 on points off turnovers and a big part of that was Jaden Ivey's defense as he had 4 steals to go with 21 points and 3 rebounds. Chet Holmgren meanwhile had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

They Said: "As a team we had a real solid outing. We came out of the gate with rhythm. We shot the ball well for the most part of the game. I think Jaden (Ivey) really stepped up his game and had a great game. I’m happy for him and happy for the rest of the guys who had a good game today and I see us putting it together even more." -USA forward Chet Holmgren

SEN Senegal 76-71 Japan JPN

Summary: Senegal won their first Group Phase game in competition history - after six losses combined in 2013 and 2019 - by defeating Japan in Group A. The Africans used their size advantage by winning the rebound battle 52-39 and outscoring the Japanese 42-14 in the paint and holding Japan to just 3 three-pointers in the second half.

Game Heroes: Ibou Dianko Badji, playing in this competition for the second time, collected 13 points, 8 rebounds and 7 blocks while also providing the team with emotional leadership.

They Said: "Coach told us before the game that we really need this victory in the group. (Two years ago) we were here and we lost the first game. It feels good to win.” -Senegal center Ibou Dianko Badji

SRB Serbia 88-67 Iran IRI

Summary: Serbia were challenged more than they expected but the Europeans managed to pull away in the fourth quarter for a comfortable Group B triumph. Iran were trailing by just seven points in the final frame when Serbian went on a 16-3 spurt to decide it.

Game Heroes: Filip Skobalj collected 17 points and 9 rebounds to pace Serbia while Nikola Djurisic added 14 points and 6 assists.

They Said: "For the first game, it was tough. We have five guys who have never played a (FIBA) championship before so the first half was tough. We managed them well in the first half, and then we turned to our game and played better in the second half." -Serbian forward Filip Skobalj 

AUS Australia 97-67 Mali MLI

Summary: Mali hung around for 20 minutes and then Australia blew the game open after the break by registering a convincing win to start their Group D campaign. The Emus put together a 21-4 early in the third quarter to establish a 20-point advantage and never were challenged the rest of the way.

Game Heroes: Jaylin Galloway scored all 11 of his points in the big 21-4 surge while Akdolah Gak paced four Australians in double figures with 15 points.

They Said: "We just came out with intensity. It started on the defensive side. We were aggressive and we were strong with the ball." -Australia center Akoldah Gak

FRA France 117-48 Korea KOR

Summary: France made short work of Korea and were never threatened in rolling to a Group C win. The Europeans led 43-27 at half-time and never let up, allowing just 21 points in the final 20 minutes.

Game Heroes: How do you pick out a hero among eight players who scored in double figures? Well, Jayson Tchiacamboud set the tone immediately with a dunk off the opening tip. He went on rack up a line of 12 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and a team-high 26 efficiency in under 20 minutes.

They Said: "The first game is always difficult. We missed a lot of shots (5-of-22 three-pointers) and a lot of free throws (10-of-21 foul shots) so we need to adjust that for the next games." -France guard Matthew Strazel