Canada, USA set up 2017 Semi-Final repeat; France to face Serbia
RIGA / DAUGAVPILS (Latvia) -The Semi-Finals of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2021 will be two continental battles as FIBA Americas' two giants Canada and United States set up a repeat of the 2017 Semis while European powerhouses France and Serbia will face off for a spot in the Final.
Canada withstood a valiant fight with Spain to reach the Semis, where they hope to match their magic from four years ago in Cairo against the United States. The Americans had no problem in getting past first-time Quarter-Finalists Senegal.
France made their second straight Semi-Finals by prevailing in a great showdown in overtime with Lithuania. Serbia for their part struggled to put away Argentina but ended up getting the job done.
Canada 81-77 Spain
Summary: Canada survived a real battle with Spain but managed to get the victory and reach the Semi-Finals thanks to some tough defense in the fourth quarter. It was close throughout with seven points being the biggest advantage for either team and 17 lead changes.
Game Heroes: Canada used their big size advantage with Zach Edey collecting 24 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks while Caleb Houstan was his main sidekick with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals.
They Said: " We just stayed at it, we stayed aggressive. Going to Zach (Edey) early in the second half really spaced it out for the guards and wings. He was killing all game. That kind of opened it up and our offense was flowing more.” - Canada forward Caleb Houstan
France 84-79 OT Lithuania
Summary: France stepped up defensively when it was needed and were carried by Victor Wembanyama to beat Lithuania in overtime and reach the Semi-Finals for the second straight tournament. Wembanyama came up with two big blocks in the final 65 seconds of regulation to get France to the extra session, where they scored the first eight points to stay alive for their first U19 title after two third-placed finishes.
Game Heroes: While Matthew Strazel led France in scoring with 23 points, Wembanyama collected 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 8 blocks in an outstanding all-around effort.
They Said: "It was a real fight, it was a tough win over a great team. I think it was our mindset and our energy. That's why we won the game. We stayed focused. That's our team. We're built for that." -France guard Matthew Strazel
Serbia 89-83 Argentina
Summary: Serbia remained undefeated by putting together a strong second half showing against a never-say-die Argentina team. Serbia led by 18 points with 7 minutes left in the game and watched as Argentina pulled within six points, but it was too big of a hole for the South Americans to pull out another surprise.
Game Heroes: Nikola Jovic was outstanding all game, carrying Serbia with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks.
They Said: "Defense is a very important part of the game and we know if we want to win we have to play great defense. We raised our level of play today. The result shows that we did a great job. ” -Serbia guard Lazar Stefanovic
USA 88-58 Senegal
Summary: The United States advanced to the Semi-Finals with a comfortable victory over Senegal, laying the foundation with a 32-18 first quarter and never looking back.
Game Heroes: Jaden Ivey paced four Americans in double figures with 12 points while every USA player scored .
They Said: "Today we all shared the ball, we only had one goal and that was to win. We just came out here and competed and that’s what we have to do every game. Just compete and have fun. We are all blessed to be here. We just want to have fun and play together. Not everybody get this opportunity to play USA basketball." -United States guard Jaden Ivey
Iran 71-59 Mali
Summary: Iran stayed alive to register their best-ever showing at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup by beating Mali thanks to a late 8-2 run to put the game away. Parsa Fallah was the main man with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals for Iran, whose best previous result was 11th place in 2013.
They Said: "In the fourth quarter we controlled their big guys. We executed coach's defensive system well and we made more shots." -Iran guard Piter Girgoorian
Latvia 90-67 Korea
Summary: Latvia stayed alive to match their best-ever showing as they rolled past Korea. The host team led by 17 points at half time and never let the Asians back into the game. Kriss Helmanis poured in 30 points for the winners, who took ninth place in 1999.
They Said: "We followed a game plan very well all game long. We did a good job on Korea's top player (Yeo Jun Seok) and we made him make mistakes." - Latvia forward Kriss Helmanis
Australia 95-52 Puerto Rico
Summary: Australia gave up just 16 points in the second half as they grabbed a comfortable win over Puerto Rico. Reyne Smith paced five Australians in double figures with 19 points.
They Said: "It's always tough to play the classification games but the game plan was to represent your country the right way: play great ball, play hard and get the job done. I think we did that. We really put it to them in the second half." -Australia guard Dyson Daniels
Turkey 97-49 Japan
Summary: Turkey eased to a comfortable win over Japan as they gained control of the game in the second quarter. Adem Bona was Turkey's best weapon with 20 points and 4 rebounds as he played his best game of the tournament.
They Said: "We got strong as a team together after losing at the buzzer to Argentina. It’s good we came back like this against Japan. We had a great game and we played well together." - Turkey power forward Adem Bona