USA Men defeated France, 83-81, to secure the gold medal at the 2021 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Riga, Latvia, completing an undefeated tournament, 7-0.
The game was a tight one, with France leading by five at the break and maintaining its advantage until midway through the fourth quarter when USA’s Chet Holmgren finished high off the glass for a two-pointer that gave the Americans a 69-68 favorable scoreline. The bucket was part of an 11-0 run, and USA would not relinquish the lead.
“We were staying together, we didn’t want to let any adversity pull us apart,” Holmgren said after the contest. “We went through everything in the last three weeks to get here, and we all knew we weren’t leaving without the gold. It was just a matter of what we had to do to make that happen. In the fourth quarter, we made the adjustments and came out on top.”
Holmgren, an incoming freshman for Gonzaga and the No. 1 player in the Class of 2021 according to 247Sports, was named tournament MVP after the game. He had 10 points against France, his seventh-straight game scoring in double digits in the 2021 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, a testament to the role he played in the gold medal coming to USA.
Jaden Ivey (Purdue) and Kenny Lofton (Louisiana Tech) also had a big hand in the game’s outcome, both scoring 16 points each on combined 13-of22 shooting from the field, plus seven rebounds for Lofton.[stu alias="fivestar1"][/stu]
“There is so much pride, we put a lot of work into this,” Ivey said after the win. “We came together as a team and we conquered. I am just so thankful to be part of this team, and it’s just a great feeling to win some hardware and that we get to represent our country.”
Seventeen-year-old Victor Wembanyama was a serious thorn in the side of USA, leading France with 22 points, eight rebounds, and eight blocks, plus a perfect 9-of-9 mark from the free-throw line. But he fouled out of the contest with minutes to play in the game, which affected France’s ability to mount a final comeback.
It was a second-straight tight game for USA after the American held off Canada in the tournament’s semifinals on Saturday, 92-86. Lofton posted a team-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and hauled in seven boards versus the Canadians.
The win over France gave USA head coach Jamie Dixon (TCU) his second FIBA Men’s U19 Basketball World Cup gold medal. He also led the Americans to a gold and unblemished 9-0 record in the event’s 2009 rendition, which featured the likes of Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward, and Seth Curry.
“It’s going to take different guys, you’ve got seven games and a couple scrimmages,” Dixon said after the game of the challenges associated with bringing together a group for a short period. “It is such a battle, it’s such a grind, and people have no idea what you’re going through prior to. So just trying to keep them ready, keep them focused, and we kept continuing to talk about we rather than me, USA and those three letters, and it is really a challenge. To complete a team atmosphere, teamwork and being unselfish, it is hard to do in three weeks.”
This gold medal is the eighth in Team USA history at the FIBA Men’s U19 Basketball World Cup, which began in 1979, and fourth for the program since 2009.
Now for some other news from across the sport this week:
Nothing But News: July 6-12, 2021
USA Men’s Basketball began its exhibition season with a whimper, losing in shocking fashion to 30-point underdog Nigeria, 90-87, in Las Vegas.
Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson withdrew his name from the 2021 NBA Draft and will return to college.
The Lynx became the first team in WNBA history to win a game without attempting a single free throw, defeating the Las Vegas Aces, 77-67, on Friday without a trip to the charity stripe.
Jalen Lewis, the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2023 who had Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA as college suitors, signed a $1 million-plus contract with the new Overtime Elite league.
A group of athletes and student managers at Hartford have filed a federal lawsuit to try to block the university from dropping down to Division III from Division I.
Cameron Johnson put PJ Tucker on a poster in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, much to Tucker’s visible shock.
Former Xavier men’s basketball player Sherwin Anderson is using basketball to try to curb youth gun violence through his Sherwin Anderson Skills Academy.
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