The United States are back on top. The Americans beat France (83-81) in the final of the U19 Basketball World Cup on Sunday. They thus offer themselves an 8th title.
The match started with a 4-4 tie in less than 2 minutes of play. The US will go ahead (12-6). We play the 4th minute in this first quarter. France sets up a zone defense and hinders the opposing trippers. The French come back to one point (17-16). The United States win this quarter with difficulty (21-19).
France displays serenity and aggressiveness in the 2nd quarter. It alternates individual and match up zone defence (1-2-2). The Bleuets equalize (21-21) before taking the lead (24-21). The two teams are equal (28-28).
The 17-year old Victor Wembanyama, who is a jack-of-all-trades in the French team, is enjoying himself in the paint and on jump shots. He allows his team to lead (37-33, 2mn50' to play). With 14 pts and 5 rebounds in 15 minutes, Victor Wembanyama allowed France to stay ahead (42-37) at the break.
The 3rd quarter is choppy with fouls on both sides. Even the coaches are part of it, including this technical foul inflicted on James Patrick Dixon II of the United States. France keeps its lead (46-43) with 7 minutes to go. Team USA stays in contact and equalizes (50-50) with 4 minutes left to play. But this was without counting on the selflessness of the Bleuets who widened the gap (58-50, 2mn50' to play). Two shots from Louis Lesmond and Rudy Demahis-Ballou allowed France to break away.
A crazy quarter. For neither team let go. The United States equalize (59-59) thanks to Kenneth Lofton Jr (4 pts), Patrick Baldwin Jr (3 pts) and Jaden Ivey (2 pts). Clément Frisch (3 pts) revives the French machine which is ahead (64-59) at the end of this act.
With 6 minutes to go, the United States regain the lead (71-68). It's the first time they lead since the end of the 1st quarter. France is a bit penalized by the 4 personal fouls of Victor Wembanyama (22 pts, 7 rbds). The 17 year old stayed on the bench for 3 minutes. The United States took advantage of this and went ahead (77-74, 2mn42). Wembanyama takes his 5th foul and bursts into tears. He is dejected and probably knows that the game is over.
The world champions manage their win (79-7 6, 2mn to play). Kenneth Lofton Jr gives the USA 2 more pts, before Michael Miles adds to the score (83-76, 1mn44' to play). The United States win (83-81) and get their 8th World Cup, including two consecutive ones (1979, 1983, 1991, 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019, 2021).
Kenneth Lofton Jr and Jaden Ivey each scored 16 points and were the tormentors of the Bleuets. 3rd in 2007 and 2019, France did better for this edition and finished in 2nd place.