Thanks to FIBA
(7-11-21) RIGA / DAUGAVPILS (Latvia) – The United States needed all the star talent they had and it was still just barely enough to win the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2021 – withstanding a valiant effort by France for an 83-81 victory to repeat as champions.
After a tight battle all game, United States used an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to gain control and lock up their eighth U19 World Cup crown out of 15 editions. By reaching the Final, France had already achieved their best-ever result in this competition after taking third place in 2007 and 2019.
Chet Holmgren of the United States was named TISSOT MVP and headed the All-Star Five. He was joined there by USA teammate Kenneth Lofton, France’s Victor Wembanyama, Zach Edey of Canada and Serbia’s Nikola Jovic.
Turning point: France led 68-64 early in the fourth quarter when Chet Holmgren took over, drawing two fouls on French star center Victor Wembanyama to send him to the bench while scoring five straight points to start an 11-0 run for a 75-68 lead. France managed to cut the deficit back to two points with 28 seconds to play before Kenneth Lofton and Kennedy Chandler both grabbed offensive rebounds for the Americans in the closing seconds.
Game heroes: France were leading 68-64 early in the fourth quarter when Chet Holmgren took over, drawing two fouls on French star center Victor Wembanyama to send him to the bench. France managed to cut the deficit back to two points with 28 seconds to play before Kenneth Lofton and Kennedy Chandler both grabbed offensive rebounds for the Americans in the closing seconds.
Stats don’t lie: The Americans used their physical strength to dominate the boards 43-29 including grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. They also held the French to just 42.9% shooting.
USA forward Chet Holmgren
“It feels great. I don’t think I can say I have felt anything as big as this. I’m really happy for our whole team, the coaching staff and everybody that went through all the things we went through in the last couple of weeks.”
(About the Final): “Credit to France. They didn’t let us do what we wanted to do. They got up under us and really pressured us and didn’t let us run what we were trying to run for most of the game. But we adjusted well towards the end and luckily we were able to win. “
(About Victor Wembanyama of France): “I don’t really give too many people credit, but I give credit to this guy right here. I thought I was tall, I thought I had long arms, but he takes it to a whole other level. He moves great. He’s got a shot. He’s got skills too. He’s gonna be a rich man one day. I know he’s gonna keep working. Hopefully I’ll be able to see him in the NBA and continue to play against him for a long time.” –
USA head coach Jamie Dixon
“It’s exciting but it’s also exhausting. You’ve been together for 25 days. A lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifice from all of our players and the coaches. You start realizing that it’s a grind. But we had enough left in us down the stretch. I’m proud of the guy and how they did it. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
(About the Final): “We struggled offensively with their pressure. They were more physical than we were. I was amazed at how we got pushed around and their physicality and guarding the ball screens. We made some adjustments and got the ball inside a little more as the game went on. We got good players and we stayed together. We weren’t on offensively but France had a big part to do with that. Our defense got it done.”
(About Chet Holmgren): “His leadership was huge all the way through. He was a great teammate, has good understanding of the game. He is really a special kid. He’s unselfish. He loves passing and he plays defense. And he plays hard all the time. He practices hard and he plays hard. He’s good for a lot of reasons.”
(About France’s Victor Wembanyama): “He was an issue and a problem. It was probably the best game I saw him play. He was tremendous. He played hard. I was surprised with how together these teams were, especially France. They really had a good framework, a good team. They were unselfish, played hard and played together. And they responded.”
France forward Victor Wembanyama
“I think we gave everything we had. I respect the team and publicly, I say thank you to all my teammates. They have been great: playing with me and respecting my game and being friendly to me. We gave everything we had and they were all courageous. They can make a way out of impossible situations. I know I could have helped on the court if I didn’t foul out, but my teammates had been through many games before like Lithuania and Serbia and they were really great. I just regretting fouling. I know we would have won.”
(About what he learned from the tournament): “What I learned most from this tournament was leadership. Even though I was the youngest, I wasn’t considered the young guy by my teammates and I love that. Because they respect me and my game. And I tried to give back what they gave me and help them be better.”