2007 Under-19 World Championships: Preliminary Round
By Marian Reibert
Novi Sad, Serbia
Preliminary Round FIBA World Championships Under 19
The Under-19 Fiba World Championships are taking place in Novi Sad, Serbia from July 12-22nd. The event used to take place every four years, but has now been changed to happen every 2 years. Here is a look at the first four days of action. With talented prospects such as Michael Beasley, Nicolas Batum, and DeAndre Jordan on hand, there are sure to be a number of lottery picks from the competition. Look for a follow up report on the subsequent rounds, plus a report on all of the top NBA prospects from the event.
Official U19 World Championships Site
Group A: France (3-0), Brazil (2-1), Lithuania (1-2) and Lebanon (0-3)
[img_assist|nid=3760|title=Alexis Ajinca - Photo: Fiba.com|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=374]France won the Group A through a hard fought, close and somewhat lucky victory against Lithuania, a win against Brazil that needed a second half spurt to finally put the Brazilian team away and a blow out against Lebanon that was never in doubt at any time. France received an outstanding performance from SG Edwin Jackson who was in the zone in the first two games almost carrying France to victory on his own with clutch buckets and big plays whenever they were needed. Super talent Nicolas Batum started slowly against Lithuania, then recovered and began to show his versatility against Brazil and then settled for a so so showing in limited playing time against Lebanon.
Brazil somehow surprisingly captured the second place in the group. They started with an easy one against Lebanon that was never close and saw a 17 pts. 18 reb. performance by PF/C Paulao Prestes. In the second game Brazil gave France fits for a half but eventually France's frontcourt depth was too much to overcome for Brazil which lives and dies off Paulao's inside prowess. He again had 17 and 11 but somehow had problems with Ajinca's length and shotblocking and Moermann's size. In the important game against a favored Lithuanian bunch, Paulao was not to be contained and exploded on the Lithuanian frontcourt for 26 pts. and 19 boards. That was too much for Lithuania who couldn't get their three pointers to fall against the quick Brazilian backcourt, who hounded them all over the court.
It has to be an surprise to have Lithuania finish the Group as only third, but they had France on their heels but couldn't get past them tying the game three times late in the fourth but couldn't grab the lead, turning the ball over too often in clutch situations. After the easy win over Lebanon they lost to a scrappy Brazilian Team that heavily depended on Prestes who killed Lithuania on the boards inside. You have to expect more from experienced players like Gecevicius and Janavicius against scrappy yet less skilled players like Brazil has.
Lebanon is just not worth wasting a word on. They don't belong here.
Group B: USA (3-0) Serbia (2-1) China (1-2), and Mali (0-3)
[img_assist|nid=3761|title=Team USA Coach Jerry Wainwright - Photo: Fiba.com|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=301|height=350]USA won the Group by totally destroying Mali and China and then squeaking out a narrow win against host Serbia. Against Mali, Michael Beasley wreaked havok inside for 21 pts. Everyone on Team USA got playing time showing they were heads and shoulders above Mali. Against China, USA ruled the boards and forced China into 28 turnovers. Again it was Beasley who had 21 but three others scored double digits and except for one player they all saw playing time. Against Serbia USA saw a big lead vanish in the last quarter behind a hostile crowd Serbia came back and tied the game only to loose it then again behind some big shots from Curry. Beasley was in foul trouble all night and couldn't manage to stay on the floor. Other members of Team USA include: Patrick Beverly, Matt Bouldin, Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn, Donte Greene, Damian Hollis, DeAndre Jordan, David Lighty, Raymar Morgan, Tajuan Porter, Deon Thompson.
Serbia edged out China in the opener behind good shooting from Jeremic and inside prowess from Miroslav Radujica and 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic who forced China's Center Su out on fouls and cruised in a cakewalk thereafter. Mali was no match in the second game with Radujica going for 14 pts. and 19 rebs. standing out in a total team effort. Against USA, Serbia rallied late to tie the game on excellent three point shooting but then had to give way to timely shooting by the USA backcourt. Radujica and Macvan had the advantage over the US frontcourt in this one because they could navigate the officiating better.
China was outplayed by Serbia, not being able to adjust to the intensity level Serbia was bringing to the table. They got manhandled athletically by the US Team and squeaked out a win against Mali with its depth and the inside dominance of Su. China has all the tools to be great team but isn't used to facing intense competition which hurts them in the games.
Mali has nothing to offer against the other teams. Living mainly off thin Wally Coulibalys high volume shooting. They look about two years younger then all the other teams here.
Group C: Australia (3-0), Turkey (2-1), Canada (1-2), and Nigeria (0-3)
[img_assist|nid=3762|title=Patrick Mills - Photo: Fiba.com|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=234|height=350]Australia won the Group behind superb team play. They never win by a huge margin but their sync and timely execution, as well as their superb defense almost always takes a toll on the other team. At some phase in the game and its nearly impossible to make up a lead on the Aussies. They pressured the Turkish backcourt into 26 turnovers that mainly led to easy buckets and won them the game in the first encounter. Then they got a scare from lowly Nigeria which managed to get a draw in the second half but couldn't overcome the first half deficit. Then they edged out Canada behind a superb performance by Vanderbilt bound super center Andrew Ogilvy who got 26 pts.and 18 boards. Behind a total team approach and Ogilvy, there is floor general Patrick Mills who is the brain of the team controlling everything at all times and coming up big whenever needed.
Turkey finished in second. In the first game they couldn't find any solution to Australia's zone press. Then they destroyed Canada with outstanding team defense themselves. Against Nigeria five players scored in double figures to put away a resilient African team that just cant get the edge to compete on a high level for more than a half. Turkey uses a guard heavy team approach going deep into their bench and not favoring anyone in particular, while grinding it out in almost always low scoring fashion.
Canada opened with a win against Nigeria behind 33 Pts. by Devoe Joseph and this win proved to be the edge to barely make it to the next round. Australia and Turkey just played dominating defense to control the game a any time and destroy everything Canada had to offer. Joseph had another 31 performance in the game against Australia but cant get much help out of most of his teammates except for SF Williams.
Nigeria isn't used to compete on a high level for more than a half . Nigeria has the SG /SF combo of Yussuf and Negedu who usually score in double figures and rebound a little but that alone isn't enough to win games here. Center Prospect Alabi flashes sometimes but seldom, when he does show his athleticism it makes the crowed awe.
Group D: Spain (3-0), Argentina (2-1), Korea (1-2), and Puerto Rico (0-3)
[img_assist|nid=3763|title=Victon Claver - Photo: Fiba.com|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=376]Spain won all of thier games behind stellar play of SF Claver and tough as nails guards. They edged out Puerto Rico in nail biter in the first game, call it first game jitters. Claver had 31 and 13 in this one. Then they had found their rhythm and cruised past Argentina and Korea again with Victor Claver leading the way and solid backcourt performances. Spain is hard to handle playing very intense and superb team defense. They have to yet to face a good frontcourt which will be a test.
Argentina snuck past Korea, then lost to Spain and destroyed Puerto Rico to claim second place in the Group. Argentina uses a team approach getting production from whoever is hot at the moment, sharing minutes evenly and getting their bench involved perfectly. The head to the team body though is Guard Gerbaudo who is small but tough as they come and flashes outstanding court vision and passing ability.
Korea also uses a team approach and by that hung tough in every game. They came up short against Spain and Argentina but managed to win a close one against Puerto Rico through precise three point shooting in the end which earned them a place in the next round.
Puerto Rico couldn't win anything here but surprisingly gave Spain fits for most of the game only to come up short in the end. They then lost a close one to Korea and got manhandled by Argentina's depth in their last game to finish last in the standings. PF/C Garcia is a bright spot on an otherwise dull team that misses some of the fire that makes Puerto Rico in other competitions.