The Americans don’t want to slack their stranglehold on Basketball for men or women, whatever be the category. The NBA in the United States is the most popular sporting obsession and it attracts the best basketball stars from around the world. Therefore, it was hardly surprising that the under-19 American women, who get extensive exposure to the game, dominated the field in the recently concluded U-19 FIBA Women’s World Championship held in Russia. It was the 10th edition of the tournament and USA have now won it 7 times. Their victory in the final against hosts Russia on July 26, 2015 was the sixth on the trot. 16 participating nations from five FIBA regions were divided in 4 Groups of 4 teams each and all of them went to the knock-out stage as well. The preliminary rounds were played merely to determine the team line-up at the play-off stage. The tournament began on July 18, 2016 and concluded on July 26, 2015.
In Group A, Hosts Russia were joined by the Netherlands, Argentina and Chinese Taipei. The teams played three matches in a standard round-Robin format with Russia winning all 3 matches to top the Group, followed by the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei and Argentina. USA topped Group B by also winning all their matches and they were followed by China Spain and Egypt. In Group C, the pecking order was Belgium, France, Canada and Mali. The Group D standings were Australia, Serbia Brazil and Korea.
As the tournament progressed, it became clear that USA, Russia, Spain, France, China, Australia, Belgium and Canada were the dominant teams. The only surprise was the early elimination of Serbia, who lost to Canada in the round-of-sixteen. On July 25, the two semifinal games were contested, in which Russia beat Australia 76-57 and USA defeated Spain 80-65. On the last day of the tournament, Russia played against USA in the final, while Australia and Spain contested for the third place.
Despite USA’s formidable reputation the title game was fiercely contested. The US team trailed in the first quarter 18-18 but more than made up for that with a 9-0 run in early stages of the second quarter and led 39-34 at halftime. As the third quarter began, Chatrice White scored nine of her 10 points with 5 rebounds and ensured that US continued to lead 57-53 before the final quarter began. Russian women fought valiantly and brought the score to 68-65 with less than 5 minutes remaining. Then a drive from White sparked another 7-0 run for USA and their lead widened to 10 points. Although Russia scored the next 5 points, they couldn’t match the ferocity of the Americans, who ended with a 78-70 victory and bagged their sixth consecutive title. South Carolina forward A’Ja Wilson was named tournament MVP and set a USA U-19 single-game record with 30 points. She averaged 18.3 points per game in the tournament. The hosts put up a brave show and captain Daria Kolosovskaia led from front to score 19 points while her colleague Ksenii Levchenko came up with a wonderful double-double and scored 13 points but on that Sunday, USA proved too good.
For the second year in a row Australia claimed the third spot in the 2015 FIBA U-19 Women’s World Championship by beating Spain 69-62. The Australian women had a great start and led 27-9 at one stage. But the Spanish women nearly wiped off that advantage by roaring back into the match. However, Tahlia Tupea’s turned the tide in favor of Australia yet again with some big points at crunch time.