The FIBA U19 WC preliminary round ended last Saturday, and as everyone expected, teams like France, Spain, and the United States dominated the field winning all of its games. The Eighth Finals round starts today with 12 teams battling for 8 spots in the quarter finals and upcoming stars such as Andrew Ogilvy, Michael Beasley, Nicolas Batum, Paulo Prestes and Victor Claver will be on display in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Andrew Ogilvy has been sensational for the Aussies averaging 20.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Among the top teams in the tournament (France, Spain, Serbia, and the USA), Australia has won its games by the lowest point differential defeating its first round opponents (Turkey, Nigeria, and Canada) by an average of 9 points (France and the USA won their games by an impressive 23.3 and 31.3 point margin respectively). Ogilvy, a by-product of Australia’s successful and well known Institute of Sports, was a key factor to Australia’s performance, but as the week rolls by the pressure will increase.
The acclaimed Michael Beasley is leading the US team in scoring (15 ppg), and trails Stephen Curry in the quest for top rebounding honors. The Americans played with great ease in its first two games (Mali and China), but the game against Serbia showed how difficult things can get as the competition narrows. The Americans led by 14 at the end of the third quarter when the Serbs, motivated by the local crowd, scored 28 points in the last quarter and reduced the gap in the scoreboard to just two points (80-78) with 33 seconds left on the clock. It was Beasley’s worst performance in the tourney as he scored 3 points and grabbed 2 rebounds, much due to foul trouble (he was called for three fouls early in the game).
During first round play Nicolas Batum wasn’t the go to guy for France as many expected after his stellar performances at the Euro U18 (2006), and the Nike Hoop Summit earlier this year. Instead, the 2008 NBA draft-bound small forward from Le Mans Sarthe, saw Edwin Jackson (19.3 ppg) and Adrien Moerman (14 ppg) lead the team in scoring. Batum’s scoring and efficiency has increased since the inaugural match on Thursday, and with games against Serbia and the USA scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, his skills will be challenged. Will he rise to the task at hand?
The Brazilian team is far from being a contender in the tournament, but Paulo Prestes’ performance in the team’s surprising comeback win against the Lithuanians, showed how tough this kid can play. Standing strong at 6’10 and around 260 pounds, Paulão has been a dominating force for the Brazilians, who design almost all of its plays so the ball ends on his hands. He is currently averaging 20 points and 16 boards per game, and the ability to increase this numbers against teams like Serbia and the USA will define the future of his country in the tournament.
Victor Claver is another talented power forward from Spain. This past season he had the chance to play four matches for ACB’s (Spain’s top league) Pamesa Valencia averaging 11.5 points in 21 minutes per game. At Novi Sad his responsibilities are greater and so is his response to them (he is close to average a double double having scored an average of 24.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game). The kid has displayed an impressive shooting range, nailing 53.8% of his shots from beyond the arc. Despite not having Ricky Rubio available for the U19 WC, Spain can count on Claver to qualify for the next round.
The Eighth-Finals round is under way and will bring exciting action along the week. For more details on the tourney check FIBA’s special coverage straight from Serbia.