HAMBURG (FIBA U17 World Championship) – The United States of America are the first ever winner of the FIBA U17 World Championship. In an entertaining gold medal game the squad of coach Don Showalter emerged as deserving winners. The final score of 111-80 meant nothing less than an eighth victory in in as many games. Runners-up Poland came into this matchup unbeaten thus far, but once more delivered great heart and sportsmanship for 40 minutes.
Poland's Piotr Niedzwiedzki was first to score a basket in this gold medal game at the inaugural U17 World Championship. It took the USA about two minutes to get rolling – or, at least tournament MVP Bradley Beal. The shoting guard did exactly that, he shot. Two Bradley-triples later, the North Americans were in full control – at least so it seemed (10-7, 5min). Tony Wroten dashed along the baseline and elevated for one fine alley-oop that got the crowd involved (29-21). But it would not be the ultimate highlight, as Daniel Szymiewicz connected on a halfcourt-heave to get the momentum back on Poland's side (29-24).
Beal and Wroten rattled in two consecutive treys to get back on track (40-28, 13min), but Poland relied on its strong defense to close the gap. Sporting a zone defense Poland took much time off the 24sec-clock and forced the USA to take heavily contested shots. A two-handed jam from Przemyslaw Karnowski was enough for Coach Don Showalter, taking a quick timeout in order to re-arrange his troops (42-36, 15min).
It would not help, as Mateusz Ponitka – after three consecutive missed long bombs – changed gears and suddenly attacked the rim. Five points from the savvy guard in the books Poland still had their hands on their opponents (46-41, 18min). Off several unforded polish turnovers the USA put the pedal to the metal, shifted into higher gears and got numerous easy layups – or created mismatches in transition.
After Karnowski collected his second and third personal fouls within seconds he was benched – the initial sign for Beal and company to penetrate the paint every following possession (58-41, 20min).
It took Poland exactly two minutes to score its first bucket, a three pointer from Michal Michalak (62-46, 2min). With Grzegorz Grochowski following his example knocking down a trey on his own hope arose on Poland's minds.
Spirits fell, when Karnowski gathered his fourth personal on an offensive foul (67-51, 25min). Outrebounding their opponents in the forthgoing minutes the USA re-installed their high-tempo style of play (78-62, 30min).
Poland was not able to launch another comeback. As time expired the over-athletic USA players took advantage of their deep bench. Both teams showed a couple of nice dunks to put the icing of the cake.
The crowd applauded the USA as well as Poland for what seemed like an eternity, before celebrations and the ensuing medal and closing ceremonies.
FIBA / JB