Team USA clinches fifth straight FIBA U17 crown

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Team US U17
For the fifth straight time, the US is the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup champion. -- FIBA WEBSITE

THE United States’ dominance in Under-17 World Basketball continued after it bagged its fifth straight FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup title on Monday, defeating France, 95-52, in the final at the Technical University Stadium in Santa Fe, Argentina.

Displaying its full arsenal anew on both ends of the court, the Americans simply were too much to handle for the French as they ran away with the title.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Batang Gilas ended its campaign in the tournament with a win, beating New Zealand, 73-51, for its second straight victory to finish at 13th place in the 16-team field.

The US was unstoppable at the start of the final game, racing to a 23-14 lead after the opening quarter.

France made its move back to start the second canto only for the Americans to recover as the period progressed, tightening its grip to extend their lead to 45-25 by the halftime break.

The US onslaught continued in the second half, allowing little headway for a comeback to its opponent.

The third period ended with the Americans on top, 77-38, and the fourth quarter rendered an extended victory lap for the reigning champions.

Isaiah Stewart led the US with 15 points with De’Vion Harmon adding 14.

Romeo Weems and Filipino-American Jalen Green added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

France, for its part, was paced by Killian Hayes’s 10 points.

The US’ Green was later named tournament most valuable player after averaging 15.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals.

Joining Green in the All-Star Five were his teammate Vernon Carey, Jr, France’s Hayes, Andre Curbelo from third-placed Puerto Rico and Mali center Oumar Ballo.

Earlier in the day, the Philippine national boys team exited the U17 World Cup on a winning note with an impressive stand against New Zealand and finished at 13th place.

Broke through with its maiden victory in the tournament previously against Egypt, 70-69, Batang Gilas followed it up with another spirited showing with Kai Sotto once again showing the way with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

The Filipinos had it strong in the middle quarters to create some distance from the Kiwis and never looked after.

Terrence Fortea added 12 points for the Philippines with Gerry Abadiano and Shaun Chiu chipping in eight points apiece.

Rence Padrigao only had four points but had a game-high nine assists.

Mitchell Dance led New Zealand with 12 points.

The 13th place by Batang Gilas was an improvement from the 15th place the Philippines was at in the 2014 edition of the World Cup.

The final ranking after two weeks of competition had the US, France and Puerto Rico in the top three, followed by Canada, Turkey, Australia, Croatia, Montenegro, Dominican Republic, Serbia, Argentina, Mali, the Philippines, New Zealand, China and Egypt. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo