Team USA captured the gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championships Saturday, holding off a stubborn squad from Australia on Saturday 99-92 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
It is the third straight gold medal for the U.S. since the event began in 2010. Bradley Beal, now with the Washington Wizards, was the MVP as the U.S. beat Poland 111-80 for the gold at Hamburg, Germany in 2010. Jahlil Okafor, who will be attending Duke as a freshman this fall, was MVP of the 2012 event in Kaunas, Lithuania, after Team USA took down Australia for the gold medal 95-62.
It was a much closer call this time around between the Aussies and the Americans.
Australia had battled back from a 22-point deficit to knock off Spain in the semifinals and jumped out to an early lead in the gold-medal game, going up 17-7 with 5:31 to go in the first quarter—the first double-digit deficit the U.S. had faced in the tournament.
The Americans rallied to take a 10-point lead late in the half, until Australia got a 3-pointer from Harry Froling with 1:02 left in the second quarter. Team USA led 50-43 at the break.
In the fourth quarter, the U.S. held a commanding 88-73 lead before the Aussies put together a 9-0 run, cutting the deficit to 88-82 on a 3-pointer by Dejan Vasiljevic with 2:26 left.
Harry Giles of Winston-Salem, N.C., stopped the run with a bucket with 2:02 remaining and a pair of free throws by Caleb Swanigan of Fort Wayne, Ind., put the Americans back up 10 with 1:25 remaining.
Malik Newman of Jackson, Miss., earned MVP honors as he led the U.S. with 21 points in the final. In the tournament, Newman averaged 14.9 points per game as Team USA went 7-0 in the event and is now 23-0 all-time in the U17 World Championships.
He was joined on the all-tournament team by Diamond Stone of Dominican High School in Milwaukee. Stone had nine points and eight rebounds in the final, but was Team USA’s second leading scorer at 13.4 points per game in the tournament and led the Americans with 9.7 rebounds per game. He also blocked 23 shots in the seven games.
Henry Ellenson of Rice Lake was scoreless with five rebounds in the final and averaged 8.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in the tournament.
The rest of the all-tournament team included Isaac Humphries and Vasiljevic of Australia and Nikola Rakicevic of Serbia.