Elite prospect Cade Cunningham helps USA Basketball again conquer FIBA U19 World Cup

first_imgIt was not a perfect performance for elite point guard prospect Cade Cunningham, but it was the perfect ending to a perfect FIBA U19 World Cup for the United States junior national team.Ranked the No. 2 prospect in the 2020 class by 247 Sports, Cunningham led USA Basketball to a 93-79 victory over Mali in the U19 gold medal game, restoring the Americans to the position atop the podium after they fell short of reaching the championship game two years ago because of Canada and superstar R.J. Barrett. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, assisted by Levelle Moton of N.C. Central and Mike Hopkins of Washington, led the United States to its seventh victory all-time in this event and its fourth in the past 10 years. The U.S. also won in 2009 (with key players Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward), 2013 (Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton) and 2015 (Josh Jackson and Jalen Brunson).The Americans won all seven of their games at the World Cup, all by double-digit margins.Cunningham, who turned over the ball eight times, made some careless errors in the final period that helped Mali cut an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit to 84-77 with 3:43 remaining. But he also drove for an imposing layup through contact make it 88-77 to continue the process of stretching the lead back toward comfort.A 6-5 high school senior from Arlington, Tex., who plays at Montverde Academy in Florida, Cunningham led the U.S. with 21 points and contributed 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The U.S. won while shooting only 3-of-18 from 3-point range but got 15 points from Jalen Suggs and 13 points from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who will be a freshman at Villanova this season. Mississippi State sophomore power forward Reggie Perry was named tournament MVP. He scored 10 points in the final. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Tyrese Haliburton of Iowa State, who scored 6 points against Mali but passed for 8 assists. Isaac Likekele of Oklahoma State finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds and scored one of the most important buckets of the game, a drive through the traffic that extended the U.S. lead from seven points to nine with 3:26 left. Trevion Williams of Purdue (7 points 7 rebounds) and Kira Lewis of Alabama also earned gold medals. Lewis was scoreless in the final but struck three times on 3-pointers in the semfiinal win over Lithuania.This was one of the most comfortable gold-medal games the U.S. has had in recent U19 tournaments. The most recent three were won by an average margin of 10 points.Pitt-bound forward Karim Coulibaly scored 17 points for Mali. They won the African championship last summer to qualify for the tournament. He finished the World Cup averaging 13.4 points and 6.9 rebounds.last_img

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *