At the end of the US basketball team’s 92-86 victory over Canada in the FIBA U-19 World Cup semifinals, Purdue University defender Jaden Ivey made sure to find Purdue University center Zach Eddie to shake hands. It’s not that 7-4 Edey is hard to find.
Eddie made the final step of the championship game difficult for the US team, scoring 16 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and 3 blocks, but the depth of the Americans was the fourth time in the past five games to reach the finals.
Kenneth Lofton Jr. from Louisiana Tech University (Kenneth Lofton Jr.) has begun to gain fame in this game and played a huge role in the frontcourt battle between the United States and Eddie. Although Loveton is 9 inches shorter, he used his wide body and low post skills to get 16 points, 7 rebounds and a +13 rating in 21 minutes.
Loveton played several decisive games in the third quarter, when the Canadian team rebounded after trailing 13 points in the third quarter, reducing the score to one point. After Ivey drew and extended the score to 3 points with two free throws, Lofton followed the error of TCU point guard Mike Miles to rewrite the score to 61-56. Subsequently, Loveton converted three-pointers and rewritten the score to 67-59.
Earlier in the final period, it was close to a basket again, but Loveton blocked a mistake from the left, followed by Milwaukee’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. who made another three-pointer. When Miles rebounded and pushed forward and completed a coast-to-coast layup, the United States once again returned to the front with a dozen points advantage.
Lofton is 6-foot-7 and weighs 275 pounds. He averaged 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in his first season at Louisiana Tech. His performance in the trials has left a deep impression on ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla, apparently choosing the team’s selection committee and coach to use him for 17 minutes per game and get an average of 12.7 points in return.
The Canadian team was the last team to beat the US team in this game, when Knicks winger Barrett tore through the US defense in the semifinals. The Americans are under some pressure because of their ability to play against Canadian players.
In the end, the final score made the game look closer than it actually was, but it also shows that Canada is working hard to get close to this. The American leads by 20 points with 4 minutes remaining, and then chooses to start running out of time. But the Canadians’ late advancement is similar to all other occasions where the United States has a chance to open the game, because they have the first five games in Latvia and their average score difference is 40 points. Michigan forward Caleb Houstan was another important factor for the Canadian team. He scored 23 points.
There was a terrible moment late in the game when Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler drove into the front court without controversy and attempted a one-handed dunk, but he lost his balance and fell directly to the floor. Chandler grabbed his abdomen in pain, and before the game resumed, the staff of the American basketball team were on the court for a few minutes.
TCU coach Jamie Dixon adjusted the starting lineup and moved Louisiana State University to Adam Miller as a shooting guard. He scored 8 points and sent 7 assists. Gonzaga-bound Chet Holmgren is the best prospect for the 2021 recruiting class. He scored 12 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and blocked 6 shots.
There are many groups of college teammates facing each other in the game. Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 10 points and two blocks for the United States, and future Blue Jays point guard Ryan Nembhard is critical to Canada’s competitive push. He scored 18 points and passed 6 assists.
The United States will face the French team at noon on Sunday. The French team has 7-2 Victor Wimbanyama, known as one of the most promising young rookies in the world. He is 17 years old and averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds in this game, even though he played only 9 minutes due to a serious foul in France’s reversal of Serbia on Saturday. Most of the inside responsibility of the French team fell on Ivan Vedrago, who played for Nebraska for the past two seasons and moved to the Grand Canyon in the 2021-22 season. He scored 11 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.