USA Men Take Gold at 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup
The USA Basketball Men's U17 National Team won the gold medal on Sunday in a hard-fought 79-67 battle against Spain at the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup at Palacio de Deportes José María Martín Carpena in Málaga, Spain.
The victory means the U.S. moves up to six consecutive titles for this event, the last one coming in 2018 against France.
“I’m so proud of our coaches, players, and support staff. It was a team effort,” said head coach Sharman White.
The arena was deafening as Spanish fans showed up in force to support the home team, making for a tense atmosphere as the U.S. struggled in the first half to set the pace as they were held to just 39% shooting. In a testament to their defensive efforts, the team never let Spain get out of sight, holding them to an eight-point difference at most.
“Our guys believed they could do it.” White said. “They put their heads down and we came out and made adjustments.”
An impressive third-quarter effort proved the difference as the U.S. finally created some breathing room off the back of a 22-4 run to finish the quarter and go into the final push for gold.
Jeremy Fears Jr. made a dunk to put the U.S. in the lead for the first time. He followed it up with two more, one off of a steal, to put the red, white and blue on a run that culminated with a 3-pointer each by Johnuel ‘Boogie’ Fland and Karter Knox.
Koa Peat came out of the gate in the fourth quarter with a steal and massive dunk to keep the momentum going and the U.S. never looked back on their way to gold.
“We stayed together,” said Fears, who ended with 17 points, six assists and three steals. “We picked up the energy and turned it up a notch.”
Cooper Flagg had a double-double in dramatic fashion with 10 points and 17 rebounds, setting the single-game rebound record for the U.S. team (16, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (twice)). Flagg also had eight steals and four blocks at key moments to maintain the U.S. lead in the second half.
“(Spain) is a really strong team and I think it shows how tough we really are,” Flagg said.
Sean Stewart also had a double-double day with 10 points and 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Team captain Ron Holland finished with 13 points and seven rebounds and David Castillo put 12 points on the board.
The USA shot 40% (30-75FG) from the field, 26% (5-19) on 3-pointers and 78% (14-18 FT) from the line. Spain shot 39% FG (25-64), 22% 3FG (4-18) and 62% FT (13-21).