After steamrolling China in the quarterfinals of the FIBA U17 World Championships on Thursday, the United States figured to be in for a much tougher battle against Serbia in the semifinals. That proved to be the case, as the Serbians did a good job of controlling tempo and hanging around for the better part of three quarters. However the United States’ depth proved to be too much, resulting in the Americans pulling away to win by the final score of 89-68.
Malik Newman, who along with fellow guard Tyus Battle hit some big shots to help the United States establish separation, led four Americans in double figures with 15 points. Joining him in double figures were big men Diamond Stone (12 points, eight rebounds), Caleb Swanigan (11 points, eight rebounds) and Harry Giles (ten points, 12 rebounds).
Those three bigs and guard Josh Jackson (11 rebounds) led the way on the glass for the United States, which managed to rebound 44 percent of its missed shots on the afternoon. The work on the offensive glass and a 22-point edge in points in the paint (44-22) helped Don Showalter’s team make up for the fact that they were only a plus-4 in fast break points (19-15), a category the Americans had no trouble dominating in previous games against overmatched competition.
Next up for the United States is either Australia, which was the opponent for the U.S. in the last U17 World Championships in 2012, or Spain. Among the players on Australia’s roster is 2016 big man Isaac Humphries, who will attend La Lumiere Prep in Indiana this coming school year.