The United States men’s U19 team captured back-to-back titles at the FIBA World Championships for the first time since 1983 as the Americans defeated Croatia in overtime, 79-71, on Sunday afternoon.
Struggling to find consistent offense for much of the afternoon, the trio of Class of 2016 stars the Americans have relied on during the tournament fell cold. Jayson Tatum (13 points), Harry Giles (13 points, 16 rebounds) and Josh Jackson (10 points) all finished in double figures to lead Team USA, but they combined to shoot 13-for-46 from the field on the day.
Villanova incoming freshman point guard Jalen Brunson was outstanding for the Americans, scoring 14 points and adding seven assists while never turning the ball over in 40 minutes of play. Louisville rising sophomore big man Chinanu Onuaku provided valuable minutes as an additional interior defender, as he scored six points and added eight rebounds and four blocks.
After regulation ended tied at 67, the American pressure defense finally seemed to wear out a short-handed Croatian team at the U.S. went on a 10-0 run to start the extra frame. Even without Jackson in overtime, who fouled out during the final seconds of regulation, the United States had plenty of bodies to throw at Croatia using its full-court press.
Nik Slavica led Croatia with 23 points while point guard Marko Aropovic added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
These two teams also met in group play earlier in the event as the Americans came away with a 103-81 win. Croatia was without potential 2016 NBA lottery pick Dragan Bender, who was stuck in a shoe contract dispute, while the team’s starting point guard, Lovro Mazalin and center Ante Zizic, were both out with injury.