New Zealand-US, Turkiye-Italy semis duels set

New Zealand-US, Turkiye-Italy semis duels set
SunStar Basketball

NEW ZEALAND stamped its class over Lithuania, 73-65, on Friday to reach the semifinal round of the FIBA U17 World Cup in Istanbul, Turkiye.

Oscar Goodman had 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Hayden Jones added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Kiwis, who also made it to the Final Four in 2002.

New Zealand will face defending champion United States, which clobbered Canada, 111-60, in the quarterfinal.

AJ Dybantsa finished with 18 points and six assists, while Cameron Boozer contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds and four steals for the Americans, who took a commanding 66-27 in the first half – a new record for most points scored at halftime in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.

The US also demolished Canada in the final of the U16 AmeriCup, 118-36, last year.

“We told the guys if what we did a year ago still looks big to us then we haven’t done anything today. We were trying to tell them last year doesn’t matter at this point, it’s about what’s happening right now and be present in the present. They did a good job with that,” US coach Sharman White told the FIBA official website.

Host Turkiye and Italy will meet in the other semi.

Rrezon Elezay delivered the winning basket in the final 14 seconds to lift Turkiye past Spain, 59-57. With the score tied at 57-all in the final minute, Elezay scored on a dunk and Derin Can Ustun blocked Maximo Garcia-Plata’s shot at the buzzer.

“We always were fighting for the final four and now we have achieved our dreams. Now we will focus on tomorrow,” Ustun said.

Italy pulled off an 83-65 win over Puerto Rico, with Maikcol Perez finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Felip Quinones, who produced a record 42 points in Puerto Rico’s 91-84 win over France last July 3, finished with 21 points.

His 42-point output is the second all-time high in the U17 World Cup scoring charts behind Dzanan Musa’s 50 points for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016.

Meanwhile, Argentina dealt the Philippine team an 83-67 loss in the classification phase, also on Friday.

The Filipino boys dropped their first four matches by an average losing margin of 65.5 points. / PNA

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