Through the first several games of group play at the U19 FIBA World Cup, several teams have established themselves as competitive teams that could vie for the tournament’s top spots.
Teams such as the U.S. entered the World Cup with loads of talent, while teams like France, Serbia and Mali have proven their mettle on the court.
The top team in the World Cup, the U.S. beat New Zealand 111-71 and Lithuania 102-82 in their first two games of group play.
Tyrese Haliburton paces all other players with the most assists per game — an average of eight. He also has been averaging 14.5 points per game.
The team’s top scorer is Cade Cunningham, who is averaging 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
While arguably the most talented team at the World Cup, the Americans have struggled to connect from three and have made only 24.1% of their three-pointers so far. They have made 63.5% of their two-point attempts.
As the defending champs, Canada enters the World Cup as one of the better teams in the competition, but the Canadians slipped early.
While they beat Australia 81-76, Canada fell in the next game to Mali 71-70, after the Canadians shot 37.8% from the floor and 26.9% from three.
Despite their early struggles, Canada is led by Karim Mane and A.J. Lawson, who is currently averaging 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists through two games.
As a freshman at South Carolina, Lawson was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team and averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
Mane is averaging 16.5 points, six rebounds and four assists.
France is shaping up to be one of the top performers at the World Cup behind excellent shooting and solid talent which could contend with the Americans.
The French have been connecting on 64.2% of their two-point attempts and 40% of their threes in a 91-68 win over Puerto Rico and a 119-56 win over China.
Joel Ayayi from Gonzaga is the team’s top player and has averaged 18 points and 6.5 rebounds a game.
Behind Ayayi, France has Babacar Niasse, Karlton Dimanche and Yohan Choupas, who all average more than 10 points per game, to help on the offensive end of the court.
Serbia is another team anchored by a Gonzaga player in center Filip Petrusev, who leads the World Cup in scoring.
Petrusev has been averaging 23 points and nine rebounds on 81% shooting from the field in Serbia’s two wins over China and Puerto Rico.
Serbia beat China 106-57 and Puerto Rico 75-74.
The team has established itself as one of the top rebounding teams at the World Cup, with Petrusev’s nine a game, and his teammate Dalibor Ilic averages 10.5 a game along with nine points. Ilic’s rebounds per game rank fourth in the World Cup.
Similar to the U.S., Serbia has struggled to make threes, with only 21.4% of their shots falling.
After shocking Canada in their second game of the cup and third appearance ever, Mali looks like a team which could finish the highest of any team at the U19 World Cup from Africa.
The highest an African team has ever finished is 11th, but Mali has already accumulated two wins against Canada and Latvia. Mali beat Canada 71-70 and Latvia 93-79.
Fousseyni Drame and Siriman Kanoute have been the anchors for Mali. Each player ranks in the top two for rebounding or scoring.
Drame has been averaging 12.5 points and 14 rebounds per game, which paces the cup in rebounds, and Kanoute is averaging 20.5 points and 4.5 assists. His scoring average only trails Serbia’s Petrusev.
The team may get even more of a boost if Oumar Ballo, who was named to the U17 FIBA World Cup All-Star Five, returns from injury to play at the center position.