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FIBA U19 World Cup: Petrusev, Strawther Battle to the Buzzer

France cruises, Ballo is back on Tuesday


Day two of the FIBA U19 World Cup took place early Sunday morning here in the states. Joel Ayayi and Filip Petrusev were looking to carry their momentum from exceptional opening games, while Martynas Arlauskas and Julian Strawther were looking to improve from the floor. All 16 teams will take Monday off before playing their final pool play game on Tuesday morning before bracket play begins on Wednesday in Greece.

Joel Ayayi: 10 points (5-8 FG, 0-3 3pt), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 steals, 0 turnovers

Ayayi followed up his 26 point performance with 10 points in 17 minutes as France beat up on China, 119-56. Ayayi is shooting 14-for-18 inside the arc in two games and has racked up eight steals. He wasn’t required to do much against China, as they might be the worst team in the tournament. France is 2-0 and will face Serbia in a much anticipated rematch from their 2018 European semi-final game.

Next Game: July 2 vs Serbia - 3:45 am pacific

Filip Petrusev: 23 points, (8-10 FG, 7-9 FT), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers

After obliterating China by 50, Serbia got a huge challenge from Puerto Rico. After blowing a 20 point first half lead, Serbia held on in a back-and-forth second half and survived a last second shot to win 75-74. Petrusev put up a double-double in 30 minutes despite battling a little bit of foul trouble.

Serbia takes on France on Tuesday with first place in the group on the line. Serbia beat France 78-67 last summer as Serbia went on to win the U18 Euros. Ayayi was held to just six points and Petrusev had six turnovers. Both players will look to redeem themselves. After the game on Sunday, Petrusev said, “Me and Joel are always talking trash to each other, so it’s going to be fun.” If there’s any game you try to watch, even if it’s on demand, this should be the one.

Next Game: July 2 vs France - 3:45 am pacific

Martynas Arlauskas: 7 points (1-4 FG, 4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers

Arlauskas has been starting and averaging right around 15 minutes for all their exhibition games as he works his way back into game shape. He played 20 against the United States in a 102-84 loss. In two games, Arlauskas is 3-for-11 from the field in two games thus far. Lithuania, who is extremely long and one of the deeper teams in the field, was able to stay within striking distance of the Americans for a decent chunk of the game before the US pulled away late. Lithuania is now 1-1 and would finish in second place in their group with a win over New Zealand on Tuesday.

Next Game: July 2 vs New Zealand - 6:00 am pacific

Oumar Ballo: DNP

After not surprisingly not playing the Mali’s opener on Saturday, it was revealed Sunday that Ballo is having Visa issues and is not in Greece. It’s unfortunate he can’t take part in what has been a remarkable opening weekend for his country. They upset the reigning champs, Canada, 71-70 after the Canadians missed a shot as time expired. The good news is that Ballo arrived in Greece today and is expected to join the team and play the rest of the way. It’s already the most successful tournament in the country’s history and they look to go undefeated in pool play on Tuesday.

Next Game: July 2 vs Australia - 8:30 am

Julian Strawther: 22 points (9-22 FG, 0-6 3pt, 4-7 FT), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 turnovers

Puerto Rico got one of the worst draws possible, starting their tournament with back-to-back games against France and Serbia. Strawther struggled from the field against France in 25 minutes of action, but bounced back and had a strong game on Sunday and almost helped pull off a huge upset. He was aggressive and showed off multiple facets of his game. He had a chance to tie the game with 30 seconds to go, but only went 1-of-2 from the foul line. Regardless, it was an impressive performance against one of the top teams in the tournament. Puerto Rico will get a much easier opponent on Tuesday when they face 0-2 China.

Next Game: July 2 vs China - 3:45 am

Jalen Suggs: 2 points (1-8 FG), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 turnovers

The United States roster is so loaded with talented players that no one really plays more than 25 minutes unless they’re having a stellar game. Suggs started for the second consecutive day and played 16 minutes as the US defeated Lithuania, 102-84. The 2020 priority target is 2-for-12 from the field and has just three assists through two games. The United States will look to finish off pool play a perfect 3-0 on Tuesday morning.

Next Game: July 2 vs Senegal - 6:00 am