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FIBA U19 World Cup Quarterfinals: Ayayi Leads France

Lithuania stuns Serbia, Mali wins again

All six players we’ve been tracking the last week played in the quarterfinals of the FIBA U19 World Cup on Friday. Mali continued to make history, the United States continued to dominate, and Lithuania stunned undefeated Serbia. The losers will continue to play in the consolation side of the bracket, as every team gets seven games.

Joel Ayayi: 25 points (9-18 FG), 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 turnovers

For my money, I think Ayayi has been the most impressive of the Gonzaga players in this tournament. Granted, France free-play style is incredibly different from Gonzaga’s system-based offense, but it’s still impressive to see his drive and finish ability. For the most part, he’s reigned in the turnovers and he’s scoring at a remarkable clip against some of the best teams in the field. After scoring 33 against Serbia, Ayayi put up 25 against the reigning champions, Canada. After Canada went on an 8-0 to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Ayayi either scored or assisted on eight of France’s next 10 points to regain the lead. They would hold on in the final minute, led by an Ayayi lay-up with 45 seconds to go, to upend the champs, 85-80, to get to the final four. In five games, Ayayi is averaging 21 points on 55.4 percent shooting (36 percent from deep). If anyone has been more impressive, it’s Oumar Ballo, and that’s exactly who France will take on in the semi-finals.

Next Game: Semi-Finals vs Mali - Saturday 8:00 am

Filip Petrusev: 16 points (5-10 FG, 6-8 FT), 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 10 turnovers

Petrusev had a weird game. He continued to score and rebound well, but had trouble with Lithuania’s length, one of the only two teams who can match up with Serbia’s size. They also used consistent double teams on Petrusev and his response was not the best. After trailing most of the game, Serbia hit a game-tying three in the final seconds to send the game into overtime. Lithuania was able to regain momentum and upset Serbia 92-85. Petrusev is averaging 19.4 points and 10.8 rebounds in five games.

Next Game: Consolation vs Russia - Saturday 3:00 am pacific

Martynas Arlauskas: 8 points (3-6 FG), 2 assists, 2 steals

Arlauskas played a tournament-high in minutes with 30 as he works his way back from injury. He’s averaging 6.4 points on 32.4 percent shooting, along with 3.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 steals. Lithuania will take on the US in the semi-finals in a rematch of their group stage game, a 102-84 victory for the Americans.

Next Game: Semi-Final vs USA - Saturday 10:30 am

Oumar Ballo: 21 points (10-16 FG, 1-4 FT), 17 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 3 turnovers

The big man helped lead Mali to the semi-finals after an 84-74 win over Puerto Rico. It continues to be a milestone tournament for both Mali and Africa as a whole, as this will be the best finish of any African country in U19 history. Ballo grabbed a whopping eight offensive rebounds in this one, and is averaging a tournament-best 13.7 in three games, along with 18.7 points and four blocks.

Next Game: Semi-Final vs France - Saturday 8:00 am pacific

Julian Strawther: 12 points (5-18 FG, 0-6 3pt), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover

After being incredibly efficient the last two games, Strawther struggled a bit on Friday. Puerto Rico was down 20 in the third quarter and cut it to eight midway through the fourth, but could not finish off the comeback. Strawther is shooting 62 percent inside the arc in five games, but just 4-for-28 from distance. His 18.6 points a game is seventh best in the tournament.

Next Game: Consolation vs Canada - Saturday 5:30 am pacific

Jalen Suggs: 8 points (2-9 FG, 4-6 FT), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal

The US dominated Russia, 95-80, to get to yet another semi-final. Last time, they lost to Canada and finished with a bronze. This time, they’ll take on a Lithuania team looking for revenge. Suggs has struggled from the field every game, shooting just 27 percent, but only has six turnovers in five games and eight steals.

Next Game: Semi-Final vs Lithuania - Saturday 10:30 am pacific