[VIDEO] Aussie U17 men to play US for gold at worlds
The Australian U17 men's team will play the US for gold at the world championships.
The Australian Under 17 Men's basketball team will play the USA for the gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania after defeating Croatia 83-71 in their Semi Final overnight.
Mirko Djeric led the Aussies with 21 points and nine assists, while Dante Exum added 18 points and Jack Purchase 12.
Mario Hezonja’s 28 points and 17 from Marko Arapovic were not enough for Croatia, who will face Spain in the Bronze Medal Game.
In the Semi-Final, Croatia scored the first six points of the game but Australia came back to go ahead 16-10. Hezonja continued his hot start with 10 points in the first quarter as the Europeans led 24-21.
The Croatians were ahead 31-23 when Djeric drained three three-pointers as part of a 14-0 run for a 37-31 advantage. And the gap was still seven points at the break, 42-35.
The Australians superbly executed their team play in building a 19-point lead, 62-43, on another Djeric triple. With Hezonja scoring eight points in the quarter, Croatia pulled within 11 points. The lead was back to 66-51 after three quarters.
Two break away baskets again pushed the lead to 19 points early in the fourth. But Arapovic and Hezonja would help Croatia twice cut the deficit to seven points – the last time at 78-71 with three minutes to play. But Purchase’s three-pointer with 59 seconds re-established a 12-point lead and decide the game.
The loss was the first for Croatia, who are the reigning European champions, in the tournament.
Australia now plays the USA, who defeated Spain 95-66 in the other Semi Final, for the gold medal on Sunday night at 8:30PM local Lithuanian time.