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Spain Secures Overtime Victory to Claim 2023 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup

[Credit: FIBA]

Debrecen, Hungary — Spain have been crowned the 2023 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup champions after a thrilling overtime victory over France, with a final score of 73-69.

Led by a stellar performance from Jordi Rodriguez, who contributed 18 points followed by Rafael Villar’s 17 points and 5 assists. Spain clinched their second World Cup title in 24 years.

In the highly anticipated final game held at Debrecen, Hungary, the atmosphere was electric at the packed Fonix Arena, witnessing the largest crowd of the tournament.

The first quarter showcased the intense competition expected in a final, with both teams exchanging baskets. Jordi Rodriguez stood out, tallying an impressive 10 points by the end of the quarter.

The battle continued in the second quarter, with Melvin Ajinca making key plays for France, including a step-back 3-pointer and a thunderous dunk. Ajinca finished the game with 21 points and 4 rebounds. At halftime, France held a slim lead with a score of 28-29.

During the third quarter, the game became scrappy with no bucket coming easy. Towards the end of the quarter, France began to pull away, thanks to Noah Penda’s impressive up-and-under layup. Alexandre Sarr added to the excitement with a powerful poster dunk that left the crowd in awe. Meanwhile, Zacharie Perrin showcased his defensive skills by blocking Spains’s jump shot, leading to a fast-break dunk by Perrin himself. This prompted Coach Garcia to call a timeout. At this point, the score was 34-39 in favor of France. Perrin had an outstanding performance, contributing 14 points and an impressive 20 rebounds.

Spain fought back in the fourth quarter, displaying strong defense and effective ball movement. Jordi Rodriguez hit a clutch step-back 3-pointer, giving Spain a 2-point lead. However, Lucas Fischer responded for France with his own 3-pointer, regaining the lead for his team. The game remained tight, with both teams exchanging blows. With 2:31 left in the fourth quarter, Alexandre Sarr’s corner 3-pointer extended France’s lead to 4 points. However, Papa Miller’s timely 3-pointer brought Spain within 1 point. Melvin Ajinca countered with a crucial basket, putting France up by 4. The tension reached its peak when Rodriguez hit a game-tying baseline 3-pointer, sending the game into overtime with a score of 63-63.

Overtime showcased exceptional shot-making from both teams, demonstrating their determination to win. Spain’s Rafael Villar delivered clutch shots, including a deep 3-pointer to beat the shot clock buzzer. Melvin Ajinca showcased his mid-range game with explosive pull-up jumpers. Despite Rodriguez briefly leaving the court due to a minor injury, he swiftly returned, providing relief to his team. Field goals were scarce for about 3 minutes in overtime, intensifying the drama. With 9.4 seconds remaining, Spain held a 4-point lead after converting one of two free throws. France called a timeout to strategize, but their final attempt, a 3-pointer from Ajinca, fell short.

As the buzzer sounded, Spain celebrated their hard-fought victory, securing the World Cup championship with a final score of 73-69. Rodriguez and Villar led the way for Spain, finishing with 18 and 17 points, respectively. This triumph marks Spain’s second World Cup title, following their last victory in 1999 led by Pau Gasol. The 2023 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup will be remembered for its thrilling final and the exceptional performances of both teams.

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