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Historic Mali win puts African Champs in 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Final Four



Historic Mali Win Puts African Champs In 2019 Fiba U19 World Cup Final Four

African Champions Mali have made history.

Playing in only their third FIBA U19 World Cup — Mali defeated Puerto Rico 84-74 in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World cup to become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals.

16 year-old (July 13, 2002) phenom Oumar Ballo (6’10, 7’6″ foot wing-span) continued to turn heads with his second-consecutive, big-time double-double and finished with 21 points, 17 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals.

Oumar Ballo Historic Mali Basketball Win Puts African Champs In 2019 Fiba U19 World Cup Final Four
Oumar Ballo bangs home a thunderous two-hand dunk against Puerto Rico at 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup – Photo FIBA

Ballo is averaging an eye-popping 18.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals and 2 assists in three games after missing the first two games including Mali’s signature 71-70 win over defending champions Canada

Mali fought-off a sluggish start and hot shooting Puerto Rico team that controlled the tempo and trailed 21-15 after the first-quarter.

From there it was a Mali, who quickly turned the second-quarter and the rest of the game in to a block and dunk party outscoring their North American counterparts 22-12 and grab a 37-33 lead.

Mali Basketball Head Coach Kaba Kante Historic Mali Win Puts African Champs In 2019 Fiba U19 World Cup Final Four
Mali Basketball Head Coach Alhadji Dicko at 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup – Photo: FIBA

Head coach Alhadji Dicko ordered more of the same recipe in the third-quarter as Mali recorded a total of 9 dunks and 9 blocked shots in the 10-point win. Mali outscored Puerto Rico 22-12 in the third-quarter for a comfortable 59-45 lead. The margin hit a game-high 20 points at 65-45 before a late effort from Puerto Rico cut the deficit to single digits, but never threatening Mali’s historic win.

The victory also gives Mali the bragging rights of having the highest placement by a African nation at the U19 level. The previous best finish by an African team was 11th-place and established by Nigeria and Egypt.

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Fousseyni Drame Historic Mali Win Puts African Champs In 2019 Fiba U19 World Cup Final Four
Fousseyni Drame throws down one of Mali 9 dunks in the win over Puerto Rico at 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup – Photo: FIBA

Fousseyni Drame paced Mali with 22 points and 4 steals, twin brother Hassan Drame had a strong all-round game out with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

Siriman Kanoute added 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists but was responsible for 10 of Mali’s 29 turnovers. Abdramane Camara also contribute with 7 points and 8 rebounds.

Mali (4-1) will now play the winner of France/Canada for a shot at advancing to their first-ever FIBA U19 championship game.

Mali finished dead last, in 16th-place at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt, Cairo — dropping all 7 games and losing by an average of 21 points including wide-margin losses to Canada 91-42, USA 117-69, Spain 62-43, New Zealand 87-63, Angola 73-54. Mali’s two closest contest were against Japan 76-73 and Iran 70-61.

Mali’s other FIBA U19 appearance was in 2007 when they finished 15 out of 16 teams with a 1-4 recording a 89-81 win over Puerto Rico.

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España FIBA Campeon Del Mundo



España FIBA Campeon Del Mundo
Scream if you want to go for Gold in Tokyo...

When Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa almost a decade ago this writer was in London seeing a friend from Seoul, South Korea. From Oxford Circus to the fountain tops of Piccadilly Circus there looked like a million Spanish people lining the streets that all lived here in the Big Smoke (F### Brexit! Multicultural is beautiful). And despite the honking horns and raised glasses it was the most peaceful, beautiful sports celebration I have ever seen. No hostility, just community. A Spanish man fell to his knees in front of me like he’d just scored and grabbed my hand with both of his in prayer. The most beautiful Spanish woman I’ve ever seen in her nations strip and scarf walked past me whilst trailing her fingertips across my arm and asked me flirtatiously whilst giggling, “who won the World Cup!”


Just an old memory to reminisce as we begin.

No Muleta could ever stop this raging red Spanish bull.

Ever since way before Kobe and Pau went from teammates to rivals every Summer, Spain have been one of the biggest nations in Basketball and certainly the most complete team. And now even without the older Spanish G.O.A.T. Gasol watching at home in his uniform and with Team USA given freedom by the bronze placed France, Spain proved once again that they aren’t only the most consistent and best team in Europe…but the greatest in the whole wide world.

Right now and forever more on the way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This FIBA tournament has been something else in its self. And if this writer wasn’t about to start his own road to Japan he would have been able to enjoy it even more. But shout out to editor Edilson Silva’s wrists for keeping us in touch with the tournament on Twitter.

Even without the power of Pau, or many big names in the legendary legacy of the last decade of the Spanish side (no Sergio Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Navarro, Nikola Mirotic, or Serge Ibaka), the Spanish team still ruled like soccer or their basketball brother team Barcelona. As legends like Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio and of course Marc Gasol cut South America’s Argentina down to 20 point blowout, 95-75 size like Luis Scola’s trademark hair (but what a run of play for a member of the team of the tournament).

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Spain 2019 Fiba World Cup Champions
Spain Basketball 2019 FIBA World Cup Champions – Photo: FIBA

Marc made his mark as the second player in history to be an NBA Champion and a FIBA World Cup one in the same year, although unfortunately fellow Toronto Raptor Ibaka couldn’t join him. But what a Summer for the first player to do this since the Lakers Lamar Odom almost a decade back in 2010. Only a year after Marc Gasol’s draft rights were traded by the purple and gold for brother Pau.

“The rest of the world have been caught up for quite some time”, like Kobe Bryant said. “The days of the ’92 Barcelona Dream Team are gone”.

Now that’s as true as the U.S. coming in fourth place like half the States had a dance recital.

Congratulations to the real Dream Team…yeah I said it.

Ricky Rubio had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and no one deserves it more.

Marc Gasol had 14 and 7 in both rebounds and assists.

Sergio Llull had 15.

Rudy Fernandez 11, 10 and 3.

And both Juancho and Willy Hernangomez both had 11 too.

Now what more can you possibly say like reacting to that practice pregame half court heave underarm…from behind the back like a Globetrotter?

What the?

Gabriel Deck led the way for Argentina with 24 whilst the likes of old rivals and friends Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker watched from courtside in a sold out arena in Beijing. Whilst Scola scored 8. Argentina were valiant in the final like they were the whole terrific tourney until they were slain by Spain.

Now expect Spain to control the Japanese Olympics in Tokyo next year like a matador.

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France Say Au Revoir To United States In FIBA World Cup



France Say Au Revoir To United States In Fiba World Cup


From ‘Dream’ to ‘Redeem’, call it what you will but last night in Dongguan, China was a nightmare for Team USA as the United States were sent packing from the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

And it was France who gave Greg Popovich team it’s last kiss last night…and Tony Parker was nowhere in sight, apart from some applause emojis on Twitter in celebration.

A year before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and many teams (including the U.S. and Canada baby!) clinching their berths for the Japan games in this tournament, this tourney was more than just a precursor or appetizer for the main event to come in a calendars time. It was a competitive game of brackets for all or nothing in its own right. Not to mention a showcase of just how talented the world’s game is, their teams and the individual talents of players themselves. If you haven’t been tuning in like the media networks with no coverage you’re really missing out and the point like TP9. From Giannis Antetokounmpo showing just how much he gives his body up for club and country. And the Hustle of Memphis Grizzlies Japanese G-League regular Yuta Watanabe showing that when it comes to the Olympics next year it’s not just a Washington Wizards top pick who will be big for Japan. Call him up!

And then of course there’s former Parker backup and Spurs man Patty Mills clicking and lowing the boom with his ruling Aussies as his New Zealand neighbours do the Haka that could even put The Rock’s ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ fast and furious movie Samoan war dance in a hard place. But when it came to Popovich’s countrymen they just couldn’t pop against France as red white and blue beat the stars and stripes 89-79. Ending a 58 non exhibition game winning streak that Dream Teams have kept awake for longer than the wonderful women’s U.S. soccer team.

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If you ignorantly thought that Basketball had no borders outside America (and really? It’s 2019! Who does apart from Trump? Besides this is a Canadian site), then you really won’t now. France made a statement and those (Laker fans) who social media say that the Walker, Tatum, Brown and Smart Celtics couldn’t even beat France and Kyle Kuzma wouldn’t let this happen shouldn’t take this away from the nation who beat them, fair and block to dunk square.

And besides young to veteran superstars with exuberance and (Rio 2016) experience like Donovan Mitchell and Harrison Barnes respectively and respectfully couldn’t get it done either.

The U.S. played well and will be back to their best next year (but need to bring more big guns and names to the Olympic Games), but France just played better. Much better. From the stifling Eiffel Tower of Rudy Gobert with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 3 beautiful looking blocks from the view up there. Beautiful but brutal as Mitchell and Kemba Walker in the clutch can attest.

“We came here to win Gold,” Gobert told press postgame for a team who wants to lift more World Cups than their soccer counterpart. Between four point plays from Nicolas Batum and a team leading 22 from Evan Fournier on a 50 percent 4 for 8 from three from way back in Paris, this side didn’t even need Spurs like Parker or Boris Diaw. Especially when they had MVP and Knick, Frank Ntilikina. All that side needed was heart and they had it in abundance as France looked better than those Jumpman Paris St Germain black hoodies with Jordan in the A.

And anyone who wants to make this more about the U.S. needs to listen to Brooklyn Net and three point contest winner from downtown China Joe Harris, “We certainly didn’t deserve to win that game.”


Let that or Au Revoir be the last word.

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