The shine is off Kentucky coach John Calipari and Team USA after a stunning upset loss to Canada in the semifinals Saturday of the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup. So now the question is whether Wildcats freshmen Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington and the rest of the Americans can muster enough pride and enthusiasm to collect a bronze medal Sunday against Spain.
The only thing worse than ending the United States’ winning streak in FIBA competition, which dated back to 2011, would be heading home empty-handed. The Kentucky duo of Diallo and Washington — averaging 25.2 points and 9.8 rebounds combined in Egypt — and Auburn star Austin Wiley (22.8 rebounds per 40 minutes) should be too good to let that happen.
But after the defensive meltdown Saturday against Canada, in which R.J. Barrett poured in 38 points on Team USA, it’s hard to say for sure. Calipari took blame for the loss, saying he should’ve made defensive adjustments, and he’ll never hear the end of it from critics if this team doesn’t even medal in Cairo.
Spain’s Eric Vila, a 6-foot-11 forward who recently transferred out of Texas A&M, could present some problems Sunday. He’s averaging 13.5 points and 11.5 rebounds through six games, including three straight double-doubles. However, Spain lost its semifinal to Italy, which lost to Team USA by 33 points in pool play.
In other words, this is a game the Americans need to win. Meanwhile, another Wildcat will get one more game in the consolation bracket. Tai Wynyard, a 6-10 sophomore for UK, will lead New Zealand against Egypt in the battle for 11th place. Wynyard averaged 21.3 points, 14.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per 40 minutes in his first six games at the World Cup.
How can I watch the 2017 FIBA World Cup?
What time is the USA game in the 2017 FIBA World Cup?
USA (5-1) faces Spain (5-1) in the bronze-medal game at noon ET on Sunday, July 9. Canada (5-1) goes for gold against Italy (5-1) at 2:30 p.m. ET. The Italians lost to the Americans by 33 points in pool play.
What time is New Zealand’s game in the 2017 FIBA World Cup?
New Zealand (2-4) faces host Egypt (2-4) for 11th place at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 9.
What are the jersey numbers for Diallo, Washington, Wynyard, Immanuel Quickley, Cameron Reddish and Romeo Langford?
Hamidou Diallo is wearing No. 8, P.J. Washington No. 14, Immanuel Quickley (UK recruit) No. 5, Cameron Reddish (UK recruit) No. 7 and Romeo Langford (UK recruit) No. 13 for Team USA. Tai Wynyard is wearing No. 14 for New Zealand.
How does the 2017 FIBA World Cup work?
After three pool-play games for each team, all 16 countries were seeded according to those results. The round of 16 was Wednesday, the quarterfinals on Friday and semifinals on Saturday, with medal games on Sunday, July 9. The United States, ranked No. 1 in the world, fell short in its bid for a third consecutive U19 gold medal after winning in 2013 and 2015.
Do the Wildcats have previous international experience?
Yes. Diallo and Washington both won gold with Team USA at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, while Wynyard played for New Zealand in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships and won gold in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in 2015. Calipari coached the Dominican Republic men’s national team in 2011 and 2012, leading that country to within a single victory of its first Olympic berth in history.
P.J. Washington stats through 6 games
Hamidou Diallo stats through 6 games
Tai Wynyard stats through 6 games