Central Girls, West Boys lift Jr. NBA Global C'ship crown
By Debayan Mukherjee
Orlando (Florida), Aug 12 (IANS) US Central (girls) and US West (boys) were crowned champions of the Junior NBA Global Championship held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Walt Disney World Resort.
India also took part in the international bracket of the youth basketball competition with boys and girls losing to Canada in the quarter-finals.
The Indian boys and girls played against Latin America, Africa, Europe & Middle East and Canada in the international bracket, both sides losing to Canada in the quarter-finals of the meet.
The highlight was the way the boys played against the mighty Canadians, the second best team in the world, almost pulling off a major upset against the country which houses the reigning NBA champions, Toronto Raptors. The game went into overtime where they lost 56-64 after being down 16-25 at halftime.
In their first game of the meet, they had defeated Latin America to start on a high.
The girls, however, failed to conjure up a win in four matches but fought hard against Africa and Girls Northeast in the positive finish game with 13-year old Muskan Singh impressing with her speed and ball control.
The two Global Championship finals on Sunday saw US Central outclassing Canada 72-35 in the girls division and US West edging past Africa 70-61 in a close game in the boys division.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, three-time NBA Champion and Jr. NBA Global Championship Ambassador Dwyane Wade and New Orleans Pelicans Vice President of Basketball Operations/Team Development and former WNBA All-Star Swin Cash presented the winning teams with trophies after the games.
The global tournament took place from 6-11 August and featured 32 of the top 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls teams from around the globe.
Overall, 15,000 players from 75 countries participated across Jr. NBA Global Championship regional competitions.
The Central girls team, from Kansas City, Mo., finished the week with a 7-0 record, marking the second consecutive year that the Central Region won the competition.
The team, which defeated the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and West to advance to the final, was led by returning champion S'mya Nichols and guards Chloe Clardy, Jada Williams and Kiara Smith, who scored a combined 43 points in the win over Canada.
The West boys team, from Los Angeles, went 2-1 in pool play before winning three straight games in bracket play, including triumphs over the Northwest, Central and the previously undefeated Southeast, to advance to the final.
West guard Tyler Rolison recorded a team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Quinton Webb, Issac Martinez and Taj DeGourville combined for 39 points in the win over Africa.
(Debayan Mukherjee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)