Posted: Jul 7, 2013 7:27 PM by UL Sports Information
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Louisiana junior Elfrid Payton saved his best tournament game for last, scoring nine points with six assists and five steals as Team USA broke used a 13-1 fourth quarter run to break open a close game and topple Serbia, 82-68, to win the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship on Sunday.
The victory was Team USA's ninth in 11 days, finishing the tourney with a perfect 9-0 record. The Americans won by an average of 39.3 points a game, including 32.0 in the three medal round games to claim the gold medal for the third time in the last four tourneys.
Payton, who started for the ninth time, played a tournament-high 26 minutes, scoring nine points on four-of-five shooting. He finished the tourney averaging 6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.3 steals, shooting .575 from the field (23-40) and .900 from the line (9-10).
Sunday's championship game proved to be similar to the first eight as Team USA overwhelmed Serbia with its depth, strength and athleticism. Serbia hung close for the first 25 minutes before the United States pulled away.
Montrezl Harrell led Team USA with 17 points while Nigel Williams-Goss added 15 points, Rasheed Sulaimon 12 and Marcus Smart, 11. Aaron Gordon, who led the team in scoring (12.6) and rebounding (6.2) for the tourney, added six points and six rebounds and was named the tournament's MVP.
Jovan Novak led Serbia with 21 points while Vasilje Nicic added 13 points and a game high 10 assists.
Nikola Jankovic scored the first seven points for Serbia as the United States trailed, 7-2 just 88 seconds into the game. A 9-0 run by Team USA, gave the Americans the lead for good, 13-9 with 5:56 left in the quarter.
Team USA would lead 26-22 before Serbia outscored it, 16-14, in the second quarter to trail, 40-38 at halftime. It was only the second time during the tournament that Team USA did not win a quarter.
The game remained close in the third quarter. A Mihajo Andric three-pointer with 4:29 left pulled the Serbians to within 48-47, but the Americans refused to give up the lead, owning a 57-51 lead after three quarters.
After Novak scored inside just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 57-53 game, Team USA went on a 13-1 run to take control of the contest, leading 70-54 with 7:04 left. Payton keyed the run by scoring four points with three assists and two steals during the spurt.
Moments later, Payton found Harrell open for an easy basketball to give Team USA its largest lead of the game, a 76-58 advantage with 3:52 left.
Tam USA shot .507 from the field (36-71) but made just four three-pointers and was six-for-14 from the stripe (.429). Serbia was just 22-for48 from the field (.458) but converted nine of its 20 three-point attempts (.450) and was 15-for-24 from the line (.625).
As they did the entire tournament, Team USA dominated inside. The Americans had a 39-28 rebounding advantage, including 17-6 on the offensive glass. They outscored Serbia, 16-6 in second chance points, 26-16 in points off turnovers and 58-22 in the paint.