A 17-0 fourth-quarter run was the difference in an otherwise tightly contested 92-86 win for Team USA over a Paul Weir-coached Canadian junior national team on Saturday in the semifinals of the FIBA U19 World Cup in Riga, Latvia.
Up 71-68 early in the fourth quarter, the Americans were sparked by the defense of 7-foot-1 point-forward Chet Holmgren, a likely contender to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft who is committed to play this season at Gonzaga. Over the next few minutes, they turned the tight game into an 88-68 lead.
Weir, the former NMSU Aggies and UNM Lobos head coach, managed to get his squad regrouped and cut the final deficit to six — the first time in World Cup play Team USA didn’t win by at least 21 points.
Holmgren finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.
USA plays France in Sunday’s gold medal game. Canada plays Serbia for bronze in a game streamed on ESPN+ at 7 a.m. Sunday. Canada has medaled only once in its junior national team’s history when it took gold in 2017 when Weir was an assistant.