Silver medal for U-19 hoopsters

Greece claimed the silver medal in the World Under-19 Basketball Championship in New Zealand after going down 88-80 to the United States in Sunday’s final. The US won the trophy unbeaten, but Greece confirmed there is a great wealth of talent across the age spectrum in the sport as they followed up their gold medal at the Europeans last summer with the silver in the Worlds. In the final, Greece ended the first period level with the US (19-19), but the Americans took advantage of a barren spell for the Greeks that allowed them to lead by 15 points at halftime (45-30). Then in the third period the players of coach Giorgos Vlassopoulos staged an impressive fight-back that took them to within five points of the Americans (54-49). However, that was as far as the Greeks, European champions last year, could go. Led by Tyshawn Taylor, the US team regained a 14-point lead early in the final period and despite Greece’s last-ditch effort it held on to its lead to deservedly win the gold medal. Greek captain Nikos Pappas was voted among the best five-member team of the entire tournament. In club basketball, former NBA star Josh Childress has reportedly informed Olympiakos he will be staying in Piraeus for one more season.