Gonzaga Bulldogs incoming freshman center Oumar Ballo and redshirt sophomore guard Joel Ayayi both were named to the All-Star Five team at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Heraklion, Greece, on Sunday.
The United States claimed its seventh championship in the event dating to its first in 1979 with a 93-79 victory over Mali in the final behind 21 points from Cade Cunningham.
But it was Ballo’s Mali team that was the talk of the tournament after earning the highest finish by a team from Africa.
Ballo finished with 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in the title game. Mali trailed just 42-40 at halftime, but the Americans opened the third quarter with a 12-0 run and cruised from there.
Mali was just 1-11 in two previous trips to the tournament and no team from Africa had ever placed higher than 11th.
Ayayi poured in a game-high 33 points to lead France to a third-place finish with a 73-68 victory over Lithuania.
Ayayi knocked down 13 of 23 shots from the floor, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range, and 5 of 6 at the free-throw line. It was France’s first medal in the World Cup since placing third in 2007.
Ballo and Ayayi were joined on the All-Star Five squad by Mali’s Siriman Kanoute and United States’ Reggie Perry and Tyrese Haliburton. Perry was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
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