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USA Should Dominate 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship

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Biennially, the u18 American Championship takes place, highlighting the best young talent in America competing for a gold medal. After not taking place in 2020, the competition will resume in Tijuana, Mexico from June 6 to June 12.

The competition consists of a group phase, in which there are two groups with four teams each, followed by a bracket phase. The top-four placed teams will qualify for the 2023 u19 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary.

All games can be found under the FIBA u18 Americas playlist on FIBA’s YouTube channel.

With that said, let’s take a look at the overall competition by ranking the teams, examining important matches and more!

POWER RANKINGS

1. United States (Group B)

FIBA Americas Ranking: 1st

This ranking for the United States really should come as no surprise. They have won the last five u18 Americas Championships in a rather dominant fashion. A team with six five-star recruits (including Ke’el Ware, Anthony Black, Cam Whitmore from the Class of 2022), they are the easy favorite to take home their sixth title in a row.

2. Canada (Group A)

FIBA Americas Ranking: 2nd

Canada, like the United States, has become a force in the u18 Americas. They have finished with the silver medal in the last three competitions and in the three prior to that, they won the bronze medal. They have had future NBA players suit up in the red and white in each of the last few competitions; this year, Elijah Fisher seems the most likely to join that future pro group. Canada seems to be the clear favorite for the silver medal.

3. Brazil (Group A) 

FIBA Americas Ranking: 6th

This is where the power rankings become a tad more difficult. Brazil was prohibited from participating in the 2018 competition due to their FIBA suspension, hence why their FIBA ranking seems low. When they last competed in 2016, they finished 3rd. During the 2022 u18 South American Championship in late March, they dominated their opponents, going undefeated and winning by 39 points per game.

They will have the same core here in Tijuana, including the U18 South American MVP Reynan Dos Santos.

4. Argentina (Group A)

FIBA Americas Ranking: 4th

Argentina was competitive at the 2022 u18 South American Championship, being the only team to keep the game against Brazil close; they lost by 14 to finish second. Their top-four minute-getters from that competition will be heading to Tijuana, Mexico; this includes Dylan Bordon and Lee Aaliya, who both finished on that competition’s All-Star Five.

The team lacked depth in late March, but they will be adding more bodies that were unable to participate then.

5. Puerto Rico (Group B)

FIBA Americas Ranking: 3rd

Puerto Rico is returning its top-five scorers from the 2021 u17 Centrobasket, where they won gold. PR has routinely found themselves finishing within the top half of this competition, finishing fourth in both 2016 and 2018, but a tougher field this year could make that more difficult. Despite being ranked fifth here, however, they certainly stand as contenders to advance to the FIBA World Cup with a top-four finish.

They will be seeking a medal for the first time since 2002, where they won gold. 

6. Mexico (Group A)

FIBA Americas Ranking: 8th

Mexico missed out on the cut of the u18 Americas in 2016 and 2018, but they are finally back. Santiago Camacho was a legit offensive star at 2021 u17 Centrobasket, averaging 22 points per game. Victor Valdes was incredibly reliant, as he averaged 13 points and eight assists per game. They were incredibly close to defeating Puerto Rico in Centrobasket, losing in overtime in the gold-medal match. Additionally, as hosts, they should have the crowd behind them for this tournament, making them real sleepers in this tournament.

They were drawn into the stronger group, however, which will likely make a run more difficult.

7. Dominican Republic (Group B)

FIBA Americas Ranking: 5th

The Dominican Republic is returning four of its top-five performers from the 2021 u17 Centrobasket, where they finished third behind Puerto Rico and Mexico. Edwin Daniel and Nasir Muhammad form a formidable duo for the team, but the absence of Yeison Liberato could hurt them. For a team that finished behind Mexico just six months ago and is now missing one of their best players, it’s difficult to place them above them.

8. Ecuador (Group B)

FIBA Americas Ranking: 12th

Ecuador made its debut in the u18 Americas in 2018, and they finished last. The closest game that they had was a 12-point loss. The same result is ultimately expected here in 2022. In the 2022 u18 South American Championship, they suffered an embarrassing 44-point loss to Brazil, a sign that they will not be able to compete with the top teams here.

Realistically, getting a win here could prove to be difficult for Ecuador.

GROUP ANALYSIS

Group A is the much more competitive (and stronger) group of the two. While Canada certainly appears to be the strongest, the overall disparity in these teams isn’t massive. The gap between Argentina and Brazil isn’t necessarily big whatsoever, and Mexico arguably looked like the best overall team at Centrobasket. Finishing at the top in this group is key, as it likely means a matchup with Ecuador in the quarterfinals. Similarly, finishing at the bottom is a death sentence; it’s all but guaranteed to face the United States in the quarterfinals. 

Group B is the seemingly much more predictable group. The United States will finish first, and Ecuador will finish last; that’s an easy bet. Therefore, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic will decide the fate of this group. They will have a tough quarterfinal matchup against whoever their foe is from Group A.

Ultimately, Puerto Rico seems like the superior team to the Dominican Republic, but overall, it seems like the second and third finish in this group is the only debatable one.

BEST GAMES TO WATCH

  • Argentina vs. Brazil, June 6 @ 9:00 PM EST: On the opening day of games, there will be a rematch of the u18 South American Championship. This match could be the notable difference in facing Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals, so a win would certainly make advancing to the u19 World Cup and a medal here an easier process.
  • Canada vs. Mexico, June 6 @ 11:30 PM EST: Mexico sees its first action in years in the u18 Americas. The crowd should be loud, and if it’s somehow enough to shake Canada up, it would certainly throw Group A off its axis on the first day of the competition. 
  • Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic, June 7 @ 4:00 PM EST: This game will be the biggest and most significant of Group B by a wide margin, as it’s likely the only matchup of the group that isn’t a near guarantee.
  • United States vs. Puerto Rico, June 8 @ 6:30 PM EST: Puerto Rico offers the best competition during the group phase for the United States, so to get a good and proper look at the USA’s prospects early in the competition, this is the best game to do so.
  • Brazil vs. Canada, June 8 @ 9:00 PM EST: It’s entirely possible that these two teams are 2-0 up to this point. This game would be pivotal; the winner would face Ecuador and get matched up on the opposite side of the bracket from the United States, meaning that they would avoid them until the Finals.

About Charlie Spungin

Twitter: @CharlieS3_

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