It's been a monumental week for basketball fans north of the border. After a strong start to the U19 World Cup in host nation, Egypt, team Canada was faced with their toughest competition yet. Saturday saw the juniors take on a highly favoured American squad, which many had projected to win the entire tournament. Despite these overwhelming odds, Canada's young guns came through with a surprising 99-87 victory over their North American rivals.
The epic semi-final win paved the way for a Sunday matchup against a fearsome and streaking Italian team. Motivated and inspired by their previous triumph, Canada appeared up for the challenge yet again. The Canucks defeated the European nation by a convincing score of 71-46, capturing the U19 gold medal for the first time ever. It was an unexpected conclusion to the championship, which has showcased future basketball stars since 1979.
The championship team was led by 17-year-old RJ Barrett, who netted 18 points and 12 rebounds in the final game. Barrett was also named tournament MVP for his impressive performance throughout the World Cup. Thanks to RJ's heroics, the teenaged phenom is now considered to be the best player of his age group, with many touting him as one of the game's best overall prospects.
Aside from this individual storyline, Canadians have a lot to be excited about when it comes to their basketball talent. This is the first FIBA gold medal ever won by the country, who have missed out on the last four Summer Olympics. Despite their lacklustre track record, Canada did happen to snag the bronze medal in 2010's U17 tournament. That partiuclar team was led by a young Andrew Wiggins, who went on to become the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Entry Draft. If history is any indication, the future is looking bright for this gold medal U19 squad.