Over the past week, the future basketball stars from across the globe got their first major taste of the limelight, an opportunity to project their way forward if all the stars align for them. It was a gathering of the best under-14 players at the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida from August 7-12. And when the exciting phase of games concluded, teams representing US Central reminded the world that the United States are poised to remain frontrunners in global basketball in the near future, too.
US Central girls team (Kansas City, Missouri) and US Central boys team (Overland Park, Kansas) won the Jr. NBA World Championship after the event's finals on Sunday. Central girls defeated the Europe girls team 68-38, while the Central boys defeated the Africa & Middle East boys team 60-50. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, three-time NBA Champion and Jr. NBA World Championship Global Ambassador Dwyane Wade and four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes presented the winning teams with trophies in a ceremony following the games.
The first-of-its kind global youth basketball tournament featured 32 of the top 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls teams from around the world, including teams from India represented by Bengaluru (Girls) and Delhi (Boys).
India's Girls started their campaign with two massive losses on Day 1, losing 57-11 to Asia Pacific, and 75-28 to Europe. On the second day, however, the team showed class to defeat South America 40-37. India were eventually defeated in the first round of the knockout stage by China, 62-31.
India's Boys also lost their two Day 1 games, to Europe 75-34 and to Asia Pacific 59-46. South America beat India on Day 2 59-46. In the first round of the knockout stage, eventual finalists Africa and Middle East knocked out India 86-29.
India's Girls player Sunishka Kartik was handed the Community Award at the end of the tournament. Before the event began, both of India's teams enjoyed a lunch hosted by NBA player Brook Lopez, who had formed a kinship with the teams when he was present at the NBA Academy India for the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA finals earlier this summer.