HERAKLION, Crete, Greece – University of Louisville forward/center Chinanu Onuaku earned a gold medal today as a member of the USA Basketball U19 team, defeating Croatia 79-71 in overtime today in the title game of the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Crete, Greece.
Onuaku totaled six points, eight rebounds and a team-high four blocked shots in 28 minutes as the USA pulled away in overtime to claim its second straight U19 World Championship, the first USA back-to-back titles in the event since 1983. One of his blocked shots early in overtime led to a USA dunk. Former UofL forward Montrezl Harrell was a member of the 2013 gold medal winning team.
In seven games during the event, Onuaku started six games and averaged 4.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, hit 13-of-20 field goals (.650) and added 10 steals and a team-high 12 blocked shots while averaging 16 minutes a game for the deep USA squad, coached by Arizona’s Sean Miller. Onuaku’s 1.7 blocked shots were the sixth-most in the 16-team event.
Croatia’s only previous loss in the event had been to the USA on June 28 in a 103-81 decision. The USA had beaten host Greece 82-76 on Saturday in front of a sold-out and raucous Greek crowd to reach the USA’s ninth U19 final game.
The USA (7-0) became the seventh team to win the tournament without a loss, a feat achieved on four previous occasions by the USA (1979, 1991, 2009, 2013) and once by both Yugoslavia (1987) and Greece (1995). The USA now owns an all-time 85-13 record in the competition.
The 6-10, 230-pound Onuaku from Lanham, Md., started 26 games as a freshman in helping the Cardinals post a 27-9 record last season, reaching the final eight teams in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last eight years. An All-ACC Academic team selection, Onuaku averaged 3.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and was ninth in the ACC with 42 blocked shots last season.