KAUNAS (2012 FIBA U17 World Championship) – Reigning champions United States and Croatia shoot for an undefeated run to the Final of the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship but must first get past Spain and Australia respectively in the Semi-Finals.
The USA are the only team back in the Semis from two years ago at the inaugural FIBA World Championship in Hamburg, Germany when they won all eight games on their way to the gold medal.
Australia (sixth) and Spain (10th) have already improved on their performances from 2010 while Croatia did not play in that tournament.
Spain v United States
Spain enter the game after beating China in the Quarter-Finals while Team USA rolled past Canada.
The Spaniards will have their emotional leader and star shooting guard Agusti Sans back after he was suspended for Friday's game.
The USA got Jabari Parker back for the Last Eight and are playing to remain undefeated in U17 Worlds history.
Key Match-Up: Spain point guard Alberto Martin against USA press – Can Martin and the rest of Spain handle the suffocating defense from Team USA?
What they say
Spain coach Alejandro Martinez: “Our first dream was to reach the Semi-Finals and now we have a really tough game. We just want to enjoy the game. For the players and me this is the first time we play against the United States and maybe the only time. It’s an honor to play against them.”
USA coach Don Showalter: “At this point you can’t really under-estimate and our players understand that.”
Australia v Croatia
Australia reached the Semi-Finals after running away late from Argentina in the Final Eight while Croatia remained undefeated by knocking off Czech Republic.
The Aussies' dynamic duo of Dante Exum and Ben Simmons have been great all tournament while the rest of the team fully understands their place in the team and game scheme.
Croatia have a great inside game while shooting guard Mario Hezonja has confirmed his status as likely the best player in the tournament.
Key Match-Up: Australia frontcourt v Croatia frontcourt – Exum and Hezonja will have a superb battle, but the key should be how the Australians can deal with the Croatian group of strong low post players.
What they say
Australia coach Guy Molloy: “They are a good European team, so we know that they play very smart basketball and it will be very tough.”
Croatia center Marko Arapovic: “They’re one of the best teams. They have one of the best scorers in Exum and we’re going to try to just keep him away from the ball. It’s the toughest game in the tournament. In the finals we would be relaxed against USA because nobody thinks we can beat them except us.”