The southern Chilean city of Puerto Montt was recently filled with towering young women, as the FIBA Under-19 World Championship women’s basketball tournament came to town.
Breanna Stewart, a 6’3” (1.9 m) 17-year-old forward, described her experience in Chile in an online journal. The writing reflects the US team’s focus on the game: it’s nearly 100 percent basketball talk. But Stewart did manage to see a little of the country outside the basketball stadium, including the snowy mountains and a Jumbo supermarket. Plus, the cold: “I was expecting it to be cold, but it was a lot colder than I thought it would be.” (See This is Chile’s top five ways for staying warm this winter).
Team USA beat Spain last Sunday, July 31, in a well-played final match. Stefanie Dolson, Kaleena Lewis and Elizabeth Williams each scored 15 points for the USA, contributing to the final score of 69-43. The victors displayed excellent teamwork racking up another milestone for the U.S., which has now won two U19, one U17, and a senior women’s world championship in the past 24 months.
«Obviously we are ecstatic with the win and [I’m] very proud of my girls for how much they have had to come along to be this good,» Coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.
Spanish player Marina Delgado said, «First of all I would like to congratulate the United States because they played a fantastic game, they played perfectly well, and physically they were superior to us.»
Brazil forward Damiris Dantas took Most Valuable Player. Dantas averaged 12.6 rebounds per game and 20.9 points, the 2011 record. Brazil had a great tournament, earning their first bronze medal in the team’s history after a superb performance against the Australian team.
«It is a dream, we worked very hard to be here and to win the bronze medal, and we are so very happy about it,» Dantas said after the victory over Australia.
The Chilean women’s team took eleventh place in the tournament. The host team came within reach of the quarterfinals but had a tough match against Spain last Wednesday, losing 83-48. Chile then played China on Saturday, losing 86-49 to take out 11th place in the tournament.]
The FIBA World Championship is just one of many international sporting events in Chile this year, as more and more organizers flock to the Andean country’s first-class infrastructure and many places of natural beauty.