ORLANDO, FL: The whole world was watching as the Central Boys and Girls both became the first ever Jr. NBA World Champions.
The Girls came out victorious against Europe with an impressive 68-38 win. Sania Copeland led all scorers with 20 points, while S’mya Nichols and Tasia Johnson combined to add 25 point and 11 rebounds. After a very closely contested first half, Central came out of halftime with a vicious offensive attack to pull away. Europe outplayed Central on the boards and played a more disciplined overall game.
The Central Boys outlasted Africa & Middle East in a game that was not decided until the final minute of play. Central was led, as they have been all tournament, by Taj Manning and Mark Mitchell, Jr. The tandem combined for 35 points and 28 rebounds. Manning, especially, made his presence known inside the paint with seven blocks on the night. Africa & Middle East struggled to stay out of foul trouble as three of their starters fouled out over the course of the game. Marouf Moumine played all 32 minutes and finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. After the game, Central head coach Allen Skeens reveled this would be his last time coaching this particular team of boys, leading to an emotional ending to an amazing day.
After each game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined the winning teams on the court to congratulate them on their respective victories. Silver was joined by Dwyane Wade and Sheryl Swoopes to present the World Championship trophies. Skeens and Girls coach Samuel Johnson addressed their teams at the bracket in emotional celebrations for both teams.
Prior to the World Championship games, individual awards were presented to players that exemplified the Jr. NBA’s core values: Teamwork, Respect, Determination, and Community.
Mitchell and Juste Veronika Jocyte of the Europe Girls won the Teamwork Award for their ability to put their team’s success ahead of their own.
The Respect Award went to a representative from both of the Mid-Atlantic teams. Kiki Rice and Jarace Walker were recognized for their ability to continue being positive leaders in the face of adversity.
Copeland and Moumine won the Determination Award for their relentless effort and drive to win.
Sunishka Kartik of the India Girls and Harrison Stones of the Asia Pacific Girls were honored with the Community Award for the exemplary work they put fourth on Thursday’s Day of Service.