Coastal Carolina sophomore Amidou Bamba had a summer to remember, being a part of a U19 Canadian Basketball team that brought home the first ever World Cup trophy.
On July 9, Canada defeated Italy 79-60 in the U19 World Cup Final in Cairo, Egypt. Bamba scored six points and pulled down seven rebounds in 11 minutes of play in the final.
Bamba talked about what it was like the moment that final buzzer sounded, signifying that Canada was U19 World Champions for the first time ever.
“It was awesome,” said Bamba. “Obviously, this was something that had never been done and it was such a great feeling winning the championship for Canada. Just being able to celebrate with those guys on that team, the situation, everything just felt so great.”
Team Canada began playing in Egypt on July 1, taking care of Mali with a comfortable 91-42 victory. Bamba had three points in that game, as well as seven rebounds. Canada then played Spain on July 2, falling 78-73, with Bamba having three points and five rebounds in the contest.
On the final day of the group stage, Canada took care of Japan by a score of 100-75, with Bamba playing 14 minutes. Canada faced Angola in the Round of 16, winning 87-65. It was in this game that Bamba played only five minutes and did not record any stats, the only time that happened for the Coastal forward throughout the whole tournament.
Canada eked out a tough 73-67 win over France to set up a matchup with the most dominant international club of all-time, Team USA.
Team USA had undoubtedly been the most impressive team throughout the whole tournament, defeating the five opponents they faced by an average of 42.8 points per game.
Bamba played eight minutes against the United States, scoring two points and hauling in six rebounds. With it being a competitive game from the start, Bamba reflected on the energy surrounding the team going into the halftime break with a 45-42 lead over the U.S.
“Coach’s message to us was to keep fighting,” said Bamba. “We were feeling pretty good at that point and we just listened to coach’s words which was to stick the game plan and not lose focus.”
Canada outscored the United States in both quarters in the second half, ultimately defeating Team USA 99-87.
“It was an incredible feeling when that final buzzer sounded,” said Bamba. “Obviously, we had to get ready to play Italy the next day but in that moment, we had defeated the best team in the world.”
Team USA featured several top college players, such as Payton Pritchard, who played in all 39 games for the University of Oregon last season in their Final Four season. The United States also had two future University of Kentucky standouts, Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington. Team USA was coached by Kentucky Head Coach, John Calipari.
Bamba discussed what it was like playing against some of the best college athletes.
“We didn’t let the names get to us,” said Bamba. “We didn’t let the names or the schools faze us. We just wanted to go out there and play our game. We didn’t really want to give that team any type of allowance just because of who they were. We just wanted to come out with the same result we did in our other games and that was to win.”
Bamba averaged 10.1 minutes per game throughout the tournament, averaging 2.3 points per game to go along with 4.4 rebounds per game.
Bamba returns to the court for Coastal this season where he hopes that the experience overseas this past summer can help better himself for the season and help lead Coastal Carolina back to the NCAA Tournament.