Leonard, US advance at FIBA Worlds

In order to win gold at the FIBA U19 World Championships, Illini Meyers Leonard and the rest of USA Basketball cannot lose another game — something the team has only done once so far.

First up in the single-elimination tournament for the Americans will be Russia, which is led by Sergey Karasev, who leads the team in scoring with 15.8 points per game and is second in assists with 2.8.

If the U.S. can win, it will face either Lithuania or Poland. Lithuania will be a hard match-up for Leonard in particular thanks to Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, who leads the Championships with 20.7 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. In the previous meeting, a 107-105 overtime win for the U.S., Valanciunas had 30 points and 15 rebounds. The 6-foot 11 center was also the No. 5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft to the Toronto Raptors. Leonard has played well for the U.S. so far, shooting 58.8 percent from the floor and averaging a block per game to help the team get out to a 5-1 record.