UVA’s Stattmann, Caffaro Begin Play At FIBA U19 World Cup

By Scott Ratcliffe

Virginia’s Francisco Caffaro of Argentina (left) and Kody Stattmann of Australia could meet up in the FIBA U19 World Cup this week in Greece.

A couple of Virginia basketball players — rising second-year wing Kody Stattmann and 7-foot redshirt freshman Francisco Caffaro — are in Heraklion, Greece this week representing their respective countries at the 14th FIBA U19 World Cup.

Stattmann will be donning the green and gold of his native Australia, while Caffaro will be sporting blue and white for Argentina. Both teams begin group play Saturday morning. The 16-team event runs through next weekend. You can catch the livestream of every game via FIBA’s YouTube channel here, and also online at fiba.basketball.

For many Cavalier fans, it could be the first chance to really get a good look at what each player is capable of, after Stattmann saw limited minutes as a freshman and Caffaro had to sit out last season due to a knee injury.

Stattmann and the Australian squad will face defending champions Team Canada (ranked No. 2 in the world) in the first game of Group B competition Saturday, then 13th-ranked Latvia Sunday and Mali (ranked 27th) Tuesday. Former Duke star RJ Barrett led Canada to the 2017 title in Cairo, Egypt, but he obviously won’t be lighting it up this time around.

Stattmann (back row, third from left) with the Australian U19 national team.

The Aussies, ranked 10th in the world, won their only World Cup in 2003, finished fourth in both 2009 and 2013, and Stattmann played a major part on the country’s U18 team that claimed the FIBA Asia tournament a year ago.

Stattmann has a reputation as a shooter, and his offensive skills were on full display during a recent World Cup tune-up. In three games for the “Emus,” Stattmann scored 19, 13 and 12 points, respectively, against Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

He may look a little different than you remember, too. Due to his bushy hairdo, Stattmann reportedly acquired the nickname “Shaggy” upon arrival at UVA, but he has since shed the longer locks.

Playing behind a few future professionals this past season with the ‘Hoos, Stattmann was also adjusting to American college ball, and more specifically Tony Bennett’s Pack-Line defense. He appeared in 18 games in 2018-19, averaging 1.7 points on 43-percent shooting (9 for 21) over 4.1 minutes, but struggled from downtown (4 of 15, 27 percent). With more playing opportunity, Stattmann will certainly be looking to boost those numbers.

With a new-look roster this coming season, Stattmann — as well as Caffaro — will have a chance to improve and impress, and contribute some significant minutes when November rolls around and the Wahoos begin their first national title defense.

Hailing from El Trebo, Santa Fe, Argentina, Caffaro ironically spent the prior two years at the NBA’s Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, before signing with Virginia.

Caffaro was forced to watch from the sidelines as the Cavaliers fought for the program’s magical season, but the big man worked with the team in practice throughout.

“I learned lots of things,” Caffaro said of his redshirt year, “but something that I learned and will be able to help [Argentina] for the U19 World Cup is playing as a team. Not many college teams play as a team — there’s lots of one-on-one — and Virginia has shown the past few years that playing as a team at both ends works.”

Caffaro could step in this winter and provide a serious, much-needed scoring and rebounding presence in a hurry. But, first things first.

Caffaro (back row, second from left) and Team Argentina.

Argentina, which has never claimed a U19 World Cup title, goes up against 19th-ranked Russia on Saturday (see schedule below) and the Philippines (ranked 30th) Sunday, while concluding Group C play Tuesday against host Greece (ranked 15th). Argentina holds a FIBA world ranking of No. 9.

Caffaro is no stranger to international competition, as he has represented his country each year since he was 15 years old. He put up averages of 16.7 points and 8.8 rebounds — including a 22-point, six-board effort against Team USA — during last year’s FIBA U18 Americas tournament.

Though the two countries are in different groups, there’s a chance Argentina and Australia could meet up as the tournament winds down, as early as the quarterfinal round. Both Stattmann and Caffaro expressed excitement about the possibility of the two nations squaring off.

“I really hope we get to play them,” said Caffaro. “I pretty much know the whole [Aussie] team. While I was in Australia with the NBA Academy, I lived and played with most of them.”

It would be a pretty cool experience for both, especially seeing a teammate that you recently celebrated a championship with in a different uniform on the other end of the floor. Should such a meeting take place, the winner will surely be reminding the loser of the outcome in the UVA locker room for the next few years, and for years to come.

Last month, when Stattmann tweeted how his next goal is to hoist the U19 trophy with Team Australia, Caffaro playfully replied, “Good luck with that mate,” alongside a heart and an Argentenian flag. 

FIBA U19 World Cup

(All Times Eastern)

Group Phase

Saturday, June 29

Australia vs. Canada, 8:30 a.m.

Argentina vs. Russia, 11:15 a.m.

Sunday, June 30

Australia vs. Latvia, 9 a.m.

Philippines vs. Argentina, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, July 2

Australia vs. Mali, 11:15 a.m.

Argentina vs. Greece, 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 4

Round of 16, TBD

Saturday, July 6

Quarterfinals, TBD

Sunday, July 7

Semifinals, TBD

Monday, July 8

Medal Games, TBD


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