FIBA World Cup: Spain secure 5th successive win
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Spain secured their fifth successive win of the World Cup with an impressive 81-69 defeat of Serbia and Argentina matched them with a 91-65 rout of Poland on Sunday.
All four sides had booked their quarter-final spots with a match to spare and the results mean that Spain will face Poland and Serbia lock horns with Argentina for places in the semi-finals.
France play Australia today for top spot in their pool with both teams already through to the last eight.
Also today, holders the United States meet Brazil and the Czech Republic play Greece with all four sides in that group still in contention to reach the knockout rounds.
Serbia, who won their opening four games by an average margin of 41 points, looked set to continue the streak after racing into a 20-11 lead late in the first quarter.
An energetic Spanish roster then ground Serbia’s offence to a halt and hit a barrage of three-pointers at the other end to carve out a 42-37 advantage at halftime.
Serbia’s Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic was ejected early in the second half for a double technical foul after loud dissent and Spain capitalised on his absence as their lead soared to 63-42.
A late Serbian fightback fell short as a smaller but more agile Spanish team kept collecting offensive rebounds and restricted their rivals to three successful shots from three-point range from 19 attempts.
“The Spaniards rocked us with their tough defence and ripped our game plan to shreds,” Serbia captain Miroslav Raduljica told the Balkan nation’s RTS television.
“Their scouts did a great job and we couldn’t find a way to turn things around.”
Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica added: “It was an exceptionally poor performance and we need to regroup quickly.”
Livewire playmaker Ricky Rubio led Spain with 19 points, forward Victor Claver added 14 and centre Marc Gasol chipped in with 11, cancelling out a valiant solo effort by Serbia guard Bogdan Bogdanovic who had 26 points and 10 rebounds.
The Argentines ripped into Poland with a flurry of fast breaks and clinical long-range shooting as forward Marcos Delia nailed 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter.
Their 39-year old forward Luis Scola again rolled back the years as he finished with a game-high 21 points, while Delia scored 12 and Nicolas Brussino added 10, Reuters reported.
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