Stars of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup were among the protagonists on the fifth day of the FIBA World Cup in China.
Group A winner Poland finished the first round undefeated with a 3-0 record thanks to Wednesday's 63-80 win over Ivory Coast, which did not advance and will seek its first victory in the classification games.
Unicaja Malaga sharpshooter Adam Waczynski led the winners with 16 points on 3-of-3 three-point shooting, followed by Damian Kulig with 14 points and Lokomotiv Kuban's Mateusz Ponitka with 12 points. For the losers, Waczynski's teammate in Malaga, Deon Thompson, was a major contributor with 18 points and 6 boards. Stellar defense allowed Poland to limit the Ivory Coast to just 8 points in the second quarter, which saw them make up for a first-quarter deficit. The game was close until the final quarter which Poland took by storm, 14-25. The winners made 9 of 21 threes overall. Venezuela sent a message that echoed all around the competition by topping China 72-59 in a do-or-die battle for both teams to reach the second round. Heissler Guillent led the winners with 15 points. Dwight Lewis added 13 while Gregory Vargas had 12 for Venezuela, which led 33-23 at halftime and never looked back.
Argentina reached the second group stage undefeated by topping Russia 61-69 in Wuhan. Two-time EuroLeague champion Facu Campazzo led the winners with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Former All-EuroLeague big man Luis Scola and Marcos Delia each had 13 points for Argentina. Andrey Zubkov of Zenit St Petersburg led Russia with 18 points. Three-time EuroLeague champion Nikita Kurbanov of CSKA Moscow had 13 for Russia, which trailed 40-53 at the end of the third quarter but managed to get within 61-63 already in the final minute. Campazzo won it for Argentina with a layup, a pair of free throws and an assist that allowed Patricio Garino of KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz to seal the win with a dunk. The consolation game between two eliminated teams that had not won yet saw Nigeria defeat Korea by 66-108. The win leaves the winners third in Group B at 1-2. KIROLBET Baskonia big man Michael Eric led the winners with 17 points and 9 boards, Ike Diogu added 16 and Chimezie Metu had 15 for Nigeria, which pulled down 43 rebounds in the game. For Korea, Guna Ra had 18 points in defeat. After 10 minutes, Korea was hanging on at 15-17, but in the second quarter, Nigeria soared to 16-32 and broke the game open. The trend continued in the third quarter as Eric just missed one free throw and one field goal all game. All of Nigeria's players scored at least 4 points.
Spain had to battle harder than expected to defeat Iran 73-65, finishing Group C with a 3-0 record. Marc Gasol led the winners with 16 points. Victor Claver of FC Barcelona Lassa and Juancho Hernangomez each added 11 for Spain. Hamed Haddadi led Iran with 10 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists, and his tip-in tied the game, 65-65, with under two minutes left. A three-pointer by Llull and a close basket by Claver sparked a final 8-0 run which allowed Spain to win the game. In a game for survival in Group C, Puerto Rico and Tunisia, both tied at 1-1, played to advance on Wednesday and the coin fell on Puerto Rico's side with a thrilling 67-64 decision. Puerto Rico is now 2-1 and advances to the next phase, while Tunisia was eliminated. Renaldo Balkman led the winners with 14 points and David Huertas added 10 in a collective effort, while for Tunisia former EuroLeague champ Salah Mejri and Omar Abada had 14 points each and AX Olimpia Milan's Michael Roll added 13 in defeat. The game reached the last quarter with a 52-55 edge in Tunisia's favor that Roll helped make 52-60. Things looked good for Tunisia, but Puerto Rico came back little by little. With 2:22 to go, Tunisia was still ahead 59-64 and that's when the team collapsed and Puerto Rico stormed with an 8-0 run capped by Gary Browne's three that allowed them to advance.
In a very anticipated showdown for first place in Group D, Serbia defeated Italy 77-92 to remain undefeated in this tournament. Former EuroLeague champion Bogdan Bogdanovic paced the winners with 31 points on 6-of-11 three-point shots. Nikola Jokic added 15, Miroslav Raduljica had 12 while Stefan Jovic of Khimki Moscow Region got 11 for Serbia. Former EuroLeague Rising Star Danilo Gallinari led Italy with 26 points. Marco Belinelli had 15, Daniel Hackett of CSKA Moscow 13 and Alessandro Gentile 11. Serbia won all four quarter, leading 23-28 after 10 minutes, 42-50 at halftime and 57-70 at the end of the third quarter. Serbia soon boosted its margin to 67-87 on a floater by Bogdanovic and never looked back. In the consolation game between Group D's two winless teams, Angola managed to get its maiden win against the Philippines by 84-81 after overtime early on Wednesday. Valdelicio Joaquim led the winners with 20 points and 7 rebounds while Yanick Moreira and Reggie Moore scored 12 each. Andray Blatche led all scorers with 23 points in defeat. A three by Jaymar Perez with 33 seconds left tied the game and then he missed another three with the score tied on the buzzer that would have won it for the Philippines. With 25 seconds left in overtime, Roger Pogoy nailed a three that brought the Phillippines within 83-81, but Carlos Morais split free throws and Kiefer Ravena missed a three for the Philippines that would have forced a second overtime.
All teams carry their own results into the second round - Serbia and Italy are set to face Spain and Puerto Rico. Poland and Venezuela will both go against Argentina and Russia.