World Cup recap: Spain, Argentina roar into semis

Sep 10, 2019 by Euroleague.net Print

The duo that led Joventut Badalona to the ULEB Cup crown over a decade ago was back at it on Tuesday for the Spanish national team. Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio starred in leading Spain to a 90-78 victory over Poland in the quarterfinals at the Basketball World Cup in Shanghai, China. Spain, which features two players from the squad it used to with the gold medal at the 2006 World Cup, will play the winner of Wednesday's duel between Australia and the Czech Republic in the first of Friday's two semifinals in Beijing. Argentina, which sent Serbia home in Tuesday's first quarterfinal game, will play either the United States or France in the second semifinal. Rubio, a former EuroLeague champ, dominated with 19 points and 9 assists as he became the competition’s all-time assists leader, passing retired Argentinia great Pablo Prigioni. Rubio finished the game with 115 career dimes. Real Madrid’s Fernandez, who was on that 2006 championship side, made 5 three-pointers without a miss en route to 16 points for the winners. Brothers Willy and Juancho Hernangomez scored 18 and 14 points, respectively, for Spain. A.J. Slaughter led Poland with 19 points and 6 assists, Unicaja Malaga scorer Adam Waczynski netted 15 points and former All-EuroCup swingman Mateusz Ponitka of Zenit St. Petersburg contributed 9 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.

Rudy Fernandez - Spain  World Cup 19 (Photo FIBA)Poland kept it close for most of the first half, which ended with Spain ahead 46-41. Fernandez and Rubio teamed up on a 10-0 third-quarter run to make it 58-44 as Spain looked to put the game away. Michal Sokolowski kept Poland alive, but FC Barcelona big man Pierre Oriola boosted the Spanish side to 67-58 through three quarters. Slaughter drilled a three-pointer and Waczynski drove for a layup that had the Polish bench believing at 76-72. A pair of threes by Rubio helped Spain take off on a 14-2 run that created a double-digit margin from which Poland never recovered.

Argentina will return to the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 13 years after upsetting Serbia 97-87 in their do-or-die quarterfinal in Dongguan, China on Tuesday. Two-time Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Facundo Campazzo of Real Madrid orchestrated the upset with 18 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. The game was close and thrilling for 35 minutes, but Argentina turned to legend Luis Scola who used his experience and moves to get his team's offense going when times went rough. Then a steal and slam by Gabriel Deck of Real decided the game in the final minute. Scola led the winners with 20 points. KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz teammates Patricio Garino and Luca Vildoza had 15 and 11 points, respectively, while Deck added 13. For Serbia, Bogdan Bogdanovic had 21 points and Nemanja Bjelica, 18.

Campazzo and Laprovittola - Argentina - 2019 (Photo: FIBA.com)Garino and Bogdanovic were the protagonists for their teams during a close first half in which Argentina made 9 of its eventual 12 three-pointers. Argentina managed to pull away by 8 points, 36-28, midway through the second quarter, but Serbia was back at 54-49 after Nikola Jokic's bucket before the break. In the third quarter, the game stood as close as ever and Argentina managed to keep its slim margin until Nemanja Bjelica, with a three-pointer to beat the shot clock and a subsequent free throw, got Serbia within 66-65. Free throws by Bogdanovic left a 68-67 score after three quarters in a segment of the game in which tough defense dominated. Marko Guduric opened the last period with a three from the corner to put Serbia ahead, but Garino replied in the same fashion to flip the lead again. Campazzo and Garino put Argentina ahead 76-72 with 7 minutes to go. Serbia missed a few crucial shots and Campazzo scored to make it 82-73. Bogdanovic showed courage with a three to keep Serbia alive but Nicolas Lapprovitola of Real had a three-point play and Scola made it an 11-point Argentina edge. With his signature moves in the paint in the final stretch, Scola kept Argentina ahead and Serbia started to rush its offense to try to make up for the deficit. Campazzo missed 2 free throws but he then hit a layup at 91-80 with 100 seconds to go. Bogdanovic tried to cut the gap from deep, but Campazzo ran a long offense and scored late in the possession. Deck followed with a steal and slam that sealed the deal for Argentina.