FIBA World Cup 2019: Bogdanovic stars in Serbia win, Scola leads Argentina to victory

By Sports Desk August 31, 2019

Serbia got the 2019 FIBA World Cup started with a comprehensive victory over Angola in China on Saturday.

NBA stars Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nikola Jokic led their side to an opening win, before Spain and Italy also got up and running on the first day of the tournament.

A World Cup veteran starred for Argentina, while hosts China also began with a victory.
 

BIG NAMES SECURE BIG WIN

Serbia's stars made a strong start against Angola, who were completely overmatched in a 105-59 defeat.

Sacramento Kings guard Bogdanovic stole the show as he finished with 24 points, although Denver Nuggets superstar Jokic also contributed handily from the bench, adding 14 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Serbia, among the contenders in China, will face far sterner tests but enjoyed their first victory.

Head coach Sasha Djordjevic said: "Everyone talks about the first game, about a little bit of pressure, but in this one we really had a great game, a great opener - defensively and offensively."

Group D also saw Italy enjoy their greatest ever margin of victory at a World Cup, beating Philippines 108-62 after tying the all-time tournament record of 37 points in the first quarter.
 

SCOLA SET TO CLIMB ALL-TIME TABLE

Luis Scola is now 39 and he entered this tournament third on the all-time points list with 573 and, as a Shanghai Sharks player, should feel at home in China.

With former Australia star Andrew Gaze second in that table on 594, Scola will expect to move up the standings in the coming weeks and he took a stride towards doing so with 15 points in a big Argentina win.

The Argentina captain contributed nine rebounds, too, as South Korea were beaten 95-69.

Elsewhere in the same group, Russia edged Nigeria 82-77.
 

RUBIO STARS FOR SPAIN, CHINA TRIUMPH

Spain, the 2006 world champions, accelerated away from Tunisia in the second half to secure a 101-62 victory, with Ricky Rubio predictably central to their success.

Rubio grabbed 17 points and nine assists. Juancho Hernangomez gathered 13 points and eight rebounds in less than 19 minutes.

Elsewhere, an incredible final minute - including two David Huertas three-pointers - saw Puerto Rico beat Iran 83-81, having trailed by 19 points earlier in the game.

In Group A, hosts China were not made to pay for their profligacy from beyond the arc - shooting one of 10 - as they beat Ivory Coast in a low-scoring affair 70-55.

Meanwhile, Poland marked their return to the World Cup after 52 years away with an 80-69 victory over Venezuela.

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    Phoenix Suns guard Rubio was named MVP after he combined 20 points with seven rebounds and three assists to lead Spain to the title for the first time since 2006.

    Sergio Llull added 15 off the bench for Sergio Scariolo's side, while NBA champion Marc Gasol had 14 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.

    Spain's success owed a lot to a stoic defensive display, with Argentina forward Luis Scola kept scoreless in the first half of the showpiece.

    Scola and Facundo Campazzo combined for three-of-21 shooting from the field, with Gabriel Deck's haul of 24 points insufficient to inspire Argentina to a late comeback.

    Spain started the first quarter with a 14-2 run and then began the second half by going 12-2 to open up a comfortable advantage they never looked like surrendering.

    France took third place for the second successive World Cup after coming from 15 points down in the second half to defeat Australia 67-59.

  • The rise of Ansu Fati: Barcelona wonderkid breaks more records as Spain begin talks over call-up The rise of Ansu Fati: Barcelona wonderkid breaks more records as Spain begin talks over call-up

    Ansu Fati has made history at Barcelona in such a short space of time that even Lionel Messi's continued absence through injury has not been felt too keenly.

    After making his debut at the age of 16 years and 298 days in the 5-2 defeat of Real Betis in August, he became Barca's youngest LaLiga goalscorer after coming on to score in the 2-2 draw at Osasuna a week later.

    With Messi still not ready to be risked and Ousmane Dembele also sidelined, Ernesto Valverde made the bold call of handing Fati his full debut in Saturday's 5-2 win over Valencia at Camp Nou. He needed just seven minutes to prove his coach right.

    Inside two minutes, Fati turned in Frenkie de Jong's cross to put Barca ahead, and he returned the favour to his team-mate five minutes later after a brilliant run from the left, becoming the youngest LaLiga player this century to score and assist a goal in the same game.

    He came close to scoring twice more in the first half from that same position, as he turned and squared up fearlessly against full-back Daniel Wass at every opportunity. One impudent flick over his own head in the Valencia box brought gasps from the home fans.

    Little wonder Barca Under-19 boss Victor Valdes described him as "the jewel of La Masia",  a player who produces "pure anarchy". Little wonder his first childhood coach, Jose Luis Perez Mena, said: "I've been watching football for 50 years and I've never seen anyone like him."

    With the Under-17 World Cup coming up next month, little wonder, either, that Spain are desperate to sign him up.

    Born in Guinea-Bissau and eligible for both them and Portugal, Fati moved to Spain with his family as a child and joined Sevilla's academy before accepting an offer to sign for Barca as a 10-year-old, after his father turned down a more lucrative approach from Real Madrid.

    According to Catalan daily Sport, Fati has declared his intention to play for his adopted country and national team head coach Robert Moreno says efforts from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to bring him into La Roja's fold are well underway.

    "The people of the federation are working on it in order to bring Ansu Fati in, and then there will be the decision of the player," he told Movistar at half-time of Saturday's game.

    "The federation works to have the best players. It's a joy for Barca – a player who has come out of La Masia. You have to be calm and I hope he is."

    Fati certainly seems someone unlikely to let his sudden fame get the better of him. He described his debut last month as "the dream of any boy at La Masia"; a moment when a young man who does not turn 17 until October 31 got to play alongside global stars and was rewarded with a hug from a beaming Messi.

    His natural talent even seemed to have escaped his father, who told Partidazo de Cope last month: "At six or seven, he came to Spain. I had come here before and I didn't know he played football. They told me I was not aware of how good my son was and that he was dribbling by everybody."

    When Fati was brought on to replace Carles Perez against Betis and became the second-youngest player to feature in LaLiga in the club's history behind Vicente Martinez, his father described it as "the happiest moment of my life". He had barely even believed it when he learned his son had been given a first-team call-up.

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    He might need a lift – he won't be old enough to drive for another 13 months.

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    He was replaced by Luis Suarez in the 60th minute and the Uruguay international scored twice, with Frenkie de Jong and Gerard Pique also on target for Ernesto Valverde's side.

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    Kevin Gameiro was granted a goal after a lengthy VAR review of an offside decision before half-time, while Maxi Gomez opened his Valencia account in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the game.

    "It was a good victory against a difficult opponent who plays good football. They play different football to us but we did things very well," said Lenglet.

    "We prefer not to concede goals, but we did things well until the end. On the whole we played a good game and although we conceded the response was important."

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