Argentina topples Serbia to reach World Cup semis

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 11, 2019
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Gabriel Deck (L) of Argentina goes up for a basket against Nikola Jokic of Serbia during the quarter-final match between Argentina and Serbia at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong Province, on Sept. 10, 2019. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)

Luis Scola and Facundo Campazzo scored a combined 19 points in the fourth quarter to help Argentina advance to semifinals after beating Serbia 97-87 in the quarterfinals of FIBA Basketball World Cup on Tuesday.

Scola scored 20 points and Campazzo had 18 for Argentina. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored a game-high 21 points and Nemanja Bjelica contributed 18 for Serbia.

"Our first goal in the tournament is to reach semifinals, we knew we can do it, we knew we can play like tonight," Campazzo said after the game.

"We know Serbia was a very good team and really bigger team than us. They will score 90 points and we need to score 95 or 100 points to win, they did it and we did it," Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said.

The Argentineans managed to beat a team whose average height is ten centimeters longer (1.96m-2.06m).

Argentina led most of the way but Serbia took a 70-68 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Argentina stormed to a 19-6 spurt, leading 87-76 with three minutes on the clock. Bogdanovic scored a three-pointer to narrow the gap, only to see Campazzo and Scola scored to dash Serbia's hope.

After the tip-off, Nicolas Brussino and Campazzo combined a 5-0 run for Argentina. Scola then hit a three-pointer to gift a 12-4 lead for Argentina. Jokic was trapped in turnovers but Lucic stood out to score six points to narrow the gap for Serbia. Argentina led 25-23 into the second quarter.

Argentina continued its fast pace in attack and kept a high percentage in three-pointer shooting. Luca Vildoza made three of his five three-pointer attempts and Argentina led 54-49 into the halftime break.

The game turned to an intense battle in the third quarter. Jokic dominated the paint as the Serbians found their rhythm to cut the deficit gradually. Argentina still led but only by one point at 68-67 at the start of the fourth quarter.

A three-pointer by Marko Guduric helped Serbia take the lead at 70-68 to start the last quarter, but it was its closest moment to the victory.

It was a shock for the Serbians to stop at quarterfinals, as many believed they are one of the favorites to win the title.

"For this team, we are good people, we want to win, but we tried to win in a wrong way, we were not mentally prepared," Bjelica, who had 18 points for Serbia, sobbed after the match.

"He is hurt we are hurt, it was really a tough loss for us. Every body is eager to see that we became the favorite one and we will win. Sometimes it didn't help.

"We came as a team, and we come back as a team. I am really be proud of the players, they always give 100 percent. But there was something missing today." Serbia coach Sasha Djordjevic said.

Argentina will encounter the winner between USA and France in the semifinals.

"Either USA or France is one of the best teams in the world. We have no big men, so we need to play smart," Hernandez said. 

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