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In a back-and-forth thriller to close out Friday's action, Spain pulled away from Italy behind the play of guard Ricky Rubio. With the win, Spain has clinched a spot in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.
The San Antonio Spurs' Marco Belinelli nailed a free throw with 3:58 left to give Italy a 56-52 lead. However, Spain woke up from that point on behind the play of Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol, Rubio and Sergio Llull. Gasol came up with a big rebound and assisted on a Victor Claver dunk that tied the game at 56 with 3:18 left.
Spain turned up its defense, recording three steals over the final minutes -- two of which came by Rubio. He added to that with some critical assists and four made free throws over the game's final 20 seconds that clinched the win for Spain.
Overall, Rubio finished with 15 points, two rebounds and two assists. Juancho Hernangomez of the Denver Nuggets had 16 points and four rebounds, while Llull had 11 points and three rebounds. For Italy, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari led the way with 15 points and five rebounds. The team got a solid performance from ex-NBAer Gigi Datome (12 points, three rebounds), but Belinelli struggled all game long (seven points on 3-for-16 shooting).
Much like Poland -- although much less surprisingly -- Serbia remained undefeated in FIBA World Cup play as well on Friday. It breezed past Puerto Rico, 90-47, behind its stockade of NBA players.
The win, coupled with Italy's loss to Spain later on Friday, assured Serbia of a spot in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.
Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica was the top scorer with 18 points, while Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic scored 16 -- 10 of which came in the game's first five minutes. Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic needed just 17 minutes to amass 14 points and 10 rebounds. For the third time in China, Serbia dished out 30 or more assists, (30 now) led by Stefan Jovic (nine assists) and Vasilije Micic (eight).
David Huertas scored 11 for Puerto Rico, which shot just 26.6% to Serbia's 55.7%. In one of the top matchups to watch this weekend, Spain will take on Serbia on Sunday. Puerto Rico also plays Sunday as it will take on Italy.
Poland continues to impress on the FIBA World Cup stage, improving to 4-0 with a narrow win against Russia in the second round. Behind an 18-point game from Adam Waczynski and a 14-point, nine-rebound game from Mateusz Ponitka, Poland rallied in the fourth quarter to secure a 79-74 win.
The victory, coupled with Argentina's win against Venezuela later on Friday, ensures Poland of a spot in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.
Mikhail Kulagin scored 21 and Semen Antonov and Andrey Vorontsevich each added 11 points for Russia, which fell to 2-2 in FIBA World Cup play. Russia will continue its second-round play on Sunday against Venezuela, while Poland will look to move to 5-0 when it takes on Argentina on Sunday as well.
Argentina is headed to the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup after drubbing Venezuela 87-67 behind a balanced scoring effort.
Gabriel Deck put on a show against Venezuela, scoring 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field while Facundo Campazzo had 12 points and nine assists. Former Houston Rockets star Luis Scola scored 15 points, Patricio Garino added 10 and Nicolas Laprovittola finished with nine points, seven assists and five rebounds off the bench.
Michael Carrera scored 19 for Venezuela, which shot just 38.8% and was a frigid 6-for-21 (28.6%) on 3-pointers. Venezuela will play Russia on Sunday, while Argentina and undefeated Poland clash Sunday as well.
Thanks to the play of Orlando Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu, Nigeria has helped its chances of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.
Nigera topped Cote D'Ivore 83-66 in Classification 17-32 in Group M play behind a strong second half performance. The win puts Nigeria in the pole position to qualify for the Olympics.
In this Classification 17-32 game Friday, Nigeria proved too good with a strong second half showing. It puts them in pole position to qualify directly for the Olympics out of Africa. Aminu finished with 13 points and seven rebounds as Nigeria pulled away from Cote D'Ivore in the third quarter. The win was also paved by two other factors: inside scoring and bench play. Nigeria outscored Cote D'Ivore 44-20 in the paint and had a 39-27 advantage in bench scoring as well.
Samad Nikkhah Bahrami shot the lights out with a 5-for-7 showing from 3-point range en route to 21 points in a 71-62 victory against Angola. The victory marked Iran's first win of the FIBA World Cup.
Former Memphis Grizzlies big man Hamed Haddadi finished with nine points and five rebounds, while his backup, Aaron Geramipoor, was solid off the bench (11 points, seven rebounds) as well.
In this Classification 17-32 game Friday, Tunisia got its second win of FIBA World Cup play to improve to 3-2 in Group N. Omar Abada led the way in the 86-67 romp against the Philippines, scoring 16 points. Mohamed Hadidane and Makram Ben Romdhane each scored 10 points, with Romdhane adding 10 rebounds as well. Michael Roll had 13 points and nailed a trio of 3-pointers as Tunisia shot 42.3% (11-for-26) from deep in the win.
Former NBA player Andray Blatche led the Philippines with 24 points and 11 rebounds, but did not get much help. No other player on the Philippines' roster scored more than eight points in the defeat.
In Classification 17-32 Group M action, China pulled away in the dying stages after surviving a fright from Korea. They are now in pole position to directly qualify for the Olympics from Asia.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian had eight points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks in the victory.
Qi Zhou (13 points and 14 rebounds) powered China with a balanced game, while Guna Ra played all 40 minutes and led Korea with 21 points and 12 rebounds.