Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić, Serbia bow out of FIBA World Cup contention

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

Nikola Jokić had arguably his best game of the FIBA World Cup but it wasn’t enough to help Serbia overcome Argentina in 97-87 loss in the Quarterfinals.  

The Nuggets’ All-NBA First Team center got his first start of the tournament and dropped 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, one block and a steal while shooting 54.5 percent from the floor. Despite Jokić’s performance and 21 points from the tournament’s leading scorer in Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia couldn’t match Argentina’s accuracy from the behind the arc and trailed for most of the game. The Argentines hit 12 of their 27 attempts from downtown (good for 44 percent), while Serbia struggled – converting at 28.6 percent of their threes.

Luís Scola, who played in the NBA for 10 seasons and currently stars in CBA with the Shanghai Sharks, led Argentina with 20 points and five rebounds. His teammate Facundo Campazzo, who plays for Real Madrid, dropped 18 points and 12 assists to help seal the victory. It’s a tough result for the No. 2 Serbia, a team that many believed had a shot of reaching the World Cup’s final. Jokić is currently averaging an impressive 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and four assists in the tournament and Serbia will now play in the classification round to determine spots 5-8 in the tournament.

As disappointing as Tuesday was for Jokić and Serbia, Juancho Hernangómez and Spain have plenty to celebrate after a dominant 90-78 win over Poland. After some struggles against Serbia on Sunday, Hernangómez returned to his best as he hit three buckets from downtown en route to a 14-point, three rebounds showing against the Biało-czerwoni. Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio led Spain with another strong performance, dropping 19 points and nine assists while A.J. Slaughter, who plays for Real Betis Energía Plus, had 19 points and six assists for Poland.

Spain now awaits the winner of Wednesday’s Australia vs. Czech Republic game to determine who it will face in Friday’s semifinals (2:00 a.m. MT, ESPN+). Mason Plumlee and the USA will also be looking to book their ticket to the semifinals as they take on France on Wednesday (5:00 a.m. MT, ESPN+). The winner of that encounter will move on to face Argentina on Friday (6:00 a.m. MT, ESPN+). The loser will face Jokić’s Serbia on Thursday (5:00 a.m. MT, ESPN+).

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