Juancho Hernangómez tops Denver Nuggets’ teammate Nikola Jokić as Spain upsets Serbia
In a FIBA World Cup clash between two of the Nuggets’ European contingent, it was Juancho Hernangómez who was all smiles as Spain(5-0) topped Nikola Jokić’s Serbia(4-1) 81-69.
Serbia absolutely dominated its first four games, leading to the team becoming a trendy pick to win the tournament over the heavily-favored USA. On Sunday in Wuhan, however, Spain reminded the Eagles there’s more than two legitimate contenders at the tournament.
Hernangómez started the game for La Roja and though he struggled offensively, he contributed to the defensive effort that was impetus of his team’s win. He finished with four rebounds, one block and three points. Ricky Rubio led all scorers with 19 points to go with his five rebounds and four assists. Nikola Jokić played 17 minutes off the bench and finished with six points and five rebounds.
Serbia came into the game averaging 103.3 points per game, the leading scorers of the tournament, and it appeared as it was on its way to another win after leading by as many as eight points in the first quarter. Yet, the team would have no answers for Spain’s swarming defense in the second quarter as La Roja went on a 13-2 run. Spain would go into halftime leading 45-37 and held a 18-point lead in the third quarter. As frustrations began to mount with Serbia, Jokić argued a call and was ejected midway in the quarter. Serbia would rally in the fourth quarter, thanks to six points from Bogdan Bogdanović, but couldn’t cut the deficit to less than eight points as Spain would hold on to win.
Spain’s victory sealed its place as the Group J winners and it will now face Poland (4-1) in Shanghai in the knockout stages on Tuesday (7:00 a.m. MT, ESPN+). Serbia is the group’s runner up and will face Argentina (5-0) in Dongguan the same day (5:00 a.m. MT, ESPN+). Mason Plumlee and the USA (4-0) will wrap up their second round on Monday as they take on the 3-1 Brazil (6:30 a.m. MT, ESPN+).