The line-up for the 2014 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals has emerged with clarity at the end of the second day, which saw two thrillers. One was an upset victory for Serbia at Madrid, where the Greeks were shocked by a spirited Serbia and then a cracker at Barcelona, where Australia lost to Turkey in the last five seconds of the match. Also at Barcelona, New-Zealand gave a fright to Lithuania, before being edged out and at Madrid, traditional foes; Brazil and Argentina faced each other with Brazil emerging as a runaway winner.
In arguably the most shocking result of the day, Turkey scored a dramatic victory over Australia in a late surge. With 60 seconds remaining; Australia were ahead by five points but suddenly, Turkey’s Emir Preldzic struck from long-range and after that Australia lost the ball for a shot clock violation. But they still had a 2 point lead with 5 seconds to go, when Preldzic had the ball once again. He danced with an Australian defender, took a step back and sank a marvelous 3-pointer to edge the Australians out of the World Cup 65-64. For Turkey, Preldzic and Sinan Guler scored 16 points each and Ender Arslan added 11. Australia’s Aron Baynes scored 15, Matthew Dellavedova 13 and Maccabi Electra star Joe Ingles chipped in with 10 points. After leading by12 points in the third quarter; Australia missed 9 out of 19 shooting chances from field as well as free-throw line.
Greece buckled in the second half under a perfect display by Serbia and crashed out of the competition with a 90-72 loss. Though Serbia led each quarter’s score, Greece did not fall too far behind until halftime, when the score was 46-42. But the Serbs dominated the third and fourth quarters and prevented any foothold to the Greeks. The perfect 5-0 Group stage performance of Greece became meaningless in the end. In quite the opposite way, Serbia’s loss in 3 matches out of 5 in Group games did not bother them yesterday as they raised their game, when it mattered most. In the end, they literally outplayed the otherwise formidable Greeks. For Serbia, star performer, Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 21 points from 7 out of 11 shooting chances. Miroslav Raduljica added 16 with 6 rebounds. Other Serbian scorers included; Teodosic 13, Kalinic 12, and Krstic 10. For Greece, Nick Calathes scored 14 with Nikos Zisis and Giorgios Printezis scoring 12 apiece. Coming off the bench, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 7. The Greeks did not play as bad as the score-line suggests. They fought until the last minute but Serbia fortified their defense in closing stages.
In another match at Barcelona, Lithuania were too good for the challenging Tall Blacks, New Zealand; and won the match 76-71. Lithuania thus entered the quarterfinal of FIBA’s top basketball event for the third consecutive time. The New-Zealanders are famous for their never-say-die spirit and this showed in ample measure in the game against Lithuania, who led handsomely in first quarter. But New-Zealand came back strongly in remaining three quarters with scores of 17-13, 24-22 and 21-18. However, the Tall Blacks couldn’t completely nullify the huge first-quarter deficit. Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas collected 22 points and 13 rebounds and he was ably supported by Martynas Pocius’ 11 points with Darjus Lavrinovic also scoring 10. It was in the third quarter that the Tall Blacks scored the first nine points of the final period, with Isaac Fotu and Corey Webster hitting on three successive three-pointers. Webster was New Zealand’s top scorer with 26, Isaac Fotu added 11 and Mika Vukona 9. In the end, Lithuania came through to leave the Tall Blacks too dejected.
In Madrid, Brazil overcame their Argentina complex. In World Championship matches since 1967, Brazil have always failed to beat Argentina. On Sunday, however, they changed that trend and defeated their arch-rivals 85-65. Argentina started off well and led 21-13 in the first quarter. This, however, was the best that Argentina would do in the match because brilliant basketball from Brazil in all remaining quarters changed everything. Brazilian Raul Neto led the scoring with 21 points, Marquinhos Vieira 13 and Marcelinho Heurtas and Tiago Splitter each added 10. For Argentinians, Pablo Prigioni, scored 18 points and 4 rebounds and Facundo Campazzo added 11 with 7 rebounds.
With Monday being the day of rest, the first two quarterfinals will be played in Barcelona on Tuesday, where, USA will take on Slovenia and Lithuania faces Turkey. The next two QFs will be played on Wednesday at Madrid, where Spain takes on France and Serbia will face Brazil.