Four quarterfinalists emerged from the FIBA Basketball World Cup matches played in Barcelona and Madrid on Saturday. In the Catalan capital, Team USA played a steady and balanced game to defeat Mexico 86-63 and in another match, Slovenia also progressed to the round of 8 with a 71-61 victory over the Dominican Republic. In Saturday’s first match at Madrid, France fought a spirited challenge by Croatia to go to the next phase of play with a 69-64 win; while hosts Spain decimated the Senegalese challenge with a commanding 89-56 victory.
Learning their lesson from the experience of their match against the Turks in the Group Phase, USA ensured that they must win every quarter, however small the margin may be. They mounted pressure in the first quarter against the Mexicans to lead 23-13 in the first quarter and stayed comfortable with a 42-27 lead by halftime. They played even better in the third and ended up with the quarter score of 24-11. However, the Mexicans came back with a fury in the fourth quarter to push the Americans to 20-25. But this sudden burst did not so much affect the final outcome of 86-63. For USA, Stephen Curry led the scoring with 20 that included 6 three-pointers. James Harden scored 12, Kenneth Faried added 8 and Kyle Irving and Anthony Davis finished with 4 each. Off the bench, Golden State Warriors teammate Klay Thompson added 15; Demarcus Cousins, 11 and Rudy Gay 8. For Mexico, 6-ft 9-in tall Gustavo Ayon did the majority of scoring with 25 points and 7 rebounds. On Tuesday, USA’s quarterfinal opponent will be Slovenia, who beat the Dominican Republic.
In Madrid, France began with a horrible first quarter, in which Croatia led them 15-7. But the French National Team fought back and recovered to knock Croatia out of the 2014 FIBA World Cup with a 69-65 victory. At halftime France had a narrow 23-22 lead but they played much better in the third and fourth quarters. France scored 23 in the third quarter and restricted Croatia to just 12 points. The Croats mounted another challenge in the last quarter and scored 30 to France’s 23 points but France hung on to the 69-64 victory despite the last minute scramble for points. For Croatia, Bojan Bogdanovic led the scoring with 27 points and 6 rebounds followed by Ante Tomic with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Nicolas Batum, Mickael Gelabale and Thomas Heurtel led the scoring for France with 14, 11 and 10 points respectively while coming off the bench, Evan Fournier excelled with 13 points. Croatia lost their chances mostly on account of poor shooting. For the semifinal berth, France will play the quarterfinal with hosts Spain at Madrid on Wednesday.
In the second match at Barcelona on Saturday, Slovenia defeated the Dominican Republic 71-61. The game was evenly balanced in the first quarter with the score remaining tied at 15-15. But Slovenia caused most damage in the second quarter and led 38-28 at halftime. For Slovenia the Dragic brothers led the assault by scoring the team’s first 13 points in the third quarter. Regardless, Dominican Republic played much better in the third quarter to lead 20-16. The fourth quarter was keenly contested and at one time Slovenia’s lead was just 2 points. However, Slovenia finished the game 71-61. Zoran Dragic led Slovenia with 18 points and his brother Goran added another 12 with 6 assists. For Dominican Republic, James Feldeine topped with 18 points and 8 rebounds but their top scorer in the tournament Francisco Garcia had a quiet game with just 7 points.
Spain’s match against Senegal was a one-sided affair and just as two Slovenian brothers did against the Dominicans, Gasol brothers; Pau and Marc led Spain to crush Senegal at Madrid on Saturday. Pau scored 17 points with 5 rebounds, while Marc added another 9 and 6 rebounds. Spain led in each quarter and Senegal found it difficult to match their highly talented hosts. Spain will take on France on Wednesday, for the semifinal berth.