By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Spain advanced to the 2019 FIBA World Cup semifinals and nearly clinched a 2020 Olympic Games berth with the 90-78 win over Poland at Shanghai on Tuesday.
Ricky Rubio became the all-time leader in World Cup assists overtaking Pablo Prigioni in first place. The 28-year-old point guard dished 9 assists in quarterfinals action, added a game-high 19 points as well.
Willy Hernangomez had 18 points in just over 16 minutes. Rudy Fernandez exited in the first half with a minor knee injury, but quickly got back on track to land 5/5 threes for 16 points. Juancho Hernangomez posted 14, all in the first half.
A.J. Slaughter put up 19 points for the losing side, tallied 6 assists as well. Adam Waczynski notched 15 points and Michal Sokolowski followed with 11. Damian Kulig battled in the paint and made a couple of shots beyond the arc for 10 points.
The first ever World Cup meeting between the pair of European sides mainly featured the prevailing side struggling to maintain a double-digit. Poland cut the opposition’s seemingly large advantage in both halves, but never regained the lead after the opening minutes and was not able to stay close down the stretch.
The Spaniards remained undefeated against Poland in major tournaments, namely EuroBasket, with the last loss dating back to 1971. Tuesday’s victory improved their overall W-L tally to 8-6.
Next challenge for Sergio Scariolo’s side will be Australia or the Czech Republic. The winner of the quarterfinal will collide with the La Rojas on Friday at Beijing.
In the previous eight World Cups since 1986, Spain was included in the top four only once, in 2006 and the gold medal run at Japan. Back in Saitama, a 75-74 win over Argentina and 70-47 over Greece concluded the global tournament.
Mike Taylor’s team will settle for a spot between 5th and 8th, perhaps still in the running for an Olympic Games ticket. The losing side of the Australia and Czech Republic affair will meet the Poles at Shanghai on Thursday.
Two European tickets for the 2020 Olympic Games are still up grabs. Spain is in prime position, Serbia and Poland will finish between 5th and 8th place, the Czech Republic will face Australia and France will battle USA in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL