FIBA World Championships: Day 8: Serbia Hangs on, Spain Continues Title Defense

Posted: 05/09/2010 by Joe in A Bit of Basketball
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As the Round of 16 begins, so do the importance of games. Every game now is a do-or-die for every team, and the best is expected to be brought out from every team.

The first day of the knockout stage was as exciting and tempting as it could get, with Sebia and Croatia tipping it off in a classic rival match. It is the first time both teams play each other in a basketball competition, as the Balkan neighbours fought a war in the early 1990s, and it was one of the best played games so far in the World Cup. Croatia came out strong, leading by 8 points at the end of the first quarter despite the Serbians making 8 of their first 11 shots. Serbia managed to cut the lead to 2 by halftime, and traded the lead 11 times with their neighbours, and eventually came on top by 4 by the end of three quarters. The last quarter started all Serbia, and the Serbians had an 8 point lead, 65-57, with 3 minutes to go, then Croatian guard Marko Popovic attempted to pull a Michael Jordan, impressively bringing the Croatians back into the game, scoring 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and managed to tie the score at 72. Aleksander Rasic was fouled and made 1 free throw and missed the second, making it difficult for Popovic and Croatia to win. Nenad Krstic led Serbia with 16 points, and Rasic had 5 points in the last 21 seconds as well.

In another rematch of the last World Cup final, Spain and Greece played the main event for the night, in an attempt to make it as great as its predecessor earlier in the day. Spain have beaten Greece in several occasions, including recently  last year in the EuroBasket semis. Spain and Greece kept on exchanging leads at certain points of the game, until the Spanish, with the help of Juan Carlos Navarro, 22 points, and Rudy Fernandez, 14 points (12 in the second half), broke away in the 4th quarter, winning 80-72 to set up a clash with Serbia in the quarters. Dmitrios Dimantidis, who retired internationally after the game, had 16 points and crucial blocks and steals, and Nikolaos Zisis had 16 points as well.

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