Posts Tagged ‘Croatia’


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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Despite a horrible 7 point first quarter, team USA rebounded its way back into the game and delivered an excellent second half, including a 17-0 run, to serve Lithuania a 77-61 loss as a warmup for the FIBA World Cup that will begin on the 28th of this month.

Kevin Durant led the way with 15 points for Team USA, who shot 27 for 58, while Lithuania’s 25-for-62 shooting was led by Linas Kleiza’s 12 points.

Team USA trailed the first quarter 15-7 behind a woeful 3 for 21 shooting that included them missing all their three pointers and a missed dunk by Rudy Gay. Slowly, they started to get back into the game, including tying the game at 25 before finishing the first half trailing 29-28.

The “B team” USA only managed to improve its play in the second half behind its bench players, mainly Rudy Gay (14 points), Russell Westbrook (12 points on 4 for 5 shooting) and Eric Gordon (9 points), who had 48 of Team USA’s 77 points.

As expected, Kevin Durant (0 for 4 on threes), Chauncey Billups (7 points, 4 TOs, zero assists), Andre Igoudala (5 points), Tyson Chandler (0 points, 5 rebounds), and Rajon Rondo (4 TOs, 2 points, 1 assist) started the game for the Americans, whose horrible first quarter display clearly showed how nervous the inexperienced team was. Team USA has 13 players that include 5 21-year olds and only 2 vets that age 30+. The team is expected to be trimmed to 12 players by August 26th. It is also to note that none of the  Redeem Team players that played in the 2008 Olympics are playing  for this team.

Team USA will play Spain tomorrow at 7 PM GMT and will begin their quest for the World Championship on Day 1 vs. Croatia.