BASKETBALL: Spain pounds Argentina, 95-75 to win World Cup; France wins bronze

Spain celebrates a FIBA World Cup championship! (Photo: FIBA)

A little more than a month ago, the U.S. men’s World Cup team played its first exhibition game together at the Honda Center in Anaheim, defeating Spain’s World Cup team, 90-81. The game was close, but the U.S. had control almost the entire way.

On Sunday in Beijing, China, Spain throttled Argentina, 95-75, to win the FIBA World Cup as the U.S. finished seventh.

Spain won all four quarters and took control of the game from the start, leading 14-2, then 23-14 after a quarter and 43-31 at the half. After two Argentine free throws opened the second half, Spain went on a 14-0 run for a 55-33 lead and the issue was decided.

It was a complete game for the Spanish, who shot 47.7% from the floor to Argentina’s 36.1%, won the rebounding battle by 47-27 and out-scored Argentina in the lane by 44-30.

Four of Spain’s five starters scored in double figures, led by guard Ricky Rubio with 20, then Marc Gasol (14), Juancho Hernangomez (11) and Rudy Fernandez (11 and 10 rebounds), plus 15 from Sergio Llull off the bench. Gabriel Deck led Argentina with 24 and Nicholas Laprovittola had 17.

Said Rubio, named Most Valuable Player, ”Right now we made history, and we were ready for that. We had a great tournament. We had to fight for this one. It’s just amazing how the whole tournament has been for us as a team. We weren’t the biggest or most talented team, but we were the team with the biggest heart. We showed it tonight and in the whole tournament. Couldn’t be more proud of my teammates and our coaches. This will go down as a memory for us as a family.”

France came from behind to beat Australia, 67-59, after trailing, 32-21 at the half. The French closed to 46-42 at the end of three quarters and then scored the first eight points of the fourth to take a 50-46 lead. Australia had a 56-55 lead with 3:46 to go on a Nic Kay tip-in, but didn’t score again until 38 seconds to play and the French had rattled off nine points in a row for a 64-56 lead and the game was over.

Nando de Colo had 19 points for France and Evan Fournier had 16; Joe Ingles led Australia with 17 points and Patty Mills had 15.

It was the second world title for Spain, which also won in 2006. Argentina won its third medal, winning the first tournament in 1950, then finishing second in 2002. France won the bronze for the second World Cup in a row.

The All-Star Five:
● Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia
● Evan Fournier, France
● Luis Scola, Argentina
● Marc Gasol, Spain
● Ricky Rubio, Spain (also Most Valuable Player)

Bogdanovic was the leading scorer in the tournament with 183 points, a 22.9 per-game average, shooting 55.6% from the floor and 53.0% from the three-point line. Summary:

FIBA men’s World Cup
China ~ 31 August-15 September 2019
(Full results here)

Final Standings: 1. Spain (8-0); 2. Argentina (7-1); 3. France (6-2); 4. Australia (6-2); 5. Serbia (6-2); 6. Czech Republic (4-4); 7. United States (6-2); 8. Poland (4-4); 9. Lithuania; 10. Italy; 11. Greece; 12. Russia; 13. Brazil; 14. Venezuela; 15. Puerto Rico; 16. Dominican Republic; 17. Nigeria; 18. Germany; 19. New Zealand; 20. Tunisia; 21. Canada; 22. Turkey; 23. Iran; 24. China; 25. Montenegro; 26. Korea; 27. Angola; 28. Jordan; 29. Cote d’Ivoire; 30. Senegal; 31. Japan; 32. Philippines.

Semis: Spain d. Australia, 95-88; Argentina d. France, 80-66. Third: France. Australia, 67-59; Final: Spain d. Argentina, 95-75.