The 2019 FIBA World Cup tipped off in China over the weekend and basketball fans from all over the world were treated to 16 games (8 Saturday, 8 Sunday).
There more than several blowout victories. Most of them came from heavy favorites, while others were just mismatches. There were no true nail-biting close games nor any surprising upsets.
Day 1 – Saturday, August 31
Angola 59-105 Serbia
There weren’t any surprises in this opener, as Serbia had been gaining a lot of steam throughout the weeks leading up to this event. Bogdan Bogdanovic and his game-high 24 points were just too much for Angola to handle.
Serbia is being looked at as one of the teams that can be serious contenders for the gold medal and upset defending champions, Team USA. So far, so good, as the Serbians looked sharp and have gotten their World Cup campaign on the right foot.
Poland 80-69 Venezuela
The Polish squad made use of their size advantage in this matchup and were able to score some easy baskets from 2-point range.
Venezuela ended the first quarter with a 22-24 lead, but Poland stormed back with a big second quarter to establish an eight-point lead at the half. They did not look back and cruised to victory from there.
Russia 82-77 Nigeria
This was one of the closest games on opening night. Nigeria, led by Minnesota Timberwolves’ swingman Josh Okogie, managed to keep Russia on their toes and this game tight. He dropped a game-high 18 points along with four dimes.
Nigeria shot better from two-point range and the free-throw line, but Russia was able to come through in the fourth and final quarter to pull out the win.
Iran 81-83 Puerto Rico
Thanks to the dominant presence in the paint of veteran Hamed Haddadi, Iran exploded out of the gates and put up a 30-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. He put up an impressive 22-point, 16-rebound double-double.
The second quarter saw more domination by the Iranians as their lead ballooned to 18 points.
The Puerto Ricans came back strong in the second half and thanks to a 16-32 fourth quarter, were able to complete the comeback win. David Huertas led Puerto Rico with 32 points, three rebounds, and four assists.
The Philippines 62-108 Italy
This was a slaughter and one of the most brutal blowouts of the night. Italy dominated the Philippine squad early, crushing the Gilas Pilipinas team 8-37 in the first quarter.
Danilo Gallinari was the top performer for Italy with 16 points, three rebounds, and four dimes.
Cote d’Ivoire 55-70 China
The event hosts got off to a good start on Day 1. They quickly erased an early 16-14 first-quarter lead by Cote d’Ivoire. A third-quarter sealed the deal as China pounded the rock in the paint as they made the most of their size advantage. They shot a blistering 62 percent from two-point range but struggled at the line, making just 11-of-19 shots from there.
Former NBA big man Yi Jianlian paced the Chinese team with a game-high 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field.
Argentina 95-69 Korea
Thanks to the efforts of Facundo Campazzo and Nicolas Laprovittola, the Argentinians were able to overcome a monster game from Korea’s Guna Ra, who put up 31 points and 15 rebounds.
Argentina came into this with the superior team effort. While five of their players chipped points in double figures, only Junghyun Lee was able to help Ra on the offensive end of the floor with 15 points of his own.
Spain 101-62 Tunisia
Ricky Rubio came alive in this game and the Spitfire guard from the Phoenix Suns dropped 17 points and nine assists to quarterback Spain’s relentless offense.
Spain is still a basketball powerhouse, despite the ages of some of their more established veterans. Their experience in global competition makes them even more dangerous.
Day 2 – Sunday, September 1
Canada 92-108 Australia
This game boiled down to an interesting duel between two veteran guards. Cory Joseph on the side of Canada and Matthew Dellavedova for Australia.
It was an exhilarating back-and-forth exchange between these two teams. Fortunately for the Aussies, they managed to swing the momentum in their favor in an all-important rally in the fourth quarter.
Delly ended the game with 24 points, five boards and five assists to pace the victors.
New Zealand 94-102 Brazil
The New Zealand Tall Blacks fell to Brazil despite their superior shooting accuracy from two-point range. Brazil’s 12-28 was the tipping point of the game. They managed to set up a cushion to help them hold off a Tall-Black run in the fourth.
Veteran point guard Leandro Barbosa (Brazil) was the top-scorer of the game with 22 points.
Turkey 86-67 Japan
Ersan Ilyasova paved the way for Turkey’s win. He put up a well-rounded performance, spearheading Turkey’s offense with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double. He managed to outduel Rui Hachimura, who put up 15 points of his own.
The key stat of the game was in the rebounding category. The Turks outrebounded the Japanese 44 to 26.
The Dominican Republic 80-76 Jordan
Ahmad Al Dwairi exploded for 34 points for Jordan but unfortunately, his heroics were not enough to carry his team.
The Dominicans set up an 11-point first-half lead and were to maintain their defensive composure to limit the rest of Jordan’s scorers.
Senegal 47-101 Lithuania
This was the largest blowout win of Day 1 action. Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as he anchored the Lithuanian effort in the paint.
Senegal was outmatched and could do little to cut into Lithuania’s snowballing lead.
Greece 85-60 Montenegro
Montenegro’s 3-point shooting was off in this game, which made it difficult for Nikola Vucevic to get the ball at the right spots in the low post. Aside from that, Greece’s big men came to play and controlled the action on the glass as well as executed superior ball movement to defeat their opponents.
Greece outrebounded Montenegro 42-30 and had more assists, 23-13. Giorgios Papagiannis and Giorgios Printezis were actively attacking in the paint, effectively enough that reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo only needed to play 10 minutes in the game.
Czech Republic 67-88 USA
Team USA led this game from start to finish and was not challenged too much by their Czech opponents. Donovan Mitchell, who was dubbed the team’s “leader” by coach Popovich, did just that with a 16-point performance.
Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky had his hands full in this game but still managed to put up a game-high 17 points for his team.
France 78-74 Germany
The French started this game strong and were in control for the entirety of the first half. Germany got their game in gear after the break, but France kept in stride and was able to hold off their late-game surge.
The game was mostly a duel between France’s Evan Fournier, who posted 26 points and 10 rebounds and Germany’s Johannes Voigtmann who nearly matched him with 25 points of his own.
There you have it, the first 16 games of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Don’t blink as the great global basketball action is just getting started.