Rubio, Spain advance to World Cup semifinals
SHANGHAI — Ricky Rubio scored 19 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in a game-deciding 11-0 run in the final minutes, and Spain advanced to the World Cup semifinals by topping Poland 90-78 on Tuesday night.
Willy Hernangomez scored 18 points, Rudy Fernandez added 16 and Rubio had a game-high nine assists for Spain (6-0), which had been beaten in the quarterfinal round of the last two World Cups — by France in 2014, and by Serbia in 2010 when the tournament was still called the world championship.
But Spain broke through this time, and will face either Australia or the Czech Republic in the semifinals at Beijing on Friday.
A.J. Slaughter scored 19 points and Adam Waczynski finished with 15 for Poland (4-2), which is assured of finishing no worse than eighth at its first appearance at the World Cup since 1967.
Poland got within 76-72 on a layup by Waczynski with 5:42 remaining, but Spain pulled away over the next three minutes. Hernangomez’s three-point play got Spain’s run started, Rubio then made his 3s about 90 seconds apart and Marc Gasol found Victor Claver for a dunk with 2:41 left that made it 87-72.
The only other loss by Poland so far in this tournament was to Argentina — which, like Spain, is a World Cup semifinalist. Argentina beat Serbia earlier Tuesday in Dongguan, China, to punch its ticket to FIBA’s Final Four. … Regardless of the outcome Thursday, Poland’s finale at the World Cup is Saturday at Beijing in either the fifth- or seventh-place game.
The last time Spain made the semifinals was 2006 — when it went on to win the tournament. … Spain is used to grinding out wins by now in China — after a tournament-opening victory over Tunisia by 39, Spain has beaten Puerto Rico by 10, Iran by eight, Italy by seven, Serbia by 12 and now Poland by 10. … The ball handling was superb, with Spain getting credited for 28 assists on 32 field goals. … Gasol had 10 points and seven assists, and Juancho Hernangomez scored 14 for Spain.
Poland faces Australia-Czech Republic loser on Thursday at Shanghai in consolation round.
Spain faces Australia-Czech Republic winner on Friday at Beijing in semifinals.
Argentina ousts Serbia
DONGGUAN, China — The last time Luis Scola went to the semifinals of the World Cup, he was 26 and waiting to bring his long, flowing dark hair to the NBA for the first time.
He’s 39 now. A decade-long career in the NBA has come and gone. The hair is closely cropped now, with plenty of gray mixed in there.
And he’s back in FIBA’s Final Four.
Scola scored 20 points, Facundo Campazzo finished with 18 points and 12 assists and Argentina stunned Serbia 97-87 in the World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday night. Argentina (6-0) plays next in Friday’s semifinals at Beijing, against the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal in Dongguan between the U.S. (5-0) and France (4-1).
“It means a lot,” Scola said.
Serbia was considered the pre-tournament favorite by many, and came in expecting to win gold after losing title games to the U.S. at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Argentina had other plans and Scola made a very loud statement after the game — this outcome, he insisted, was no fluke.
“It just bothers me that people keep talking about miracle, keep talking about surprise, keep talking about nobody believing,” Scola said. “I’ll tell you, there were 22 people that believed for the last two months that we were going to be here. That’s all we need, just 22. We’ve got them and this is far from a miracle.”
Patricio Garino added 15 for Argentina.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 21 points for Serbia (4-2), which got 18 points from Nemanja Bjelica and a 16-point, 10-rebound effort from All-NBA center Nikola Jokic. Vasilije Micic played 18 minutes for Serbia, after the death of his mother earlier this week.
“We put a lot of work in this summer,” Bjelica said. “It’s hard. But it’s basketball. There are more important things.”