SPAIN and Serbia secured their spots in the next round of the women’s basketball competition with wins to round out the preliminary stage of competition at the Tokyo Olympics, while the last men’s matches were run and done with Slovenia grabbing top spot in Group C, and Spain securing second.
Argentina (97) defeated Japan (77)
Argentina finished up its group stage with a comfortable 20-point win over home nation Japan to secure a spot in the quarter finals. The South Americans took control early and opened up a 10-point lead at quarter time. Despite Japan hitting back in the second to reduce the deficit back to eight at half-time, Argentina took control in the second half and piled on 51 points to 39 to run out easy 97-77 victors. Leading the efficiency from the field (46 to 42 per cent) it was the South American’s ability to hit the three-pointers with 14 to six from beyond the arc. They also won the rebounds (48-39) and assists (27-16) in comprehensive fashion.
Luis Scola racked up a double-double with some eye-catching long-range shooting, making up five of eight from beyond the arc, to finish with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Facundo Campazzo (17 points – five of nine from three-point range – 11 assists and seven rebounds) almost helped himself to a triple-double, while Gabriel Deck (16 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Marcos Delia (14 points, seven rebounds) were also consistent. Yudai Baba was one of five Japanese players to reach double-figure points despite the loss, with the Melbourne United talent recording 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Yuta Watanabe (17 points, nine rebounds) and Rui Hatchimura (13 points, 11 rebounds and two assists) were also dominant players off the boards.
Spain (87) defeated by Slovenia (95)
In a battle of the two undefeated sides, Slovenia grabbed top spot and avoided playing USA, France or Australia in the next stage of the Olympics, defeating Spain by eight points in a thrilling contest. The Spanish started the stronger of the teams, leading by four points at quarter time, before the Slovenians started to whittle the deficit back. It was down to three at half-time and two at the final break, before finishing the stronger of the sides with a 27-17 last quarter to win 95-87. Slovenia shot at a higher clip from he field (42 to 38 per cent), with more rebounds (51-41) and points in the paint (34-22), whilst Spain hit 16-12 three-pointers in defeat.
Luca Doncic came close to a triple-double in another outstanding effort, making 12 points and despite being inaccurate from the field – just two of seven – he had 14 rebounds and nine assists for his troubles. Vlatko Cancar (22 points, two rebounds) had the most points in the game, while Mike Tobey (16 points, 14 rebounds and three assists) picked up a double-double and Klemen Prepelic (15 points, three assists and two rebounds) was also lively. Ricky Rubio managed 18 points, nine assists and three rebounds for Spain, while Alberto Abalde (14 points, four rebounds) and Rudy Fernandez (12 points, five rebounds) were both solid.
The quarter finals draw was also decided with the eight teams qualified. Each of the three group winners – France, Australia and Slovenia – along with the highest ranked second side United States – were drawn against the other two group runners-up in Italy and Spain, whilst third placed Germany and Argentina also finished in the top eight. France will take on Italy, Slovenia will face Germany, Australia will meet Argentina, and in the biggest clash, United States will lock horns with Spain.
Canada (66) defeated by Spain (76)
Spain concluded its group stage undefeated with a 10-point victory over Canada, officially knocking the North Americans out of the next stage of competition. The Spanish were on top from the first whistle, taking a 10-point lead into quarter time credit to their 23-13 quarter. That was the key difference in the game, though Canada cut the deficit back to six by the main break. Spain again got on top to win the third term 20-13 and blow it out to a 13-point advantage with a quarter to play, before Canada again hit back in the last quarter to win it 19-16 and put up a fight, but not enough as Spain won 76-66. The Spanish shot at a far higher 59 to 34 per cent from the field, and had the same amount of rebounds (34) despite being dominated off the offensive boards (12-1) by the Canadians. Spain easily won the assist count (29-14), and capitalised on points from turnovers (26-14) despite having three more turnovers (21-18).
Astou Ndour was the key scorer for Spain, putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double effort. Cristina Ouvina (15 points, seven assists and two rebounds) and Alba Torrens (12 points, four rebounds and four assists) were the other two key Spaniards, with Queralt Casas (eight points, five assists and three rebounds) and Laura Gil (eight points, seven rebounds and five assists). Kia Nurse led the way for Canada with 14 points – four of seven from beyond the arc – two rebounds and two assists. Natalie Achonwa (11 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Laeticia Amihere (10 points, six rebounds) also reached double-figures.
Korea (61) defeated by Serbia (65)
It was a closer game than many predicted but Serbia did what Serbia needed to do, and picked up the victory against Korea. Firing on all cylinders early, Serbia led 17-10 at the first break and then extended the lead to eight by half-time. The underdogs hit back in the second half to reduce it back to six by the final break, and kept charging in the last to actually lead by three points with four minutes remaining, but could not score in the last four minutes, as Serbia scored the last seven points of the match to win, 65-61. Serbia shot at a higher clip from the field (40 to 32 per cent) and despite only nailing two of 13 from long-range, still did enough to produce the win.
Aleksandra Crvendakic led the way for scoring with 15 points, as well as picking up seven rebounds and four assists. Tina Krajsinik (14 points, six rebounds), Yvonne Anderson (12 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Jelena Brooks (11 points, three rebounds) were the other double-figure scorers for Serbia. It was a two-player show for Korea with Jihyun Park and Danbi Kim combining for 32 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Park finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Kim had 15 points, six rebounds and three assists, as Ji Su Park came close to a double-double courtesy of her 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Picture credit: AP