Two more teams punched their tickets to the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Saturday. Australia and France recorded wins and are now moving on.
Not even a well-rounded game from Jonas Valanciunas, who put up 18 points, eight rebounds, one steal and two blocks for Lithuania were enough to prevent France from coming away with the 78-75 win on Saturday.
Lithuania still had 15 seconds to tie the ballgame and force overtime. However, France’s tenacious defense proved to be an ample obstacle to their World Cup hopes and dreams. Jonas Maciulis was able to finally launch 3-pointer with one second remaining, but it missed its mark, allowing France to move on.
Nando De Colo and Evan Fournier proved to be a lethal one-two backcourt punch for the French. In a battle of big-ball vs. small-ball lineups, De Colo and Fournier were able to utilize their speed and 3-point shooting to put points on the board for their team. Fournier dropped 24 points, while De Colo added 21 points and four assists. It was also De Colo who was able to lift France with a go-ahead basket late in the fourth quarter, fending off Lithuania’s late-game push.
In the other game, Patty Mills did Patty Mills things to power Australia to an 82-76 win over the feisty Dominican Republic team.
Mills led the Boomers with 19 points, four rebounds and nine assists. Chris Goulding added an extra punch with 15 points, but struggled to find his range, going 3-for-11 from the field in this outing.
Eloy Vargas and Victor Liz paced the Dominican Republic with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Unselfishness and superior ball movement was the key factor in Australia’s win here. They recorded 30 assists vs. just 18 by the Dominican Republic. Even veteran center Andrew Bogut played a bit point-center during the game and was able to notch six dimes for the night.
Team USA also are headed into the quarterfinals and they put an exclamation point on the advancement with a 69-53 thrashing of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Greek team. Giannis’ 15-point, 13-rebound double-double was not enough to carry Greece vs. USA’s more balanced offense, which was led by the 15 points, four rebounds and six assists of Kemba Walker.
Aside from Walker, only Donovan Mitchell scored in double figures with 10 points to his name. That said, more than a handful of Americans chipped in with eight or nine points each.
The faster pace that Team USA played kept Greece off keel, limiting the likes of generally productive Georgios Printezis to just six points.
The Czech Republic opened more than a few eyes on Saturday as they downed a previously undefeated and formidable opponent in Brazil on Saturday. Not only did they win, but they did it in convincing fashion, smothering Brazil 71-93.
The Czechs led from start to finish as they smartly executed their game plan, most of which was anchored around the play of standout guard Tomas Satoransky. He flirted with a triple-double as he recorded a full and fat stat line with 20 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks.
The Czechs have been one of the more fun surprises so far in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. They were a middle-of-the-pack team coming in, but have thus far exceeded those expectations and are now on the brink of sliding into the quarterfinals.
Both the Czech Republic and Brazil are now tied with a 3-1 record in Group K, but this all-important tiebreaking advantage could be the difference-maker for the Czech squad moving forward.