Poland, Serbia and Spain were among the winners as the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup tipped off in China on Saturday. The Poles brushed past Venezuela in Group A, while Serbia made a bigger statement by trouncing Group D opponents Angola.
The hosts also won after having a little too much for Ivory Coast. Meanwhile, Nigeria stumbled out of the blocks in Group B by losing a close one to Russia, and Puerto Rico edged Iran in a similarly tight affair to begin Group C.
- Poland 80-69 Venezuela
- Ivory Coast 55-70 China
- Russia 82-77 Nigeria
- Argentina 95-69 South Korea
- Iran 81-83 Puerto Rico
- Spain 101-62 Tunisia
- Angola 59-105 Serbia
- Philippines 62-108 Italy
Full results, standings and schedule, per the tournament's official website.
It was hardly surprising Bogdan Bogdanovic powered Serbia into control early on against Angola. The Sacramento Kings' No. 8 sunk a three-pointer to overcome a 3-2 deficit in the opening quarter.
Bodganovic finished with 24 points, two rebounds and a trio of assists. His prolific fourth quarter included making a three-point jump shot and converting a layup.
Group D's other game was dominated by Italy thanks largely to the efforts of power forward Danilo Gallinari. His 16 points, three rebounds and four assists helped Italy to maintain control and rarely give the Philippines a sight of victory.
Poland had small forward Michal Sokolowski to thank for their winning start to the group stage. He helped himself to 16 points and got in on nine rebounds.
The other game in Group A belonged to the host nation, who edged in front at the Wukesong Arena in Beijing. One of China's domestic talents helped to keep the hosts ahead during an entertaining first half.
Russia overcame a tough Nigeria squad in Group B in arguably the best match of the day. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, one of many NBA players in the Nigeria squad, tallied 18 points, but Andrey Zubkov kept Russia on the front foot.
The power forward relentlessly manufactured chances via four rebounds and a quartet of assists. CSKA Moscow point guard Mikhail Kulagin also came through in the clutch for his nation, making two free throws to settle a closely contested final quarter.
Argentina are also off the mark in the group thanks to beating South Korea. Ra Guna totalled 31 points in a losing cause.
Group C saw Iran lose a thriller to Puerto Rico. Shooting guard David Huertas was the star, accounting for 32 of his country's 83 points.
Tunisia shared in the misery of a losing start after being overwhelmed by Spain. Ricky Rubio made nine assists and snatched a pair of steals to highlight an industrious performance.
Sunday will see Australia, France, Greece and the defending champions U.S. play their opening group games.