Tue, Aug 22, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Angola puts some spin on the ball in world title fight


Angola's Miguel Lutonda, right, vies with New Zealand's Phil Jones during their World Basketball Championship first-round game in Hiroshima, Japan, yesterday.


One likely team -- Olympic champions Argentina -- and one unexpected one -- Angola -- have become the first teams to clinch second-round berths at the World Basketball Championship.

Argentina, 3-0, beat Venezuela 96-54 yesterday at Sendai, one of four Japanese cities hosting group games at the world titles.

Angola, which had previous wins over host Japan and Panama in Group B, easily beat New Zealand 95-73 at Hiroshima and also moved to 3-0 to officially clinch a spot in the Round of 16.

Although Angola has won eight African titles since the late 1980s, its best previous finish at the world titles was 11th at Indianapolis in 2002. But the team has had some good recent results under new coach Alberto de Carvalho.

Germany and Spain, both 2-0 in Group B, were playing each other Monday in one of four later matches.

Half of the 24 teams had the day off yesterday -- those in Group C in Hamamatsu and Group D in Sapporo -- including the United States, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

They'll be back today, with the US trying to make it three wins in a row when it takes on Slovenia, Turkey plays Brazil, Greece takes on Australia and Italy plays Senegal.

Walter Herrmann scored 25 points for Argentina. As in Sunday's 107-72 win against Lebanon, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs saw little playing time.

Chicago Bulls forward Andres Nocioni left the game with seven minutes left in the third quarter when he landed awkwardly on his ankle. Nocioni remained on the bench for the rest of the game and appeared in considerable pain when he left the court after the final buzzer.

Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said that Nocioni should be ready for the team's next game against Nigeria tomorrow.

"He said he'll be fine," Hernandez said.

"The doctor looked at him and said he'll be OK after a rest day," he said.

Luis Scola, who like Herrmann plays in Spain, scored 17 points in the first half.

"I'm really happy because our team played with intensity," Hernandez said. "Many people in Argentina got up early to watch our game, so we wanted to put on our best performance."

Venezuela, which dropped to 1-2, got 15 points from Richard Lugo.

Eduardo Mingas scored 27 points to lead Angola, making his first nine shots from the field. He had 20 points and six rebounds as Angola took a 49-32 halftime lead.

Joaquim Gomes added 20 points for Angola.

Pero Cameron had 17 points for New Zealand, which was again without starting point guard Mark Dickel.

Dickel was suspended for 10 days by FIBA after a positive drug test last month. The results for the positive cannabis test were revealed on Aug. 11.

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