China scraped into the second round of the World Basketball Championship on Thursday, while Australia also made sure of their round-of-16 spot.
China slumped to a crushing 87-40 defeat to Turkey in their final Group C game, but still reached the next stage thanks to Puerto Rico.
Going into the final day of pool play, China, Puerto Rico and the Ivory Coast were all fighting for the final qualifying spot.
If the Ivory Coast were to take the final position they needed to beat Puerto Rico by 12 or more points. With time running out it looked like the Africans had pulled it off, leading 88-76, but on the buzzer David Huertas hit a three-pointer to bring the margin back to nine points.
Against Turkey, China were struggling early in the contest, managing just six points in the opening quarter to be down 15-6.
The situation did not improve in the second quarter, as Turkey continued to extend the gap with China only able to add another seven points to trail 39-13 at halftime.
Sun Yu was the top contributor for the Chinese with five points, while Oguz Savaz led Turkey with 10 points.
Although China were able to pick up their scoring in the third quarter, it would make little difference as Turkey continued to surge ahead, leading 66-25 with a quarter left to play.
In the last quarter, it was a case of the Chinese needing to put some respectability back into the scoreline, only for Turkey to pull further ahead, winning 87-40.
Yu finished the game as top-scorer for China, who face Lithuania in the round-of-16, with 15 points, while Savaz led Turkey with 20 points.
China coach Bob Donewald said: “Today, we played the young guys and it will be an experience they will never forget. They made a lot of mistakes, but two or three years from now they can look back on it as a great lesson.”
Australia racked up a vital 76-55 win over Angola in Group A and will face Slovenia for a quarter-final spot.
Patrick Mills was the best of the Australians, being the only player on his roster to break into double figures, finishing with 11 points. Matthew Nielsen finished with nine points, six assists and seven rebounds.
“Angola were very good at the start, but we managed to take control of the game at the end of the second quarter when we cranked up our defense,” Australia coach Brett Brown said.
Serbia topped the group, knocking over previously unbeaten Argentina 84-82.
Dusko Savanovic top-scored for the Serbians with 19 points, while Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets was the best contributor for Argentina with 32 points.
Eric Gordon of the Los Angeles Clippers scored 21 points to help the US maintain their unbeaten record in group play as they beat Tunisia 92-57 to top Group B and set up a round-of-16 meeting with Angola.
US coach Mike Krzyzewski was keeping his feet on the ground, despite the perfect record.
“We need to be ready for Angola because in the next stage, if we don’t win, we don’t win the World Basketball Championship,” he said.
Slovenia took second spot, holding off a determined Iran 65-60, while Brazil claimed third spot from Slovakia by beating them 92-74. Marcelinho Machado was the best of the Brazilians with 18 points.
In the other Group C game, Russia were able to claim second spot with a 73-69 victory over Greece. Timofey Mozgov topped the scoring for Russia — who face New Zealand next — with 16 points.
In Group D, Canada will return home winless after falling 67-89 to Lithuania who go into the round-of-16 unbeaten. Also returning home are Lebanon, going down 84-66 to Spain in their final game.
In the final game of Group D, New Zealand were able to avoid facing Turkey in the next round by beating France 82-70 and finishing third.
Had the French been able to keep the deficit to 12 or less, they would have held onto third spot and avoided the home side.
“Playing Turkey in Turkey is a monumental task, but playing an in-form and well-coached Russia is just as difficult,” New Zealand coach Nenad Vucenic said.
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