Serbs overestimated themselves
Unlike many other grands of world basketball, whose composition for the World Cup 2019 was not impressive, the Serbian national team came to the primacy of the planet fully armed. And, if it were not for the injury received by Milos Teodosic a couple of weeks before the start of the tournament, the Balkans would bring to China an extremely close to the optimal player cage.
With European-star defender Bogdan Bogdanovich, who took a serious step forward in his own development over two seasons at Sacramento Kings. With a unique center character, Nicola Jokic, who raised the Denver Nuggets from the basement of the NBA Western Conference standings to a real fight against the Golden State Warriors for the first seeding in the playoffs.
Finally, with a galaxy of experienced cup fighters who have seen more than one major international competition in their lifetime, and the outstanding basketball player Sasha Dzhordjevich in the past on a coaching bridge. Perhaps not the most powerful tactician, but an excellent motivator who, over the previous four years, has been leading his players to the finals of the Spanish World Cup, Eurobasket 2017 and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Even before the start of the World Cup, the Balkans did not see themselves in a place other than the final first - and through the mouth of Djordjevic they promised all the horrors of basketball life to the Americans, which forced Serbia to be content with the silver awards of the 2014 World Cup and Games 2016. And in the test matches, and directly at the start of the championship of the planet, the strongest (at least it seemed to journalists, experts and bookmakers) European team looked almost invulnerable, dealing with all rivals in a row.
Serbs defeated the middle and outsiders with a shocking difference of 40 or more points, and at the same time very calmly and confidently beat the strong Italian team. Against the background of the US national team, which was tormented in a strange half of the site in a good half of their matches, Jokich and the company looked extremely convincing. The difference in quotes between the two favorites at a certain point was reduced to the limit of statistical error.
But the alarm bell for Serbian ambitions sounded even at the end of the second group round, when the team of Djordjevic lost to Spain - not to say that it was sensational, given all the merits and achievements of the “Red Fury” in the new century, but still quite unexpectedly. And, to my misfortune, one of the main contenders for the gold of the championship of the planet made absolutely no conclusions from this local failure. But he demonstrated all his weaknesses to Argentina, underestimated after the end of his career by the legendary Manu Zhinobili, but at the same time a very smart, efficient and characteristic team, which made it to the quarterfinals with the “steering wheel” in the defeat graph.
As a result, the team, which only in the end managed to squeeze the Russians who had huge personnel problems, gave Serbia a 40-minute master class on using their own trump cards, which Latinos still had less than representatives of the Old World.
Throughout the match, which opened the competition program for the playoffs of the World Cup, the 39-year-old center Luis Skola (he played in the final of the world championship back in 2002, when Jokic and Bogdanovich went to primary school) declassified the famous front line of the Balkans, Facundo Campazzo brilliantly conducted the Argentine attack, issuing a double-double of 18 points and 12 assists, and each role-playing basketball player Sergio Hernandez played to the limit.
It is not in vain that Luca Vildoza, Gabriel Dec and Patricio Garino are in good standing at the Spanish Euroleague clubs: both Real Madrid and the Basque Country, which historically work very effectively in the South American market, know the price of classy rotation performers, and the very fact of getting competitive minutes in such groups is a kind of quality mark.
The Serbs, however, could not do anything with the energy, courage and exorbitant dedication of the Argentines. Djordjevic did not force his wards to give their best in defense to the maximum (as evidenced, for example, by 60% of Argentina’s close and middle range hits), his snipers oiled 20 three-point shots out of 28, and the applicant for victory in the World Cup could not even transfer the match, which was considered a clear favorite, in the end.
In the final five minutes of regular time, the advantage of Hispanics never once fell below six points, and a couple of times completely exceeded the “top ten”. Spectacular dunk Deka in a quick break 48 seconds before the final siren issued a loud sensation - and, as it turned out, not the last in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.
France stopped the USA
In the Chinese World Cup, the US team in the second group round was in an unusual situation for itself, when the individually strongest player on the court was not listed in its composition - and, nevertheless, did not experience any problems with the Greeks who failed in the Celestial Empire, who did not make it to the playoffs -off with a lively and healthy Janis Adetokunbo (for a second, the current MVP of the season in the NBA).
But the Americans did not pass the test of Rudi Gober: the best player of the defensive plan of the two previous regular championships of the association made the attack of the star-striped squad finally stall, to put it mildly, which did not shine throughout the tournament.
It is surprising and to the same extent extremely characteristic that Donovan Mitchell, the center of Utah Jazz center partner, became the main victim of the defensive schemes built around Gober by the French national team coach. The American defender could not help but know how cool Rudi cemented the three-second zone, but in the end, Greg Popovich still had no other options for scoring, except for the passages of the 23-year-old scorer under the ring.
And it was the block shot that Mitchell received in the last minute of the fourth quarter with “-4” for the US team, became the most significant moment of the quarter-final matches - and, perhaps, of the entire current championship of the planet. After all, he de facto cut short the 58-match winning streak of Americans in official meetings with NBA players in the squad and led to the first defeat of the founders of basketball since 2006, when they were beaten by the Greeks in the semifinals of the Japanese World Cup.
However, not Gober alone: the French as a whole played very powerfully, allowing only a small failure at the junction of the third and fourth quarters. It was at this point that Colle decided to save the strength of the leaders for the final segment of the match, and the Americans, led by Mitchell with 29 points, patted European reservists weakly.
The rest of the time, CSKA ex-defender Nando de Colo confirmed his high class, Orlando Magic swingman Evan Fournier sent four “three” out of eight team goals, and the selected “New York Knicks” two years ago under the high eighth NBA draft number defender Frank Ntilikina hit several hard-shot shots, which caused the US team bench to shake their heads in bewilderment.
But their statistical indicators - as well as the impact on the final result - were not as impressive as Gober’s figures: 21 points in the performance graph, 16 rebounds, seven of which occurred in the attack, three block shots and an incredible utility score of “+26 »Introduced him to a narrow circle of applicants for the title of the most valuable basketball player of the championship of the planet.
France, overthrown from the throne of the reigning world champions, is now seen as the main contender for gold. However, in the semifinals, she will meet with Argentina, who received an extra day of rest at the crucial stages of any tournament.
As for the Americans, for them the tournament is not over yet: they will have to take part in matches for the fifth or eighth places, where Popovich’s squad will nevertheless come face to face with the same losers from Serbia. In the USA, by the way, they do not consider the relegation of the national team in the quarter finals of the World Cup to be a tragedy, not blaming either the coaching staff of the team or individual players for a loud debacle - but they hope that, like after the failed 2006 World Cup, stars of the first magnitude will again find interest in themselves to the national team and will come to restore its reputation at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Spain and Australia took their
The other two quarterfinal matches of the World Cup did not cause a big resonance - and this is not surprising, because only something absolutely incredible could overshadow the defeats of the Americans and Serbs. But neither Spain nor Australia did not seek to be at the forefront of sports publications here and now, and, being clearly more powerful teams in their pairs of the first round of the playoffs, they quietly made their way to the next round.
The Red Fury sent the Poles, who had already jumped above their heads, to the consolation tournament for fifth place, allowing them to polish only a few tens of seconds in the first quarter, and basketball players from the Green Continent put a bullet in the Czech fairy tale. Playmaker Tomasz Satoransky, who stopped in one selection from the first ever triple double world championships, certainly tried to resist the inevitable, but six “bombs” of great-looking Patty Mills (the Australian defender has a NBA title in the Sun -Antonio Spurs ”) thwarted any attempts by Ronen Ginzburg's wards to create another grandiose sensation.
And if Spanish basketball players are not surprised by their participation in the World Cup semi-final - forward Rudi Fernandez and center Mark Gasol were part of the national team that won the 2006 World Cup, then for the Australians, getting into the top four best teams on the planet was a historic achievement. But, of course, not by accident: the current generation of local basketball players, with good reason being called the strongest of all time, has been moving towards this success for a long time. And, in particular, she fought for the medals of the last Olympics, minimally losing in the duel for bronze just the “Red Fury”, against which Australia will hold its next match in the Chinese tournament.
Championship of the planet in the Middle Kingdom goes to the finish line. Semifinal fights will be held in Beijing on Friday, September 13, and the new world champion will be announced on Sunday. And all the more interesting will be the outcome of the tournament, since all the teams remaining in the game have comparable chances for the title. There is no obvious favorite in the medal four - the French, who look a little preferable to the rest according to the bookmakers, have already lost in the championship of the Australian planet, which is why they got to the Americans in the first round of the playoffs, and write off Argentina after her spectacular victory over the Serbs can not be in any case.
Like Spain: the Pyrenees have long established themselves as a team gaining maximum speed for the late rounds of relegation matches, and most likely have not yet shown everything that they are capable of. Basketball fans have not encountered a similar level of intrigue in planetary tournaments under the auspices of FIBA for a very long time - and it will certainly brighten up the fans' impression of the experimental tournament, in the early stages of which there was a lot of frankly sad and superfluous.