HIROSHIMA, Japan -- With all the attention focused on the
star NBA big men, Spain's backcourt stole the spotlight.
Juan Carlos Navarro and Jose Calderon combined for 39 points to
lead Spain and Pau Gasol to a 92-71 victory over Germany and Dirk
Nowitzki on Monday in the opening round of the FIBA world
Argentina and Angola also improved to 3-0 on Monday with wins, assuring themselves of a place in the second round along with Spain.
Spain 92, Germany 71
Gasol, who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, and
Nowitzki, who led the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA finals, had
solid games. But it was the Spanish defense and backcourt which
made the difference at Hiroshima and guaranteed Spain a spot in the tournament's second round.
Calderon, who had 20 points, and Navarro were too quick for the
German guards. Germany starters Steffen Hamann and Demond Greene
both picked up their fourth fouls early in the third quarter.
"We played a special game today because we know the strength
and power of the German team," Spain coach Pepu Hernandez said.
"I thought we did our best job on defense. When you play good
defense you are open to play offense, too."
Spain was wide open enough to shoot 61 percent (11-for-18) from
Navarro had 15 points and Calderon had 14 as Spain took a 48-41
halftime lead despite Gasol being limited to seven minutes because
of foul trouble. He picked up two in the opening 3:38 and went to
the bench, but Germany couldn't take advantage.
Nowitzki was covered for the most part by 6-foot-8 Jorge
Garbajosa with help from anyone wearing a red jersey. Nowitzki,
coming off a 3-for-13 shooting effort in a win over New Zealand,
could only get six shots in the first half and Germany did little
to help itself on offense, turning the ball over nine times and
shooting just 4-for-11 from 3-point range.
Nowitzki, who had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists,
finished 5-for-9 from the field.
"They really tried to keep the ball away from me and no one had
any room to operate," Nowitzki said. "We couldn't get into a
rhythm in the second half. We couldn't create any open shots for
anyone. We would have a tough time beating them without Gasol."
Germany coach Dirk Bauermann said Spain "had a very good
defensive game plan to limit Dirk's number of catches."
"They played a great offensive game with excellent ball
movement. Even taking wide-open shots, making 61 percent of your
3-pointers is an incredible percentage," Bauermann said. "They
deserve all the credit and Jose Calderon was the MVP of the game.
He broke down our defense, found the open guy and he made shots."
Germany hit 3-pointers on its first three possessions of the
second half. The last, by Ademola Okulaja with 8:05 left in the
third quarter made it 51-50, but Spain responded with a 20-5 run in
which Gasol had six points and Calderon and Garbajosa each hit a 3.
Gasol finished with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 21 minutes.
Argentina 96, Venezuela 54
SENDAI, Japan -- Walter Herrmann scored 25 points to help
Argentina secure a place in the second round.
Herrmann, who plays in Spain, shot 70 percent from the field and
also led Argentina (3-0) with nine rebounds. For the second
straight game, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs saw little
playing time, finishing with five points in 16 minutes.
Chicago Bulls forward Andres Nocioni left the game with 7
minutes left in the third quarter when he landed awkwardly on his
ankle. He remained on the bench for the rest of the game but
appeared in considerable pain when he left the court after the
final buzzer. Nocioni had five points in 13 minutes.
Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said Nocioni should be ready to
go for the team's next game against Nigeria on Wednesday.
"After the game, he said he'll be fine," Hernandez said. "The
doctor looked at him and said he'll be OK after a rest day."
Richard Lugo scored 15 points to lead Venezuela (1-2), which was
no match for the Argentineans.
Herrmann, who had 23 points against Lebanon on Sunday, scored
seven straight points late in the fourth quarter as Olympic
champion Argentina took a 94-44 lead.
Luis Scola, who also plays in Spain, scored 17 points in the
Serbia and Montenegro 104, Lebanon 57
SENDAI, Japan -- Darko Milicic scored 20 points to lead
defending champion Serbia and Montenegro to its first win of the tournament.
Milicic, of the Orlando Magic, shot 8-of-11 from the field, and
Marko Marinovic added 14 points for Serbia-Montenegro, which lost
its first two games of the tournament to France and Nigeria.
"We needed to win this game to have a chance go through,"
Marinovic said. "We didn't have too much luck in the first games,
but hopefully that will come to us now."
Serbia-Montenegro won the 2002 world title at Indianapolis while
competing as Yugoslavia. However, it made this tournament only as a
wild card, and some of its NBA players -- Nenad
Krstic of New Jersey and Sasha Pavlovic of Cleveland -- are not
Lebanon stayed close in the first five minutes, trailing only by
But Serbia-Montenegro opened the game up and Vule Avdalovic hit
a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the defending champions a 30-18
lead at the end of the first period.
"We kept it close early, but felt we couldn't match them,"
said Lebanon forward Fadi El Khatib, who led his team with 12
points. "We cooled down and let everyone in the game and are
focusing now on the Nigeria game."
France 64, Nigeria 53
SENDAI, Japan -- Mickael Gelabale scored 14 points to lead
France to the win.
France (2-1) led 33-15 when Mamoutou Diarra, who replaced San
Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker on the roster, made a 3-pointer
just before the halftime buzzer.
Nigeria scored 21 points in the third period to pull to cut its
deficit to 11, but two 3-pointers from Yannick Bokolo early in the
final quarter gave France a 55-40 cushion.
Parker broke his right index finger in a tuneup game against
Brazil last week and was forced to pull out of the tournament.
Nigeria (1-2) opened the tournament with an upset win over
defending champion Serbia-Montenegro but was no match for a team
that featured five NBA players.
Since losing to Argentina in its opening game, France has won
two straight, including a 65-61 victory over Serbia-Montenegro on
Angola 95, New Zealand 73
HIROSHIMA, Japan -- Eduardo Mingas' 27 points ensured the African champions a berth in the round of 16.
The 6-foot-7 Mingas, who averaged 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds
in wins over Panama and Japan, made his first nine shots from the
field and had 20 points and six rebounds as Angola (3-0) took a
49-32 halftime lead.
Angola, which finished 11th in the 2002 worlds, disrupted New
Zealand (0-3) on defense with active hands and moved the ball
crisply on offense in leading by as many as 20 points, 49-29, in
the opening half.
Joaquim Gomes, who played for Valparaiso from 2000-04, had 20
points for Angola, which has opening-round games remaining against
Spain and Germany. The top four of each six-team group advance to
the single-elimination round.
Pero Cameron had 17 points for New Zealand, which was again
without starting point guard Mark Dickel. Dickel, who played at
UNLV from 1996-2000, was suspended 10 days by FIBA after a positive
drug test last month. The results for the positive cannabis test
were revealed Aug. 11.
He will be eligible to return for the final pool games against
Japan and Panama, but New Zealand, which finished fourth in 2002,
will need those wins as well as help from other results to advance.
New Zealand got within 12 points twice, the last time at 69-57
with the opening basket of the fourth quarter, but Angola went on a
7-0 run with Gomes scoring the last four points on a reverse dunk
and offensive rebound.
Japan 78, Panama 61
HIROSHIMA, Japan -- Kei Igarashi scored 18 points and Japan
had 16 steals for its first win of the tournament.
Japan (1-2) took control with a 10-0 run spanning halftime and
then pulled away with a series of breakaway layups and dunks that
had the sellout crowd at 10,000-seat Green Arena cheering wildly
while banging inflatable plastic sticks.
Joji Takeuchi hit a 3-pointer with one second left in the first
half to give Japan the lead for good, 36-33. Japan opened the
second half with a 7-0 run and was never challenged again. The host
team took a 57-45 lead after three quarters.
Panama (0-3) had just one field goal over the first 6½minutes
of the final quarter as Japan led by as many as 25 points, 78-53
with 3:35 to go.
Panama finished with 27 turnovers, a statistic that negated a
41-29 rebound advantage.
Takehiko Orimo added 13 points for Japan, while Ryota Sakurai
had 12 -- 10 in a 13-6 run that brought Japan within one point after
trailing 22-14 after one quarter.
Ruben Douglas had 16 points for Panama, which plays Germany on
Wednesday and has little chance of advancing to the second round.