Greece ace in wildcard pack, Senegal's hot streak continues

David Hein

Las Palmas (Spain) (AFP) - Greece and hosts Spain were the first teams to book their spots in the knockout stage of the Basketball World Cup on Monday by beating Puerto Rico while Senegal took their second surprise scalp in as many days.

Greece improved to 3-0 in Group B with a 90-79 victory over Puerto Rico as Nikos Zisis led the way with 19 points while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 and Nick Calathes added 14 points.

Greece, who received a wild card for the World Cup, pulled away in the third quarter and never really let the Puerto Ricans back into the game as they hit big shots in the fourth quarter.

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Puerto Rico, who were playing without their injured leader Carlos Arroyo, dropped to 0-3 and have an up-hill battle to reach the Round of 16.

Spain booked their place with an 82-63 win over previously unbeaten Brazil.

Paul Gasol scored 26 points to go with nine rebounds and three blocks while Sergio Rodriguez added 12 points and Juan Carlos Navarro had 10 in Spain’s victory.

Senegal carried on from where they left off in beating the Puerto Ricans on Sunday in beating Croatia 77-75 to improve to 2-1. NBA center Gorgui Dieng picked up 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks and Xane Dalmeida nailed three three-pointers in scoring 15 points for the Africans.

Croatia saw both Dario Saric and Bojan Bogdanovic score 15 points in the loss, which dropped the Europeans to 2-1.

Senegal on Sunday beat Puerto Rico for their first win at the Worlds since 1998.

“We rode the wave from yesterday and got another great win,” said Senegal’s Maleye Ndoye, the only active member of the team that lost all five games at the 2006 World Championship in Japan.

“It would be great to keep playing and continue to ride the wave. But we’ll use the day to get some rest. And we will be focused the same for the next game against Argentina.”

Argentina also improved to 2-1 with an 85-81 win over Philippines thanks to 19 points from Luis Scola, 17 by Marcos Mata and 10 each by Nicolas Laprovittola and Walter Herrmann.

Philippines remained winless despite 14 points and 15 rebounds from Andray Blatche.

Group A saw Serbia beat Iran 83-70 as they secured the win with a strong third quarter in improving to 2-1.

The leading scorer for Serbia was Nemanja Bjelica with 18 points to go with 10 rebounds while Bogdan Bogdanovic chipped in 16 points and Milos Teodosic had eight points and nine assists.

Iran wasted 29 points from Hamed Haddadi and 20 points and seven rebounds from Samad Nikkah Bahrami in dropping to 0-3.

France also moved to 2-1 in Group A with a 94-55 thrashing of winless Egypt as Joffrey Lauvergne scored 12 points to lead four France players in double digits.

The reigning champions United States were not playing on Monday as Groups C and D had a rest day. Those two groups are in action on Tuesday and Groups A and B get their rest day.

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