FIBA World Cup: Quarterfinals are set, Team USA to face Nigeria

Photo Credit -- FIBA

Four of the eight spots in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals were previously determined in the group stage.

USA, Canada, and Australia all went 3-0 in group stage to earn automatic bids into Friday’s quarterfinals. Belgium went 2-1 after a stunning 72-63 upset over Spain where a buzzer-beating layup from Emma Meesseman made it a nine-point margin, clinching Belgium’s berth into play on Friday.

Those four teams had a chance to await their opponents for Friday. Team USA learned its quarterfinal opponent will be Nigeria.

Greece vs. Nigeria

After stumbling out of the gate against the tough opponent that is Australia, D’Tigress bounced back in group stage with victories over Turkey and Argentina. With a chance to play on Friday on the line, D’Tigress managed to eke out a 57-56 victory over Greece.

Nigeria’s team built a 31-26 lead at halftime and led 48-37 after three periods. Greece came close to coming back, outscoring D’Tigress 19-9 in the fourth quarter, but came up just one point shy of a tie and two of a potential win.

Greece began the fourth quarter with a 9-1 run. With 20 seconds left to play, Styliani Kaltsidou drew a foul on Nigeria’s Atonye Nyingifa, giving Kaltsidou two tries at the line. She made both, giving Greece a 56-55 lead. With three seconds on the clock, Elo Edeferioka drew a foul off Greece’s Maria Emmanouela, which put her at the stripe for two shots. Edeferioka made both, putting Nigeria back in front 57-56.

After a timeout, Greece was to inbound the ball, but D’Tigress’ stifling defense forced Greece into a five second violation, giving possession back to Nigeria. Iouliti Lymora fouled Ezinne Kalu, but missed both of her free throws. With only two seconds on the clock, it was academic as victory was sealed for D’Tigress.

Nigeria had 13 steals to only five for Greece and got out in transition for six fast break points for none for Greece.

Both Kalu and Evelyn Akhator had 14 points each and combined for 20 rebounds. Akhator had 13 and Kalu had seven. Promise Amukamara scored 13 points off the bench and Atonye Nyingifa tallied 10.

Evanthia Maltsi scored 13 and pulled in six rebounds to lead Greece.

China vs. Japan

Prior to the Greece-Nigeria contest, China and Japan took the court at Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Both concluding their group stage slates at 2-1 with each loss coming to a tough opponent. United States in China’s case and host country Spain in Japan’s. When all was said and done, China ensured the next major global tournament we see Japan at will be when they host the 2020 Olympics.

By virtue of an 87-81 win over Japan, China moves on to the quarterfinals on Friday to face Australia.

China led by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter, but a Nako Motohashi layup with 1:43 to play made it an 81-79 game. Four of China’s final six points came via the free throw en route to the six-point edge.

What is one of basketball’s golden rules? Close games almost always come down to free throws. China shot 89 percent from the line. Japan – just under 70 percent.

Japan converted 22 of its points off China turnovers, but China’s depth showed itself as they scored 42 of their 87 points off their bench.

Shao Ting and Liwei Yang each scored 16 points. Sijing Huang scored 14 points, pulled in nine rebounds, and dished out seven assists. Yueru Li also scored 12 points.

Motohashi scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and had three assists. Monica Okoye, Evelyn Mawuli, and Yuki Miyazawa scored 12 points each. Miyazawa also had six rebounds and Mawuli finished with five.

France vs. Turkey

Save for losing to Canada, one could make a case that these two teams would be going in two different directions.

That defeat put France at 2-1, but Canada is a tough out for any team. Meanwhile, Turkey opened the FIBA World Cup with an imposing win over Argentina only to lose its last two contests.

As it turns out, Turkey will depart the FIBA World Cup with a three-game losing streak after a 78-61 game against France, who will face Belgium on Friday.

France scored 19 points off turnovers to only nine for Turkey, got out in transition more efficiently with 11 fast break points, and outscored Turkey’s bench 31-12.

Sandrine Gruda scored 20 points along with seven rebounds. Olivia Epoupa had eight assists and three steals. Endene Miyem finished with 18 points and five rebounds while Helena Ciak had 10 points.

Quanitra Hollingsworth scored 19 points along with eight rebounds. Tilbe Senyurek and Isil Alben each had 12 points. Alben also had five assists and Senyurek finished with five rebounds.

Spain vs. Senegal

A common point of conversation in sports how the difference between wins and losses has little, if anything, to do with concrete X’s and O’s.

It can, in large part, be determined by a team’s mental state of mind.

This would be put to the test as Spain faced Senegal for a shot to play in Friday’s quarterfinal round. Spain got in this position because of its surprising defeat to Belgium which included a buzzer-beating shot from Emma Meesseman, giving Belgium the point-margin needed to advance to Friday’s quarters.

It could have been a mental blow to a Spanish team that many had penciled in as a likelihood to at least advance to the quarterfinals. Instead, it was simply a mere speed bump in the road as Spain cruised in the second half to a 63-48 victory.

Senegal stayed tough against Spain, including being all even at 34 at the half. But Canada now knows that Spain will be its quarterfinal foe on Friday.

Spain’s defense held Senegal to only 14 second half points while they reeled off 39. Senegal turned the ball over 21 times and Spain scored 14 points off those Senegal miscues. Spain also outdid Senegal in the paint (20-12) and in transition, scoring seven fast break points to only two for Senegal.

Astou Ndour scored 14 points and also had three steals and three blocks. Laura Nicholls grabbed 13 rebounds. Anna Cruz scored 11 points and had five assists.

Oumoul Thiary had 10 points for Senegal. Maimouna Diarra had seven rebounds.

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