Argentina remains undefeated, stuns Serbia to advance to final four

Ricky Rubio

Campazzo, Scola and Argentina stunned Serbia; advanced to the semi-finals

Scola scored 20 points, Facundo Campazzo finished with 18 points and 12 assists and Argentina stunned Serbia 97-87 in the World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

39-year-old Luis Scola, who last played in the National Basketball Association in 2017, was Argentina's leading scorer with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting, including 2-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Rubio finished the game with 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds against a Poland side who were back in the World Cup after a 52-year absence.

"Campazzo absolutely dominated the game", Serbia coach Sasha Djordjevic said of Argentina's 5-foot-10 point guard, who dazzled throughout. "Absolutely dominated the game".

Phoenix Suns point guard Ricky Rubio is now the all-time leader for assists in FIBA World Cup play, passing Pablo Prigioni's mark of 106 assists in 24 games.

"It means a lot", Scola said.

With Gregg Popovich's United States squad unbeaten but still failing to convince, Serbia had emerged as favourites - but their coach Sasha Djordjevic said his players had buckled. "We're a good team".

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"We should have played better defense and more concentrated". Argentina had other plans and Scola made a very loud statement after the game - this outcome, he insisted, was no fluke.

"It just bothers me that people keep talking about a miracle, keep talking about a surprise, keep talking about nobody believes it", said the veteran.

"We can go far in the World Cup" Rubio told after Tuesday's win over Poland. That's all we need, just 22.

Bogdan Bogdanovic (21 points), Nemanja Bjelica (18 points) and Nikola Jokic (16 points, 10 rebounds) stood out for the losing squad.

But that's when Scola stepped up, scoring eight rapid-fire points in a 21-6 Argentina run that dropped the curtain on Serbia's World Cup.

Gabriel Deck dunks the ball during the quarter-final game between Argentina and Serbia.

"We believed it. It wasn't impossible. We have a great team and we have great energy", said Albiceleste forward Patricio Garino.

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"I think we played a very good basketball game", Scola said. He finished with a team-high 20 points and Argentina were the more fluid throughout the contest.

Serbia had looked like title contenders after demolishing their opponents in the group phases by a average 40.8 points per game.

But the subsequent loss to Spain rocked the Serbs and they never seemed able to find a consistent rhythm against a pesky Argentine defence. Spain remains undefeated through Round 2 of the tournament. "The best thing we can do now is to fight to at least be the fifth".

Serbia: Boban Marjanovic had a short and eventful second-quarter stint - picking up three fouls, one of them an unsportsmanlike, and committing a turnover in just over 2 minutes. A win Friday against either France or the United States would secure yet another top-two finish. So the USA sent its scouting group - Jeff Van Gundy, Lloyd Pierce and Ime Udoka among them - to see the Argentina-Serbia game in person. US coach Gregg Popovich said he's watching plenty of games on off days, but is letting the group led by Van Gundy handle the bulk of the scouting details.

But when the competition got tougher - first against Spain to close the second round and then against Argentina, the shots that fell against lesser foes stopped going in.

For Serbia, they will remain in Dongguan for a matchup Thursday at 7 a.m.

With the win, Argentina moves to 6-0 in the tournament and will face the victor of Wednesday's game between France and the United States in the final four on Friday.

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