(MENAFN – Gulf Times) Phoenix Suns star Ricky Rubio led Spain with 17 points as the title contenders slowly started their Basketball World Cup campaign after a 101-62 victory over the World Cup. Tunisia yesterday.
The Olympic bronze medalists were presented as a threat to the two defending US champions, who do not have their big names in China.
But the Spaniards were not at their best in the first period against the small Tunisian fish despite Marc Gasol, the 34-year-old center who played a key role in the historic Raptors race in Toronto to crown the NBA.
Spain led with just three points in the break and there was a big surprise, but then she hit the Guangzhou accelerator, Rubio also registering nine assists.
“The first game is still a little complicated, you do not know how it will happen,” said the 28-year-old, who joined the Suns this summer, adding that his team has not been aggressive enough since the beginning.
“Playing with the national team is different (from the NBA),” he added.
‘You play with your friends, for your country and also for your family.
‘He is huge.
The Chinese host was frightened of Côte d’Ivoire before fighting for victory against the lowest-ranked team in the 32-team competition.
A raging crowd with exhausted tickets at Beijing’s Wukesong Arena was silenced when Ivorians, who ranked 64th in the world instead of 30th in China, took a surprising advantage in the second quarter.
Yi Jianlian, Zhou Qi, and Wang Zhelin, who have three players seven feet tall, have been threatened by high expectations.
But China reached the 29-29 level at the break and the local crowd choked it to smother Ivory Coast, 70-55.
The visit of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, well defeated by Italy 108-62, was a disappointment.
Serbia, very imagined, took an equally ruthless start in their assault on the World Cup by beating Angola 105-59 in the opening match of the tournament.
Serbia was a big favorite against Angola in Foshan, in the south of the country, and soon made their mark on the World Cup. The United States, which has named a young team, opened their title defense Sunday in Shanghai against the Czech Republic.
The Americans do not have as LeBron James, but Serbian coach Sasha Djordjevic said that the team of Gregg Popovich, still full of talent of the NBA, remains the team to beat in China.
“I do not think about the US team,” said Djordjevic. ‘I respect them, I think they are the big favorites.
“They do not have some of the players, but they still have a great team with great players, a great coach.”
Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Sacramento Kings NBA team led the way for Serbia’s Olympic and world medalists, scoring 24 points against Angolans.
“Serious play, serious approach, serious preparation,” said Stern, Djordjevic.
“It’s our brand all these years: playing together, we like to share the ball, we like to pass, we have a lot of guys who are not selfish.”
“It’s really good for a coach, I’m proud to see it, it’s the mark of Serbian basketball.”