Eight teams bid FIBA Worlds farewell
Eight teams bid FIBA Worlds farewell
Germany, Puerto Rico, Iran, Cote d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Canada, Jordan and Tunisia have been eliminated after failing to make it to the top four of their respective groups.
The Germans emerged as the best squad among the tournament’s worst performers with a 2-3 win-loss record. Germany, who were given a wild-card berth to the quadrennial tournament, showed some promise in their first two games in Group A despite the absence of top gun Dirk Nowitzki.
Led by Demond Greene and Jan-Hendrik Jagla, the Germans gave Argentina a tough time before the 2004 Olympic champions escaped with a 78-74 victory in their opening game. Perhaps inspired by their solid start, Dirk Bauermann’s wards pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament when they posted an 82-81 double-overtime victory over Serbia.
The Germans, however, played flat in their next assignment as they were walloped by Australia, 43-78. Germany’s woes continued in their next game as they were beaten by Angola, 88-92, in overtime. The Germans ended the elimination round with a 91-73 rout of winless Jordan but it was not enough to earn a place in the last 16.
Puerto Rico had a disappointing campaign in Group C. The Caribbean side, who qualified after finishing runner-up to Brazil in the FIBA-Americas Championship, posted only one win in five games despite having past and present National Basketball Association players in their line-up. Their only victory came against China, whom they beat 84-76 on Tuesday. They lost their opening game to Russia, 66-75, before bowing to Greece, 80-83. They recovered with a win over China but lost their last two games to hosts Turkey (77-79) and lowly Cote d’Ivoire (79-88).
Iran came into the tournament as the Asian champions, but the Middle East powerhouse became the whipping boys in Group B. The Iranians were blown out by Brazil (65-81) and Croatia (54-75) in their first two games. They bounced back with a 71-58 win over Tunisia but wrapped up their campaign with losses to the United States (51-88) and Slovenia (60-65).
Cote d’Ivoire were not even expected to win a game in Group C but the Africans secured one, thanks to their outstanding performance against Puerto Rico on the final day of group play. Led by Charles Abouo, the Ivorians posted an 88-79 victory to eliminate the Puerto Ricans. Cote d’Ivoire, coached by Swiss Randoald Dessarzin, were previously beaten by Turkey (47-86), China (73-83), Russia (66-72) and Greece (60-97).
Like Germany, Lebanon was awarded a wild-card berth in the tournament. The Lebanese did not disappoint as they stunned Canada 81-71 in their opening Group D game. But it proved to be the first and only victory for Tab Baldwin’s wards as they lost their next four games. The Lebanese bowed to France (59-86), New Zealand (76-108), Spain (67-89) and Lithuania (66-84).
Canada failed to win a single game in Group D but gave some fancied teams a run for their money. After losing to Lebanon in their first game, the Canadians narrowly lost to Lithuania 68-70. They also gave France a scare before losing, 63-68. Canada also lost to New Zealand (61-71) and Spain (67-89).
Jordan also wound up win-less but came close to pulling off a major upset on opening day. The Jordanians squandered a six-point lead in the closing minutes of their game against Australia, which escaped with a 76-75 win in Group A. Head coach Mario Palma’s wards never came close to claiming another victory again. They were crushed by Angola (65-79), Serbia (69-112), Argentina (79-88) and Germany (73-91).
Tunisia finished 24th and last in the tournament but the North Africans are happy to make the trip to Turkey. The Tunisians kicked off their Group B campaign with back-to-back lopsided losses to Slovenia (56-80) and Brazil (65-80). They kept pace with Iran in their third outing but lost steam in the second half en route to a 58-71 defeat. They closed out the tournament with losses to Croatia (64-84) and the United States (57-92). Though they were blown out by the Americans, the Tunisians were smiling after the game as they posed for photos with their favourite NBA stars.