Dominican Republic 95, Republic of Korea 85
Though the result isn't surprising, the way it happened surely was. The Koreans were huge underdogs heading into this contest, with all of their players only playing domestically, and a fast-paced style that left them vulnerable in the paint. But, somehow, they managed to hold a significant lead until the third quarter, and even managed to re-take the lead in the fourth. The Dominicans looked extremely sluggish out of the gate, firing up tons of jumpshots and succumbing to Korea's pressure.
But mid-way through the third, they had a Eureka moment and used their size inside to just overpower the Koreans. Korea was constantly in foul trouble, and they couldn't grab a rebound to save their life. Korea did all it could to stay with the Dominicans in the later stages of the fourth, but late in the game the Dominicans intentionally missed two free throws in order to rebound the ball and score. Suddenly, after one possession, a 2 point lead was an 8 point one, and Korea was too far behind. Korea is now eliminated from the tournament, with the top seed in Group C to be decided between the Dominican Republic and Russia tomorrow.
Lithuania 100, Venezuela 82
This game perfectly illustrates the gap between middling teams and elite teams in this tournament. Venezuela has enough talent to power ahead of a disorganized Nigerian team and most South American nations, but they're an echelon below Lithuania. They were systematically destroyed by one of the tournament's most well-orchestrated offenses, only surfacing briefly in the first half with some epic three point shots. But, in essence, Lithuania beat Venezuela at its' own game. They ran the floor and displayed some fantastic offense. With the win, Lithuania will now face Nigeria in a challenge for the Group B lead. If Lithuania loses, the group standings will be decided by point differential, in which case Nigeria would most likely advance.
Puerto Rico 93, Jordan 52
Macedonia 84, New Zealand 62
Both of these games were total blowouts, with the superior team jumping out to a large lead in the first quarter and cruising to victory. New Zealand did get within 11 of Macedonia in the third, but Macedonia quickly re-took their advantage. With the loss, Jordan is now eliminated, and Puerto Rico will face Greece for the Group A top seed. New Zealand isn't eliminated, but they will have to beat Angola by a large sum tomorrow if they hope to advance.
Below: Today's Games!
Today's Schedule (All Games Streamed on FIBATV.com):
New Zealand vs. Angola, 10:30 CST
Dominican Republic vs. Russia, 1 PM CST
Lithuania vs. Nigeria, 4:30 PM CST
Puerto Rico vs. Greece, 7 PM CST
Today's slate is much better than that of yesterdays, because all of the games have a chance to be interesting. Two teams are fighting elimination, and the other two matchups will be fighting for an easier matchup in the Quarter-Final.
Angola should defeat New Zealand rather easily, but they came close to choking in the Afrobasket, so there's always chance of an upset. The Dominican Republic has the talent to have a low post brawl with Russia, but they didn't impress against Korea, so how they'll do is up in the air. The same goes for Nigeria, who has a deep lineup with the talent to beat Lithuania, but have some organizational problems and a total lack of distribution against the best passing team in the tournament. Puerto Rico-Greece should be the most interesting matchup. Both of them destroyed Jordan, as expected, but it's unknown whether Puerto Rico can challenge a European team with their unique offense, and whether Greece has recovered from their devastating Eurobasket Quarter-Final loss.
What did you think of yesterday's games? Post a comment and let us know!