After playing in exhibition games over the last few weeks, San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (Brazil) and forward Boris Diaw (France) began their journey in the 2014 FIBA World Cup with a match against each other Saturday.
After four quarters of France playing without Tony Parker (who is resting this summer), Splitter and Brazil were the victors over France with a narrow 65-63 win that went down to the final seconds of the game.
Diaw and France started the game with a 6-0 run, but as the game progressed, it was clear France had to rely on what Diaw and Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum could generate offensively for their teammates.
Diaw finished the game with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, one block, and one steal in 30 minutes of play. Batum scored 13 points for Les Bleus, but did struggle, as he shot 4-of-10 from the floor with four turnovers. Being that Diaw and Batum were France’s main weapons, Brazil was able to focus their defense on limiting one of them, and it looked like their target was Batum, as they used several different defensive looks to throw at Batum.
Splitter finished the game with six points, three rebounds, one steal, and one block in 27 minutes, but he did what he usually does with the Spurs, that doesn’t necessarily show up in a box score. On offense Splitter was there to set screens, be in position to set-up teammates off rolls or in the post, and on defense, he would use his body to make his impact in the lane, as drivers had a difficult time scoring underneath.
Marcelinho Huertas led Brazil in scoring with 16 points and five assists, while Marquinhos Vieria added 10 points for Brazil. Sunday Brazil will face Iran at 11:00 AM CST. Diaw and France will try to earn their first win of the tournament against Serbia at 8:30 AM CST Sunday.
Slovenia 90, Australia 80
Though he’s not a current member of the Spurs, restricted free agent center Aron Baynes led the Australian Boomers Saturday with 21 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes of play. However, Slovenia, led by Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) would be too much for the Aussies, who are without Patty Mills, as Slovenia won the match by 10 points.
With less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Baynes set a screen, rolled, and dunked the ball with two hands, but landed awkwardly on one of his legs. He tried to get up, but was in pain, and stayed on the floor for a few seconds. From that point on, he never returned to the game. After the game, there wasn’t any type of news on if he was injured, or not.
Without Mills, the Boomers had to rely on their frontcourt for most of their offense, as David Andersen scored 14 points, and Joe Ingles scored 12 points, operating in the pick-and-roll. Brad Newley also added 13 points for the Boomers, while Utah Jazz rookie Dante Exum only received 11 minutes of playing time, and missed his only two shots in the game.
Australia will take on Korea Sunday, as the FIBA World Cup continues in Spain.