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Tiebreaker Times

2023 FIBA World Cup

FIBA: Spain opens title defense with romp as Neto injury casts dark cloud in Brazil win

Led by Willy Hernangomez, Spain launched its FIBA Basketball World Cup title defense with a resounding 30-point victory over Ivory Coast, securing a score of 94-64 on Saturday at Indonesia Arena in Jakarta.

Hernangomez, who held the title of EuroBasket MVP last year, led La Roja with 22 points, five rebounds, and a steal before their crucial matchup against the 13th-ranked team in the world, Brazil, on Monday.

Spain shrugged off a turnover-filled first quarter, converting a seven-point lead into a 19-point advantage by halftime, thanks to a 14-0 run led by Hernangomez.

Following a dunk and a layup by Mike Fofana that reduced the lead to four, Hernangomez drove La Roja to a 16-point surge against Les Elephants, with all his points coming from inside the paint.

La Roja denied Les Elephants any chance of a comeback, beginning the second half with an 18-5 run, including four three-pointers from Alex Abrines, Victor Claver, and Dario Brizuela, expanding their lead to the largest of the match at 71-39.

In the fourth quarter, Ivory Coast managed an 11-2 run led by Charles Abouo and Mike Fofana, but it was too little, too late as Spain cruised to their first Group G victory.

Atlanta Hawks forward Usman Garuba contributed 12 points and seven rebounds, while Willy’s younger brother Juancho Hernangomez added 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Four other La Roja players – Abrines, Claver, Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama, and Brizuela – combined for 34 points.

In the earlier match, Brazil overwhelmed Iran with a 41-point victory in the Group G opener, ending with a score of 100-59.

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From the start, former NBA player Bruno Caboclo scored 10 of the Cariocas’ first 15 points, giving them an early 11-point lead against Team Melli, at 15-4.

The Brazilian quartet of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Raul Neto, Tim Soares, Yago Santos, and Leonardo Meindl then led Brazil to an 18-8 run over Iran, closing the first quarter at 33-12.

However, Neto could not finish the game after suffering a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee during the third quarter. With this diagnosis, the 6-foot-1 guard has been ruled out for the remainder of the World Cup.

Before the injury, Neto filled the stat sheet with eight points, two rebounds, four assists, and five steals.

Throughout the entire match, the Cariocas maintained a comfortable lead against Team Melli, securing their largest advantage in the fourth quarter with a pull-up jumper from Vitor Benite, reaching a score of 94-52.

With the 41-point victory, Brazil achieved the biggest rout seen so far in the World Cup as they approach their second Group G match against defending champions Spain on Monday.

Caboclo finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, while three other Cariocas – Marcelinho Huertas, Benite, and Soares – reached double figures with a combined 35-point performance.

Matin Aghajanpour led Team Melli in the losing effort with 11 points, while Iran’s mainstay, Hamed Ehaddadi, contributed 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists. (Ernest Martin Tuazon)

The Scores

First Game:

Brazil (100) Caboclo 16, Y. Santos 14, Soares 13, Benite 12, Huertas 10, Meindl 9, Neto 8, Dias 8, G. Santos 4, De Paula 3, Felicio 2, Dos Anjos 1

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Iran (59) – Aghajanpour 11, EHaddadi 10, Yakhchali 7, Kazemi 6, Agha Miri 5, Mashayekhi 5, Amini 4, Aliakbari 3, Vahedi 2, Mizraei 0

Quarterscores: 33-12, 57-25, 82-46, 100-59

Second Game:

Spain (94) – W. Hernangomez 22, Garuba 12, J. Hernangomez 11, Abrines 9, Claver 9, Aldama 8, Brizuela 8, Fernandez 5, Nunez 3, Parra 3, Diaz 2, Llull 2.

Ivory Coast (64) – Kone 11, Dally 10, Abouo 9, Fofan 7, Zouzoua 7, Fofana 6, Moulare 5, Dadiet 4, Bah 2, Tape 1, Sidibe 0.

Quarterscores: 24-17, 53-34, 73-47, 94-64

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