Bogdan Bogdanovic and Serbia impressed once more as one half of the second-round FIBA World Cup draw was confirmed on Wednesday.
Serbia was among a number of sides already through to the next stage but there was no let-up in its performance level as it swept aside Italy in a Group D match.
There was far more on the line, meanwhile, in matches between China and Venezuela, and Puerto Rico and Tunisia.
The sides were bidding to join Poland, Argentina, Russia and Spain in the second round.
BOGDANOVIC BRILLIANT AGAIN
Serbia had already swatted aside the Philippines and Angola to secure its progress, but a tougher test was expected in the final first-round clash with Italy.
However, Bogdanovic’s continued outstanding form meant his side again ran out comfortable winners, 92-77 with a Serbian World Cup record 31 points from the Kings star as well as five assists and five steals.
These superb displays have meant Nikola Jokic has only been required from the bench, scoring 15 on this occasion, while Nemanja Bjelica emerged to contribute nine assists and seven rebounds.
Elsewhere in the pool, an 84-81 overtime victory over the Philippines ensured Angola did not go away empty-handed.
VENEZUELA TOO STRONG FOR CHINA
Host China saw its chances of reaching the second round ended as it failed to recover from a slow start in a 72-59 defeat to Venezuela.
It was winner-take-all for the two sides, but China was outscored 18-10 in the first period and the South American side was able to see out victory with relative ease from there.
Poland finished Group A with a flawless 3-0 record, meanwhile, defeating Ivory Coast 80-63.
PUERTO RICO COMES THROUGH ANOTHER DRAMATIC FINISH
Puerto Rico’s dramatic victory over Iran in the opener saw a ludicrous final minute, with apparent game-winning interventions at either end, and the Puerto Ricans left it late again against Tunisia.
Needing another win to advance, a dismal third quarter put Puerto Rico three points behind heading into the final period, yet it rallied once again for a 67-64 triumph.
Gary Browne sunk a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining and a last-gasp Makram Ben Romdhane airball saw Tunisia out.
Juan Hernangomez contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds as Spain defeated Iran 73-65 to top Group C.
Luis Scola (13 points, nine rebounds) and Facundo Campazzo (21 points, seven assists, six rebounds) led Argentina past Russia in a 69-61 triumph in Group B, while Nigeria thrashed Korea 108-66 in the same pool.
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