Vasilije Micic (2nd R) of Serbia breaks through during the group D match between Serbia and the Philippines at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Foshan, south China's Guangdong Province, Sept. 2, 2019. (Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)
FOSHAN, China, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Serbia battered the Philippines 126-67 to advance to last 16 along with Italy from Group D at the FIBA Basketball World Cup here on Monday.
photo by Foshan News
As the top-ranked team on the tournament's Power Rankings, Serbia sent an early message to its opponents by winning 105 points from two matches.
Serbia fully displayed its balanced attack with all 12 players contributing in scoring, including seven with double-digit points.
"Good approach and serious as one can be. Players delivered and did their job well. All players are in good physical shape, and it's a good sign for us," Serbia's head coach Sasha Djordjevic pointed out.
Nemanja Bjelica led Serbia with 20 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic made four 3-pointers for 17 points. Nikola Jokic registered 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in less than 20 minutes.
After Paul John Dalistan's jumper, the Philippines led by 9-7, but it was the only occasion throughout for its superior position.
As expected, Jokic's substitution midway through the first quarter not only won the applause from the crowds, but also helped his team reclaim the lead.
The Denver Nuggets player soon assisted Nikola Milutinov for a dunk, and capped a 9-0 run with a layup. Another layup from the NBA All-star center earned Serbia a double-figure advantage for the first time with 2:24 remaining. Serbia ended the first quarter at 28-13.
The Philippines came back into contention a bit through consecutive layups from Jaymar Perez, but the European powerhouse quickly regrouped itself to pull away again, as Marko Guduric's three-pointer gave them a 48-28 lead before setting the score at 62-35 into halftime.
Bogdanovic, playing in NBA's Sacramento Kings, continued Serbia's firepower shortly after the break with two straight shots beyond the arc to seal the deal.
With unsurmountable margin in hand, Djordjevic decided to give more rest time for his star duo Jokic and Bogdanovic.
Perez had a team-high 16 points. Dalistan contributed 15 points.
"Serbia is just too big, too good. They had very good chances against USA and any of top teams," admitted the Philippines' head coach Yeng Guiao.
"We just play out there and try to keep the game as close as we can. There is no way for us to beat them inside the paint because they are much bigger and stronger than we are, so our only hope is to get our outside shots done, and that's our best chance of keeping the game close, but it didn't happen. Serbia is just too big, too good for us at this moment," he added.
"We get the job to make the game close. Serbia is the No. 1 team right now. Serbia is too much for us," Dalistan echoed.
In an earlier match, Italy thrashed Angola 92-61. With two wins in as many games, both Serbia and Italy can secure their places in top 16, while the Philippines and Angola are set to play classifications.