NBA All-Star Jokic shines as Serbia crank up World Cup assault

Nikola Jokic of Serbia in action against June Mar Fajardo of the Philippines. (Reuters)
Updated 02 September 2019

NBA All-Star Jokic shines as Serbia crank up World Cup assault

  • Serbia brought up a century of points at the start of the fourth quarter with a dunk by Marko Guduric

FOSHAN, CHINA: Serbia and their NBA All-Star Nikola Jokic turned on the style to reach the second round of the Basketball World Cup with a masterful 126-67 demolition of the Philippines on Monday.

The Serbs have a team packed with NBA talent and are the prime threat to reigning two-time champions the US, who are without their biggest names in China.

Serbia began their title tilt with a 105-59 thrashing of Angola on Saturday and were similarly ruthless in dismissing the Philippines in Foshan.

Lumbering Denver Nuggets ace Jokic, who has what it takes to be the player of the tournament and has been likened to an NFL quarterback in the way he dictates games, had 11 points and a game-best seven assists and seven rebounds.

Nemanja Bjelica of the Sacramento Kings led the scoring with 20 points.

Serbia brought up a century of points at the start of the fourth quarter with a dunk by Marko Guduric, who signed for the Memphis Grizzlies in July.

It is the first time that Serbia, losing finalists to Team USA in 2014, have won their first two games at the World Cup, underlining their scintillating form.

Serbia’s big win also propelled Italy into the second round — the two teams will face up on Wednesday in what promises to be a blockbuster for Group D supremacy. The pair are the first teams into round two.

An Angola player aimed a vicious headbutt at an opponent as Italy thrashed the Africans 92-61.

Italy look in ominous form, hammering the Philippines 108-62 in their opener before handing out more punishment to the Angolans in Foshan.

But there was a flashpoint involving all the players from both teams with seconds left of the match after Angola’s Leonel Paulo and Alessandro Gentile clashed.

The 26-year-old Gentile shoved Paulo and the latter responded in kind, before appearing to make contact with the Italian’s nose with his forehead.

Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs racked up 17 points and Kentucky-born Jeff Brooks also starred for Italy with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two steals.

“Serbia are the best team in the tournament but we are not scared about that,” said the 33-year-old guard.

Argentina also made it two wins out of two as they defeated Nigeria — touted by some as possible surprise packages before the World Cup — 94-81 in Group B.

Luis Scola scored 23 points to reach 611 points in his Basketball World Cup career and move to second on the all-time tournament scoring list.

The 39-year-old, taking part in his fifth World Cup, is however well behind Oscar Schmidt.

The legendary Brazilian finished his career with 906 points.


Riyadh route revealed for inaugural Saudi Tour cycling event

Updated 24 January 2020

Riyadh route revealed for inaugural Saudi Tour cycling event

  • The race, will begin at the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee headquarters on Feb. 4 and end on Feb. 8 at Al-Masmak Fort

RIYADH: The Saudi Cycling Federation on Thursday revealed the full route for next month’s inaugural Saudi Tour event in Riyadh.

The 755 kilometer race, which is split into five daily stages, will begin at the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee headquarters on Feb. 4 and end on Feb. 8 at Al-Masmak Fort. Along the way, the competitors will pass many Riyadh landmarks, including Sadus Castle, Wadi Namar Park and Al-Bujairi historical district.

Eighteen teams from 13 countries will compete, and the riders include Mark Cavendish from the UK, Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni and Dutch cyclist Niki Terpstra.

Subah Al-Kraidees, chairman of the Saudi Cycling Federation, said he is delighted that the Kingdom is hosting a major Union Cycliste Internationale cycling event for the first time.

“I am so proud that the Saudi Cycling Federation is able to see one of its dreams realized with this event, and to have Saudi Arabia recognized as an important station in the international biking scene,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for Saudi athletes to rub shoulders with international bikers, and to see what they have achieved and learn from their experiences.”

The Saudi Tour will be broadcast worldwide by 25 TV networks, six of whom will also live stream the event.

Three other events will take place on the sidelines of the main race: a public bike ride from noon to 12:45 p.m. on Feb. 6, a junior race on the same day from 1 p.m. to 2.40 p.m., and a women’s ride from 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m. on Feb. 8.

You can find more details of the event and broadcast schedules, and track the teams and their race times, at www.thesauditour.com.