Multiple Golden State Warriors alums wrapped up the latest leg of FIBA World Cup qualifiers on the Fourth of July, including big man Nemanja Bjelica, who just won an NBA title with the Dubs. And while his Serbian squad officially advanced to the second round of qualifiers, there were no style points to be had in the effort.
Serbia dropped both of its games to close out Round 1, first losing by seven points to Latvia in Riga on June 30. Then, on July 4, Bjelica and Co. watched Belgium go on a fourth-quarter run to steal a 74-73 win in Nis.
For his part, the Fenerbahce-bound Bjelica had a nice bounce-back game on Monday, following up a one-point effort versus Latvia with 12 points on 3-of-6 shooting and six rebounds against Belgium.
Thanks to Slovakia’s 0-6 Round 1 performance, Serbia was able to advance in spite of its recent losses. The country will join Greece, Latvia, Turkey, Belgium and Great Britain in Group I for the Euro region’s next qualification round.
Bell Shows Out for Team USA Yet Again
During Jordan Bell‘s 2017-18 rookie campaign with the Warriors, the former Oregon standout found himself covering for an injured Draymond Green in the starting five on a number of occasions. And, for the most part, he impressed with his ability to put up Draymond-like lines as a youngster.
Flash forward to now, and he has been similarly Dray-like for USA Basketball during qualification.
In the Americans’ win over Cuba on July 4, Bell — who head coach Jim Boylen has referred to as the “leader” of the team — rocked Havana to the tune of four points, eight rebounds, six assists, two blocked shots and a steal. Meanwhile, Team USA won the game 87-64 to advance to Round 2 with a 5-1 record.
Over a combined 43 minutes of play during the final leg of Round 1, the Americans were plus-17 with Bell on the court.
His one-time Warriors teammate, Quinn Cook, was the squad’s plus/minus king against Cuba, though. Despite finishing the contest with just four points and four dimes, the US outscored Cuba by 25 points when he was on the floor.
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The Americans Can’t Let Up
Moving on to Group F of the Americas region, Team USA finds itself standing shoulder to shoulder with Brazil at 5-1 overall. The group will also include Uruguay (4-2), Mexico (4-2), Puerto Rico (3-3) and Colombia (2-4).
Given the close proximity of the teams from a record standpoint, the Americans will have to put their best foot forward in order to secure their World Cup spot. Only the top three teams in each group will receive automatic entries into next year’s big event.
Each team will play six more qualifiers in Round 2, the first two of which will be contested in late August. The US will go toe-to-toe with Uruguay on August 25, after which a bout with Colombia on August 29 awaits.