Wednesday marked the second day of quarterfinal action in the FIBA World Cup, and it featured a quartet of actually-good (or, purportedly-good) basketball teams: Spain, France, Brazil and Serbia. Spain, the host country, is expected to handle 2013 Eurobasket champion France, which is playing without Tony Parker, while Brazil and Serbia faced off in the early game to decide who gets the honor of being blown out by Spain in the semifinals.
Brazil tends to be a tough out for many teams, thanks in most part to its giant front line of Anderson Verajao, Nene and Tiago Splitter. Add in fellow NBA-er Leandro Barbosa and seasoned international guard Marcelinho Huertas, and they figured to be a tough matchup for Serbia, which doesn’t boast much in the way of NBA talent (their most seasoned NBA guy is Nenad Krstic, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2011). However, Serbia narrowly missed making the FIBA World Cup (then World Championship) final in 2010, ultimately finishing third to Lithuania, so they’re no slouch.
Serbia must have been inspired by Brazil’s shocking 7-1 semifinal loss to Germany in the FIFA World Cup, because Krstic & Co. administered a similar beat down, crushing Brazil 84-56 behind 23 points from Milos Teodosic. The bad news for Serbia is that they aren’t exactly the German soccer team, and their ride will most likely end Friday against Spain. The silver lining for Brazil is that at least this embarrassment didn’t happen at home. Meanwhile, Team USA and Lithuania square off Thursday in a semifinal matchup most people had predicted heading into the tournament. Lithuania has been one of Team USA’s toughest opponents over the last decade, with the most recent game between the two being a 99-94 nail-biter in pool play at the 2012 London Olympics.