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SPAIN 2014: Croatia edge Philippines on thrilling opening day
BILBAO/GRAN CANARIA/GRANADA/SEVILLA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - The FIBA Basketball World Cup exploded into action in Spain on Saturday with thrillers, comebacks and an overtime survival act by Croatia.
There were terrific games in all Bilbao, Gran Canaria and Granada but the venue that played host to the most exciting game of all was Sevilla.
That's where Croatia launched their Group B campaign against the Philippines pulled out all stops to win 81-78 after the extra period.
Andray Blatche had a major impact in his first major tournament game with Gilas and finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds but it wasn’t enough.
Bojan Bogdanovic hit a pair of free-throws with 41 seconds left in the overtime to snap a 75-75 tie and put Croatia on their way to victory.
Luis Scola poured in 20 points while Andres Nocioni and Selem Safar contributed 18 each as Julio Lamas' team tasted victory on day one.
Veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni had 10 assists to go with his nine points for Argentina.
The third game of the day in Group B saw Greece blow out Senegal 87-64.
Kostas Kaimakoglou led a balanced Greek scoring attack with 17 points.
Greece were in total command by half-time with a 45-17 advantage.
Group C in Bilbao had plenty of excitement in the first game.
Mike Fratello’s side ended up winning, 72-62.
Maxym Kornienko broke the tie with a mid-range jumper and Sergii Gladyr and Pooh Jeter followed with three-pointers to put the Ukrainians on their way.
Oguz Savas had 13 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, while Kerem Tunceri, Sinan Guler and Baris Hersek all made important plays for the Turks.
The Tall Blacks lost despite an inspirational effort from Corey Webster.
The guard came off the bench and scored a game-high 22 points.
The final game of the night between the United States and Finland had the electric atmosphere that everyone expected with thousands of Finns filling much of the arena.
The USA then spoiled the party, racing into a 31-16 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Americans took control with the defense and extended their advantage to 60-18 by half-time.
Klay Thompson hit four of his seven shots from long range and finished with 18 points, and Anthony Davis also excelled with 17 in the big win.
Finland, whose cause was undermined by Gerald Lee picking up three fouls in the first two minutes and eight seconds, got 12 points apiece from Petteri Koponen and Shawn Huff.
In Group D in Gran Canaria, Angola started the day with an 80-69 victory over Korea.
Olimpio Cipriano and Yanick Moreira had 16 points each and Eduardo Mingas had 14 points and five rebounds for the Angolans.
Goran Dragic scored 21 points, handed out four assists and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Boomers fell behind by double digits but clawed their way back to 85-80 with 42 seconds to go, thanks largely to a full-court press.
Slovenia made enough plays down the stretch to begin the tournament with a victory.
Jonas Maciulis had 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas 17 for the victors.
In Group A in Granada, Serbia had a convincing 85-64 win against Egypt with point guard Milos Teodosic scoring a game-high 15 points.
Marcelinho Huertas had 16 points and scored many late as the Brazilians held off the French.
Boris Diaw spearheaded the France attack with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
In the last game of the night, tournament hosts Spain claimed a 90-60 victory over Iran.
The Gasol brothers were in fine fettle.
Pau had 33 points and eight rebounds while Marc scored 15 and corralled 10 boards.
Ricky Rubio, meanwhile, led the Spanish defense with five steals.