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''I don't know where this will end, but we will enjoy it'' - Argentina's Facundo Campazzo
DONGGUAN (China) - Argentina just sprung one of the biggest upsets in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, knocking off a heavily favored Serbia in their Quarter-Finals matchup at the Dongguan Basketball Center.
It was a result most did not expect, especially with Serbia billed as one of the main front-runners for the title and, at least on paper, being one of the biggest and most talented squads in the entire tournament.
Argentina, however, bucked the odds, mainly driven by the offensive wizardry of fantastic floor general Facundo Campazzo, leading his team to their sixth victory in as many games.
"WE KNEW WE COULD DO IT. WE KNEW WE COULD PLAY LIKE WE DID TONIGHT."
"Having no loss is a product of a lot of work and a lot of preparation before the tournament," Campazzo explained. "We are very happy our work paid off, and we want to keep working and winning. We want to go step by step. We just want to compete, and don't really think about first place or second place or whatever just yet."
After this win, many have asked Campazzo if this is a renaissance of the country's famous 'golden generation' that featured iconic names like Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Pablo Prigioni among others. The 28-year-old Campazzo, however, is quick to deflect the comparisons.
"We're just from different generations," he said. "We learned a lot from the golden generation of Manu, Nocioni, Prigioni. People will compare us, but we believe in no comparisons. We have to play the way we play. That generation gave us a lot of good values -- respect, work, sacrifice. We take those and try to do our own version."
Now assured of a top four finish and a berth in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Argentina have defied most people's and pundits' projections, but Campazzo is the first one who'll say they're not surprised at all by how far they've come.
"Before this, our main goal was the Semi-Finals," he said. "We knew we could do it. We knew we could play like we did tonight. We are very happy for it."
Campazzo played a memorable game, putting up 18 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 three-pointers in a scintillating performance. Not since Toni Kukoc in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 1994 has anyone ever produced 15+ points, 10+ assists, 5+ rebounds and 3+ steals on this stage. Even Serbia head coach Sasha Djordjevic could not help but heap praise at Argentina's little-engine-that-could.
🎬 𝗜𝗧'𝗦 𝗙𝗔𝗖𝗨-𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘! Facundo Campazzo (@facucampazzo) was UNSTOPPABLE in @cabboficial 🇦🇷's win to classify to the #FIBAWC's Semi-Finals.— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) September 10, 2019
After his 18 points, 12 assists, & 6 rebounds' performance, he was named the @TclCorporation Player of the Game from #ARGSRB. pic.twitter.com/mNMZaHwe7v
"Campazzo absolutely dominated the game," coach Sasha remarked post-game. "This was his victory. Scola is their emotional leader, and Campazzo picked up their winning ability."
Upon hearing of this, Campazzo returned the kind words and implied that Argentina's campaign is far from over.
"I respect coach Sasha," he said. "I actually almost played for him [in EuroLeague]. We are a very young team. We want to keep competing. I don't know where this will end, but we will enjoy the process."