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SPAIN 2014: Serbia, France look for revenge against Brazil, Spain in Quarter-Finals
MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Both Quarter-Finals in Madrid on Wednesday will see re-matches of earlier Group A games at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, with Serbia taking on Brazil and France facing off against hosts Spain.
Serbia and their young team start the evening against the veteran leader-laden squad of the South American power Brazil.
The night cap has the French hoping to slow down Spain, who look to take another step closer to becoming the first team to win FIBA's flagship event at home since Yugoslavia in 1970 in Ljubljana.
Serbia-Brazil (18:00 Local Time/GMT +2)
Serbia come into the Quarter-Finals having finally collected a victory against a big team after losing to France, Brazil and Spain in the group stage. And Sasha Djordjevic's team will be brimming with confidence after handing Greece their first defeat in the Round of 16 - and doing so in pretty convincing fashion.
The young Serbs also know that they can play with the veteran Brazilians. In the first match-up in Granada, Brazil led by 16 points at the half before Serbia made up that deficit and even took a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
That 12-minute stretch will do wonders for Serbia's confidence - though they finished with just nine points in the fourth quarter of that game. Serbia will have to do a better job defensively on the Brazilian shooters who were 11-of-23 (48 percent) in last Wednesday's game. But the Serbs committed just eight turnovers in the contest.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 21 points against Greece to finally come out of his offensive doldrums, while Miroslav Raduljica is averaging 14.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as the main leader in the blocks for Serbia. Nemanja Bjelica has been his usual dynamic self and Milos Teodosic is doing a solid job running the show.
Brazil are on their own high, being another step further in the competition, and guaranteed of achieving only their second top-eight finish in the tournament since 1990. They also finally beat their arch continental rivals Argentina in the Round of 16, Brazil's first win over the Blue-and-Whites in FIBa's flagship event since 1967.
Leandrinho Barbosa has been Brazil’s most consistent scorer at 13.0 points per game but seven others are scoring at least seven points a game. Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter are both averaging better than eight points and six rebounds a game.
France-Spain (22:00 Local Time/GMT +2)
France stepped up their game in the Round of 16 to convincingly finish off Croatia and reach the Quarter-Finals. Vincent Collet's team will get another shot at the seemingly-invincible Spaniards.
Les Bleus rely heavily on captain Boris Diaw, who scored just three points to go with three assists and two rebounds on 1-of-6 shooting in the first Spain game. France also will have to cut down on their mistakes, especially after Spain grabbed 11 steals in the first encounter.
Joffrey Lauvergne (10.3 points per game) and Nicolas Batum (10.0 points) have been France's two top scorers but both struggled against Spain, combining to shoot just 8-of-24 from the field in scoring 19 points.
They will need to pick their play up and at least one of France's younger players must step up as well for the European champions to have a chance.
For Spain, it's a case of them carrying on doing what they've been doing so far. And that's easy enough when you have Pau and Marc Gasol, who have combined for 31.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.7 blocks and 1.5 steals while shooting 66 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line.
But there are loads of other weapons including Juan Carlos Navarro, who has averaged 10.0 points a game while Rudy Fernandez is helping across the board and Ricky Rubio has collected 19 points, 12 assists, 12 steals and nine rebounds in his last two games.