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Luis Scola moves into No. 2 spot on World Cup scoring list

Argentina team captain Luis Scola, left, celebrates with his teammate Maximo Fjellerup after they defeated Nigeria during their group B in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, at the Sport Center in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (Andy Wong / Associated Press)
Argentina team captain Luis Scola, left, celebrates with his teammate Maximo Fjellerup after they defeated Nigeria during their group B in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, at the Sport Center in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (Andy Wong / Associated Press)
Associated Press

At 39, Luis Scola is not slowing down.

He’s moving up.

Scola climbed into the No. 2 spot on FIBA’s all-time World Cup scoring list on Monday, his 23 points helping Argentina hold off Nigeria 94-81 in a Group B game at Wuhan, China, to clinch a berth in the second round.

Scola – whose five World Cup appearances are tied for the most by any player – also had 10 rebounds for Argentina (2-0). He’s up to 611 points in his World Cup career, passing Australia’s Andrew Gaze’s total of 594, and is now second only to Brazilian scoring great Oscar Schmidt’s 906 points in the tournament.

“As I have said before, this is more than a game to me,” Scola said. “I love representing my country.”

Gaze, working in China as a broadcaster for this World Cup, offered a congratulatory message when Scola passed him on the scoring list.

“You’re a champion,” Gaze said. “You’ve dedicated yourself to the national team for many years and I can’t be more happy for you and your achievement.”

Scola was the youngest player on Argentina’s team that went to the 2002 world championships, the precursor to the World Cup.

Those days are long gone.

He’s now the oldest player on Argentina’s roster by more than 11 years, with the second-oldest being 28-year-old Facundo Campazzo. Of the 384 players in this World Cup, only 40-year-old Angola forward Eduardo Mingas and 39-year-old Brazil forward Alex Garcia are older than Scola. Garcia has him by just about two months.

Monday was Scola’s 35th career World Cup game, and his 29th reaching double figures in scoring.

“He’s our leader,” Campazzo said.

Josh Okogie led Nigeria (0-2) with 18 points.

Monday’s highlights:

SERBIA 126, PHILIPPINES 67: At Foshan, Serbia shot a staggering 75 percent and rolled past the Philippines to advance to the second round.

Nemanja Bjelica shot 7 for 7 and scored 20 points for Serbia (2-0 Group D), which will play Italy for the group title on Wednesday. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 17 and Nikola Jokic had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Serbia.

The winners shot 86% – 36 for 42 – from 2-point range. The 75% shooting overall is the best in a World Cup game since at least 1990; FIBA does not have game-by-game records for world championships (the precursor to World Cup) prior to that year.

“Serbia’s the No. 1 team right now,” Philippines guard Paul Lee said.

Jaymar Perez led the Philippines (0-2) with 16 points.

ITALY 92, ANGOLA 61: At Foshan, Italy outscored Angola 36-6 from 3-point range and had little trouble improving to 2-0 in Group D and clinching a second-round spot.

Marco Belinelli scored 17 points to lead five Italians in double figures. Yanick Moreira had 15 points and eight rebounds for Angola (0-2).

POLAND 79, CHINA 76, OT: At Beijing, Mateusz Ponitka scored 25 points and A.J. Slaughter added 22 as Poland pulled out a wild win. Poland (2-0) rallied from a three-point deficit in the final 10 seconds of regulation after getting two trips to the foul line. Yi Jianlian led China (1-1) with 24 points.

VENEZUELA 87, IVORY COAST 71: At Beijing, Heissler Guillent scored 28 points as Venezuela (1-1) got a much-needed win to keep its hopes of advancing out of Group A alive. Charles Abouo led Ivory Coast (0-2) with 19 points. Former Gonzaga player Guy Landry Edi had 11 points and four rebounds for Cote d’Ivore.

SPAIN 73, PUERTO RICO 63: At Guangzhou, Marc Gasol scored 19 points and Ricky Rubio had 17 as Spain (2-0) pulled away in the second half of a Group C matchup. Gian Clavell scored 13 for Puerto Rico (1-1).

TUNISIA 79, IRAN 67: At Guangzhou, Tunisia ran out to an early double-digit lead and bounced back from a blowout loss to Spain in its Group C opener. Salah Mejri finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds for Tunisia (1-1), going 5 for 9 from 3-point range. Aaron Geramipoor scored 18 for Iran (0-2).

RUSSIA 87, SOUTH KOREA 73: At Wuhan, Vitaly Fridzon and Andrey Vorontsevich each had 13 points for Russia, which moved to 2-0 in Group B and clinched a second-round berth. Guna Ra led South Korea (0-2) with 19 points.

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