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Argentina’s forward Marcos Mata (left), vies with Senegal’s center Gorgui Dieng (right), during the 2014 FIBA World basketball championships group B match Senegal vs Argentina at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Sevilla
Slovenia still unbeaten; Australia cause shock Mexico hammer Angola

SEVILLE, Spain, Sept 2, (AFP): Slovenia and United States both remained undefeated at the World Basketball World Cham-pionships with comfortable wins on Tuesday while Australia surprised Lithuania and Mexico picked up a historic win. Phoenix Suns playmaker Goran Dragic led Slovenia with 22 points and the other four starters also scored in double digits in an 89-72 win over South Korea to improve to 3-0 atop Group D. Korea, who dropped to 0-3, were led by 20-year-old Lee Jong Hyun with 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Group D also saw the biggest surprise of the day as Australia handed Lithuania their first loss of the competition, an 82-75 victory in Gran Canaria.

Australia saw their 19-point halftime lead dwindle to three points late in the game but managed to hold on — thanks to 18 points from Joe Ingles while Aron Baynes scored 14 points. Renaldas Seibutis led all scorers with 21 points for Lithuania while Darjus Lavrinovic had 14 points. But they were not enough as the Europeans dropped to 2-1 and were joined by Australia on the same mark in the group. In the other Group D game, Mexico beat Angola 79-55 for their first win in this year’s competition — and their first victory at the Worlds in 40 years.

Mexico, whose last win dates back to their 85-84 defeat of Australia at the 1974 World Championship, were paced by Hector Hernandez’s 24 points while Gustavo Ayon had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Yanick Moreira led Angola with 13 points and nine rebounds. Both teams are 1-2 in the group. Group C is topped by the United States, who breezed past winless New Zealand 98-71 thanks to 21 points from Anthony Davis while Kenneth Faried had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Ukraine picked up another victory in their first World Cup by knocking off Turkey 64-58 behind 19 points from Olexsandr Mishula.
 
Ukraine improved to 2-1 while Turkey dropped to 1-2 despite 14 points and 20 rebounds from Omer Asik. Dominican Republic also jumped to 2-1 with a 74-68 win over Finland, who fell to 1-2. Eloy Vargas scored 18 points to lead four Dominicans in double figures Finland wasted a 23-point showing from Petteri Koponen in the loss. Groups A and B had a rest day on Tuesday. All four groups will be in action on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Lithuania on Wednesday formally demanded that the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) stop cutting short its national anthem at the ongoing World Cup in Spain.
FIBA have imposed a 75-second limit for the national anthems ahead of matches, spiking about a quarter of Lithuania’s hymn.
 
“Cutting the anthem short shows a lack of respect for our country, and the FIBA is being very inflexible. Sports bureaucrats should come to their senses,” foreign minister Linas Linkevicius told AFP Wednesday. The move has sparked outrage in Lithuania, a basketball-mad Baltic nation of three million currently ranked world number four by FIBA. Linkevicius said that according to FIBA, it cuts all national anthems to 75 seconds “due to TV reasons and the comfort of athletes”, claims Lithuania has dismissed as being absurd. The foreign ministry sent a formal letter to FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann, saying that playing only a part of the anthem “upset many Lithuanians and provoked the media to express discontent”.
 
The men’s squad won bronze at the 2010 World Championship and were runners-up at last year’s European Championship. So far, they have won two games and lost one at the World Cup in Gran Canaria where up to three thousand fans clad in the national colours of yellow, green and red arrived to support their heroes. Team spokesman Linas Kunigelis told AFP on Wednesday that “the fight with FIBA over the anthem has been going on for several years.” The World Cup runs until Sept 14.

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