Montenegro, Australia, Italy and Latvia win World Cup opening games

Mikael Jantune of Finland and Nick Kay of Australia during the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Championship group E match between Finland and Australia in Okinawa, Aug. 25, 2023. (LEHTIKUVA / VESA MOILANEN - FINLAND OUT)

Nikola Vucevic got Montenegro’s World Cup trip off to a flying start.

Vucevic finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds in just 31 minutes, and Montenegro pulled away for a 91-71 win over Mexico in Group D on the opening day of the Basketball World Cup theat started Friday with games in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan.

Vucevic was 11 for 15 from the field, including 3 for 3 on 3-pointers. Kendrick Perry scored 16 points and Nikola Ivanovic added 14 for Montenegro.

Pako Cruz scored 16 for Mexico, while Joshua Ibarra scored 13, Fabian James had 12 and Paul Stoll finished with 10 points and seven assists.

Montenegro plays Egypt on Sunday while Mexico takes on Lithuania.



At Manila, Simone Fontecchio scored 19 points and Italy pulled away in the final 12 minutes to hold off upstart Angola.

Stefano Tonut scored 18 points for Italy, Giampaolo Ricci scored 12 and Marco Spissu added seven assists.

Childe Dundao scored 19 points for Angola, which led by seven early and was still tied with Italy at 52-all late in the third.

Bruno Fernando scored 13 for Angola.

Both teams struggled from 3-point range. Angola was 4 for 30 from beyond the arc — Dundao was 4 for 8, his teammates combined to shoot 0 for 22 — while Italy was 5 for 31 on 3s.

Italy takes on the Dominican Republic on Sunday, while Angola plays the Philippines.



At Okinawa, Patty Mills scored 25 points and Olympic bronze medalist Australia overwhelmed Finland over the final 23 minutes on Friday in the opening game for both teams.

Josh Giddey flirted with a triple-double — finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists — for the winners, who got 13 from Joe Ingles and 10 from Dante Exum.

Finland led 38-30 with 3:33 left in the first half. Australia outscored Finland 68-34 the rest of the way.

Lauri Markkanen, the reigning NBA’s Most Improved Player, led Finland with 19 points and eight rebounds. Markkanen had been fulfilling mandatory military service just prior the tournament opening.

Australia plays Germany on Sunday, while Finland plays Japan.



At Jakarta, Dairis Bertans scored 20 points, going 6 for 7 on 3-pointers, and Latvia turned its first World Cup game into an easy win over Lebanon.

Rolands Smits had 17 points for Latvia, which had a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter and kept pulling away.

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Davis Bertans, the only current NBA player for either team, scored 10 points off the bench. Sergio El Darwich scored 19 points for Lebanon, while former NBA player Omari Spellman scored 18 points.

Latvia was 18 of 35 from 3-point range, while Lebanon was just 7 of 24 from distance.

Latvia plays France on Sunday, while Lebanon faces Canada.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.