FIBA World Cup Day 3: Cinderella Senegal Surprises Croatia

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In two days, Senegal has doubled its win total in FIBA world competition, stunning Croatia on Tuesday. (FIBA photo)

In two days, Senegal has doubled its win total in FIBA world competition, stunning Croatia on Tuesday. (FIBA photo)

In two days, Senegal has doubled its total for wins in FIBA world championship play, winning for the second straight day Monday by upsetting Croatia 77-75 in Group B play in the FIBA World Cup at Sevilla, Spain.

The win leaves Greece as the lone unbeaten in the group and leaves Croatia with more questions than answers after a close call against another of the group’s weak sisters, the Philippines, on Saturday.

Senegal also beat Puerto Rico on Sunday for its first win in FIBA world competition since 1998. The nation’s only other win in a FIBA event was in 1978.

Until this year. They are now 2-1 in Group B and threatening to earn a spot in the elimination round for the first time in the nation’s history.

Maleye N’Doye sealed the win for the Senegalese by hitting a pair of free throws with five seconds left to put Senegal up 77-72. A 3-pointer from Damjan Rudez of the Indiana Pacers with a second to go just made the final margin closer.

Senegal led 59-52 entering the fourth quarter and had to hold off a determined run by the Croatians.

A pair of free throws by Ante Tomic with 4:57 left got Croatia as close as two at 64-62, but Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves answered with a short jumper a minute later to put Senegal back up by four.

A 3-pointer by Bojan Bogdanovic of the Brooklyn Nets made it a one-point game with 2:10 to go, but Dieng made a layup to push the lead out to three.

Oliver Lafayette hit a 3-pointer for Croatia with 21 seconds left, making it a 73-72 game, but Xane D’Almeida made two clutch free throws with 19 seconds left that gave Senegal a 75-72 edge.

Krunoslav Simon missed a 3-pointer with seven seconds left that would have tied it and N’Doye put the game away at the foul line.

Dieng had a huge game for Senegal, playing all 40 minutes and finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. D’Almeida had 15 points and five assists and Mouhammad Faye added 11 points before fouling out. Hamady N’Diaye of the Delaware 87ers blocked three shots and scored five points.

Bogdanovic and Dario Saric had 15 points each for Croatia and Tomic finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Saric also had four assists and three steals.

But Senegal hit 45.3 percent of its shots (24-for-53) and was 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) from downtown. Croatia was just 42.9 percent from the floor (24-for-56) and made only 7-of-26 (26.9 percent) from 3-point range.

Here is the rest of the action from Day 3, broken down by group:

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