Fiba World Cup: Nikola Vucevic leads Montenegro rout of Mexico | Inquirer Sports

Fiba World Cup: Nikola Vucevic leads Montenegro rout of Mexico

By: - Online Sports Editor / @CFColinaINQ
/ 08:28 PM August 25, 2023

Montenegro's Nikola Vucevic in the Fiba World Cup game in Manila.

Montenegro’s Nikola Vucevic in the Fiba World Cup game in Manila. –FIBA

MANILA, Philippines–Montenegro pulled away in the second half to beat Mexico, 91-71, for a strong start in the Fiba World Cup Group D on Friday at Mall of Asia Arena here.

Montenegro’s star player Nikola Vucevic opened the game strong then punctuated his showing with a three-pointer with 1:44 left that put the game out of reach for the pesky Mexicans.


While the Montenegrins had the upper hand for most of the match, they struggled to put away the Mexicans for good until midway through the fourth quarter where they turned a 74-67 lead into an 85-71 advantage after Vucevic’s three.


Kendrick Perry then scored back-to-back triples to stretch the lead to 20 points, putting Montenegro on the early lead in Group D.

“Mexico is a tough team to play against. They never gave up and fought until the end,” Vucevic, who plays for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA, said in the post-game press conference. “We know that was going to going to be the case. We know how they play. We know we had to play for 40 minutes. A lot of respect for them [Mexico]. This was definitely a difficult game for us.”

Vucevic finished with a game-high 27 points, including 10 in the opening period to set the tone for Montenegro. He also had 10 rebounds.

“It was very important that we started the game well. During our preparations, we didn’t always start the game well. So I wanted to make sure to help the team set the tone,” Vucevic said. “I was able to get into a good position and my teammates were able to find me.”

Perry added 16 points and seven assists for Montenegro while Nikola Ivanovic had 14 from three-of-six shooting from beyond the arc.


Montenegro, which beat Gilas Pilipinas in a tune-up game before the Fiba World Cup, faces Egypt next on Sunday at the same venue.

“It’s always good to start with a win, especially with our schedule. It’s much easier going forward mentally. Our game last game against the Philippines helped us a little bit,” Vucevic said.

Mexico, which had answers to Montenegro’s attempts to break away up until the fourth, drew 16 points from Paco Cruz and 13 from Joshua Ibarra in the losing effort.

Mexico coach Omar Quintero rued how his team let the game go down the stretch, knowing the caliber of the team like Montenegro.

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“We have to be consistent, especially against teams like Montenegro and Lithuania. If you make a mistake, they will punish you,” he said. “We only played well for 34 minutes.”

Next for Mexico is Lithuania on Sunday.

TAGS: Fiba World Cup, Montenegro, Nikola Vucejic

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