‘Stupid’ Jokic ejected as Spain stun Serbia at Basketball World Cup

Nikola Jokic was ejected for “a stupid reaction” in the third quarter. (AFP)
Updated 08 September 2019
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‘Stupid’ Jokic ejected as Spain stun Serbia at Basketball World Cup

  • Spain and European rivals Serbia had already qualified for the last eight

WUHAN, China: All-Star Nikola Jokic was ejected for “a stupid reaction” in the third quarter as strongly fancied Serbia were stunned 81-69 by Spain to blow the Basketball World Cup wide open on Sunday.
Led by Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns, Spain set up a quarter-final meeting with surprise packages Poland on Tuesday while Serbia will need to pick themselves up quickly for Argentina on the same evening.
Spain and European rivals Serbia had already qualified for the last eight in China but Group J supremacy and a supposedly easier game in the next round was at stake.
Serbia, the reigning world and Olympic silver medallists behind the Americans, had looked imperious in their previous four matches, but this loss will raise questions about their title credentials.
Coach Sasha Djordjevic said Spain were the better team and refused to use the loss of Jokic — turfed out after yelling at a referee — as an excuse.
But he hard harsh words for his key man, saying: “I did not like the stupid reaction of my player, who should be on the floor.
“We can even lose with him, why not if the other team is better? But he should stay on the floor and be one of the leaders.”
In one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the tournament so far, Spain surged back from a slow start in the first quarter to lead by eight points at half-time in Wuhan.
Serbia, who had looked the chief threat to the young roster of reigning champions the US, were rattled for the first time in China and on their way toward a first defeat.
Midway through the third quarter, their chances of making a comeback suffered a fatal blow when Denver Nuggets’ Jokic — one of the World Cup’s biggest names — was thrown out.
The 24-year-old was irritated initially by the close attentions of Spain’s defense and made his feelings clear to the officials.
The plain-speaking Djordjevic said he had already spoken to Jokic about the incident.
“We don’t have time for long meetings, he knows (he was wrong),” said Djordjevic.
“He’s a tough kid, one of the greatest right now, (so) we need him on the floor.
“I hope it won’t happen again and this is a moment for him to grow.”
Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Sacramento Kings was again key for Serbia, keeping them within range of Spain with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Rubio racked up 19 points for the Spanish while veteran Marc Gasol had six rebounds and six assists.
“They really kicked us today,” said Bogdanovic, who has been in sparkling form at the World Cup and was unlucky to be on the losing side.
Spain coach Sergio Scariolo was full of praise for the 27-year-old Bogdanovic, calling him “ridiculous” and “an unbelievable player.”
Argentina topped Group I — and teed up a meeting with Serbia — after a dominant 91-65 victory over Poland. Both had already reached the last eight.


Ex-England forward Beardsley suspended over racist comments

Updated 44 min 44 sec ago

Ex-England forward Beardsley suspended over racist comments

  • Peter Beardsley suspended from all football-related activity for 32 weeks
  • Beardsley, who denied the allegations, has also been ordered to complete a face-to-face education course

LONDON: Former Newcastle Under-23s coach Peter Beardsley has been suspended from all football-related activity for 32 weeks after he was found guilty of making racist comments.
The England international, who played for Newcastle and Liverpool, was charged earlier this year by the Football Association with three counts of using racist language.
The 58-year-old’s departure from the Premier League club was confirmed in March after he was placed on leave while an investigation into bullying was carried out.
An FA statement said: “All three breaches of FA Rule E3 were denied but subsequently found proven based upon the results and findings of Newcastle United FC’s disciplinary proceedings.”
It added: “An independent regulatory commission has suspended Peter Beardsley from all football and football-related activity for a period of 32 weeks until 29 April 2020.”
The commission’s report described Beardsley as a “towering figure in football” and said his football reputation was “beyond question.”
But it found: “On the three occasions which are the subject of the charges, he made remarks which were obviously racist and were wholly unacceptable.
“Even if he did not intend to do so, he plainly did cause offense. It is particularly important at a time when racism in football is prevalent that remarks of the kind made by Mr. Beardsley are punished severely.”
Beardsley, who denied the allegations, has also been ordered to complete a “face-to-face” education course.
In a statement released on his behalf by his solicitors, Beardsley spoke of his disappointment at the decision, but vowed to return to football.
It said: “Peter Beardsley is very surprised and disappointed by the decision of the regulatory commission.
“It was almost impossible for Peter to clear his name because of the serious flaws and contamination of evidence that occurred in the disciplinary process before Newcastle United and by the unusual fact that the FA Rules put the burden of proof on him to prove his innocence in the proceedings.
“After a long process which has been unnecessarily protracted, Peter feels vindicated that the commission has expressly found that he is not a racist.”