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Suns’ Rubio, Baynes undefeated at FIBA World Cup, advance to bracket

(AP photos)

The representation for the Phoenix Suns at the 2019 FIBA World Cup has had a strong start to the competition.

Both Ricky Rubio’s Spain and Aron Baynes’ Australia went undefeated in group play, seeing both of their teams advance to the bracket portion of the tournament.

Rubio has been one of the leading scorers for the 5-0 Spain. Taking on a more aggressive offensive role during international play, Rubio is averaging 14.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

He has put up at least 15 points in four of his five games, including a personal-best 19 points in an upset win over Serbia in the final game of the group stages.

Rubio hasn’t been afraid to shoot the three-ball either, hitting seven of his 17 attempts in the tourney thus far for a 41.2% mark.

Like Rubio, Baynes has changed his game from his NBA role as a thumping backup center into much more of an offensive threat for the Aussies. He’s excelled in that role, with 14.8 points per game being second on the team. He’s managed double-digit scoring in all five games and is shooting 60.4% from the field and is 8-of-15 (53.3%) from deep.

He had one of the more impressive performances in the tournament against Lithuania. Facing off against the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jonas Valanciunas and the Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis, Baynes dominated both.

He finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds against one of the best frontcourt duos in the tournament.

Australia’s 5-0 run includes a 100-98 win over France Monday morning. And it was Baynes as one of the leaders, posting 21 points and five rebounds against Utah Jazz center and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

Both Suns players find themselves on the same side of the bracket.

If Spain beats Poland on Tuesday and Australia takes down the Czech Republic on Wednesday, the two sides would meet on Friday morning in the semifinals. The two tournament favorites, Serbia and the United States, sit on the other side of the bracket along with France and Argentina.

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