Stefan Jovic (L) of Serbia fights for the ball with Ricky Rubio of Spain during the group J match between Spain and Serbia at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Sept. 8, 2019. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
WUHAN, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Nicola Jokic suffered a disqualifying foul as his Serbian side lost to Spain 81-69 here in a Group J closing game at the FIBA World Cup on Sunday.
Both teams had secured spots in the last eight on Friday, but they all put the key players on the court in order to avoid setting a clash against Argentina in the quarterfinals. With the victory, Spain will meet Poland in the first round of the elimination stage.
Ricky Rubio of Spain put up an incredible performance with 19 points and five rebounds, while Victor Claver finished 14 points, and Marc Gasol added 11 points.
FIBA World Cup trophy contender Serbia scored a 13-6 run at the start of the game and took a 20-13 lead in the first period.
Spain went on a 13-2 scoring run in midway through the second quarter. Although the Spanish had a double digit advantage, they allowed their rivals to trim the margin to eight points at the halftime buzzer.
Marc Gasol bested his rival in the NBA Nicola Jokic and rebuilt a 10-point advantage for Spain at the beginning of the second half on a 9-2 run.
With 6:40 left before the fourth quarter, Jokic was disqualified. The Serbians, without the NBA all-star class player, then trailed 67-56 after three quarters.
The 2016 Rio Olympic silver medalist narrowed the gap to one digit during the final quarter, through a Bogdanovic three-pointer, but it was Rubio who helped the Spanish put the game beyond its rival's reach through a set shot with 86 seconds remaining on the clock.