At 39, Luis Scola is not slowing down.
He’s moving up.
Scola climbed into the No. 2 spot on FIBA’s all-time World Cup scoring list on Monday, his 23 points helping Argentina hold off Nigeria 94-81 in a Group B game at Wuhan, China, to clinch a berth in the second round.
Scola — whose five World Cup appearances are tied for the most by any player — also had 10 rebounds for Argentina (2-0). He’s up to 611 points in his World Cup career, passing Australia’s Andrew Gaze’s total of 594, and is now second only to Brazilian scoring great Oscar Schmidt’s 906 points in the tournament.
“As I have said before, this is more than a game to me,” Scola said. “I love representing my country.”
Gaze, working in China as a broadcaster for this World Cup, offered a congratulatory message when Scola passed him on the scoring list.
“You’re a champion,” Gaze said. “You’ve dedicated yourself to the national team for many years and I can’t be more happy for you and your achievement.”
Scola was the youngest player on Argentina’s team that went to the 2002 world championships, the precursor to the World Cup.
Those days are long gone.
He’s now the oldest player on Argentina’s roster by more than 11 years, with the second-oldest being 28-year-old Facundo Campazzo. Of the 384 players in this World Cup, only 40-year-old Angola forward Eduardo Mingas and 39-year-old Brazil forward Alex Garcia are older than Scola. Garcia has him by just about two months.
Monday was Scola’s 35th career World Cup game, and his 29th reaching double figures in scoring.
“He’s our leader,” Campazzo said.
Josh Okogie led Nigeria (0-2) with 18 points.
ITALY 92, ANGOLA 61
At Foshan, Italy outscored Angola 36-6 from 3-point range and had little trouble improving to 2-0 in Group D.
Marco Belinelli scored 17 points to lead five Italians in double figures. Yanick Moreira had 15 points and eight rebounds for Angola (0-2).
VENEZUELA 87, IVORY COAST 71
At Beijing, Heissler Guillent scored 28 points as Venezuela (1-1) got a much-needed win to keep its hopes of advancing out of Group A alive.
Charles Abouo led Ivory Coast (0-2) with 19 points.
TUNISIA 79, IRAN 67
At Guangzhou, Tunisia ran out to an early double-digit lead and bounced back from a blowout loss to Spain in its Group C opener.
Salah Mejri finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds for Tunisia (1-1), going 5 for 9 from 3-point range. Aaron Geramipoor scored 18 for Iran (0-2).
The U.S., which opened Sunday with a win over the Czech Republic, took Monday off. The Americans plan to hold a shootaround in Shanghai on Tuesday before their second game of the tournament against Turkey later that night.
China (1-0) plays Poland (1-0) in Group A; South Korea (0-1) plays Russia (1-0) in Group B; Puerto Rico (1-0) plays Spain (1-0) in Group C; and Serbia (1-0) plays the Philippines (0-1) in Group D.
Group E: Japan (0-1) vs. Czech Republic (0-1); U.S. (1-0) vs. Turkey (1-0)
Group F: Montenegro (0-1) vs. New Zealand (0-1); Greece (1-0) vs. Brazil (1-0)
Group G: Germany (0-1) vs. Dominican Republic (1-0); Jordan (0-1) vs. France (1-0)
Group H: Australia (1-0) vs. Senegal (0-1); Lithuania (1-0) vs. Canada (0-1)