Thursday, August 30, 2007

Brazil Blows Big Lead To Argentina

Argentina 86, Brazil 79 (OT)

- In a sense, Brazil gave this game away after controlling the 1st half & leading by as much as 17 early in the 3rd. Brazil is obviously familiar with their South American neighbor, and looked liked they were prepared for Argentina's precision offense early on. Brazil's defense dictated the action early and made things rough for Arg. to execute like they're used to. But foul trouble (Splitter & Barbosa), TOs, & a rudderless offense doomed Brazil down the stretch.

- Argentina found some rhythm in the 2nd half, and went on a 8-0 run (with Barbosa on the bench with foul trouble) to start the 4th thanks to forcing a handful of TOs. Luis Scola scored 19 of his 23 in the 2nd half, while Paolo Quinteros went off as well in the 2nd. Scola was drawing fouls constantly (something he has done well in Europe), and they were not just when he had the ball, he must have drawn up 4-5 fouls just off-the-ball. Scola scored 13 of his 23 points on the foul line, 12 rebs.

- Why was Coach Ferreira not calling for Nene to post up down the stretch? Arg was going with a downsized lineup with Gutierrez at the 4, and he can't handle Nene on the block. Did go to Nene once with 3 minutes left in the 4th, and Nene hit a nice little turnaround and drew the foul. But that was it, never went back to him down the stretch. Wasn't like he wasn't having a solid game--Nene shot 5/7 for 10 & grabbed 12 rebs (5 off), you can see he could have used more touches.

- Brazil's offense looked lost at the end of the 4th. Terrible execution down the stretch with very little player movement and no sense of organization. Barbosa ended up tossing up two errant 25+ footers to try to beat the shot clock in the last minute of regulation.

- Brazil's defense was excellent in the 1st half, and the linchpin was Tiago Splitter, who was a major interior deterrent all game. He was tough as an on-the-ball defender or in help situations, gave his former Tau teammate, Scola, some problems--Tiago teamed with Duncan is a scary proposition. Can't say enough good things about Splitter's play this tournament, and only Kobe & Dalembert have had more of impact defensively than Splitter.

- Marcelo Machado had a pretty awesome game for Brazil with 19 pts, 7 rebs, 7 asst & 3 stls. He's a very underrated passer--he had 7 assts tonite, including a sweet no-look wraparound job to Splitter. But he was not perfect--he had 6 TOs and he got abused by Delfino in the post twice in OT. Barbosa had 16 pts (3/7 3pts.) & did a decent job creating for others (5 assts), but his shot selection continues to be sketchy, just been in full-on chucker mode this entire tourney. Brazilian guard Valters Da Silva hit some big 3s in the 4th quarter, and finished 4/4 from long-range for 14 pts.

- Carlos Delfino had another nice all-around performance--19 pts, 10 rebs & 5 stls, but continued too be a little streaky on the offensive end. 'Los came up huge in overtime by taking Machado down on the block twice & finishing off two crucial post moves. SG Paolo Quinteros came off the bench for 19 pts on 6/10 shooting. PG Prigioni got his passing going in the 2nd half after a ragged 1st half, and he continued to hit his jumper when needed--Pablo had 11 & 7 dimes.

- Brazil could be in a little danger after this loss. It's a longshot, but if they lose to Uruguay & Canada wins (vs. Puerto Rico), they could be shut out of the Semis. If they lose & Canada loses, you would then have a 4-way tie for 3rd place, and a complicated tiebreaker scenario comes into play. So it's in Brazil's best interest to win & secure the #3 spot tonite.