Wednesday, August 29, 2007

USA & Argentina Keep Rollin'

USA 117, Puerto Rico 78

- The Tourney of the Americas never really gets me too revved up since it's just strictly a qualifying tourney & the overall competition is lacking, and now Team USA looks bored with the whole thing, and I'm starting to get bored as well. But Team USA shook off their indifference and got back to business in the 2nd quarter after looking like they carried over some of the lackluster effort of the Mex game into the 1st quarter.

- Wasn't quite an overall devastating defensive effort like the first few games--some doubles were split again & a few dribble penetrations that should have been contained better--but can't complain too much when the oppostion shoots 36% & 7/22 from 3pt. Though, Puerto Rico helped these numbers by missing a fair amount of good looks on their own.

- Team USA started to pick things up in the 2nd quarter on both ends of the floor, particularly moving the ball better vs. the zone. They had players flashing from all angles & were looking to go thru the post as well. They were rather successful because Puerto Rico was extending their zone too far similar to Mexico, not to mention P. Rico's rotations were incredibly slow. Also, Ramos of Puerto Rico would only decide to move his feet one in every 5 possessions, and put up exactly no resistance if Howard wanted to post-up.

- Team USA did not get out in transition quite as much as the last game. Puerto Rico was making a concerted effort early on to be methodical with their possessions, looking very cautious of not turning the ball over. One thing to be of minor concern was 11/23 free throw shooting nite for Team USA. This was an issue that hurt them last year, and something to keep an eye on.

- Looks like Bron has been working on his jumper the last 2 months--another impressive outside shooting display by Bron. Bron was 3/5 from deep, and 8/10 overall for 21 pts, 4assts & 4 rebs. Kobe returned to form on the defensive end tonite, but thought he did more damage roving in help sitautions as opposed to on-the-ball. Though, he was pretty effective hounding Ayuso as well, but probably fouled him a little too much--Kobe had 14 pts, 2 stls, & 2 blks. Melo (17 pts) & Redd (15 pts) kept up their strong scoring ways, and Amare was particularly active flingling his body all over the floor, especially on the offensive glass (5 off)--Amare has 12 & 8. Deron Williams pushed the pace while he was in the game opening up looks for his teammates--Deron had 7 assists & was 4/4 for 8 pts.

- US will face upstart Uruguay today. Uruguay is like Argentina-lite where they run a similar set but they just don't have the wealth of talent of Argentina. Former Hawk Esteban Batista is their focal point, but he is largely effective by just bullying guys around in the post with his strength; he won't have that advantage vs. Team USA. Have to keep track of SG Nicolas Mazzarino because all he needs is a tiny bit of room to get off his automatic jumper. PGs Martin Osimani (ex-Duquense) & Leandro Garcia-Morales (ex-Tex A&M) do a solid job for Team Uruguay--Garcia-Morales can be a pest on defense.

Argentina 85, Canada 70

- This game was over early, and the final score does not indicate how Argentina completely shredded Canada, particularly in the 1st half. Argentina was a machine in the 1st half on both ends of the floor, and went in at halftime up 46-16. Canada could get nothing going on offense in the 1st half, and shots would not drop at all. Give some credit to Argentina's strong team defense which rotates & helps as good as any team in the tourney. Always been an underrated factor about Argentina's national team--they get a ton of praise for the precision offense (rightfully so), but their defense has always been impressive thru-out their recent run of success.

- Argentina's offense was fantastic in the opening half with the usual great spacing and impeccable ball-movement, not to mention they had their outside shooting flowing. Scary combination. Early on it was a two-man game between Prigioni & Scola, then Delfino & others got involved in the festivities. Paolo Quinteros & Leonardo Gutierrez came off the bench drilling jumpers, and helped Argentina shoot 7/16 from 3pt in the 1st half (Argentina shot 12/30 from deep for the game)

- Luis Scola had his way on the offensive end, scoring his 23 pts off of jumpers, post-ups, & lay-ins. Scola was often set-up by the pinpoint passes of Pablo Prigioni, who was masterful once again driving the Argentina offense--Pablo dropped 11 dimes.

- Carlos Delfino had another solid performance with 15 & 6 rebs, and center Roman Gonzalez pitched in 11 pts & 11 rebs & kept Dalembert occupied. Have to mention forward Carlos Sandes' effort as well--he has been doing a great job crashing the boards the whole tourney, and he pitched in with 5 rebs (3 off), 3 assts, & 3 stls today. The aforementioned L. Gutierrez was 4/9 from 3pt for 12 pts and P. Quinteros had 10 pts.

- It looked like Team Argentina phoned it in the 2nd half allowing Canada to cut into the lead, but Canada would never seriously threaten. It was almost the tale of two halves for Team Canada, they were a different squad in the 2nd half, but the game was too far out of reach for it to matter.

- Canada found the range on their shooting in the 2nd half after a brutal 1st half where they shot 7/28 from the floor--they shot 21/40 overall in the 2nd half, and 7/12 from 3pt. after only 1/4 in the 1st. They also compounded their 1st half problems by turning the ball over 13 times, they only had 6 TOs in the 2nd half. Forward Dave Thomas (13 pts, 3/3 3pts.) & PG Jermaine Anderson (10 pts) found the range on their jumpers in the 2nd half. Sam Dalembert did have 9 pts & 16 rebs, but he had very little impact on the defensive end. I think it had to with Argentina's big man Roman Gonzalez's ability to step away from the rim, and the double-high post look Argentina will implement.

- Big matchup today with Argentina facing their South American rival, Brazil. These teams know each other very well & Brazil should be prepared to defend vs. Argentina's offense. Brazil might need this victory to clinch the 3-seed and avoid the US in the semis.