USA Waxes Brazil
USA 113, Brazil 76
- In Team USA's 1st legit test (and maybe the only one besides the finals) they shook off Brazil in the middle of the 2nd quarter, and proceeded to thrash them the rest of the game like every other opponent this year. Brazil was hanging with Team USA for the 1st quarter and a half, and it wasn't fluky--they looked liked they could physically hang with the USA, especially inside. Splitter & Nene were a definite presence in the painted area, actually having more impact than Team USA's bigs.
- This might have been Team USA's most impressive outing in the last 7 years or so. Tonight was a perfect confluence of dedicated defending & deadly accurate shooting, a combo that makes the US bullet-proof. Team USA scorched the nets for 19/36 from 3pt. land. & 55% overall. Hit 8 3pts in the 3rd quarter & blew this game off the hinges in the middle quarters--outscoring Brazil 69-28 in the 2nd & 3rd quarters.
- Still can't believe Brazil only had one more TO (15) than the US (14) for the game, it surely felt like Brazil had at least 20+ TOs by game's end; I figured the TO margin was significant.
- Nice to see Team USA was selling out for the entire shot clock--forced a handful of shot-clock violations & last-second rushed shots. Again, Team USA showed hard on screens, switching often, & strategically doubled the ball. Though they were not without some fault: some issues in the 1st half with baseline cuts & the Brazilian bigs getting loose near the basket, and they could have done a little bit better job containing Garcia & Splitter early in the game. But that's nit-picky stuff.
- Bron shot the ball as well as I've seen him in FIBA play--21 pts on 8/11 overall, 4/6 from 3pt. Melo kept up his stellar offensive output by also killing it with his jumper--21 on 8/13, 3/4 3pt. Although Melo fell asleep on the defensive end a few times, including 7-foot Splitter taking him off the bounce twice. Actually, both Melo & Bron had some difficulty when forced to match up with Splitter. Also, Mike Redd kept his duty as the designated marksman, shooting 4/7 from 3pt for 16 pts.
- Kobe's Operation Shutdown for tonite was Barbosa, and another mission accomplished for the Mamba--Barbosa, who was the Tourney's leading scorer, had 4 pts on 1/7 shooting. Kobe also brought some offense to the party with 20 (3/6 3pts), and helped spark a huge 17-0 run early in the 3rd with 2 3pts. that officially wrapped up the game.
- Tiago Splitter was the best big on the floor tonite, and lone bright spot for Brazil. He was a huge presence on the defensive end where he knocked 2-3 shots off the rim, blocked a few shots (I'm including the stuff on Amare), changed a handful of USA forays to the bucket, & even stayed in front of Kobe to draw a charge. Tiago even surprised with some nice dribble drives to the bucket, and also had a few tip-ins off of his 9 boards.
Life really is not fair that the Spurs grabbed him at #28 this year. There are 10-15 teams/GMs (Kings & Sixers come to mind) who really should rethink their strategy in that they passed on Tiago because they would have to wait a year for him to come over. Think it's sort of shortsighted--you're gonna have to wait a few years on most of this year's draft picks to develop anyways, so why not wait for Tiago. Teams passed on a lottery-level talent that is on the same level as Joakim Noah. As usual, the Spurs win again.
Let's say I'm a Kings fan right now, I'm even more pissed than I was on draft night that I decided on Hawes than a player like Splitter--a guy who provides the interior defense & rebounding Sacto desperately need. (We had Tiago tabbed as our #12-ranked prospect, maybe should be a few slots higher, but still felt he was a definite lotto talent.)
- Now on to Stage 2 of the tourney where Team USA will face Mexico first then P .Rico, Uruguay, & Argentina. Mexico is implementing Nolan Richardson's "Cuarenta Minutos de Infierno" to quicken the pace of the game. Mexico's talent level is just not there to cause problems for Team USA, but do watch for former UNLV product, Romel Beck (Castro) & the full-figured former Sun, Horacio Llamas, who has a nice soft stroke that belies his size. Argentina does have the style of great spacing, constant off-the-ball movement, & various counterplays that might cause issues for Team USA. Argentina has played well so far (besides the Panama game where they fell asleep until 2:00 mark of the 4th), but they just don't have the depth this year, and USA will just wear them down.