Saturday, August 29, 2009

'09 FIBA Americas: Brazil 76, Argentina 67

In Day 3 action, Brazil improved to 3-0 in Group B 1st-round play with a victory over its South American rival, Argentina. Argentina dropped to 0-2, and is in serious danger of failing to advance to the 2nd round.

It's obvious these teams are familiar with the others' personnel & tendencies. This is usually the case when these neighbors meet--it often leads to ragged, defensive affairs. Argentina's anemic offense wasn't aided by Scola being limited to 24 mins with foul trouble.

Most of the 2nd quarter was harsh, with Argentina scoring only 10 pts, and Brazil scoring only 2 points in the first 7:30 of the quarter. The game was made even choppier in the 3rd quarter thanks to a spate of dubious tech/intentional foul calls. There were about 4-5 head-scratching whistles that ruined the flow; it's FIBA, after all.

Leandro Barbosa led Brazil in the scoring column once again with 21 pts. He did damage with pull-ups off pick/roll action, including a big pull-up 3pt. to stop an Arg. mini-run in 4th.

But Leandro's backcourt mate, Marcelo Huertas, was the key to victory. Marcelo was a playmaker deluxe, finding Barbosa on the break with long lead passes and repeatedly scoring with his patented floater in the lane (I counted 4 floaters). Even added a nice up/under move and a key tip-in in the 4th. Huertas crushed with 18 pts on 8/12, 7 rebs, 5 assts & 2 stls.

Andy Varejao was active all over again with 19 pts, 9 rebs & 3 stls. Andy even hit a couple long jumpers, including a buzzer-beating 3pt. make to end the 1st Q. Brazil's Guilherme Giovannoni came off the bench to fulfill his role as a 4-spreader (like this term instead of Spread-4), hitting all three of his 3pt. attempts.

Tiago Splitter didn't see many touches today, but still had a solid game with 7 (2/5) pts, 8 rebs, 2 stls & 3 assts. Though, his former Tau Ceramica teammate Scola worked him over on the left block a few times.

Argentina got a fair amount of quality looks in the 1st half, just couldn't get shots to fall. They continued to struggle with their outside shooting--4/21 from 3pt.

Not really sure what possessed Pablo Prigioni to jack up so many ill-advised jumpers--2/11 overall, 0/8 from 3pt. Pablo usually makes uncanny decisions with the ball and is reluctant to look for his shot. Maybe he felt his squad needs all the scoring help it can get. At least he was masterful in whipping perfectly targeted passes--dished out 8 assts.

Luis Scola was the lone Argentine to find any success putting the ball in the basket--Luis had 19 pts on 9/16. Luis put on a clinic in the low post with spins, fake spins, drop sets, and finishing with hooks.

Paolo Quinteros continues to struggle in his role of the second scoring option--Paolo had only 5 pts on 2/9 shooting. His lack of size makes it easier for opponents to smother him. We bandied about this point in our preview but wasn't sure how it would play out.

This Arg. team is pretty much the same team that took home a Silver in '07, except they're missing C. Delfino. Knew the dropoff from Delfino to Quinteros as the 2nd scoring option was precipitous, but didn't think it would be this big of a deal.

Forces Prigioni into more of a scoring mode (like this game), and that not what's you want Pablo concentrating on. He should be setting teammates up with his precision passing.

Argentina now has a big showdown with Panama on Sat. that might determine the last Group B entry into Round 2. Even if Argentina wins, they could still be in trouble, thanks to Panama upsetting Venezuela on Fri. A 3-way tie is a possibility, and Arg. is hurting in the pt. differential dept.--currently at -25.