Sunday, August 30, 2009

'09 FIBA Americas: Day 4 Recap

Uruguay 71, Canada 69

Martin Osimani's clutch pull-up 25-footer with 0:20 left in a 67-67 tie game propelled Uruguay to victory over Team Canada.

Finally, a game with a compelling finish after all these blowouts. Big win for Uruguay that could be a head-2-head tiebreaker for the no. 2 seed in Group A, which should lead to a more favorable matchup in the critical quarterfinals, which determine the four qualifying teams. Riding high after pounding less-than-formidable Mexico & V. Isles, Canada was brought back down to earth by a solid Uruguay club.

Competitive, physical game throughout, just not necessarily well-played basketball. Both teams combined for 46 fouls & 34 TOs. A chunk of Canada's turnovers came the way of offensive fouls. 17 TOs combined with 26 fouls plus 5/22 3pt. shooting won't win you too many games. After their shooting barrage vs. Mexico, Canada's shooting touch has faltered--12/44 over the last two games.

Canada switched to some zone in the 2nd after Uruguay scored 25 pts in the 1st Q., and primarily stayed with it the rest of game. It was a good adjustment because your first objective vs. Uruguay is to take away Esteban Batista's touches on the block.

Another reason for zone vs. Urugauy: SF Mauricio Aguiar & PG Martin Osimani are normally subpar shooters. Batista's post-ups did dry up after the 1st quarter. And Uruguay struggled to score in the middle portion of the game. Just too bad for Canada that Osimani & Aguiar chose to locate their shooting strokes, especially late in the game.

Martin Osimani is not known for his shooting, known for steady floor game, but he came up huge with three 3pts. The biggest 3pt. came with 0:20 left when Osimani isolated Andy Rautins up high and drilled a pull-up 25-footer to break a 67-67 tie. Osimani combined his surprising shooting night with his usual savvy quarterbacking off the high screens. Martin had 14 pts, 9 assts, & 2 stls.

Esteban Batista used his thick body to score off post-ups early (defenders can't get around him). Then when Canada went to zone, Esteban scored around the basket on cuts & put-backs off his 4 off. rebs. Batista helped Osimani with 18 pts on 8/13 & 12 rebs.

Uruguay has the best defensive backcourt in the tourney in the trio of Leandro Garcia-Morales, Osimani, & Gustavo Barrera. Very aggressive and have quick hands. Garcia-Morales was a defensive pest in '07 and is a steal merchant. But I've been as impressed with reserve guard Barrera's disruptiveness. Their ball pressure created some of Team Canada's problems on offense. Did a good job digging down on the post as well.

Joel Anthony continues to showcase a blossoming offensive game with 13 pts on 6/7. Had a couple turnaround jumpers, not to mention a clip for his YouTube reel. Joel faced up 15 feet away on the right wing on Batista, gave a shot-fake then drove for a soaring left-handed smush on Batista's mug.

Over the past few years, the one thing we've learned about Canada is that PF Jesse Young just goes to work. Young was relentless on the floor with a monster line of 20 pts (7/11), 8 rebs (5 off), & 2 blks. Young scored by way of a few mid-range jumpers, cuts to the rim, and getting fouled on his off. rebs. Jesse went to the foul line 8 times, making all 8.

The two primary ball-handlers for Canada, Carl English & Jermaine Anderson, did not take well to the aggressive perimeter defense, with a combined 10 TOs. Though, both players did some positive things. Thought Anderson's penetration was the best I've seen from him, and it paid off in lay-ins & free throws, not to mention 6 assts. English hit some outside looks for 12 pts & 5 rebs.

Canada should be tested again on Sunday with a game vs. Puerto Rico. And it keeps getting tougher for the Canadians with the likes of Brazil, Dom. Rep. & Argentina still to come.


Dominican Republic 78, Venezuela 73

Dom. Rep. was steered to victory by their trio of NBAers. Chaz Villanueva, Cisco Garcia, & Al Horford combined for 63 of D.R.'s 78 pts.

Charlie Villanueva tore up the Venezuela defense with long jumpers, plenty of short pull-ups, and strong finishes. Some of the best all-around activity I've ever seen from Chuckie. 28 pts on 11/23 & 12 rebs for Charlie.

Big Al Horford showed off some hook shots on his way to 14 pts & 12 rebs. Horford's underrated interior passing skills were on display, along with some furious off. rebounding (6 off.). Francisco Garcia's 21 pts came on some purposeful drives and cuts in the half-court.

Dom. Rep. went with a lot of zone, which is the way to go vs. the poor-shooting Venezuela club. Venezuela only shot 41% from the field, 5/20 behind the arc. If you'd watched this game without the score on the screen, you would have thought the Dominicans were in total control of the game. But they let Venezuela hang around because of 42% shooting of their own.

The Dominicans got a little sloppy in their execution on both ends in the 2nd half, and let Venezuela creep back into the game in the 4th. Dom. Rep. seemed to have some trouble finishing, including missing tip-ins off their 16 off rebs. Actually, their 16 off rebs were created by them grabbing their missed tip-ins.

Even against the zone, rugged combo forward Hector Romero relentlessly drove toward the rim for 25 pts. Dom Rep had a tough time containing Hector and keeping him off the glass--9 rebs (5 off.). Looked like '07 vintage Romero. Crafty 52-old vet Richard Lugo scored on a bunch of mid-range jumpers and few post moves. Lugo finished with 16 pts, 9 rebs, 2 blks, & roughly 10 goaltends.

Oscar Torres was the lone Venezuela player that made Dom. Rep. pay for playing zone with 4/9 shooting from 3pt. land. Maryland's Greivis Vasquez made some questionable decisions (4 TOs) and didn't seem to have much impact but he did end with 11 pts, 7 assts, & 6 rebs.

Venezuela finished the 1st round 1-3, and have to see how Panama & Argentina fare on Sunday. If there is a 3-way tie between Venz., Pan., & Arg (which is very likely), the tiebreaker is based on goal difference (which is very similar to pt. differential). Right now Venz. has a pt. diff. of -14, Arg. is 0, Pan. -29. Panama has Brazil tomorrow so Venezuela looks safe for the 2nd round.


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