Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 FIBA Americas Semifinals Analysis (9/10): Argentina & Brazil Earn Olympic Bids


Was not expecting this game to be competitive but Puerto Rico had a chance in the last minute to pull off the shocking upset. But Argentina survived to play for the Americas championship on Sunday, and also earn an automatic bid to the Olympics.

Give Puerto Rico props for pushing Argentina to the brink at home. Puerto Rico easily could have folded after Argentina made runs in the 1st and 3rd quarter. But Puerto Rico chipped away at leads in the 2nd and 4th quarters to hang around.

Thought that after Argentina started to gain momentum in the 3rd that they would eventually leave Puerto Rico in the dust and end up beating them by 15-20 points. But Puerto Rico responded well in the 4th and had a few chances to take the lead in the last two minutes.

Argentina started the game sizzling and scored 29 points on 13-of-17 shooting in the 1st quarter. Luis Scola led the rampage with 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting in the first stanza.

But Argentina slowed their roll in the 2nd quarter only scoring 11 points and Puerto Rico was able to take a 44-40 lead going into halftime. Scola sat most of the 2nd quarter and Puerto Rico's zone gave Argentina some issues.

Argentina continued to look shaky at the beginning of the 3rd, and Puerto Rico upped its lead to eight points. The Argentines looked tight.

Then energy forward Federico Kammerichs made the play of the game when he grabbed a loose ball and squeezed his way to the rim for a plus-one lay-in. That play changed the momentum of the game. Definitely pumped life into the crowd and the Argentine squad went on a 26-12 run to close out the 3rd.

Manu Ginobili (23 pts on 7-of-11) was the leader of the 3rd quarter run, burying four 3PA in the quarter. Manu netted two more 3PA early in the 4th which gave him 18 points in a 10-minute stretch. Manu also made a huge trailing block on Arroyo with just three minutes to go in the game. Manu hit multiple jumpers off of quick dribble pull-ups.

Scola was a mid-range machine as the majority of his buckets came between 12-to-15 feet. He hit multiple jumpers popping or coming off baseline screens. Scola hit four baseline jumpers in the 1st quarter. Luis led Argentina with 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting.

Pablo Prigioni (16 pts, 5 assts, 5 rebs) is a reluctant shooter but he wasn't going to turn down the wide open looks he got today. Prigioni teamed up with Manu to rain down 3pts. on Puerto Rico in the 2nd half and made 5-of-8 3PA overall. Also dropped a beautiful bounce pass to a trailing Scola in transition. He's one of the best bounce passers in the world.

Carlos Delfino (5 pts, 8 rebs, 2 stls) could not capitalize on some great looks from the perimeter and ended 2-of-10 from the field. Delfino's shooting has been erratic this summer (31% on 3PA, 43% overall); tends to be his pattern in FIBA play.

The shooting numbers skewered heavily in Argentina's favor. Argentina shot 52.6% overall and 13-for-28 from 3pt. range while Puerto Rico shot 43% overall and 8-for-16 from 3pt. range. The main reason Puerto Rico stayed in the game was because they crushed the offensive glass.

Both teams had the same number of defensive boards (22) but Puerto Rico grabbed 16 off. boards to Argentina's six off. boards. Those extra possessions let Puerto Rico double up Argentina on FT attempts.

Carlos Arroyo (15 pts) and JJ Barea (20 pts) punished the Argentine defense with pull-up jumpers all over the floor. But both guards sprinkled their requisite sketchy shots into the mix.

Dan Santiago's size gave the undersized Argentine frontline some problems, particularly in the 2nd half--14 of his 16 points in the 2nd half. Santiago was able to score a couple nice drop-steps, a turnaround banker, a hook and drew fouls (6-for-8 FTA) down low. Puerto Rico went through Santiago in the post late in the game with decent results. However, Dan had a costly TO with a chance to take the lead with just over a minute left.

Renaldo Balkman's activity was a positive for Puerto Rico tonight. Balkman made plays off the ball (10 pts) and led Puerto Rico's assault on the offensive glass (5 off., 12 total rebs). Former Boston University standout John Holland (11 pts) is not known as a shooter but he helped his team with three 3pt. makes.

Puerto Rico played solid ball in the Americas considering they were missing multiple key players, including center PJ Ramos. They get to participate in the pre-Olympic tourney next July and like the Dominican Republic, have a legit shot at one of the three bids.


Expected this game to be competitive and it did not disappoint. Brazil lost to Dominican Republic in a close game in group stage but Brazil returned the favor today.

With the win, Brazil earned an automatic bid to London for its first basketball Olympics since 1996. A nice showing by a Brazil team that was missing Andy Varejao, Nene, Leandro Barbosa and had to deal with a subpar tourney from Tiago Splitter. Coach Ruben Magnano did another masterful job making adjustments and getting contributions up and down his roster.

Every aspect of the game was basically a wash between the two teams besides the 3pt. shooting. Both teams shot roughly 40% but Brazil made 10 3PA while Dom. Rep. made five 3PA.

Marcelo Huertas once again created great scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates. Marcelo's 17 pts came on a couple pull-up jumpers, a few floaters/runners and a few driving lay-ups. Marcelo's tendency to jump in the air to pass worked both ways for him today. Made a few nice feeds (7 assts) but also made some mistakes when he left his feet (4 TOs).

Old man Marcelo Machado can still drop long bombs. One of the deadliest shooters in FIBA play buried five 3PA off the bench to lead Brazil with 20 points. Machado hit two 3pt. makes coming off screens with barely any room to get the shot off. Machado also made things happen with his dribble drives, dropping a few nice assists off the bounce.

Tiago Splitter had another rough outing where he was limited to 11 minutes because of foul trouble. Tiago had trouble finishing his shots (1-of-5)--got his shot blocked 2-3 times. This has been a recurring theme for Tiago during the tourney--he has struggled to find his bearing offensively and finish off his shots cleanly. Though, he has been productive on the boards (6.7 rpg in 20 mins) and good defensively.

Rafael Hettscheimer's soft touch was a boon for Brazil's offense once again. Rafael hit hooks with both hands, hit two 15-footers and had two put-backs on his way to 14 pts on 6-of-10 & 8 rebs (4 off.).

Brazil did another fine job on the defensive end, holding Dom. Republic to 42% from the field. This has been an underrated aspect of Magnano-led teams. His Argentine teams will always be remembered for their exacting offense, but their defense was stout.

The frontline of Dominican Republic did the heavy lifting once again. Al Horford and Jack Martinez have been the most consistent players for Coach Calipari and they both gave great effort today. Calipari was milking the hi-lo action, which was smart considering Horford and Martinez's passing skills.

Horford was the focal point as usual and he delivered with 18 points (7-of-20) and 7 rebs. Horford was adroit on the blocks, scoring on three turnaround jumpers that he set up with slight shoulder fakes in the opposite direction. He also made a tough runner across the lane. Horford has done a nice job facing up and putting the ball on the deck in this tourney.

JM Martinez (18 pts & 15 rebs) was a menace 8 feet and in, scoring around the rim, drawing fouls (6-of-7 FTA) and pounding the offensive glass (5 off. rebs). JM made a couple nifty post scores (nice up/under), but he also missed a handful of point-blank shots. Horford also had a few close shots roll off the rim.

Former Pitt Panther guard Ronald "Razor" Ramon gave Dom. Republic a much needed dose of machismo on the perimeter. Ramon kept D.R. close late with all of his three 3pt. makes coming in the 4th.

Dom. Republic's other NBAers, Francisco Garcia and Charlie Villaneuva, did not play up to their capabilities once again. Both guys scored eight points today, but were ineffective for long stretches of the game.

Garcia seemed to be heating up with two 3pt. makes off screens in the 1st half, but Cisco offered no points in the 2nd half. Garcia played well in '09, drilling jumpers and blocking shots, but he could not find the range on his jumper this summer (38% overall, 32.7% on 3PA) and was not quite as effective overall.

Chuckie V. had an uneven tourney in '09 and this summer was even more ragged. Chuck was out of shape and still looks uncomfortable with the FIBA game.

The Dominicans still have a chance at the Olympics as they will be in the pre-Olympic qualification tourney next July. A Dominican team at full health and with another training camp with Calipari should be able to contend with the four European teams for the three Olympic berths.


At 5:55 AM, Blogger Eodlci said...

Why didn't you expect the Arg-PR game to be competitive?

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably because ARg was playing on home court and is by all historical accounts a much superior team than PR.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, where's that chap that was saying that we were infravalorating Turkey, and that they were the main candidates for the gold?.

Guess those are the French now. Nice match. The WW2 strategy, they should call it.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Filipe Furtado said...

Giving that you praise Brazil's D one real impressive stat: the 7 other teams that move to second round shot 48,7% on 2PTA, Brazil hold them to 41,4% (also shut down 3PT shoots to the extent that teams average 4 less 3PTA a game against).

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Eodlci said...

Last time I checked, PR has made 9 olympic games appearences against 5 from ARG; has won 3 FIBA America gold medals (one of them, 1995 in Neuquen, ARG) against 2 from ARG and has always played ARG very though, so there may be a misunderstanding regarding "all historical accounts".

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