Sunday, September 11, 2011

FIBA Analysis (9/11): Serbia Advances; Argentina Takes Americas Title


In what amounted to a play-in game for the knockout round, Serbia escaped with the win after Ersan Ilyasova could not convert a short jumper off an in-bounds pass with four seconds left. Serbia gets a little redemption for its one-point loss to Turkey last year.

With the win, Serbia earned the 4th seed in Group E and will play the winner of the Russia-Macedonia game. And Turkey's EuroBasket ends on a sour note after an exciting run to the Worlds final in 2010.

You could make the case that Turkey lost this game at the FT line: shot 16-for-29. Turkey was awful from the FT line last year but it never really cost them. This year was a different story: shot 64.6% from the FT line.

The one thing that Turkey had no problem with last year was making its 3pt. attempts. They led the Worlds in 3pt. accuracy at 43%. This let them cover for poor FT shooting last summer.

But this year they couldn't find their touch from deep and it hindered their play. Turkey only made 3-of-17 3PA on Sunday and finished the tourney shooting 27.5% from long range.

Didn't think this game was particularly well-played and seemed to lag in spots. Probably had to do with a total of 50 fouls called. Serbia did shoot 46% from the floor but the offense did not seem to have its usual crispness. Turkey shot only 38% but was able to hang around because they had eight less turnovers.

Milos Teodosic made plays all over the floor vs. Turkey to end the game with 20 pts, 8 rebs, and 5 assts. Scored multiple buckets on runners/floaters and buried two 3PA in transition. Milos tempered some beautiful feeds with some overly difficult pass attempts that led to six turnovers.

Dusko Savanovic's crafty brand of ball was on display again. Dusko scored twice on baseline spins that he set up nicely. Had a few sneaky drives to rim as well. Also made a crucial basket after cutting to the rim as Teodosic drew defenders. His smarts and footwork make up for his poor physical skills.

Serbia got decent support from its center tandem of Nenad Krstic and Kosta Perovic. Both guys were effective as usual providing backline help. Perovic was quite productive in pitching in 8 pts and 6 rebs in nine minutes. Krstic had eight points as well.

Serbia got a big lift from combo guard Milenko Tepic's strong offensive play. Tepic (12 pts, 8 rebs) is normally an offensive afterthought but he aggressively sought out scoring chances, usually scoring on pull-ups.

We mentioned in our preview that Turkey's offense probably has the least amount of off-ball movement of any Euro team. And the action offensively vs. Serbia was much of the same. Partly has to do with Hedo Turkoglu's propensity to iso.

Turkey really needed Hedo to have a big game today but he failed to deliver (like he did for most of Euro '11). Once again Hedo's shot selection was sketchy, leading to a 3-for-10 day. Hedo missed his two 3PA vs. Serbia to finish off a abysmal shooting performance during Euro '11--5-for-32 on 3PA. Hedo shot 39% overall.

Besides the good board work (7 rebs), Ilyasova had another uneven game of 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. He was also errant at the FT line, missing four of his eight FTs. Ersan was one of the best players at Euro '09 and was very good for most of the Worlds. The past few years, Turkey could count on these guys to generate offense and make big plays when needed. But this year, both guys were subpar.

Enes Kanter was impressive in his limited minutes once again. Kanter scored off a few put-backs and a few rolls. Used a nifty reverse spin move to score on one of his rolls. Liked how he threw his body around in the painted area and he drew six foul shots for his effort (though, he only was 3-for-6).

Similar to the Germany game, found it puzzling that Turkey did not try to get the ball to Enes more down low. Savanovic couldn't handle him physically .

SG Omer Onan (11 pts) helped Turkey by scoring six points in transition and knocking down a few pull-up jumpers. Emer Preldzic (8 pts) came out strong in the first half by making plays off the dribble for himself or his teammates. Used a nifty cross-over move to get into a pull-up and made a few nice feeds. But he was fairly non-existent in the 2nd half.

Wouldn't be surprised if that was the last time Hedo suited up for Turkey. Might be time to hand his SF spot over to Preldzic and feature Kanter as the go-to-guy. Both young guys played solid ball in their first tour with the senior team. 6-9 Preldzic can replicate some of what Hedo brought to Turkey over the last decade--a big ball-handler. Kanter can start alongside Asik for many years to come and he can bring the offense while Asik does defense.


Even though both teams already accomplished their goals to reach the Olympics, there was still pride to play for between these natural rivals. Argentina did not want to disappoint its home crowd and this was the swan song of their Golden Generation. Argentina won its first Americas title since 2001.

After nearly getting upset the night before by Puerto Rico, Argentina was in danger in the 4th quarter for the second night in a row.

Brazil made things interesting by taking a six-point lead early in the 4th. But Argentina responded with two clutch plus-one lay-ins from Luis Scola midway through the 4th to regain the lead and momentum.

Brazil made some costly mistakes late in the game that were fatal. Three unnecessary turnovers came when Brazil tried to push the ball in transition in the last five minutes of the 4th.

You know the drill with Luis Scola by now. He hurt the defense to the tune of 32 points on 12-of-18 by popping and posting. Scola also generated a bunch of scoring opportunities for his teammates from the extra attention he drew. He had four assists, but also had passes that initiated sequences that led to scores. Scola was rightfully named MVP, making this his third consecutive FIBA Americas MVP trophy. Scola led the Americas in scoring (21.4 ppg) for the second straight time.

Manu Ginobili (8 pts, 4 rebs, 3 assts, 6 TOs) was not quite as magical as he was in the semis and forced the action sometimes, like he has from time to time in this tourney. Manu looked a little worn out in this game which is understandable since his 34-year-old body played 10 games in 13 days. Manu still did enough to be considered a first-team All-Americas selection--averaged 16 ppg, 4 apg, 3 rpg, 1.5 spg, 2.7 TOpg, 46% FG pct. and 46% on 3PA.

Carlos Delfino finally found the range on his jumper--3-of-7 on 3PA--and pitched in 16 pts & 9 rebs. Carlos had his typical FIBA tourney: good rebounding, good defense, good passing off the dribble and erratic shooting.

Kind of funny that Pablo Prigioni, a reluctant shooter for most of his career, led the Americas in 3pt. pct. (61%). Pablo went 2-for-2 on 3PA in the finals on his way to 10 points.

As we mentioned in yesterday's post, Ruben Magnano's Argentine teams were underrated defensively and Brazil had one of the best defenses in the Americas. And they held an Argentina team that was averaging 49% going into the finals to 43% today. It doesn't hurt that Magnano knows Argentina as well as any opposing coach.

Tiago Splitter's struggles in this tourney have been well-documented but he was not too bad today. Splitter (12 pts, 5 rebs, 3 assts) hit two righty hooks and was able to score a few times by scooping up loose balls around the rim. Tiago's defense was on point again and he drew two charges. Tiago moved his feet well on defense the whole tourney--does this as well as any NBA center.

Reserve center Rafael Hettsheimer (10 pts, 5 rebs) was a nice asset off the bench again giving Scola some problems down low. Rafael hit a couple baby hooks and used his bulk to create space.

SF Marcus Vinicius (Viera) had his jumper working all game long to finish the game with 17 pts. PG Marcelo Huertas (7 pts, 2 assts) never got on track vs. Argentina. but he didn't really hurt Brazil considering his minimal bad passes.

Argentina definitely looked like they were showing their age in the second week of the Americas. The Americas schedule was relentless with six games in seven days on the second week and Argentina had three games that were closer than anticipated. You wonder how Argentina will fare next summer.

All their main players will be over 30 by next summer and their bench ain't young either. The frontcourt rotation is a major question mark plus Fab Oberto and Andres Nocioni might be limited by next summer. Could see opposing frontcourts exposing them.


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