Wednesday, August 26, 2009

'09 FIBA Americas: Brazil 81, Dom. Republic 68

Brazil outscored Dominican Republic 24-7 in the 4th quarter on its way to a 81-68 1st round win in Group B play.

This anticipated matchup didn't quite live up to its potential thanks to key frontcourt players saddled with foul trouble. D.R.'s Al Horford saw only 18 mins of court time, Charlie Villanueva only 22 mins. Brazil had to deal with its own foul issues, with Tiago Splitter limited to 24 mins with 4 fouls.

Even though there were only a total of 28 fouls between the two teams, the refs were a little too whistle happy. I'm sure Dominican fans feel even more furious about that assessment.

A few dubious calls against Villanueva for offensive fouls early, and Horford was clearly tagged with a foul that should have been given to Luis Flores. Though Horford's last two fouls were legit, and so was Villanueva's 5th foul.

The Dominicans simply crumbled in the 4th, scoring 7 points in the quarter, 3 pts in the last 8:00. And the team really became unhinged after the foul-outs of Horford & Villanueva with about 5 mins. left. The offense lost any semblance of organization.

Tiago Splitter had to sit long stretches due to fouls, but still was the best all-around player of the game. Splitter gave Horford all types of problems, and was mainly responsible for Horford's foul issues. Splitter finished with 14 pts, 10 rebs (3 off) & 3 stls. The Spurs win again.

Splitter really displayed his importance with a key stretch of successive possessions starting around the 5:00 mark of the 4th:

    1) 5:00, 4th: Tiago breaks a 66-66 tie with a nifty up/under move on the left block. Brazil never trails again.

    2) Next possession (4:55): Villanueva drives baseline, Tiago slides across the lane to take the charge, Villanueva done with 5 fouls.

    3) Next possession (4:35): Tiago finishes at basket off a Huertas feed, Brazil 70-66.

    4) Next possession (4:22): Tiago jumps out on the perimeter to make a great steal, keeps the ball in bounds, hit-ahead pass leads directly to a Garcia transition lay-in, Brazil 72-66.

    5) Next possession (4:18): Tiago gets defensive rebound.

    6) Next possession (3:30): Tiago posts on the left side, surveys, finds Varejao cutting on the baseline for a reverse lay-in, Brazil 74-66. Game Over.

We mentioned in the preview that Splitter's footwork has steadily improved, and he showcased two sweet up/under moves (just like he did at the Tuto Marchand Cup). No surprise Splitter was an all-around force defensively changing shots, moving laterally, and jumping passing lanes.

Man, as much as the Spurs have improved this offseason, Splitter sure would be another nice piece to add to counter the Lakers' bigs, but he's still a year away from the NBA. I wonder if, come next May, we'll be writing in this space that Tiago was the one key missing piece of the puzzle that the Spurs needed to overcome L.A.

Brazil's interior defense was excellent with Varejao & Splitter providing stellar resistance & help. Varejao was his usual pesky self with activity on the glass & defensively--Andy had 10 & 10.

Brazil were led in the scoring column by their explosive shooting guards, Leandro Barbosa & Alex Garcia--both recording 21 pts & 4 assts. Barbosa could never find the touch from long-range (1/8 3pt.), but did his damage finishing in transition or driving in the half-court.

While the rest of his teammates had trouble finishing, Brazil's Alex Garcia helped reel the Dominicans back in with some timely shooting in the 3rd. Garcia drilled two 3pts & one long 2 pt. in the quarter. Like Barbosa, Garcia did a nice job getting to the rim in transition & the half-court.

Brazil really advances the ball quickly in transition. It's not just that their backcourt is speedy, they pass the ball well on the break. Did this well at the Tuto Cup last week.

D.R.'s zone alignment was effective in the 2nd quarter. The zone messed up some of Brazil's motion and post-up opportunities. SF Marcelo Machado came in the 2nd quarter and did what he's known for--knocking down three long-bombs & sweet dishes. Machado scored all his 9 pts in the 2nd.

Surprised with how Brazil commanded boards--outrebounded D.R. 43-32. The Dominicans allowed 15 off. rebs. to Brazil--three each to Splitter & Varejao. Brazil chased down a lot of long rebounds, and would be curious to know 2nd chance pts tally.

Dom. Rep. hurt themselves with turnovers as well--17 overall. A fair amount of these TOs seem to result from offensive fouls.

Brazil seemed to be outplaying Dom. Rep. early but the Dominicans stayed close strictly because of their deep shooting. The Dominicans finished the 1st half shooting 7/11 from 3pt. land (11/24 for the game). But tempered that with 11 1st half turnovers.

Francisco Garcia was groovin' early, banging deep 3-balls with hands in his face. Garcia was 5/10 from deep for the game, 2 or 3 of which came in transition (Reserve guard Kelvin Pena kicked in three 3 pts. himself). Garcia's alertness helping his teammates led to 5 blocks.

Villanueva looked to be forcing the action early, but sparked the Dominicans in the 3rd, scoring 12 of 14 pts in the quarter. Chuckie had success driving for short pull-ups on Varejao and hit a 3pt. as well.

Combo guard Luis Flores did some productive things like getting into lane to dish off 9 assts. But he also showed some of his negatives with some ill-advised shots and careless playmaking (6 TOs). Horford didn't get much going offensively in his limited time, but was effective on the backline defensively in help situations & grabbed 7 rebs.

These teams are pretty closely matched, and expect to see them meeting again in the semis or finals. Hopefully, in the next meeting, the FIBA refs don't have as much influence on the outcome.


At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always felt Splitter's footwork was an underrated (an underutilized) part of his game. I remember a 18-year old Tiago schooling JR Reid in the post. That was before joining Tau and becoming a role player for years, essentially until Scola left.

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the spurs drafted him to play and help those old over the hill bums who have clearly lost a step. Popovich and company took him with the 20 something pick in first round! he went ahead of omri casspi and wont even play? I notice
that the spurs have a good roster and additions so he is not going to see minutes right away but prob. should cuz I dont wanna watch mcdyess if he is shooting jumpers instead of dunking on fools
richard jefferson helps but if those old fellas get hurt like they will can they call him over ? they should before the midway break
because al horford is no joke if this kid is any measure to him then he can play at this level at this time with a good group, team like the spurs imagine him coming off the bench kinda like malik rose did back in the day. I want to see this kid play and i hate the spurs the most athletic player was ginobli now jefferson although both guys are vets now and wont be posterizing anyone these days !! if I am from san anton I would be upset that they wasted a pick they could used on someone to help them beat the lakers now not next year or two years from now. and why is casspi playing now instead of these talented international guys?
dont get it dont like it when my celtics win they will regret it and when they lose to da lakers they wont win without parker 100%

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Labratus1 said...

What are you talking about Ginobili cant posterize anybody? He abused Wade and Durant and made them both eat leather. You must not watch the same games we in San Antonio do. He's not done yet. He's rested and so is Tony and looks like Timmy going to be fresh for the playoffs in 2010-2011. Splitter, Blair, and McDyess will see to that. Let the season begin. (PS: theyre not trading Tony)

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