Notes From FIBA Day 3

ISTANBUL – With Monday’s 70-68 escape over Brazil, the U.S. is done with the (relatively) difficult portion of their pool play schedule.

It was a tale of two halves tonight. Here’s the analysis and here are the highlights from FIBA.

The U.S. defense really got turned on with its decision to trap the pick-and-roll at halftime, but it did improve incrementally as the game went on. Check out Brazil’s quarter-by-quarter scoring:

First: 28 points on 19 possessions (147 per 100)

Second: 18 points on 21 possessions (86 per 100)

Third: 13 points on 19 possessions (68 per 100)

Fourth: 9 points on 18 possessions (50 per 100)

Overall, it was a strong defensive game for the U.S. (allowing 88 points per 100 possessions), but it sure wasn’t looking that way at halftime.

Of course, the U.S. had a similar, but not so drastic, fall-off offensively. Total points (both teams) by quarter: 50, 39, 31, 18.

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With it being a tight game early on, Mike Krzyzewski‘s first-half rotation was shorter than usual. Then came the second half…

Billups 20:00, Durant 20:00, Iguodala 17:06, Rose 15:34, Odom 15:05, Chandler 4:55, Westbrook 4:47, Gay 2:30, Love 0:03.

That, ladies and gentleman, is a short rotation. Kevin Durant played all but 36 seconds of this game, and he managed to still have enough energy to talk to Kyle Montgomery and Dennis Scott on NBA TV afterward…

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Kevin Love was brought in for those final three seconds to secure the game-clinching rebound. He didn’t get the chance, as the ball caromed to the other side of the floor, but he ended up being the only defender near Leandro Barbosa for that final shot. And yes, I got a tweet claiming that Love fouled him.

I didn’t have a good angle.

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At one point in the second half, a small group of Americans broke out a “U-S-A” chant. Now, there were not many Brazilians in the arena, but that chant was quickly drowned out by boos and (mostly) whistles. The neutrals in the building were most definitely pulling for the underdog (and/or against the USA).

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I quoted Chauncey Billups plenty in today’s analysis, but here’s more postgame wisdom from the veteran leader…

“We can’t worry about how much we win by, or worry about winning in the same fashion that [other U.S. teams won]. That’s all out the window. All we need to do is get wins.”

And on a scare like this being a good thing…

“Particularly really good for the young guys to have a game like this where you know you’re not invincible, and you can be beat on any night.”

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In other Group B action today, Slovenia got a big win over Croatia, which sets up a matchup with Brazil on Wednesday to likely determine second place in the group.

And Iran survived a furious comeback by Tunisia to win the de-facto fifth-place game.

In Group A, things went according to plan: Serbia over Jordan, Australia over Germany, and Argentina over Angola, by an average of 33 points.

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Both Group A and Group B take the day off on Tuesday, with Groups C and D getting back on the floor after their day off.

Neither Iran (Wednesday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN) nor Tunisia (Thursday, 9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2) will provide much of a test for the U.S. The challenge for this team will be finding a way to get better against inferior opponents and somehow using those games to prepare for the elimination rounds.

Whether they get better or not, the U.S. will win those two games, finish pool play with a 5-0 record and hold the B1 seed for the round of 16. That means they’ll play the fourth place team from Group A on Monday (time TBD).

Right now, that opponent could be one of four teams: Angola, Australia, Germany or Serbia.

Angola is 1-2 after today’s loss to Argentina but can finish at 2-3 and win a tie-breaker over Germany if they beat the Germans on Wednesday.

Australia is 2-1 after their easy win over Germany on Monday. With remaining games against Serbia (Wednesday) and Angola (Thursday), the Boomers should finish no worse than 3-2, but it’s possible that a 3-2 record could put them in a three-way tie for second, third and fourth with Germany and Serbia.

Germany is 1-2, but still has Angola (Wednesday) and Jordan (Thursday) left on its schedule. If they beat Angola, the Germans would likely finish 3-2. Serbia is currently 2-1 in Group A, but still has to play Australia (Wednesday) and Argentina (Thursday), so it could finish 3-2 or 2-3.

The U.S. doesn’t quite know who their opponent will be on Monday, but they’ll have a much better idea after Wednesday’s Angola-Germany and Australia-Serbia games.

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To look ahead a little more (at the risk of being called an arrogant American) … In the quarterfinals, the winner of the B1-A4 game plays the winner of C2-D3. C2 will likely be the loser of Tuesday’s Greece-Turkey matchup and D3 could be France or Lithuania.

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Turkish lesson of the day: Teşekkür ederim = Thank you.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

10 Comments

  1. Phil says:

    I think Durant should have a bigger role on this us team, tought he already have a big role. The point i want to come to is this: Look at teams like Argentina and France. Scola and Delfino is simply carying Argentina, and doing it far more better than Durant does with teh US. Scola posts up in the lane and nobody can stop him, i mean why dont do the same with Durant? let him go for 40 every night. He can get i free shot any time in this tournament, and then just let the rest of the americans just crash the boards. Igoudala for exampel can get every rebound from anybody if he realy wants to, just jump as high as we all know he can do and start play like he realy wants to win, and thats for all in the US team. I think the amaricans just say that this tournament matters for them so they can look good in the media. They dont care about this world champion tournament, woke up and realize that.

    Go Pistons JJ33- most improved 2010/2011

  2. UNO DOS TRES says:

    To look ahead a little more (at the risk of being called an arrogant American) … In the quarterfinals, the winner of the B1-A4 game plays the winner of C2-D3. C2 will likely be the loser of Tuesday’s Greece-Turkey matchup and D3 could be France or Lithuania.

    IN YOUR FACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    LITHUANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Jabbar says:

    Looks like USA prepared against the wrong team. Spain lost again. Watch out for teams like Argentina and brazil.

    • chadd9800 says:

      trust me spain is losing on purpose. If they won their group they would play USA in the semi-finals. they don’t want that. they want to play them in the finals. and trust me they think they can beat em. but they still want to meet them in the finals not semi’s

  4. Rafael Brasil says:

    Dear John,

    I’d like to make a few points regarding the USA x Brazil game yesterday.

    I’m a Brazilian 32 yr-old who’s been avidly following the NBA since 88 (vividly recall the Bad Boys denying Jordan).

    Bottonline is, I’m fairly certain that the .COM scouting and, particularly, the post-game reaction, have made little justice to what the Brzln squad is actually accomplishing.

    This team’s newfound defensive mentality was firstly instilled by Spaniard coach “Moncho” Gonzalez. As he dealed with personal health issues, the Brazilian Basketball Confederation (CBB) made its boldest move yet – signing Ruben Magnano – the culprit for Argentina’s recent golden run.

    Magnano was risky, because of internal disbeliefs engendered by the foolish regional rivalry most Brazilians hold against our neighbours. But it paid off. He’s got the group hungry, willing to sacrifice individualities for defensive purposes and ball movement. The bench is happy to be the bench, too.

    Still, I really wanted to highlight some points regarding the players who started yesterday, so justice is done to them (I missed that on the .COM day 3 analysis):

    - Marcelo Huertas (PG – Caja Laboral – Spain) – He’s evolved a lot, to being a NBA-Euroleague capable floor general now. Those drive and dishes were nice, as though as he’s no lockdown defender such as Westbrook or Rondo;

    - Leandro Barbosa (SG – TOR) – The Raptors suddenly have an interesting both-ends option. He’s calling the game to himself offesively and playing the passing lanes, getting steals etc.

    - Alex Garcia (SG/SF – Universo Brasilia – Brazil) – Plays so much bigger than his height (blocked Duncan once at FIBA America’s); had it not been for a bad knee at the time, his NBA run would have continued. Lockdown on-the-ball D. Very good rebounder.

    - Marcus Vieira (SF/PF – Sutor Basket Montegranaro – Italy) – Very pleasant “surprise” yesterday. Long, good D, with a decent 3-pointer to go; our Bruce Bowen.

    - Thiago Splitter (C – SA) – Good show for Pop’s delight. Underrated player. Can and should join the Big Fundamental into the starting SA line-up.

    - Guilherme Giovannoni (SF – Universo Brasilia – Brazil; old-school F, good IQ and shot), Marcelo Machado (SG – Flamengo – Brazil; veteran pure shooter, excellent IQ and passing), J.P. Batista (C/PF – Le Mans – France; good inside presence, had a bad night yesterday) are also noteworthy.

    Andy Varejão and Nene were missed.

    Sure your views regarding the game were precise; the pick and roll defense, against our on and off the ball screens, the very short rotation of the US (ours was just as short). USA’s overall (KD is a different king of animal) offense was below its capability, which should be credited to both the US turnovers and Brazilian D. Team USA’s defensive efforts, on the other hand, were superb, the whole pressure, cutting into screens, blocks thing. D-Rose and KD must cut down turnovers for them to advance until gold.

    But I’d like to highlight the national athletes who triggered out our own international comeback, it’s been 24 years and one Oscar Schmidt since we could indulge in such remarks.

    I am just to provide a lanscape from the rival perspective.

    Congratulations on the good (as usual) work, and may the B-ball Gods be generous with the Worlds and upcoming NBA season!

    Sincerely,

    Rafael Godinho

  5. Gabe says:

    You mention a tweet that says Barbosa was fouled. Well how about the foul called on Durant on Huertas that sent him to the line to tie the game. I have watched the play again and again and there was no foul. It seems that the USA has to play against their opponents and the referees.

    • Jake says:

      Tru dat. It seems like the world and FIBA have banded together against the US. This probably explains in part why the US hasn’t won this tournament since 1994. I’m not saying there is some sort of full blown conspiracy going on, but it does seem like the refs and all the other teams would like to see the US lose no matter who they’re playing. I’m also not implying that if the US loses it will be because of the refs. Other teams have the talent to beat the US, and if the US has an off game in the elimination rounds it could be their undoing. The US is the favorite to win it all though.

      • JB says:

        If the USA loses it will only be because of their bad attitude. Its obvious watching them play that they don’t want to be there

  6. will li says:

    No defensive intensity in first half, No offensive patience in 2nd half. team usa came out mentally ill-prepared to fight 40 minute,If not giving 100% at any given elimination night ,they will be beaten

    As tight as the game goes on, guts should be required for the coach to bring on the substitution,I think shorter rotation hurts their offence badly .