HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – Day 2 of action at the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, featured a near-upset, a couple of blowouts, and a critical game between two teams who have a shot at the top five (and a spot in the Olympics or the Olympic qualifying tournament next summer).
Trending up: Venezuela (0-2)
Trending down: Dominican Republic (2-0)
Dominican Republic 92, Venezuela 89 (Box Score)
For the second straight day, Venezuela looked poised to pull off an upset. This time, they were up by as many as 17 points early in the third quarter and by 11 heading into the fourth. But the Dominican Republic turned up the defensive intensity in the final 10 minutes, swarmed Greivis Vasquez whenever he came off a pick, and pulled out a three-point victory.
More notes from Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela:
- For most of the game, the Venezuela zone kept Edgar Sosa out of the paint and Al Horford out of the post. But Horford was able to find opportunities near the rim by moving without the ball. He finished with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting, adding 10 rebounds.
- Jack Michael Martinez, the Dominican’s starting center and their version of Ben Wallace, added 18 points and 14 rebounds. A lot of those points followed his seven offensive boards.
- The Venezuela offense was a little more balanced than it was on Tuesday, but Vasquez still filled the box score. He came one assist short of a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine dimes.
- Once again, both Francisco Garcia and Charlie Villanueva were largely disappointing. Garcia was mostly invisible and Villanueva looked sluggish. There’s talk of Villanueva being under the weather, but the only good thing about him through these first two games has been the way the FIBA announcer pronounces his name.
- With the game going down to the wire, neither Garcia nor Villanueva were on the floor for the Dominican Republic.
- Luis Flores was on the floor, and he hit two big jumpers in the closing minutes.
- After trailing by six with 45 seconds left, Venezuela had a chance to tie with a three on their final possession. But the play that ex-Warriors and Kings coach Eric Musselman drew up in the timeout was not executed on the floor and Vasquez drove baseline and had no one to pass it to.
- By playing well against both Brazil and the Dominican Republic, Venezuela has been a pleasant surprise in this tournament. They might have a shot at finishing fifth, but they need to start turning those fourth-quarter leads into Ws. They’ve got Cuba on Thursday and then a huge game against Canada on Saturday.
- The Dominicans looked strong against Cuba on Tuesday, but took a step backward on Day 2.
Puerto Rico 101, Paraguay 55 (Box Score)
Not much to see here. Neither Carlos Arroyo nor J.J. Barea needed to play more than 20 minutes in this blowout. Through two games, Puerto Rico has an effective field goal percentage of 0.582. They’ve got another mismatch (Uruguay) on Thursday before facing Argentina on Friday night.
Argentina 86, Uruguay 51 (Box Score)
For the second straight day, Argentina put their opponent away in the first quarter. Midway through the second, both Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni had outscored the entire Uruguay team, as Argentina led 42-10. Nocioni finished with 16 points and 10 boards and Scola led all scorers with 18, while Manu Ginobili had another quiet evening (seven points, 3-for-5 shooting).
Uruguay had the ball about 80 times, and turned it over on 27 of those possessions. With only 19 field goals and seven made free throws, the ball went the other way more than it went through the hoop.
Brazil 69, Canada 57 (Box Score)
This was their first game, but if the Canadians has dreams of snagging that fifth-place spot in the tournament, a win here would have been huge. They had a shot at it, leading by three with less than nine minutes to go. But Brazil then put them away with a 15-0 run, led by point guard Marcelo Huertas, a favorite here in the Hang Time New Jersey Bureau.
With the score tied at 50, Huertas followed a sweet dish to Tiago Splitter with a pick-and-roll runner in the lane and another runner off the wrong foot over Heat center Joel Anthony. Huertas finished with 17 points and six assists, with 10 of the points and four of the dimes coming in the fourth quarter.
- Canada shot just 33 percent and didn’t have a single player in double figures. Anthony (nine boards) was strong on the glass and Cory Joseph showed some flashes, but the Knicks’ Andy Rautins (2-for-7) couldn’t find his shot and Denham Brown (2-for-10) was downright awful.
- Give some credit to the Brazil defense, anchored by Splitter. Its pick-and-roll defense was straight out of a textbook. Splitter scored just five points on 2-for-7 shooting, but he made up for the lack of offense on the other end.