HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – The second round of the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata, Argentina got underway on Monday, but it was marred by a gruesome injury to Dominican Republic point guard Edgar Sosa.
The four matchups were all pretty straightforward, with the favorites to make the semifinals all cruising to comfortable victories. Tuesday’s games should be similar, and we’ll have to wait until Wednesday before we see the heavyweight squads on the floor together.
Trending up: Dominican Republic (4-1)
Trending down: Canada (2-3)
Dominican Republic 92, Panama 68 (Boxscore)
The good news for the Dominican Republic is that they took care of business against a weak opponent (they led by 26 at the end of the third quarter) and that Charlie Villanueva (13 points, five rebounds, 5-for-13 from the field) looked better than he did in the first round.
The horrible news is that Sosa suffered a career-altering injury in the final minute of the game. On a drive to the basket, Sosa took some contact and fell hard to the floor. When he looked down at his right leg, he saw that it was bent in the middle of his shin.
It was an awful sight for anyone watching and the players on both teams were visibly shaken. After Sosa was taken off the floor in a stretcher, Panama respectfully dribbled out the clock and both teams gathered at center court in prayer.
Going forward, the absence of Sosa puts a lot of pressure on back-up point guard Ronald Ramon, who hasn’t made much of an impact through the first five games.
Puerto Rico 94, Venezuela 82 (Boxscore)
This was the matchup with the most potential for a close game and Venezuela was down by just two midway through the third quarter. But then they got hit with a 17-0 Puerto Rico run that decided the game.
Carlos Arroyo had another solid game, but J.J. Barea had another underwhelming performance. And it was Daniel Santiago that made the difference for Puerto Rico. Venezuela’s bigs couldn’t match up with Santiago’s size and the FIBA veteran led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting. He even beat Venezuela down the floor in transition a couple of times.
Santiago’s dominance inside freed up Alex Galindo on the perimeter. Galindo hit three of his five attempts from 3-point range and finished with 18 points.
For Venezuela, Greivis Vasquez had a rough day, shooting just 1-for-7 from the field. And after his huge 28-point game against Canada, Hector Romero came back down to earth. Romero failed to score on Monday, missing all seven of his shots.
Unfortunately, like the previous game, this one was marred by an incident in the closing minutes. With 5:37 left in the fourth quarter, Vasquez fouled Renaldo Balkman hard in the post and Balkman retaliated by head-butting Vasquez in the cheek. Then Nestor Colmenares shoved Balkman to the floor. Both Balkman and Colmenares were ejected.
Argentina 79, Canada 53 (Boxscore)
Like most of Argentina’s games, this one was over early. Canada got to within nine late in the third quarter, but there was never any doubt that Argentina would remain unbeaten.
Argentina’s offense is a thing of beauty and Canada’s offense is pretty much the opposite. Canada shot just 28 percent from the field and had 18 more turnovers (22) than assists (four). Kelly Olynyk (19 points and 12 rebounds) was their lone bright spot.
Luis Scola led all scorers with 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting, while Manu Ginobili had 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Argentina should get a tougher test on Tuesday against Venezuela. Canada, meanwhile, probably needs to upset Puerto Rico in the early game to have a shot at finishing in the top five and qualifying for next year’s Olympic qualifier.
Brazil 93, Uruguay 66 (Boxscore)
Brazil put this one away with a 28-12 third quarter. The potency of their offense was on full display as they connected on 58 percent of their shots, including 10 of their 18 attempts from 3-point range. Tiago Splitter got plenty of rest, scoring nine points and eight rebounds in just 21 minutes.