Posts Tagged ‘Andres Nocioni’

France bounces back on Day 2


VIDEO: Mike Fratello talks about the depth of international competition

GRANADA, SPAIN – Entering Day 2 of competition in Group A at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Serbia-France looked to be the game of the day. And it didn’t disappoint, as France came back from an 11-point deficit to pick up a much-needed 74-73 win in the final seconds.

Joffrey Lauvergne, acquired by the Nuggets in the 2013 Draft, hit the game-winning free throw with 1.1 seconds on the clock after drawing a foul on Serbia’s Miroslav Raduljica.

This was a much different performance for France than we saw in Saturday’s loss to Brazil. Nicolas Batum didn’t have a big game, Boris Diaw was saddled with foul trouble and Evan Fournier couldn’t make a shot, but their offense was much more efficient than it was the day before, scoring 74 points on just 67 possessions.

It was starting center Lauvergne and reserve guards Antoine Diot and Edwin Jackson who provided big lifts. Both scored 15 points and were a part of a huge 10-0 run that got France back in the game early in the third quarter. Jackson assisted Diot and then scored six straight (including a four-point play) on the run.

Lauvergne (19 points, six rebounds, 7-for-10 shooting) played as many minutes in the first quarter on Sunday (10) as he did against Brazil. He was matched up against and severely out-sized by Raduljica (21 points, seven boards, 8-for-13), but used his mobility to make it a pretty even matchup.

“Raduljica is big,” Batum said afterward. “He’s a problem on offense. But Joffrey’s more quicker than him. So, he moves a lot and did a great job for us.”

Lauvergne tied the game with 1:31 left on beautiful feed from Diaw and had a half a step on Raduljica on a broken-play drive from the foul line when the Serbian center was called for the game-deciding foul.

Lauvergne looked to be a little out of control and Raduljica was clearly upset about the call. But he held his tongue after the game. Serbian coach Sasha Djordjevic wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion, however.

“Every bad call that was called today,” Djordjevic said, “was called against us.”

He said he didn’t have a good look at the Raduljica foul, but was more unhappy with a no-call on the other end of the floor. After Diaw tied the game with a drive with 18 seconds left, Phoenix Suns draft pick Bogdan Bogdanovic drove into traffic off a screen from Raduljica and lost the ball out of bounds with 4.8 seconds left, leading to France’s final possession and Lauvergne’s free throw.

A French defender had reached in on Bogdanovic, and Djordjevic wanted a foul on the play.

“It was a tie game,” Djordjevic said. “There was four seconds left. We would have had two shots. It was definitely a foul. It was a bad call.”

Djordjevic wasn’t the coach four years ago, but this is the same team that felt it got hosed against hosts Turkey in the semifinals of the 2010 World Championship, a game Turkey won on a play in which Turkish point guard Kerem Tunceri appeared to step out of bounds.

With Egypt and Iran also in Group A, Serbia shouldn’t have any problem qualifying for the knockout round. But they’re now 0-1 in games between the four best teams in the group, with matchups against Brazil (Wednesday) and Spain (Thursday) still to come.

France, meanwhile, is 1-1. The European champs are missing Tony Parker, but look stronger after getting big games from some of their role players. And after the United States and Spain, this tournament appears to be wide open.

So, after Saturday’s loss, this was huge for both Group A placement and France’s prospects down the line.

“You never know,” Batum said about how far his team can go. “It’s basketball. You get a lot of surprises sometimes.”

More notes from France 74, Serbia 73…

  • Bogdanovic got off to a great start, scoring or assisting on Serbia’s first 13 points. There was a smooth-looking, catch-and-shoot 3, a runner in traffic, and a nice dime to a slipping Raduljica. But he shot 2-for-9 after that (missing a couple of open 3s late), with three turnovers and no assists over the final three periods.
  • So it was interesting to see Serbia put the ball in the hands of the 22 year old, instead of veteran Milos Teodosic (who was also on the floor) for the final possession. “He can finish the game,” Djordjevic said of Bogdanovic. “The other players believe in him. He believes in himself. I believe in him. That’s his job.”
  • Nenad Krstic has long been one of Serbia’s best players, so it was a bit startling to see the 31 year old not playing at all on Sunday. He’s recovering from knee surgery, but Djordjevic called it a “technical decision.” “The way Raduljica played, we didn’t need Krstic in this game.”

Other games of note…

Group B: Croatia 90, Argentina 85

Croatia barely squeaked by the Philippines on Saturday, while Argentina blew out Puerto Rico. So it was a bit of a surprise to see this result a day later.

Dario Saric continues to look like a fascinating NBA prospect, even without a pretty smile. Reportedly, Saric had six teeth knocked out by an elbow from Andres Nocioni (of course). But he continued playing and finished with 17 points and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes. He’s a big dude who moves well and has skills. And it’s a shame the Sixers won’t get him for another two years.

The Nets waited three years for Bojan Bogdanovic. The incoming rookie had another solid game, leading Croatia with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting (3-for-6 from 3-point range).

Luis Scola led Argentina with 30 points. The guy who averaged 27.1 points in the 2010 World Championship is now averaging 27.0 after two games in Sevilla. #FIBAScola is a legend.

Group B: Senegal 82, Puerto Rico 75

Maybe Argentina’s Day 1 win wasn’t that impressive, because Puerto Rico is clearly the biggest disappointment of the World Cup so far. And now, with an injury to Carlos Arroyo, they look to be in danger of finishing fifth or sixth in their group and not qualifying for the knockout rounds.

After scoring 11 points in the first quarter, #FIBAArroyo sprained his right ankle in the first minute of the second and was sent to the hospital for testing. Puerto Rico won the first quarter, 29-21, but scored just 46 points after that, with J.J. Barea shooting 4-for-12.

Gorgui Dieng had another big game for Senegal, scoring 18 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and blocking two shots. Senegal looks good for the knockout rounds if it can beat the Philippines on Thursday.

More Day 2 notes

  • Incoming Bulls rookie Cameron Bairstow shot 6-for-7 in Australia’s easy win over Korea. Restricted free agent Aron Baynes has totaled 34 points and 17 boards in two games.
  • The Dragic brothers combined to score 40 points on 14-for-16 shooting (5-for-6 from 3-point range) in Slovenia’s 89-68 win over Mexico. Slovenia’s effective field goal percentage through two games? A ridiculous 67.3 percent.

Big games on tap for Monday

Groups C (Bilbao) and D (Gran Canaria) have the day off. But there will be a couple of intriguing games wrapping up action in Sevilla and Granada.

  • Puerto Rico is now desperate for a win. They’ll face 2-0 Greece (2 p.m. ET, NBA TV) in Group B action.
  • Spain gets its first real test, facing Brazil in the Granada nightcap (4 p.m. ET).
  • NBA TV will also have #FIBAScola and Argentina vs. Andray Blatche and the Philippines at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Plenty to watch at World Cup


VIDEO: Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis talk about the upcoming FIBA World Cup

GRANADA, SPAIN – The FIBA Basketball World Cup is the best hoops you can get outside of the NBA season. Yes, it’s better than the Olympics.

There are twice as many teams, allowing for more depth from Europe and the Americas. And there’s an extra round of single-elimination, tournament play, giving us 15 win-or-go-home games once pool play is completed.

No, the NBA’s top two players aren’t here. But there are 46 guys currently on NBA rosters, a high for any international tournament. And because Kevin Durant and LeBron James aren’t representing the United States, and because there is so much depth among the second tier of teams, the competition for medals will be captivating.

Along with the U.S., Spain is the co-favorite. As the hosts they will enjoy a home-court advantage, which helped propel Turkey to the final game four years ago. But they also have a ton of talent and experience, both in the NBA and in making the U.S. sweat for a gold medal. The reason U.S. has four centers on its roster is because Spain has Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka.

Beyond the top two, the competition to reach the semifinals could be wide open. Pool play will help sort things out somewhat, but as many as 10 other teams could have dreams of making the semifinals and playing for a medal.

Most of those teams will be on Spain’s half of the 16-team bracket after pool play is completed. In Group A play in Granada, the hosts will face Brazil, with its three NBA big men and terrific point guard, France, the 2013 European champion with five NBA players on is roster, and Serbia, who knocked out Spain in the quarterfinals of this tournament four years ago.

When pool play is completed, the top four teams from Group A (Granada) will match up with the top four from Group B (Sevilla) on the Madrid side of the bracket. Group B features Argentina, Croatia, Greece and Puerto Rico.

The U.S. has an easier path to the final. In Group C pool play in Bilbao, its toughest opponent will likely be Turkey, which has fallen hard since the 2010 World Cup, or the Dominican Republic, which the Americans blew out in New York last week.

Group D (Gran Canaria) features two tougher teams – Australia and Lithuania – which the U.S. will likely face on the Barcelona side of the bracket.

The USA’s history in this event (formerly called the World Championship) is not great. Prior to 2010, it had only won 1954, 1986 and 1994. Yugoslavia, which continued to exist as a basketball team after it dissolved as a nation, won five World Championships.

But Mike Krzyzewski has compiled a 43-1 record and a 36-game winning streak in his nine-year tenure as the USA head coach. He won this tournament four years ago with a roster of 12 guys who had never played a senior-level international game. And the world has yet to experience the defensive of new assistant Tom Thibodeau first hand.

The U.S. won its four exhibition games by an average of 29 points, but could still use improvement, especially on offense. Pool play, beginning with Saturday’s game against Finland (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) will allow them to work some things out, but it’s doubtful that anything can prepare them for a potential gold-medal game against Spain in Madrid.

Before we can think about that, there is a ton of high-quality basketball to be played and plenty of reasons to watch.

There are key players on NBA contenders — Derrick Rose and Anderson Varejao — looking to get back into basketball shape after injury-riddled seasons.

There is the last stand of Argentina’s golden generation and their beautiful brand of basketball, represented by Andres Nocioni, Pablo Prigioni and Luis Scola.

There’s the continued growth of Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Senegal’s Gorgui Dieng, and Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas

There are six incoming rookies, including Australia’s Dante Exum (Jazz), Greece’s Kostas Papanikolaou (Rockets) and the Croatian pair of Bojan Bogdanovic (Nets) and Damjan Rudez (Pacers), to watch and figure out how they might contribute to their new teams.

There are 2014 draftees like Croatia’s Dario Saric (Sixers) and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic (Suns), who might eventually be NBA contributors. And there are a few potential prospects, like the Ukraine’s Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (who will play at Kansas next season), to keep an eye out for.

There’s the curiosity of how veteran Euroleague floor generals like Marcelo Huertas (Brazil) and Milos Teodosic (Serbia) would fit in the NBA.

There’s the Dragic brothers racing up the floor at every opportunity for Slovenia. There’s Andray Blatche playing point-center for the Philippines. And there’s the flair of real point guards like Carlos Arroyo and Ricky Rubio.

Seventy-six games over 17 days. If you can’t wait the upcoming NBA season, with Kevin Love joining LeBron in Cleveland, the Spurs trying for their first repeat, and Rose back in a Bulls uniform, the FIBA World Cup should hold you off for a while.

U.S. – Argentina Game Blog

LONDON – After this game between the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team and Argentina, the final game of pool play for everyone in this Olympic competition, we are saying goodbye to the venue so many of us have called home since the Games began.

As much fun as we’ve had in and around the Olympic Basketball Arena, the building dubbed the “Big White Marshmallow” by some locals, the grown man stage of this tournament will take place at North Greenwich Arena. U.S. point guard Deron Williams knows the place well, having played two games there with the Nets in March 2011 when he first joined the New Jersey (and now Brooklyn) Nets.

But before we go, we’re going to find out if U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski knows his team as well as he does. He insists that their somewhat uncharacteristic performance against Lithuania Saturday night was an aberration, a temporary departure from the Olympic script for his team.

They can play better, they can play harder and they can defend the pick and roll. He says they can certainly much better than they did Saturday night. We’re assuming he meant they could do all of those things by tonight, because the world is watching now to see if the U.S. really is vulnerable as they seemed, at times, during that 99-94 win over Lithuania.

You better believe Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and the rest of this confident Argentina team are going to test the U.S. and see if they have indeed learned their lessons.

We’re going play-by-play (as best these typing fingers will allow) from right here at the BWM throughout, knowing full well that the quarterfinal matchups are all but set and that the U.S. will see Australia next (Patty Mills made the Horry Scale, in case you missed it), and a potential semifinal date against either Spain or Brazil (they are in the final two minutes … UPDATE, Brazil wins 88-82 to finish second in the group while Spain finishes third).

But we’ll get to the future in due time. The U.S. and Argentina have business to tend to first …

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Two Olympic Berths On The Line

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – The FIBA Americas Championship 2011 will be decided on Sunday in Mar del Plata, Argentina, but to most people involved, the most important games of the tournament take place 24 hours earlier. Saturday evening’s semifinals will determine the Americas’ two representatives at next year’s Olympics in London.

But the losers of Saturday’s games can still dream about walking with their nation at the Olympic Stadium next July, because they will be placed in a 12-team, last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament earlier in the month. The top three finishers in that tournament will earn the last three spots in the Olympic field, but Saturday’s losers will have to compete for those spots with four teams from the very competitive EuroBasket tournament that wraps up next weekend, as well as Venezuela, who qualified by finishing fifth in this one.

The four teams still alive separated themselves from the pack early. They finished with a cumulative record of 19-1 against the other six teams in the tournament, with the Dominican Republic’s one-point loss to Canada the only blemish.

Both of Saturday’s games, as well as Sunday’s action (a third-place game and the final), can be seen on ESPN3 in the U.S. and on FIBATV.com elsewhere. Here’s a look at the matchups…

Brazil (7-1) vs. Dominican Republic (5-3) – 6 p.m ET
Brazil took the top seed away from Argentina with an impressive victory over the hosts on Wednesday. That, along with a blowout of Puerto Rico the following night, earned them the right to play the Dominican Republic, which has looked all along to be the weakest of the four semifinalists. But Brazil’s only loss came at the hands of the Dominican last Friday when Brazilian point guard Marcelo Huertas committed 10 turnovers.

Huertas isn’t well known among NBA fans, but he’s the key to Brazil’s offensive attack. He and Tiago Splitter are a dangerous pick-and-roll tandem, because you can’t leave either alone and Brazil has plenty of shooters to spread the floor and complement them.

The Dominican Republic will lean heavily on Al Horford, who is averaging 18.6 points and 9.1 rebounds in the tournament. Horford is complemented on the inside by “El Limpiacristales” Jack Michael Martinez, who has five double-doubles in eight games.

But if Brazil packs the paint and keeps Horford out of the post, he’ll need help from the perimeter. The Dominican Republic is shooting just 32.7 percent from 3-point range for the tournament, but they were 8-for-13 from downtown (Francisco Garcia was 4-for-5) in their win over Brazil.

Argentina (7-1) vs. Puerto Rico (6-2) – 8:15 p.m ET

A few days ago, Argentina looked unbeatable in this tournament. Their veteran core was back together and playing dominantly on both ends. But then Andres Nocioni sprained his right ankle on the opening tip against Brazil on Wednesday and the Argentina offense, which torched Venezuela a night earlier, seemed to follow him back to the locker room.

The hosts recovered to win easily over the Dominican Republic the next night, and they’re still the favorite to win the tournament, but Nocioni’s status for Saturday’s semifinal is questionable. And they’re certainly not as unbeatable as they looked before Wednesday.

Luis Scola is the tournament’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, but Argentina’s offense is about finding the open man, no matter who he is. They’ve assisted on 57 percent of their field goals, the highest rate in the tournament, and all four NBA players on the roster are averaging in double figures.

Puerto Rico has three NBA players on their roster, but one has played significantly better than the other two. In the league, Carlos Arroyo is a conservative, pass-first point guard. But on the FIBA stage, he’s dynamic and aggressive, averaging 13.9 points and 3.6 assists in the tournament.

J.J. Barea, on the other hand, has yet to get comfortable in the Puerto Rico offense. He has shot just 34 percent from the field in the tournament, including an atrocious 2-for-21 from 3-point range.

Puerto Rico lost their inside presence, Daniel Santiago, to a foot injury on Tuesday. So for them to have any hope against Argentina, they will need a big game inside from Manuel Narvaez, as well as the outside shooting of Alex Galindo.

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

Brazil Upsets Hosts Argentina

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – Wednesday’s action at the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata saw host Argentina get upset and Venezuela get one step closer to play for an Olympic berth next summer. But there’s still plenty on the line on Thursday, when pool play concludes with four more games.

Trending up: Brazil (6-1)
Trending down: Argentina (6-1)

Canada 70, Uruguay 68 (Box Score)

Canada kept itself alive for fifth place with a 7-0 run to end the game, capped by Andy Rautins‘ game-winning 3-pointer with 58 seconds left. Uruguay had plenty of chances to tie or take the lead after that, but they missed their final eight shots.

Rautins hit four of his six treys overall, but the star of the game for Canada was Levon Kendall, who scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. That helped make up for the absences of Joel Anthony (ankle) and Aaron Doornekamp (concussion).

Despite the absence of Anthony, the Canadian defense was still strong … or maybe the Uruguayan offense was just awful. Either way, Uruguay shot just 32 percent from the field, with Esteban Batista connecting on just one of his seven shots.

To finish fifth, Canada needs to beat Panama on Thursday (which shouldn’t be a problem) and have Uruguay beat Venezuela.

Venezuela 110, Panama 74 (Box Score)

Venezuela remains in position to finish fifth and grab a spot in the Olympic qualifying tournament thanks to an easy victory over Panama, who clinched eighth place with the loss.

The Venezuelan offense has been ridiculously good from the start. They lead the FIBA Americas tournament in offensive efficiency, scoring 119 points per 100 possessions. But their defense has allowed nearly as many. On Thursday though, they face the Uruguayan offense, which has been worse than Panama’s.

The fifth-place scenarios for the final day of pool play are simple, assuming that Canada beats Panama (a pretty safe assumption) in the 10:30 a.m. ET game. If Venezuela beats Uruguay (at 1 p.m. ET), they finish fifth (holding the head-to-head tie-breaker over Canada) and play in the Olympic qualifying tournament next July. If Uruguay beats Venezuela, then Canada finishes fifth.

Brazil 73, Argentina 71 (Box Score)

Exactly one year after they gave us a thriller at the World Championship, these teams gave us more quality basketball, just with smaller stakes and a little less offense. That elimination game was won by Argentina, sending Brazil home from Istanbul. This game of little consequence was won by Brazil, despite an 0-for-7 performance from Tiago Splitter.

With Splitter in foul trouble, Rafael Hettsheimer came to the rescue, scoring 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Marcelo Huertas played all but one minute of the game and added 17 points.

Argentina cooled off considerably after shooting 18-for-28 from 3-point range against Venezuela. After combining to shoot 12-for-15 from downtown on Wednesday, Manu Ginobili and Pablo Prigioni shot 3-for-11 from beyond the arc on Thursday. Luis Scola led the hosts with 24 points and 11 rebounds, but he turned the ball over six times.

The bad news for Argentina came before either team scored a basket. For some reason, Andres Nocioni jumped center for the hosts, and when he came down from the jump, he landed on Splitter’s foot, turning his right ankle. Nocioni left the game and probably won’t play Thursday against the Dominican Republic. His status for Saturday’s semifinal is unknown.

Puerto Rico 79, Dominican Republic 62 (Box Score)

Despite a quiet game from Carlos Arroyo, Puerto Rico kept pace with Argentina and Brazil. It was a five-point game late in the third quarter when Puerto Rico put it away with a 14-0 run spanning the third and fourth.

J.J. Barea picked up some of Arroyo’s slack with his best game of the tournament, scoring 14 points and dishing out seven assists. Alex Galindo continued to shoot well, hitting five of his 11 threes and leading Puerto Rico with 16 points.

Francisco Garcia was pretty awful for the Dominican Republic, shooting 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

So here are your scenarios for Thursday, when Argentina will face the Dominican Republic and Brazil will face Puerto Rico…

  • If Argentina and Brazil win, then Brazil (1st) will face the Dominican Republic (4th) and Argentina (2nd) will face Puerto Rico (3rd) in Saturday’s semifinals.
  • If Argentina and Puerto Rico win, then Argentina (1st) will face the Dominican Republic (4th) and Puerto Rico (2nd) will face Brazil (3rd).
  • If the Dominican Republic and Brazil win, then Brazil finishes first and second, third and fourth place will come down to point differential in games played between Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
  • If the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico win, then Puerto Rico (1st) will face Argentina (4th) and the Dominican Republic (2nd) will face Brazil (3rd).

Reminder: The two winners of the two semifinals qualify for the Olympics. The two losers will join the fifth-place team (Venezuela or Canada) at the 12-team Olympic qualifying tournament in early July. The top three finishers in that tournament will qualify for the Olympics.

Top Four Clinch Semifinal Spots At FIBA Americas

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – With two more days of pool play left, we already know the four teams that will be playing for two berths in next year’s Olympics. Thanks to wins on Tuesday, Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have all clinched spots in the semifinals of the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Those two games will take place on Saturday, with the two winners earning trips to the Olympics and the two losers being relegated to the Olympic qualifying tournament in early July. But we still don’t know who will be playing whom (the other three teams would surely like to avoid Argentina), and we still don’t know who will finish fifth and earn the final spot in that Olympic qualifying tournament.

Trending up: Venezuela (2-4)
Trending down: Dominican Republic (5-1)

Puerto Rico 79, Canada 74 (Boxscore)

Canada came oh so close to putting themselves in position to finish fifth, coming back from a 17-point deficit to tie the game with two minutes left. But they couldn’t get over the hump and now will surely need some help to qualify for meaningful basketball next summer. Canada needs to beat both Uruguay (Wednesday) and Panama (Thursday) and hope that Uruguay can beat Venezuela (Thursday).

Puerto Rico lost control of this game with both Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea on the bench early in the fourth quarter. But Arroyo saved them with two huge pull-up jumpers in the final two minutes.

  • Arroyo is clearly the better FIBA player of Puerto Rico’s two NBA guards. He finished with 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting on Tuesday. Barea did add five rebounds, six assists and four steals to his 11 points, but he simply hasn’t found a groove offensively.
  • Joel Anthony, nursing a bad ankle, did not start for Canada. So for the second straight game, Daniel Santiago provided a size advantage for Puerto Rico. But Santiago was lost late in the first quarter with his own injury. Santiago is out for the rest of the tournament with a plantar fasciitis tear in his right foot.
  • Anthony did play six minutes in the second quarter, but was not moving well and didn’t play at all in the second half.
  • Andy Rautins had his best game of the tournament, leading Canada with 18 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.
  • Puerto Rico is missing wings Larry Ayuso and A.D. Vassallo, but they may have found a suitable replacement in Alex Galindo, who has been their secondary scorer in each of the last two games. Against Venezuela and Canada, Galindo has totaled 31 points and hit six of his 10 attempts from 3-point range.

Dominican Republic 84, Uruguay 76 (Box Score)

The Dominican Republic had an up-and-down first round, but opened the second round with a strong win over Panama on Monday. A day later, they looked to be down again, or at least slow to recover from the gruesome injury Edgar Sosa suffered at the end of the Panama game.

Uruguay led this one by 11 midway through the second quarter, but the Dominican took a two-point lead into halftime thanks to Elpidio Fortuna‘s buzzer-beating three off a full-court baseball pass from Al Horford. The teams traded runs and it was still a one-possession game early in the fourth. But the Dominican got big shots from Luis Flores and Sosa’s replacement Ronald Ramon down the stretch to hold on for the victory.

  • Horford filled the box score with 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.
  • Charlie Villanueva had his second straight solid game, scoring 11 points on 4-for-8 from the field.
  • Martin Osimani was the star for Uruguay, scoring 22 points on 9-for-19 shooting.
  • Uruguay is still alive for a chance to qualify for the Olympics. If they win their last two games against Canada and Venezuela, they’ll finish fifth and play in next summer’s 12-team Olympic qualifying tournament.

Argentina 111, Venezuela 93 (Box Score)

This was a matchup of the best offensive team in the tournament thus far (Venezuela) vs. the best defensive team (Argentina). The defensive team won, but as you can see from the score, it was very much an offensive game.

Venezuela hung tight and was down just five early in the fourth quarter, but Argentina relentlessly picked apart their zone and pulled away with their long-range shooting. The hosts were a ridiculous 18-for-28 from 3-point range for the game, and that included an 0-for-4 performance from Carlos Delfino.

Check out these numbers… Manu Ginobili: 6-for-8 from downtown. Pablo Prigioni: 6-for-7. Andres Nocioni: 4-for-5. And with Luis Scola doing his typical work (17 points on 7-for-11 from the field) inside, it didn’t matter how good the Venezuelan offense was.

Venezuela needs to take care of business against Panama on Wednesday and then they should be playing for fifth place against Uruguay on Thursday.

Brazil 90, Panama 65 (Box Score)

Brazil picked up its third straight easy victory, again allowing its stars to stay fresh. It gets tough from here on out though, as they’ll face Argentina on Wednesday, Puerto Rico on Thursday, and then play the semifinals on Saturday.

The Argentina game (5 p.m. ET) is a rematch of a terrific round-of-16 matchup at last year’s World Championship (arguably the best game of the tournament) and should certainly be entertaining. Of course, Brazil has fewer NBA players on their squad this year (no Leandro Barbosa or Anderson Varejao) and Argentina has more (Ginobili and Nocioni were not in Turkey last year).

Argentina, P.R. Continue To Dominate

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.

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Horford, Splitter Stand Out On Day 1

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – With the United States already holding a ticket to London next year and happy to sit out the event for the second straight time, the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 got underway in Mar del Plata, Argentina on Tuesday.

The top two finishers in the tournament will qualify for next year’s Olympics in London. The third, fourth and fifth-place finishers will qualify for the 12-team qualifying tournament next July. The top three finishers in that tournament will qualify for the Olympics.

Eight of the FIBA Americas’ 10 teams were in action on the first of five days of preliminary-round action. Here’s a rundown…

Dominican Republic 90, Cuba 60 (Box Score)

Of the three NBA players on the D.R. roster, Al Horford clearly stood out. After a slow start (two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first 8:58), he dominated the action in the Dominican’s easy win.

Horford’s 24 points came mostly in the post, where the Cuban big men were completely overmatched. But he did have a handful of buckets on the move and on the break. The highlight was a fast-break alley-oop throw down off a toss from Edgar Sosa midway through the second quarter.

After that 1-for-5 start, Horford connected on 11 of his final 13 shots. He added nine boards to his 24 points.

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Wheels Down in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – The U.S. National Team has arrived in Istanbul for the 2010 FIBA World Championship. While most of the other medal contenders will play their preliminary games in other locations around Turkey, the U.S. will make Istanbul their home until the close of the World Championship. So after seven days in New York, six days in Madrid, and three in Athens, they can finally settle in.

After Wednesday’s big win over Greece, the team is going through a light workout Thursday night. On Friday afternoon, they will practice at the Abdi Ipekci Arena, where their preliminary games will be played. Then they’ll play their first real game on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic) against Croatia.

Istanbul is seven hours ahead of Eastern time, so that’s a 7 p.m. start locally. It’s the middle game of the three-game slate in Istanbul.

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I sat down for a few minutes with USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo on Thursday afternoon to get his assessment of how things went on the tour of Madrid and Athens.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Colangelo said. “First of all, now that the roster is set, that’s one major thing out of the way, more so for the players who were wondering what their status was. It’s just important to get to that final roster cut, and we did. And it worked out in a very positive way in every respect.

“No. 2, we’re creating the identity that we were seeking.”

You know the identity by now. Great defense that leads to transition and great guard play.

In their five exhibition games (including the closed scrimmage vs. China), the U.S. has allowed their opponents to shoot just 37.6 percent from the field, and to score just 77.6 points per 100 possessions. That’s real good.

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Of course, Colangelo knows that these guys ain’t seen nothing yet. And it has definitely been communicated to the players that elimination games against Spain or Greece would probably be nothing like the games they played this past week.

“We’re pleased with where we are,” he said, “but as far as we’re concerned, we’re 0-0.”

But Colangelo is glad that he put together a tougher exhibition schedule than this team had in 2006.

“It couldn’t have been any better,” he said. “Quite honestly, we wish everyone [for the opponents] would have been healthy.”

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Trivia: Just two U.S. players averaged double-figures in scoring in their five exhibition games (including the closed scrimmage vs. China). They were Kevin Durant (16.6 points per game) and …

Eric Gordon.

Gordon averaged 10.0 points in the five exhibition games. He didn’t score against Spain, but had 15 points against China, eight against France, nine against Lithuania and 18 against Greece.

Colangelo was effusive with his praise for the Clippers’ guard, but won’t call Gordon’s play a surprise.

“I’m not going to say he’s a surprise,” Colangelo said. “What I’m going to say is we’re really pleased with the way he’s playing. And he’s to a point now where he takes a shot, we expect it to go down. It’s not a question in our minds. There are very few players playing on any level where you feel if they’ve got the ball, they’re going to score. He’s one of them.

“He’s a pure shooter, just needs a little bit of room. He’s quick. The other thing is his body type is perfect for international play. Big and strong.”

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We thought going in that rebounding would be the No. 1 concern for the U.S. But they rebounded 81.4 percent of their opponents’ misses in the five exhibition games, pretty much putting that concern to rest.

Instead, I think three other concerns have emerged…

1. Interior defense, particularly against the pick-and-roll. Kostas Tsartsaris was able to score pretty easily (he had 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting) against Lamar Odom on Wednesday. And by picking up four fouls in less than 11 minutes of action, Tyson Chandler wasn’t much help.

2. 3-point shooting. They connected on just 37 of their 113 threes (32.7 percent) in the five games. Almost half of the threes were made by Eric Gordon (10-for-23) and Chauncey Billups (8-for-18). The rest of the team shot 19-for-72 (26.4 percent).

3. Turnovers. They had 17 of them against Greece and averaged 15.8 in their five exhibition games. But by my count, seven of the 17 came in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, when Stephen Curry spent most of the period at the point. And it’s doubtful that Curry will play any meaningful minutes at the point going forward.

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Tough news for Argentina: After doctors examined his injured left ankle, the Sixers advised Andres Nocioni that he should withdraw from the World Championship. With Nocioni healthy, Argentina would have had one of the two or three best lineups in the tournament. Now, they’re depth is even worse than it was.

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Random note: Rajon Rondo averaged more than twice as many assists per 40 minutes (12.6) as anyone else on the roster. Derrick Rose was next with 4.9 assists per 40.

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With thanks to @albriasan, here’s a rundown of how the 24 teams in the World Championship did in exhibition play. It confirms my guess that the U.S. was the only team not to lose a game.

Of course, no team played fewer exhibition games than the Americans. If they went undefeated playing as many games as Jordan did, that would be really impressive.

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Turkish lesson of the day: Lütfen daha yavaş konuşun = Please speak more slowly.

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