Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Arroyo’

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. takes extra big on final roster


VIDEO: GameTime: USA Basketball Final Roster

NEW YORK – Just a few hours after a 112-86 victory over Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden on Friday and six days before it needed to, the U.S. National Team finalized its roster for the FIBA World Cup in Spain.

In a bit of a surprise, two players – DeMar DeRozan and Andre Drummond – who didn’t play on Friday made the final roster. Drummond is the fourth center on the team, while DeRozan made the cut over Chandler Parsons and Kyle Korver. He offers more playmaking and explosive scoring ability than the other two.

In addition to Korver and Parsons, Damian Lillard and Gordon Hayward did not make the 12-man roster.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo had previously indicated that they might take more than 12 when the team flew to the Canary Islands on Saturday afternoon, because some of the final decisions were proving to be difficult. But Krzyzewski made it clear after Friday’s game that they decided not to take any extras, for two reasons.

First, because it’s “really difficult,” according to Krzyzewski, for a player to travel abroad and eventually get sent home early. Second, with just one exhibition game remaining (Tuesday against Slovenia), it’s time for this team to finalize its rotation and everybody’s roles.

“Now that we’re down to 12,” Krzyzewski said, “we can get a little bit more precise with things.”

DeRozan and Drummond join guards Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Rose; wings James Harden and Klay Thompson; forwards Kenneth Faried and Rudy Gay; and bigs DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Mason Plumlee.

The starting lineup – Irving, Curry, Harden, Faried and Davis – seems to be set, with Irving having replaced Rose for the two exhibition games this week.

Rose is going to Spain, though. If Irving is the starter, Rose will be one of the first players off the bench, along with Thompson (backing up Curry and Harden) and Gay (backing up Faried).

There was no need to see how Rose felt after his second exhibition game. He got four days of rest after last Saturday’s win over Brazil, but Krzyzewski has clearly seen and heard enough.

“I feel very confident about Derrick,” Krzyzewski said. “I think Derrick feels very confident.”

It remains to be seen how many of the USA’s nine potential games Rose will play at the World Cup. It’s safe to assume that it’s less than nine, especially with the five pool-play games in the first six days.

“If he needs a day off,” Chicago Bulls head coach and USA assistant Tom Thibodeau said of Rose on Friday, “he’ll get a day off.”

And Krzyzewski is fine with that. As the U.S. tries to win its fourth straight gold medal in international competition, it will also be trying to get Rose back into top basketball shape.

“These guys want to play with him,” Krzyzewski said. “Part of getting back is to be around a group of peers, who want you to be really good.

“That’s what we’ve seen over the years. That’s where the brotherhood develops. That’s one of the cool things about what’s happened over the last nine years. We think that can happen again and hopefully, that will help Derrick as he gets ready to keep participating in this, but also for the NBA season. I think it’s a huge, huge help for him.”

So the U.S. will have just one full-time point guard – Irving – on the roster, with Curry starting at shooting guard and Rose unlikely to play every game. That could be some extra burden on the Cavs’ All-Star, but the USA’s best talent is still in the backcourt and the staff clearly wanted extra depth up front, with Cousins, Drummond and Plumlee backing up Davis, who could see some time at power forward.

The need for three backup centers is a bit puzzling, especially since Davis will likely rank first or second on the team in minutes played. Two of three back-ups will certainly have limited roles.

But the U.S. may have its sights set on the frontline of Spain, which features Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka. The hosts are the clear favorites to reach the gold medal game from the other side of the bracket, though they’ll have a tougher road than the Americans.

The U.S. got a tough 20 minutes on Friday, as Puerto Rico took a five-point lead in the first quarter and hung within two until Thompson beat the halftime buzzer with a pull-up 3-pointer. Veteran guards Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea were able to take advantage of the USA’s aggressiveness on the perimeter to push Puerto Rico to 47 points on just 40 first-half possessions.

The U.S. tightened up its rotation and its defense in the second half, using a 14-2 run to take control.

“We tried to do too much trapping [in the first half], and they’re just too good,” Krzyzewski said. “Second half, I thought we played really, really well.”

Still, the U.S. will need Tuesday’s exhibition game against Slovenia (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2) and all five pool play games in Bilbao to sharpen up for single-elimination action in Barcelona and Madrid. With the roster set, the focus can go from choosing a team to winning another gold.

“There’s still,” Krzyzewski said, “a lot to do.”

Argentina Tops Brazil For Title

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If the championship game of the FIBA Americas didn’t really mean anything, since both teams had already locked up their Olympic bids, someone forgot to tell the players from Argentina and Brazil. Because Sunday night’s game in MarDel Plata, Argentina didn’t look anything like a friendly exhibition.

Luis Scola scored a tournament-high 32 points to lead Argentina to the 80-75 win and their second FIBA Americas title, their last coming a decade ago. Scola earned MVP honors after carrying his team in a tight game for the win. Carlos Delfino added 16 points and nine rebounds for the winners. Marcus Vinicius led Brazil with 17 points and Tiago Splitter added 12.

Scola was joined on the All-Tournament team by his Argentina teammate Manu Ginobili, the Dominican Republic’s Al Horford, Puerto Rico’s Carlos Arroyo and Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas.

By virtue of making the title game, Argentina and Brazil earned spots in London next summer for the Olympics. Horford led the Dominican Republic with 23 points as they topped Puerto Rico 103-89 in the third-place game. The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela all earned invites to the qualifying tournament next July with their top five finishes in this competition.

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.

***

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).

Faves Roll At Americas’ Second Round

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.

Argentina Wins Battle Of Unbeatens

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – Day 4 of the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata, Argentina brought the two biggest matchups of the tournament thus far. Neither game disappointed, though a couple of guards (Marcelo Huertas and J.J. Barea) did.

Trending up: Dominican Republic (3-1)
Trending down: Brazil (2-1)

Canada 84, Cuba 62 (Boxscore)

Canada went back to shooting poorly (4-for-15) from 3-point range, but that didn’t matter, because Cuba was much worse (1-for-14). After the teams each scored a bucket in the first two minutes, Canada went on a 15-0 run and never looked back, earning their second straight win.

After hitting some big threes against the Dominican Republic just 17 hours earlier, Andy Rautins was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, but he got to the line eight times in 21 minutes.

If Canada beats Venezuela on Saturday, they’d finish in a three-way tie for first with Brazil and the Dominican Republic. But thanks to the tie-breaker (see below), the best they can do is finish third in Group A (unless Cuba pulls off a miracle upset of Brazil).

Uruguay 77, Panama 61 (Boxscore)

Uruguay established itself as the third best team in Group B with a comfortable victory. The game was close until early in the third quarter, when Uruguay took control with a 19-6 run. Esteban Batista was the star of the game, finishing with 24 points (on 9-for-13 shooting) and 10 rebounds.

Dominican Republic 79, Brazil 74 (Boxscore)

After the way the Dominican Republic played against Canada just 24 hours earlier, this was maybe the most surprising result of the tournament. Brazil led by seven late in the third quarter, but a pair of Francisco Garcia threes highlighted an 11-2 Dominican run that gave them the lead heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter was tight throughout, but the Dominican defense was at its best and never gave up the lead. Garcia sealed the game when he stripped Tiago Splitter in the post in the final minute.

  • This was easily Garcia’s best game of the tournament. He hit four of his five attempts from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points.
  • This was easily Marcelo Huertasworst game of the tournament. He shot 7-for-11 from the field, but was sloppy with his passing, committing 10 turnovers.
  • One of those turnovers was a clean strip by Dominican big man Jack Michael Martinez, who switched out on Huertas on the perimeter at the end of the second quarter. Martinez stole the ball and found Al Horford under the basket on the other end to give D.R. a four-point lead going into the half.
  • Brazil was an efficient 25-for-41 from inside the arc, but made just five of their 22 shots from 3-point range and just nine of their 16 free throws.
  • Despite the loss, Brazil is still in position to win Group A. If both Canada (2-1) and Brazil (2-1) win on Saturday and there’s a three-way tie with the Dominican Republic (3-1), the tiebreaker is determined by the ratio of points to opponents’ point in the head-to-head games between the three teams. Brazil’s ratio was 143/136 (1.05), the Dominican’s was 151/147 (1.03), and Canada’s was 130/141 (0.92).

Argentina 81, Puerto Rico 74 (Boxscore)

This was the game to determine first place in Group B, and it lived up to the billing. It was tight until early in the third quarter when Argentina was finally able to corral Carlos Arroyo and used a blistering 16-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into an 11-point lead.

Arroyo didn’t get nearly enough help from his teammates. Meanwhile, Argentina played like a cohesive unit, getting big contributions from Manu Ginobili (23 points), Luis Scola (16 points, seven boards and two blocks) and Carlos Delfino (14 points and three steals).

  • Arroyo had a pretty amazing minute of basketball late in the first half, when he was wholly responsible for a 7-0 run that gave Puerto Rico a 33-27 lead. It started with a pretty pick-and-roll feed to Daniel Santiago. Then, after Ginobili missed a shot, Arroyo hit Alex Galindo with a nifty touch pass on the break. And on the possession after that, he stepped into a three on another high pick-and-roll. Less than two minutes later, he hit Santiago with another pretty dish for a three-point play.
  • Arroyo is about 10 times more entertaining (and aggressive) when he plays for Puerto Rico than when he plays in the NBA.
  • J.J. Barea is far less so. For the second straight game, Barea struggled from the field, shooting 3-for-10 after a 1-for-8 game against Uruguay on Thursday. And when Argentina double-teamed Arroyo in the second half, Barea wasn’t able to pick up the slack.
  • Delfino was just 1-for-4 from 3-point range, but had two incredible and-ones under the basket in the third quarter.
  • After scoring 10 points in the first quarter in each of Argentina’s first two games, Scola had just 10 through the first three quarters on Friday. But he hit three straight shots midway through the fourth to help put the game away.
  • After sitting out the first two games, Fabricio Oberto got his first action of the tournament. He scored two points in 12 minutes.

Canada Pulls Off An Upset

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – Day 3 of the FIBA Americas Championship 2011 in Mar del Plata brought us our first upset of the tournament. It also brought us some upset Paraguayans.

Trending up: Canada (1-1)
Trending down: Dominican Republic (2-1)

Panama 89, Paraguay 86 (Boxscore)

There are 10 teams in this tournament, and after four first-round games, eight of them (four from each group) will reach the second round. There are four solid teams in Group A and we don’t have any problems with Canada or Venezuela playing three more games next week.

But after Argentina and Puerto Rico, there’s a big drop-off in Group B. Of the Panama-Paraguay-Uruguay group, two of those teams will advance to the second round, so this matchup meant a lot to both teams.

Panama was in control, up 70-55, after the third quarter. But Paraguay came all the way back and had a chance to tie the game or take the lead with 19 seconds left. Enrique Martinez found Guillermo Araujo under the basket with five seconds left and Araujo was hammered hard by Ruben Garces.

The Paraguayans were looking for an unsportsmanlike foul call (which would have resulted in two shots and the ball back), but they only got a standard foul. Still, Araujo had the opportunity to send the game to overtime.

But he missed both freebies and Panama escaped with the win.

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