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 Huertas‘ worst 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.