Posts Tagged ‘Facundo Campazzo’

Group B gets crazy

RIO DE JANEIRO — Group B in the Olympic Men’s Basketball tournament promised to be, with five teams with medal hopes and only four tickets to the quarterfinals, the more interesting of the two groups. And it has already been more interesting that we could have imagined. Through four days of action, every team in Group B has at least one win and one loss.

And on a day where Spain may have righted its ship and two rivals produced an instant classic, Nigeria threw another wrinkle in the standings with an upset of Croatia. And with one more day to go, every team is still alive.

Argentina wins double-OT classic

Andres Nocioni is 36 years old and hasn’t played in the NBA in four years. But put “El Chapu” in an Argentina uniform for the final time (we think), and he can do special things.

On Saturday afternoon, Nocioni played more than 47 minutes and scored 37 points (the high for the Olympics thus far) in Argentina’s 111-107, double-overtime victory over Brazil. The atmosphere, with the two South American rivals facing off in Brazil’s gym, was incredible. The stakes were high and the game delivered the goods.

“No matter what sport or whatever’s going on, if it’s Brazil against Argentina, it’s going to be a battle,” incoming Spurs rookie Patricio Garino (who had several key steals) said afterward. “The atmosphere was unbelievable. Playing in this kind of setting is going to be memories for life.”

Facundu Campazzo added 33 points and 11 assists for Argentina, but the biggest play of the game was an offensive rebound from the 5-11 point guard off a Manu Ginobili miss in the final seconds of regulation. With Argentina down three, Campazzo found Nocioni, whose step-back three tied the game with 3.9 seconds left.

Brazil couldn’t get a good shot off at the end of regulation, and Ginobili’s runner to win was off the mark at the end of the first overtime. Campazzo started the second OT off with two threes and Argentina withstood a big flurry from Leandro Barbosa to pull out the win, with Ginobili securing the game with another critical offensive rebound in the final seconds.

“What we did today was big, everybody, because we fight, we play hard, and we try to compete,” Nocioni said. “We lost control of the game sometimes, but always, we try to keep going, keep going.”

Nene (24 points, 11 rebounds) had a big game for Brazil, but the hosts are facing a disappointing scenario if they don’t qualify for the quarterfinals. They looked to be in good shape after beating Spain in their second game, but have come up just short in each of their other three, having lost them by a total of just 14 points.

Twelve years after they won it all in Athens, Argentina’s golden generation (with some help from a 25-year-old point guard) is still alive and will be in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. No matter what happens from now on, it’s already been a fun last ride … if it has indeed the last ride.

“It was the last ride four years ago,” Nocioni said with a laugh. “Maybe, you never know, maybe we’re coming back in Tokyo.”

Spain looks strong again

After losing to Croatia and Brazil and struggling to pull away against Nigeria, Spain (2-2) played its best game on Saturday night, thumping previously unbeaten Lithuania 109-59. Because they don’t have the tiebreaker vs. Brazil, Spain’s elimination games began Saturday. And they got the first one they needed to stay alive.

“We had two finals,” Ricky Rubio said afterward. “Today we came to play, and Monday, it’s another final.”

Pau Gasol (23 points, five rebounds, five assists, two blocks, 5-for-5 from 3-point range) dominated his matchup with Jonas Valanciunas (0-for-6). Rubio (3-for-4 from 3-point range) finally hit a few jumpers and kept Lithuania on its heels defensively. And Nikola Mirotic (17 points, 8-for-11 shooting) was strong inside and out.

Spain is missing Marc Gasol, but still could be the second best team in the tournament when it’s all said and done. Of course, it could also be going home early if it doesn’t beat Argentina on Monday.

“We were trying to find our DNA out there [in the first two games], and I think we found it [Saturday],” Rubio said. “We haven’t done anything special yet, but I think we’re on the right track.”

Nigeria stays alive

Nigeria was, seemingly, the one team in Group B that didn’t have a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals. But suddenly, it’s still alive with a stunning, 90-76 victory over Croatia in Saturday’s late game. The 3-point shooting tells the story. Nigeria was 17-for-36 from beyond the arc, while Croatia was 6-for-28.

Croatia has quality wins over Spain and Brazil and could have clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with a win Saturday. But it’s future is now in some doubt.

Bottom line from Group B: Argentina (3-1) and Lithuania (3-1) are in the quarterfinals, while Spain (2-2) and Croatia (2-2) control their own destiny. Brazil (1-3) and Nigeria (1-3) need help.

Big games Monday

And here’s a rundown of Monday’s slate …

  • Brazil (1-3) vs. Nigeria (1-3) – 1:15 p.m. ET – The winner of this game is still alive, while the loser is eliminated. A Brazil win also means that Croatia clinches a spot in the quarterfinals.
  • Argentina (3-1) vs. Spain (2-2) – 6 p.m. ET – If Brazil wins the first game, Spain needs to win to stay alive, because it will have lost to the two teams (Brazil and Croatia) it could possibly be tied with at 2-3.
  • Croatia (2-2) vs. Lithuania (3-1) – 9:30 p.m. ET – Lithuania clinches the top seed in Group B with a win. Croatia needs to win to stay alive if Nigeria wins the first game.

If two teams are tied, the tiebreaker is head-to-head. So Brazil and Croatia both have the tiebreaker over Spain.

If multiple teams are tied, the tiebreaker goes to the team with the best record in games between those teams. If that’s even — say Croatia, Nigeria and Spain all tie at 2-3 — it comes down to point differential in games between those teams. In the aforementioned scenario, Spain (plus-7) would finish third, Nigeria (plus-5) would finish fourth, and Croatia (minus-12) would be eliminated.

If Spain beat Argentina and Croatia beat Lithuania, we would have a four-way tie at 3-2 for first place. Stay tuned …

Group A wraps Sunday

Group A is much more easier to figure out. The U.S. needs to beat France (1:15 ET) to clinch first place, because a loss could produce (if Australia beats Venezuela) a three-way tie between Australia, France and the U.S. In that case, point differential in the games between the three teams (who would all be 1-1 within the group) would determine the seeds. Australia beat France by 21, while the U.S. only beat Australia by 10, so a France win on Sunday would put Australia in first place and drop the U.S. to second (or third if it lost by 16 or more).

If the U.S. beats France, Australia is second (no matter its result) and France is third. Venezuela, meanwhile, can stay alive with a win over Australia (6 p.m. ET), but Serbia would take fourth (and eliminate Venezuela) with a win over China in the late game (9:30 p.m. ET).

A Rivalry Renewed: U.S. And Argentina Set To Face Off … One Last Time?

LONDON — After a decade of circling each other, five times in five different tournaments during that span, it comes down to this for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team and their counterparts from Argentina.

Only one of them will play for a gold medal here Sunday in the Olympics.

And whoever gets that chance will have to go through their bitter rival in the semifinals Friday afternoon (4 p.m. ET) at North Greenwich Arena.

It’s a fitting crossroads for the two programs. After all, Argentina is the outfit that shocked the USA Basketball system a decade ago at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis, shattering a previous decade of domination by NBA players on the national team rosters by embarrassing that team on home soil.

They’re reaffirmed the initial blow two years later by going through the U.S. Team in the semifinals on the way to gold in the Athens Olympics. That death-blow jolted USA Basketball into a complete reorganization of the program that saw both managing director and chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski come on board.

When the U.S. finally returned the favor in Beijing four years ago, finishing off Argentina in the semifinals on the way to Olympic gold, it was clear both sides would spend the next four years pining for a moment like the one that is upon them now.

Argentina’s aging core group, led by Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino, is believed to be making this one last stand together. The instigators of a basketball revolution in their native land, this could very well be the last time they take the floor together in Olympic competition.

“We know who those guys are,” said Ginobili, Argentina’s fearless leader. “We are not intimidated when we play against them.”

That fact only adds to the intrigue for the core of the U.S. Team, guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and even Kevin Durant.

They’d love to put the Argentina chapter of USA Basketball’s history to rest.

“Why not? Why not?” Anthony said without so much as a whiff of cockiness in his voice. “We have to play them. Something has to happen. Why not end it [now]?”

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Bryant Catches Fire, U.S Set For Semifinal Showdown With Argentina

LONDON — Kobe Bryant normally lives for these moments.

The big moment, on the big stage, with the whole world watching.

But save for a vintage few minutes in a win over Nigeria during pool play, his time here for the Olympics had been more about his presence away from the court than it had been on his in-game exploits with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team.

He popped in at Wimbledon to see some tennis, strode over to the beach volleyball venue to see friends get after it and he even made it to the velodrome Tuesday night to cheer on fellow athletes chasing gold in their respective disciplines.

It wasn’t until the second half Wednesday night, with Australia making a run against the U.S. in a quarterfinal matchup at North Greenwich Arena, that the Bryant Los Angeles Lakers and NBA fans have known for the better part of the past decade made his debut in this competition.

His six straight 3-pointers, a staggering four in 75 seconds during a backbreaking fourth-quarter run, proved to be the sparked needed to push the U.S. past Australia 119-86 and into a Friday night semifinal rematch with rival Argentina, an 82-77 winner over Brazil in the first game of the evening session.

“We we were right there with them,” said Australian forward David Andersen. “And then Kobe starts shooting and making those [3-pointers] and it’s raining down on us. No team really has answers for that. ”

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U.S.-Australia Game Blog!

LONDON — In the interest of fair play and a drama-free evening here at North Greenwich Arena, we’re going to have both the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team and Australia sign a petition to stick to basketball and leave the rabbit punching to others.

After yet another sucker-punching incident at the end of the Spain-France game involving Nicolas Batum’s right hand and Juan Carlos Navarro‘s groin area, we’ve officially seen enough of the below the belt antics. Play ball folks.  Chris Paul and Facundo Campazzo kicked things off Monday night.

But there is Olympic gold (silver and bronze, too) on the line gentlemen. It’s time to cut out the flopping, the foolishness and the fisticuffs and just play ball. Kevin Durant and Patty Mills, two of the hottest scorers in the field, would appreciate it kindly.

We can do without the silly stuff. The winner of this U.S.-Australia game has a date with Argentina waiting on them.

We’re following every bounce of tonight’s final quarterfinal game (with our nearly every) play-by-play. Game tips off in 25 minutes. So get your predictions in now if you want them on the record …

— FOURTH QUARTER —

0.0: 119-86. See you Friday night. Maybe there will be a bit more suspense then … maybe not!

1:26: James Harden batting clean up tight, with seven points in the last 70 seconds. 117-84.

2:07: The U.S. is still firing, Andre Iguodala for 3. 112-84.

3:52: Okay, fun is over. Kobe finally misses one. But the damage has been done. He was scoreless at halftime and goes to the bench with 20. LeBron has a triple-double (what USA Basketball officials believe to be the first in Olympic history) and the U.S. is headed for a rematch with Argentina in the semifinals. The Boomers are going home. 107-80.

4:13: LeBron with the behind-the-back pass to Love for a dunk and the runaway. 107-80.

4:33: And again, for good measure. 105-80.

4:53: On the pull-up 3 now  just to show off. 102-90.

5:10: Kobe for 3. 99-80.

5:48: LeBron finds Kobe on the right wing for a deep 3 and a 96-78 lead.

6:16: K. Love with a little big boy basketball under the rim. Gets a rebound, fouled and goes to the line for two. But not before getting a standing ovation from the bench for his hard work. 93-78.

7:49: LeBron in one corner turns and flings a one-handed dart to D. Will in the opposite corner and he swishes a 3. 90-75 just like that. LeBron erases so many of the U.S. deficiencies on both ends of the floor it’s not even funny.

8:32: David Barlow for 3 after an Andersen layup over Durant. 87-75.

9:16: CP3 with the step back 3. 87-70.

— THIRD QUARTER —

0.0: Wasn’t a particularly sharp 10 minutes for the U.S. But when you can lean on LeBron, Durant and even that Kobe fella, it’s tough to give up too much. 84-70.

22.1: ‘Melo converts the layup but misses the free throw off of a steal and break. 84-70.

1:02: One member of the U.S. press contingent (he shall remain nameless) insists that this team is primed for an upset but admits that he’s not sure there is a team left in this competition capable of pulling it off. Australia has the heart but not the horses. Doesn’t trust Spain or Argentina. “Russia might be the only team that can do it. And they have to get there first.”

1:11: Baynes comes back with an oop of his own. 80-68.

1:23: Durant on the drive and dunk. 80-66.

1:44: We’re back to LeBron just having his way with these poor bigs assigned to try to guard him. It’s not a fair fight when the U.S. spreads the floor and he attacks like this. Too easy. (lane violation on his second free throw) 78-66.

2:19: ‘Melo scores from 3-land on a tipped LeBron pass to the corner. 77-66.

2:48: Unsportsmanlike foul on Westbrook and he didn’t even swing on anybody below the belt. 77-66.

3:07: Matt Dellavedova with a layup off of the feed from Mills. 74-64.

3;30: Mills comes right back with a driving layup. 74-62.

3:38: ‘Melo at the line, the U.S. has calmed things back down a bit now. 74-60.

4:12: LeBron rebounds the Kobe miss from 3 finishes with the baseline layup. But misses the free throw after being fouled. 72-58.

4:37: Steal and another corner 3 from Kobe, 70-58.

4:53: Kobe for 3. 67-58.

5:30: LeBron sinks the first of two free throws, 64-58. But the U.S. needs the second unit to crank things up in here. They need a spark.

5:59: Andersen scores over Durant (3 fouls) in the post. 63-58. The U.S. yawned at the start of this quarter and now they are in a fight. 63-58.

6:39: Kobe sinks two free throws for a 63-56 lead.

7:27: Bryant shuts me up with a nice dime to Chandler for the dunk. 61-53.

7:42: Kobe steps on the line after he and Chandler go after a rebound and he snags it. This isn’t one of his finer performances. He was scoreless in the first half (0-for-4 with two turnovers and struggled to stay in front of anyone). He knows he’s struggling right now. He’ll crank it up, you watch.

8:01: Durant corner 3 to calm things down. 59-53.

8:23: Ingles with another 3. An 11-0 Boomers run and now we get what we were expecting. 56-53 just like tat.

9:11: Ingles sinks the 3. 56-50. We’ve got a game folks.

9:41: Mills with the steal and layup. 56-47 after five quick points from the Boomers’ best player.

A little Kiss Cam (and Prince on the loud speakers) for the second half warm up music. The U.S. is shooting 7-for-21 from deep right now, giving them 83 made 3-pointers and counting in this competition.

— HALFTIME —

The Red Foxes (Ukrainian dace team) didn’t make the move from the Big White Marshmallow to this new venue. There are some very disappointed members of the crowd who had grown fond of our usual halftime entertainment. I’m partial to the Heat Dancers myself. Someone send me a picture …

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Russia And Spain Into The Semifinals

LONDON — Russia and Spain will square off in one Olympic semifinal, both of them having survived in quarterfinal action North Greenwich Arena Wednesday.

Russia survived a late Lithuania rally and held on for an 83-74 win behind Andrei Kirilenko‘s 19 points and 13 rebounds and some clutch shooting late from captain Sergey Monya. They led five players in double digits for Russia, which finished first in pool play from Group B.

“Sergey Monya, our captain, is the face of everything we do, the face of Russia,” said Russia’s coach David Blatt. “He has played in every game for Russia in the seven years I have been with the team. He came up the biggest at the right time. He made the two biggest shots of the game and maybe of our career together.”

Spain had to survive France and some late-game licks to advance. They closed the game on a 12-2 run and won 66-59 to set up Friday’s semifinal matchup against Russia.

Nicolas Batum took a nasty swing at Juan Carlos Navarro, balling up his fist and swinging below the belt with 24 seconds to play. His frustration boiled over after his team’s inability to finish with a flourish, the loss itself and Spain’s “flopping” as France exited the competition before the medal round.

It was the second or third such incident of the competition, with Chris Paul of the U.S. and Facundo Campazzo of Argentina both taking swings (or at least Paul was accused of taking one) during their last pool play game Monday night.

“I just wanted to give him a good reason to flop,” an unapologetic Batum said after the game. He was called for an unsportmanlike foul but wasn’t ejected from the game. And as players from both sides shook hands, Batum was in the middle of the mix without incident.

He objected to Spain’s tactics afterwards, though, insisting that he Spaniards resorted to acting late with the game on the line.

“That’s not basketball,” he said, haven taken particular offense to the reaction of Rudy Fernandez after he was fouled by Ronny Turiaf in front of the scorer’s table moments earlier. “Sometimes, you have to give them a good reason to flop. And I hope I did.”

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Dirty Is As Dirty Does, NBA-Style Too

Team USA was shocked – shocked! – when Argentina point guard Facundo Campazzo turned Carmelo Anthony’s 3-point jump shot into a close-out cheap shot, hitting the New York Knicks’ shooter in the groin in the third quarter of the U.S. team’s 126-97 victory Monday at the 2012 London Olympics.

Puh-leeeze.

Frankly, the most shocking thing about the play and the furor it ignited in the moment and afterward was that Campazzo didn’t explain to reporters that he learned his technique by watching NBA global telecasts. Where better to learn some of the game’s dirtier tricks than from the those who not only have mastered them but elevated them to high art and, in some cases, deployed them all the way to Springfield, Mass.?

While Anthony briefly writhed on the floor, center Tyson Chandler, coach Mike Krzyzewski and others barked and glared at Campazzo and the Argentina team, including Suns forward Luis Scola. All of these guys, though, know their way around such cheap-shot maneuvers because those are prevalent, rampant even, in the league in which they play stateside. (Coach K? He had a guy who once stepped on a fallen player’s chest.)

Some of the greatest players in NBA history have been on the dark side of sainthood if an elbow here, a shove there or a slap where it really hurts could tilt defeat into triumph. Michael Jordan never met a rule he didn’t try to bend. Karl Malone and John Stockton were known to apply impact to opponents’ various nether regions, especially when cutting through the lane. And Tim Duncan and David Robinson were more than happy to win rings while teammate Bruce Bowen stepped repeatedly underneath descending shooters’ feet and ankles. (more…)

If It’s Time To Scrap, U.S. Is Ready

LONDON — The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team’s smallest player could very well be its toughest. Same goes for Argentina. So it should have surprised no one that the two sides exchanged slugs, shoves, elbows and insults during the U.S. Team’s 126-97 drubbing of  Argentina Thursday night in the final pool play game for both teams.

If they were trying to ready themselves for the knockout stage of this Olympic competition, consider that mission accomplished. And if anyone was wondering if this U.S. Team loaded with wing players and devoid of noted “tough guys” was ready for a scrap, Chris Paul answered any questions time and again with his actions.

Paul was accused of popping Argentina’s Facundo Campazzo with a cheap shot early in the third quarter and Campazzo’s retaliatory shot came at the of the third, when he dropped Carmelo Anthony with a shot below the belt that fired up both sides. The U.S., though, had already delivered their most devastating blows by running Argentina off of the floor in nine minutes and 58 seconds before Campazzo’s punch.

“He got hit in the groin,” agitated U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said when a reporter questioned what happened to Anthony. “That’s why he buckled over. He wasn’t celebrating his shot.”

Paul, always savvy in these situation, wasn’t sure which run in with Facundo he was being asked about after the game. And denied taking a swing at him.

“Which time?” he said, “We got tangled up 1,000 times.”

But Facundo, who admitted his English isn’t the best, was clear about what happened to Anthony, his intentions and the fact that he wasn’t apologizing to those he might have offended.

“I apologized to Kobe [Bryant],” he said. “But I will not apologize to Carmelo because [Paul] did not apologize to me.”

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U.S. Hits Argentina With The 1-2 Punch

LONDON — Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura searched for the words to describe it late Saturday night, after watching his team flirt with the notion of upsetting the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in Olympic play for as long as humanly possible.

“You have to pick your poison,” he said of playing the U.S., “and then decide what you want to die from.”

That’s one extremely grim way of looking at it. A view that Argentina can share after being blown off the court by the U.S. in the third quarter of what turned into a 126-97 rout Monday night at the Olympic Basketball Arena.

Between LeBron James bullying his way around the floor for seven quick points in the first three minutes of the third quarter and Kevin Durant‘s 17-point barrage that followed, the point was made. The U.S. heads into Wednesday’s quarterfinal against Australia having made it clear that they’ll only go along with the opposition’s plan for so long.

Packing the paint and hoping they take and miss enough 3-point shots so you can stay close was easier to do when Durant — the 6-foot-10 reigning three-time NBA scoring champion shooting from two feet closer than the NBA 3-point line — wasn’t around to mess up those plans.

“Almost everybody has tried to play them the same way, there aren’t a lot of secrets, that’s the same way everybody has tried to play them the last decade,” said Argentina and San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili. “But when this happens and they make 20 [3-pointers], then you shake their hands, say ‘good game’ and go back and get ready for the next game. It’s not that complicated.”

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