Posts Tagged ‘FIBA Americas’

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.

Brazil, Argentina Locked For London

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Brazil and Argentina can scrap it out for gold at the FIBA Americas Championships Sunday, but their tickets to the 2012 London Olympics are already booked, courtesy of their wins in the semifinals Saturday in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

As prestigious as it will be for whichever team claims the top spot Sunday, the main objective for the two teams that made it to the championship game was to do exactly that, lock down one of those two golden tickets to London. (As my main man NBA.com’s John Schuhmann pointed out before Saturday’s games.)

We’re pretty sure Argentina’s superstar guard Manu Ginobili said it best when he uttered these words, “mission accomplished,” after the deed was done with a gritty 81-79 win over Puerto Rico in their semifinal win. Brazil beat the Dominican Republic 83-76 to earn their spot.

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Argentina needed big scoring games from Luis Scola (27 points) and Ginobili (23) to squeeze past Jose Barea (20 points), Daniel Santiago (16 points) and crew.

Puerto Rico led by four (44-40) at halftime. It took two free throws from Ginobili in the final minutes to break a late-game tie and then Pablo Prigioni sank one with six seconds left. Barea missed a 3-pointer with a second to play. Ginobili called it one of the “toughest games” of his life.

“Today it was all or nothing,” said Argentina coach Julio Lamas. “I feel very emotional about qualifying.”

It was a similarly emotional situation for Brazil, whose 8-1 ride through this tournament so far includes a win over the hosts Wednesday.

“We realized a dream,” said Marcelo Machado, who led Brazil with 20 points in the win over the Dominican Republic. “We have worked hard for this, and this is a prize for effort and talent.”

Brazil had to sweat out their win as well, as Al Horford and Jack Martinez (18 points each) helped keep things close from start to finish.

The Olympic dream lives on for the third through fifth-place teams in this competition. Venezuela has claimed the fifth-place spot. They have all earned spots in the 12-team Olympic qualifying tournament next July, where four qualifiers from the EuroBasket tournament, among others, will await them.

But all of that comes later, much later actually.

There is a championship to be won Sunday.

The (FIBA) Games Must Go On

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Mike Fratello has spent decades making himself comfortable on the basketball court wherever he’s been. But Fratello has always felt especially at ease in the baby blue and gold he wore at Hackensack High back in his native New Jersey.

Those North Jersey roots were on Fratello’s mind as he prepared his latest team for EuroBasket 2011, where Ukraine’s national team will sport the same colors this week as they attempt to chase one of the top spots in the tournament and the spoils that come along with being one of the best teams in European basketball.

“I do feel very comfortable putting the old blue and gold on,” Fratello said with a chuckle. “Plus, this competition is as big as it gets right now in the game of basketball, given the circumstances with the lockout and everything else that’s going on right now in the NBA.”

You’ve read about it all summer, this wave of NBA talent that will hit foreign soil to play ball if the regular season is delayed because of the lockout.

You won’t have to wait around to see NBA talent in action now. With EuroBasket in Lithuania Aug. 31 through Sept. 18 and the FIBA Americas being played in Argentina Aug. 30 through Sept. 11, there will be plenty of familiar faces on display, including reigning Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Clippers center Chris Kaman leading the German team in EuroBasket. Brothers Pau Gasol of the Lakers and Marc Gasol of the Hang Time Grizzlies headline the Spanish team.

Spurs star Manu Ginobili and Rockets star Luis Scola are the biggest names for the host team in Argentina. Mavericks point guard Jose Barea and Celtics point guard Carlos Arroyo will run the show for Puerto Rico while Hawks All-Star center Al Horford will team up with Kings swingman Francisco Garcia and Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva for the Dominican Republic.

Our nearly two month hiatus from basketball as we know it comes to a momentary end this week with the game itself back on the global stage with national teams on both sides of the globe vying for those coveted early invites to the London Olympics. Every game can be seen on ESPN3.com.

Automatic bids to the Olympics are at stake for the top two teams in each competition. Four more teams — the third through sixth place finishers from EuroBasket — will also earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July. Three more teams — the third through fifth place finishers from FIBA Americas — will earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July.

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