Posts Tagged ‘Tunisia’

Qualifying For ’14 World Cup Is Wide Open

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Eurobasket has just begun and we’ve already had plenty of surprises across FIBA’s regional tournaments, with teams looking to qualify for next year’s World Cup of Basketball.

In Asia, defending champion China was knocked out in the quarterfinals. In Africa, Nigeria and Tunisia — the two teams that repped the continent in last year’s Olympics — both failed to make the semis. And in the FIBA Americas tournament, Brazil lost all four of their first-round games and was sent home after blowing a 10-point, second-half lead to Jamaica on Tuesday.

Thus far, 10 teams have their tickets punched for Spain (see below). Another 10 (four from the Americas and six from Europe) will receive automatic bids in the next 17 days. Later this year, four wild-card berths will be awarded, giving teams like China and Brazil a shot.

And if Brazil is awarded a wild-card berth, they certainly have the potential to rebound from this year’s performance and make some noise at the World Cup. They have four big men in the NBA: Nene, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Vitor Faverani (signed by the Celtics this summer). But none of the four was in Caracas this week, leaving Marcelo Huertas without a competent big man to run the pick-and-roll with.

Their 0-4 performance was still a shock. Brazil gave the U.S. its toughest game at the 2010 World Championship and finished second to Argentina at the 2011 FIBA Americas tourney.

But give credit to Jamaica for it’s comeback, led by former Cav Samardo Samuels, who led all scorers with 21 points and who hit all nine of his fourth-quarter free throws. A pair of freebies by Akeem Scott won the game for Jamaica in the final seconds.

Brazil’s ouster gives Canada a better shot at one of the four automatic berths. The Canadians are without Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk, but went 3-1 in the first round. They still have some work to do, as the eight teams remaining in Caracas will play four games — Thursday through Sunday — against the teams they’ve yet to face, and after that, the top four teams in the standings will qualify for the semifinals and next year’s World Cup. Canada’s most important game could be Saturday against the Dominican Republic.

The lack of NBA players participating has made the FIBA Americas tournament wide open. And the same may hold true at Eurobasket, which tipped off Wednesday in Slovenia. With Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Rudy Fernandez on board, Spain is still the clear favorite. And France, with Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw, is a lock to get one of the other top six spots.

But after that, things will get interesting. And Exhibit A is Finland’s tourney-opening victory over Turkey, the team that made a fantastic run to the gold medal game in 2010 and has a frontline of Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik.

If you need a basketball fix with another month to go before training camp, there’s plenty of international hoops for you over the next three weeks. NBA TV will have some games, and the others can be seen on ESPN3.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 FIBA Americas champion
12 FIBA Americas 2nd place
13 FIBA Americas 3rd place
14 FIBA Americas 4th place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

U.S. Crushes Tunisia 110-63 On Their Way To A Much-Needed And Planned Day Off





LONDON – The Wednesday agenda for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team is a blank page.

There’s nothing there. No meetings. No team functions. No mandatory appearances. For the first time since they convened for training camp in Las Vegas four weeks ago, the next 24 hours are free.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Carmelo Anthony, who along with LeBron James and original Dream Team member David Robinson, has done this — the Olympic experience — more than any other basketball players in the history of the program.

There is only so much of the buildup and competition that an Olympic team can take before a simple day completely off is warranted. That day is now for this team, as was evident from their lackluster start that preceded their monstrous finish in Tuesday night’s 110-63 blowout win over Tunisia.

Don’t let the first seven minutes of the game fool you. The 47-point victory margin was indicative of exactly what went on in the game. But it’s what goes on between now and Thursday’s tilt against Nigeria that might be most important for this team.

Anthony bypassed the King’s English and kept it real when asked if it had to be now?

“Hell yeah, yeah,” he said and then smiled. “We’re still going to be around each other in the hotel or whatever sightseeing or other [Olympic] events we might get into. We’ve been going since Vegas non-stop and putting in a lot of work. I think [Wednesday], we definitely need that day.”

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Is The U.S. Ready To Embrace Their Inner Villain Against Tunisia … Let’s hope So!

LONDON – If beating France by 27 points is “less than stellar,” as I’ve read more than a few times today, then there is no margin of victory short of 100 that will impress the critics observing the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team tonight against Tunisia.

They are already 55-point favorites against the African champions. But even if they won by 155 points, someone would find fault in their performance.

So it goes for the U.S. Team in this or most any other international competition when a roster stocked with NBA All-Stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and others are present.

This is the thankless duty those superstars signed up for when they committed themselves to the USA Basketball program. And even though they won’t admit it, there has to be a part of them that enjoys showing up to every gym walking the tightrope between the Avengers and the villains on a nightly basis.

You know the original Dream Team relished and even embraced that role 20 years ago in Barcelona, it’s part of what made their gold medal jaunt the cosmic ride we all remember two decades later.

Bryant’s been doing it for years with the Los Angeles Lakers, showing up in hostile arenas where the fans don’t know whether cheer or boo him. James had joined in the fun the past two years in Miami. (It’s an edge that has produced championships for both of them and it might be god to rub a little of that off on Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and some of these other youngsters on this current team.)

So why should it be any different at the Olympic Basketball Arena tonight …

– FOURTH QUARTER –

0.0: 110-63 is the final. The second unit saves the day with Melo and Love leading the way with 16 points each. Durant added 13, Davis chipped in with a spectacular 12, he was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor, and Westbrook tossed in 11 for good measure. Next up Nigeria Thursday night, after a day off Wednesday.

4:15: Corner 3 from Love, 102-56. That ought to do it!

6:48: Lebron is on the bench stretched out, Davis knocks down two more free throws (10 points and four rebounds in no-time) and the lead is a hefty 43 points. Still no “USA” chants, though.

8:05: Love is apparently fine and back in the game. We’ll get an explanation afterwards, but you know there had to be some serious concern for a few minutes over there.

8:57: Harden drains a corner 3-pointer. If this beating is good for anything, it’ll be for getting Harden’s confidence back in his shot. He struggled in The Finals and throughout the exhibition portion of the summer with this team. But they’re going to need him to heat up between now and the end of this trip. 90-48 U.S.

9:21:  Durant loves throwing oops to Davis. Must be a tall and skinny guy thing. 87-48 U.S.

– THIRD QUARTER –

3.2: Just in case anyone was wondering about the reinforcements, in case Love isn’t available against Nigeria Thursday night, Davis jams home another oop, this time from about 12-feet out, and with one hand, as he was flying backwards in the air. 85-47.

23.4: LeBron drains a wing 3. He hasn’t forced anything since this team gathered in Las Vegas. Wearing his championship gloss rather well, don’t you think?

1:01: Davis with another oop, this one from Durant for the 80-44 lead. He’s having Kentucky flashbacks now.

1:47: Harden finally drains a 3-pointer. Love has ice on that right knee. 78-43.

2:28: Anthony Davis gets in on the alley-oop action with a nice one from Paul for a 75-41 lead.

3:53: Iguodala’s put back slam off a Durant miss pushes the lead to 71-36. Bench roars its approval, Love too. He sat back down and continued to adjust the sleeve on his right knee and appears to be fine … for now. Bench is chuckling and relaxed. This is an exhibition game.

5:08: After a ridiculous tomahawk dunk on a break from Westbrook the ‘USA” chants crank up again. But all eyes remain on Love on that bench. He’s moving his leg and seems to be okay. But he hasn’t stood up yet. You know the Timberwolves’ front office is scrambling  to their phones trying to get an immediate update.

5:51: Love lands awkwardly after making a layup in traffic and limps to the bench holding his right knee. Not a good sign for a U.S. Team already low on big men. Stay tuned. The U.S. lead is 65-37.

6:31: 14-2 U.S. run fueled by Melo!

8:20 Second unit has the lead up to 55-33. The U.S. team cancelled Wednesday’s practice hours before they showed up here tonight. Should have saved that news until after the game.

9:37: Westbrook with the layup and foul, 49-33 U.S. And I have to commend Coach K for pulling this age-old trick out of his coaching bag. I know it seems a bit elementary, but sometimes it’s needed. The cute stuff and acting like you are too cool to put your foot on another team’s neck is what landed Coach K the job in the first place. I covered the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis. They got complacent, the NBA stars that were in the system then, and the world kicked cracked them right between the eyes.

10:00: Second unit to start the second half. Message sent!

– HALFTIME –

Guessing that halftime speech was short and to the point, you go ahead and fill in the blanks yourself …

Tunisia is 7-for-16 from deep and has been the beneficiary of some sloppy play (seven turnovers) from the U.S.  Meanwhile, the U.S. is just 2-for-12 from beyond the 3-point line and ignoring the fact that they are literally unstoppable when they attack the basket. Sound familiar?

– SECOND QUARTER –

0.0: Harden’s halfcourt heave off the glass after the buzzer delights but doesn’t come close to counting. U.S. leads 46-33 at halftime and actually hears some boos as they leave the floor. Told you, the lead needed to be 50 to satisfy most folks. And you better believe the original Dream Team would have been up by … haha. Never mind!

5.7: Chris Paul picks up his third foul on another charge. Not the sort of performance he was hoping for. But unlike the point guards we’ve seen all day, the ball hasn’t been in his hands a ton tonight. Other teams put the ball in the hands of their point guards relentlessly. The U.S. doesn’t play that way, not with so many of these stars used to freelancing the way they do.

2:08: Durant’s 3-pointer provides another double-digit lead, 42-30.

2:43: James Harden‘s eruo-step and drive for a layup pushes the U.S. lead back to 39-30. But their effort is beyond lackluster tonight. This is exactly what Coach K talked about yesterday … “you have a performance to give.” Well, his team is not living up to its own hype tonight. They’re clearly playing at less than full tilt. Human nature? I think so. There is certainly no sense of urgency to dispense with a Tunisia team that did not come here for autographs.

3:31: Kechrid with another 3-pointer cuts it to 35-30. The U.S. better listen to Coach K and “perform.”

4:35: Ben Romdhane with a dunk brings Tunisia to within striking distance at 33-27.

5:50: Ben Romdhane is a baller. Goes through LeBron for the layup and the foul. misses the FT but Tunisia gets the long rebound. 33-25 U.S.

6:13: LeBron runs the floor and delights the crowd with a tomahawk jam off of a pretty feed from Durant. 33-23 U.S.

6:56: Another 3-pointer for Kechrid (after his wicked ball-fake) gets the crowd going, and cuts the U.S. lead to 29-23.

7:23: A 30-footer off the glass for Marouan Kechrid tops all of Tunisia’s previous 3-pointers.

8:04: Tunisian 7-footer Salah Mejri had his dunk attempt pinned between the rim and the backboard by James and barked at the official about it all the way down the floor. Well, until he got the get-back block on Durant at the rim on the next possession.

8:49: Romdhane Ben scores on a perfect pass (turnover actually) from Westbrook to end the drought for Tunisia. They needed that one, 26-17 U.S.

9:13: Westbrook knocks down the pull-up jumper, 26-15 and the second unit smells blood on their current 13-0 run.

9:43: No sign of that inner villain from the first unit for the U.S. But Carmelo Anthony and the second unit have embraced the dark side. Melo’s 3-pointer makes it 23-16.

– FIRST QUARTER –

0.0: Well, the suspense was fun while it lasted.

31.2: Russell Westbrook goes coast-to-coast and finger rolls the bunny for a 21-15 U.S. lead that serves as the final count after the first 10 minutes.

1:13: Andre Iguodala‘s put-back dunk of a Love miss on a corner 3 gives the U.S. the 18-15 lead, making sure we avoid an international crisis (had the U.S. been trailing that deep into this game).

2:39: The U.S. vowed not to take it easy on Tunisia, but they are clearly playing without the sort of energy and tenacity, particularly on the defensive end, that you know they would have come out with against a more formidable opponent. 15-12 little guys, by the way.

4:03: Tunisia’s 13-12 lead is no mirage. That’s why Coach K has five subs headed into the game.

7:04: And now a coast-to-cast, fast break dunk on Kobe from Ben Romdhane … priceless.

7:28: Move over Rzig, Makram Ben Romdhane wants in on the Q rating action with a 3-pointer of his own.

8:49: Amine Rzig is already a hero in his native Tunisia, he is the captain of the team. But draining that 3-pointer to give his team its first (and perhaps only) lead of the night has to do wonders for his Q rating back home.

9:20 on game clock: Kobe makes up for that 3-pointer he jacked up 28 seconds earlier with a pretty reverse baseline layup.

– PREGAME –

Justin Gatlin and other members of the U.S. Men’s Track and Field team make their way up the stands to catch their first live glimpse of new-fangled Dream Team. Guess we don’t get any First Family attendees tonight.

Coach K Locks In On The Performance

LONDON – One set of eyes might gaze at the Olympic game schedule for Tuesday and see a hopeless underdog facing the age-old behemoth of international basketball and declare the matchup between Tunisia and the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team over before it starts.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski looks at the same schedule and sees no such thing. He has too much respect for the other competitors in the Summer Games and for the game to treat either one with that sort of disrespect.

Krzyzewski sees only opportunity in Tuesday’s night’s game against the African champions, another chance for his team to perform on a stage that demands their very best.

Clearly, Tunisia is not nearly as accomplished as many of the other teams here. But that doesn’t diminish the focus or preparation the U.S. Team uses to get ready for this game.

“It’s not awkward at all,” Krzyzewski said. “You have a performance to give, are you doing it on a Wednesday matinée or a Saturday night? It’s not who you are playing. You should never judge how you’re going to perform on who you’re potentially going to play against. You are a person performing, your team is performing. How do you do it? You never want to get in the habit of just getting by, because eventually, you don’t get by. So our goal is to make sure play hard, have good habits and we’re as sharp as we can be.”

(more…)

Notes from USA 92, TUN 57

ISTANBUL – The U.S. National Team wrapped up pool play with an easy 92-57 win over Tunisia that meant nothing as far as the Group B standings or round-of-16 seeding was concerned.

I’ll have an overview of pool play across all four groups and a lookahead to the round of 16 later on today. For now, here are a few notes on today’s first game at the Abdi Ipekci Arena.

***

This was not this team’s best day. In fact, the first half, which the U.S. won by just six points, was embarrassing.

Of course, it wasn’t as bad as the scoreboard told it, because the pace of that first half was so unbearably slow. Each team had just 33 possessions in the first half. Part of that was due to the number of offensive rebounds each team had (15 total if you count team offensive boards), but it was still an ugly half no matter how you slice it.

***

Speaking of offensive boards, that was the U.S. Team’s biggest problem this afternoon. Tunisia grabbed 20 of its own misses. Add five more defensive boards that the U.S. was unable to secure (counted as team offensive rebounds for Tunisia) and you have 25 second opportunities for the underdog.

Defensive rebounding hasn’t been a big issue for the U.S. through its first four games (Brazil had zero second-chance points in Monday’s thriller), but Tunisia was arguably the its first opponent that really went after offensive boards.

***

Rudy Gay suffered a slightly strained groin (right side) in the first half, slipping one of the decals in the middle of the floor and did not play in the second half.

Gay talked of the injury like it was minor and said that he’ll be fine by Monday, when the U.S. will play Angola in the round of 16.

“It’s nothing too much,” Gay said. “I’ve been through stuff like this before and I know how to get better.”

***

Eric Gordon was the leading scorer with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-for-7 from 3-point range). He also was aggressive defending the ball, picking up three steals.

***

I know it’s hard to be critical of Kevin Love with the per-minute production he’s had, but he’s too quick to shoot threes when he’s on the floor. Mike Krzyzewski has given him the green light to shoot from out there, but that doesn’t mean he should be taking every one the defense gives him, especially when it’s early in the shot clock.

Of course, he took just one three on Thursday and was 3-for-7 from 3-point range in pool play, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

***

As a team, the U.S. shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half and 9-for-16 in the second half.

One of the things the U.S. team needs right now is some practice time. By the time they finally hit the practice floor on Saturday (after a day off Friday), it will have been more than a week since they practiced.

But Krzyzewski took advantage of some extra pre-game time (which comes with playing the first game of the day), and had some personal instruction for Love and Tyson Chandler on the floor about an hour before game time.

***

More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

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

Notes From FIBA Day 3

ISTANBUL – With Monday’s 70-68 escape over Brazil, the U.S. is done with the (relatively) difficult portion of their pool play schedule.

It was a tale of two halves tonight. Here’s the analysis and here are the highlights from FIBA.

The U.S. defense really got turned on with its decision to trap the pick-and-roll at halftime, but it did improve incrementally as the game went on. Check out Brazil’s quarter-by-quarter scoring:

First: 28 points on 19 possessions (147 per 100)

Second: 18 points on 21 possessions (86 per 100)

Third: 13 points on 19 possessions (68 per 100)

Fourth: 9 points on 18 possessions (50 per 100)

Overall, it was a strong defensive game for the U.S. (allowing 88 points per 100 possessions), but it sure wasn’t looking that way at halftime.

Of course, the U.S. had a similar, but not so drastic, fall-off offensively. Total points (both teams) by quarter: 50, 39, 31, 18.

***

With it being a tight game early on, Mike Krzyzewski‘s first-half rotation was shorter than usual. Then came the second half…

Billups 20:00, Durant 20:00, Iguodala 17:06, Rose 15:34, Odom 15:05, Chandler 4:55, Westbrook 4:47, Gay 2:30, Love 0:03.

That, ladies and gentleman, is a short rotation. Kevin Durant played all but 36 seconds of this game, and he managed to still have enough energy to talk to Kyle Montgomery and Dennis Scott on NBA TV afterward…

***

Kevin Love was brought in for those final three seconds to secure the game-clinching rebound. He didn’t get the chance, as the ball caromed to the other side of the floor, but he ended up being the only defender near Leandro Barbosa for that final shot. And yes, I got a tweet claiming that Love fouled him.

I didn’t have a good angle.

***

At one point in the second half, a small group of Americans broke out a “U-S-A” chant. Now, there were not many Brazilians in the arena, but that chant was quickly drowned out by boos and (mostly) whistles. The neutrals in the building were most definitely pulling for the underdog (and/or against the USA).

***

I quoted Chauncey Billups plenty in today’s analysis, but here’s more postgame wisdom from the veteran leader…

“We can’t worry about how much we win by, or worry about winning in the same fashion that [other U.S. teams won]. That’s all out the window. All we need to do is get wins.”

And on a scare like this being a good thing…

“Particularly really good for the young guys to have a game like this where you know you’re not invincible, and you can be beat on any night.”

***

In other Group B action today, Slovenia got a big win over Croatia, which sets up a matchup with Brazil on Wednesday to likely determine second place in the group.

And Iran survived a furious comeback by Tunisia to win the de-facto fifth-place game.

In Group A, things went according to plan: Serbia over Jordan, Australia over Germany, and Argentina over Angola, by an average of 33 points.

***

Both Group A and Group B take the day off on Tuesday, with Groups C and D getting back on the floor after their day off.

Neither Iran (Wednesday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN) nor Tunisia (Thursday, 9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2) will provide much of a test for the U.S. The challenge for this team will be finding a way to get better against inferior opponents and somehow using those games to prepare for the elimination rounds.

Whether they get better or not, the U.S. will win those two games, finish pool play with a 5-0 record and hold the B1 seed for the round of 16. That means they’ll play the fourth place team from Group A on Monday (time TBD).

Right now, that opponent could be one of four teams: Angola, Australia, Germany or Serbia.

Angola is 1-2 after today’s loss to Argentina but can finish at 2-3 and win a tie-breaker over Germany if they beat the Germans on Wednesday.

Australia is 2-1 after their easy win over Germany on Monday. With remaining games against Serbia (Wednesday) and Angola (Thursday), the Boomers should finish no worse than 3-2, but it’s possible that a 3-2 record could put them in a three-way tie for second, third and fourth with Germany and Serbia.

Germany is 1-2, but still has Angola (Wednesday) and Jordan (Thursday) left on its schedule. If they beat Angola, the Germans would likely finish 3-2. Serbia is currently 2-1 in Group A, but still has to play Australia (Wednesday) and Argentina (Thursday), so it could finish 3-2 or 2-3.

The U.S. doesn’t quite know who their opponent will be on Monday, but they’ll have a much better idea after Wednesday’s Angola-Germany and Australia-Serbia games.

***

To look ahead a little more (at the risk of being called an arrogant American) … In the quarterfinals, the winner of the B1-A4 game plays the winner of C2-D3. C2 will likely be the loser of Tuesday’s Greece-Turkey matchup and D3 could be France or Lithuania.

***

Turkish lesson of the day: Teşekkür ederim = Thank you.

***

More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

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

Notes From FIBA Day 2

Hooked on Love. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL – Day 2 of the World Championship is in the books. The U.S. had a bit of a rough stretch between the first and second quarters against Slovenia, but they recovered well for another win by 20-plus.

That ugly stretch and the travel calls, specifically, were the focus of today’s post-game analysis.

As you’ll read there, Boki Nachbar thought that there weren’t enough of those travel calls made against the U.S. on Sunday. And from all the whistles I heard, I’d say that the Slovenian fans in the crowd agreed with him.

I was actually asking Boki about the refs calling the game loose, because it seemed to me that the U.S. was allowed to push the Slovenians around a bit defensively (even more contact than you regularly see in FIBA ball). But here was his full response…

“The one thing that bothers me is too many times the refs looked away when they traveled. This is FIBA basketball. In FIBA basketball, you’re not allowed to take two steps before you put the ball down. And too many times, the refs don’t call that when Team USA’s on the floor. That’s the only thing that I have to say. Otherwise, they were good.”

***

Kevin Love is beastly. He’s now got 21 boards in 26:38 of playing time over the last two days. That’s 31.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. Not bad.

“That’s what I do,” he says. “That’s how I make my money.”

He admits, though, that his role is a little different than it is back in Minnesota.

“Playing with all these guys, they definitely open up the floor. I know that if I’m going to stay in the game and play minutes, I have to get out there and get every rebound. That’s kind of what coach tells me. Right before I go in the game, he says ‘get me every rebound.’”

And coach Mike Krzyzewski will probably be telling him that a little earlier in the game on Monday.

***

Things continue to go as planned in Group B, with Croatia beating Iran and Brazil cruising past Tunisia. This group will start to get interesting on Monday.

And Nachbar admitted today that his team is focused on its next two games.

“That wasn’t the most important game in the tournament for us, so we’re not too worried or concerned,” he said after Sunday’s loss to the U.S. “Croatia and Brazil are the most important games. They’re our rivals for the second spot in the group, so those are the most important games for us.”

Slovenia plays Croatia in the first game on Monday.

***

For now, the other groups are where the fun is at.

Group D almost had another shocker, as Canada led Lithuania by 17 points midway through the third quarter before blowing the lead missing on three chances to win or tie in the final minute-plus. The win keeps Lithuania tied with France atop the group.

Puerto Rico put another scare into Greece in Group C, but it was Group A that had the two most thrilling games.

Germany upset Serbia 82-81 in double-OT with the Germans’ final points coming on a ridiculous shot by Jan Jagla and Milenko Tepic missing on a drive that could have won it for Serbia in the final seconds.

So I guess Serbia won’t completely withstand the suspensions of Nenad Krstic and Milos Teodosic after all.

And in the nightcap in Kayseri, Argentina used a 13-0 fourth-quarter run to come back and beat Australia, but not before they came a hair away from blowing it in the final seconds.

Argentina was inbounding the ball with a two-point lead and 3.5 seconds on the clock, but they threw the inbounds pass away without it touching anyone. Australia then inbounded the ball into the corner, and Adam Gibson’s three went in … and out.

So at 2-0, Argentina is the only team in the World Championship that sits alone atop its group’s standings.

***

The U.S. will conclude their three games in three days with Monday’s matchup vs. Brazil (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Brazil has beaten Iran and Tunisia by almost identical scores (81-65 and 80-65), the only team in the tournament, other than the U.S. to have won two games by 15 points or more.

Essentially, this game is for first place in Group B. If the U.S. wins, they’re on their way to a 5-0 mark. And if Brazil wins, they’re not likely to lose two more, and would have the tie-breaker against the U.S. should both teams finish 4-1.

Anderson Varejao, still nursing a sore ankle, has sat out the first two games. But the word from the Brazilian media is that he will play against the U.S., and maybe against Slovenia on Wednesday if his team needs him.

Monday will be an opportunity for American fans to get a good look at Tiago Splitter, who will be playing with the San Antonio Spurs next season.

***

If the U.S. beats Brazil, then we can start looking ahead to their possible round-of-16 matchups and what other teams will be on their side of the bracket, because neither Iran or Tunisia will have a chance against them.

***

Turkish lesson of the day: İyi günler! = Have a nice day!

***

More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

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