We're in Day 4 of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, and it was a great day of action, especially for Team USA, as they faced their first legitimate opponent of the tournament: Brazil.
The first quarter was one of absolute beauty. It was basketball as it was meant to be played. Two versatile offenses going at it and consistently getting the right shots. Even when there was a miss, the off-ball movement was superb. But, the Team USA's side of things, it was all about Kevin Durant. He scored 9 of Team USA's 22, and he did it from deep, showing that Team USA wasn't afraid to divert from their all fast-break gameplan. And their diversion from this gameplan worked well, until they tried to go back to it late in the quarter. The result was 2 bad turnovers, two threes from Barbosa, an open dunk by Splitter, and a 6 Point Brazil lead going into the second.
In the second quarter, it continued to be a mostly even game, with the US having a slight upper hand near the end as they played good perimeter defense and were able to score in the inside once Tiago Splitter was taken out.
Brazil continued their success into the third quarter, mostly via going to Tiago Splitter in the paint. Coach K decided he had enough of that, though, so he brought out his secret weapon- Tyson Chandler. Chandler proceeded to provide a complete lockdown of Splitter in the paint, forcing Brazil to eventually go back to Marchado and Barbosa for scoring. For a while in the third, it really looked like KD was languishing out there though. He had played all game, and was committing stupid mistakes and missing easy shots. He made a couple towards the end, but you have to question whether he should have gotten a few minutes of rest. Nevertheless, Team USA emerged from the third quarter with the lead, 61 to 59.
If you separated the highlights from the lowlights in the fourth quarter and combined them into two separate reels, after watching both of them you'd have a hard time believing that they came from the same quarter of basketball. Both teams were playing superb defense, and nobody was getting open shots. Thus, you had lots of opportunities for players to create imaginative ways to put the ball in the hoop, but few of those opportunities actually went in.
Below: Thrilling Finish Magnificently Portrayed in Words, Today's Other Action!But, as you can expect, the game did come down to a thrilling finish. With about a minute to go in the 4th (it's hard to tell, as ESPN's time ticker didn't work for the entire second half, and they are far too arrogant to use the Global Feed scoring bug), Brazil was down by four when Kevin Durant came up through the rim to tip a Brazilian layup, resulting in basket interference. After a timeout, Chauncey Billups quickly responded with a driving layup, putting the score at 66 to 70. Barbosa immediately responded with a driving layup of his own, putting the score at 68 to 70. On Team USA's next possession, they dribbled down the clock, as any experienced team would. Billups then had a pick set for him, and he shot a mostly open 3 pointer that went short and bounced high off the rim. Brazil barely prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, and mounted their drive up the court. Huertas drove quickly to the inside, where he got fouled and his shot barely rolled out. This left him in a classic clutch freethrow situation. His first shot from the line bounced on the front of the rim, bounced on the back of the backboard, bounced on the front of the rim again, and then hung there for an unnaturally long time before rolling out. This left Huertas with no option but intentionally missing the next free throw. It bounced off the front of the rim and over two big men, letting Huertas collect it on the wing with only 3 seconds to go. He was immediately trapped, so he dished it to a wide-open Barbosa in the paint. Love came to defend, and Barbosa heaved up the desperate layup. The ball rolled off the glass and the entirity of the rim before falling to the ground, dashing the hopes of Brazil upsetting the US in Group play.
All in all, I'd have to give the game MVP to Kevin Durant. I know Chauncey Billups made a clutch play at the end, but his overall shooting left a lot to be desired. Sure, Kevin Durant made a few stupid plays towards the end and wasn't a huge factor, but Team USA couldn't have gotten that far without him. For Brazil, I'd give the MVP to Tiago Splitter, as he really tore up the paint (except when Chandler was on for 5 minutes). Without him, I doubt Brazil would have gotten close.
Brazil will most likely finish in 2nd or 3rd in Group B as a result of this loss (depending on if they beat Slovenia), and Team USA will almost certainly finish first.
This is a good example of how a team of European Stiffs will get absolutely burned by quick guards, like Patty Mills and Alexander Maric. Joe Ingles even gave them a taste of their own medicine. I shudder to think as to how Germany will fare against speedy Angola, or even Jordan. They are now in danger of elimination, while Australia has secured advancement. Tibor Pleiss shot only 1 of 7 and finished with 2 Points, but also had 7 Rebounds and a Block.
They basically beat up on a weak opponent, and Krstic didn't play. Need I say more? Jordan will need to sweep their remaining games (Argentina, Germany) in order to advance, while Serbia has secured advancement. Nenad Krstic will be back in action on Wednesday.
Iran has secured 5th place in Group B, yay! Both teams would need a miracle in order to advance.
Slovenia controlled the game from the 3rd Quarter on. Croatia narrowed it to 4 Points late in the 4th, but they could never get over that hump. Croatia just didn't have the production from their big men necessary in order to win.
An example of what good post play can do against Angola. Scola and Delfino absolutely burned Angola in the post, and allowed Argentina to cruise to an easy victory after going up big early in the 4th.
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