The Cinderellas have struck midnight....twice.
I know I said that Nigeria vs. Greece was the craziest game of this tournament so far, but this one was even crazier. The Dominican Republic came out atrociously, having no one to defend Vlado Ilievski on the perimeter, no one to check Bo McCalebb as he ran into the paint, and no one to match up with Peja Samardziski down low. Only Yack Michael Martinez was able to score for the Dominican Republic by banging in the paint, with the rest of the team struggling from the field. The deficit reached its' highest at 20.
But the Dominican Republic came roaring back. They started to get the ball inside to Al Horford, who has the athleticism to deal with anybody on the Macedonian roster. Fransisco Garcia also hit two consecutive threes for the Dominican Republic. Macedonia was obviously flustered, and started getting into foul trouble. Early in the second half, Pero Antic was saddled with 4 fouls after a quiet first half, and never really stepped up into the scoring role Macedonia expects out of him.
After a long third quarter battle, the Dominican Republic was finally able to tie it and take the lead with eight and a half minutes to go in the fourth. Macedonia's offense had devolved into nothing but Bo McCalebb, and because of their total lack of rebounding, Macedonia couldn't get the extra offensive possessions they needed. The Dominican Republic started shooting lights out from three point land, and started to build a lead at the same pace they had destroyed the Macedonian lead with in the third quarter. Ronald Ramon and Francisco Garcia were totally unstoppable. Eventually, the Dominican's cruised to victory in the final minutes, with Macedonia never really making any headway. The Dominican Republic had an atrocious first half, but then had a complete reversal in the second half, and never let their foot off of the gas pedal.
Overall, the game really comes down to consistency. Neither of these teams is very consistent in the way they play, as both of them heavily rely on energy players to do most of their scoring. But despite the Dominicans lack of organization, they have great talent on their team and are less one-dimensional offensively, though they do have serious holes on defense. Macedonia, on the other hand, relies way too much on perimeter scoring, with McCalebb and Samardziski being the only scorers who don't do the vast majority of their work from behind the line. Even McCalebb does quite a bit of work from beyond the arc. Their offense will just stagnate while they pull up jumpers and let McCalebb hopelessly run around, and they aren't good enough at rebounding or stealing to buy time for themselves or close out a game.
However, on his own, Bo McCalebb was fantastic, scoring 35 points. Vlado Ilievski and Peja Samardziski were also in double figures, but most of their points came during the first half. Francisco Garcia was able to nearly duplicate Bo McCalebb's efforts, scoring 28 points almost entirely in the second half. Al Horford and Yack Michael Martinez both finished with double doubles, with Horford at 14 and 15 and Martinez at 14 and 13.
The Dominicans shocking win earns them a trip to the Quarter-Finals, where they will face the winner of Lithuania-Puerto Rico for a spot in the Olympics. Macedonia's loss leaves them out of the Olympics, and their next action will come during next year's Eurobasket in Spain.