Looking at these two teams, you might think, "Hey, why is Brazil not as good as Argentina? They have more real NBA players!" Well, this game basically gave you your answer. Brazil doesn't have any consistent way of scoring when they enter a draught. Barbosa is usually their leading man, but he excels on the fast break, and he's not talented enough to carry an offense on his own. Their big men, like Nene, Varejao, and Splitter, have all had underwhelming tournaments and haven't been able to score with their back to the basket. At the end of the day, they'll have to rely on their peripheral guys to throw up a bunch of threes.
Late in the game, they relied on Leandro Barbosa to score, and he delivered. He scored 7 meaningful points in the fourth, including a three that brought Brazil within three points with 1:45 to go. But they couldn't get consistend production out of anybody else. Nene and Tiago Splitter were borderline useless on the block and on the free throw line, while nobody else seemed ready to do anything but hoist up threes.
Argentina, meanwhile, struggled a little bit on offense, but when push came to shove, they were able to get to the line and deliver. They have guys in Scola and Ginobili that can score for them at the most essential of times, and it really helps them out in games like this.
But Brazil was really competitive in this game, and actually came out on top in the first quarter. They were playing a different brand of basketball than they usually do, attacking the paint and attempting to rack up the fouls on the thin front line of Argentina. It worked and they got to the line, but they couldn't do much there, going 5-12 in the first half. Brazil was also doing well on the boards, which is an area they usually struggle in.
Argentina, meanwhile, did a great job of distributing the ball. Brazil was, generally, doing a good job of stopping Argentina's main scorers. But Argentina went to the other options they had, like Carlos Delfino, Juan Gutierrez, and Andres Nocioni. They shot an excellent 60% from 2 point range, and while they struggled a bit from three, they ran a really efficient offense early on.
But the bottom line for me is that Brazil only managed to hit 50% of their free throws. If they were able to hit only 18 of 24, they would have (hypothetically) won this game. Stuff like that has to drive a coach absolutely nuts.
With the win, Argentina advances to the Semi-Finals to take on the winner of Team USA-Australia. Brazil goes home, and they'll be in action next at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas, Venezuela.
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