In the battle of South America’s top two basketball nations. It was the blue and white of Argentina who advanced, beating the Samba nation of Brazil, 93-89. In easily, the game of the tournament.
Luis Scola, easily the player of the tournament so far, dropped 37 points for Argentina, as they progress to the quarter finals to face Lithuania. For Brazil, they head home, as their players now prepare for the regular season. Marcelo Huertas scored an impressive 32 points in defeat.
In the fourth quarter Leandro Barbosa hit back-to-back triples – but, Hernan Jasen responded to level the tie at 72. Scola then stepped up to score Argentina’s last 6 points to seal victory. A three-pointer from Huertas with two seconds, reduced the deficit to 89-91. Scola was fouled straight away and connected on both foul shots to put the game out of Brazil’s reach.
“We are very happy because everybody knows we had so much anxiety before the game.” said Argentina’s coach, Sergio Hernandez.
Hernandez continued on: “The game was really tough. It’s normal because both teams are great teams. They passed the ball very well off the pick-and-roll and we tried to contain that.”
Both teams came out firing on all cylinders to begin, Huertas drew first blood – connecting from downtown, Scola replied from the line, and Carlos Delfino, who scored 20 points, struck from three-point land to give Argentina a 10-8 lead, early doors.
The first ten minutes left the crowd inside the Sinan Erdem Arena breathless as Leandro Barbosa and Huertas combined for 20 points, while Scola and Delfino teamed up for 18 points – as both teams were deadlocked at the end of one (25-25).
The second period took a while to get going properly, but after two minutes of scoreless action, it was the persistent Huertas who broke the lock to the basket to give Brazil the edge.
It was Huertas again that would continue Brazil’s edge, Argentina hung around, but Brazil’s number nine instigated an 8-0 run to give Brazil a 48-46 advantage going into the locker rooms.
Anderson Verejao extended Brazil’s lead, with a two-pointer off a Tiago Splitter feed – and they pushed to a 53-46 lead, until a basket from Scola, a triple from Defino and a free throw from Fabricio Oberto narrowed the gap to a single point (54-55). Splitter with Brazil’s bucket, inbetween the Argentina run.
It was the tag-team of Scola and Defino that tied the game for Argentina towards the end to tie the game at 66, going into the final ten minutes. Something had to give, and Argentina gave more.
“It was a great game. I wish we would have faced them later in the tournament. It was real close. Either team could have won. It came down to the little things.” Scola commented after the game.
“I know the team is going to look for me at the end of the game. I guarantee you there are many games when I missed shots at the end of the game and I will have more. Today I was able to make them. That’s how basketball goes.”
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net