Brazil 73, Argentina 71: Carlos Delfino plays well at both ends (of the game)

Brewhoop in Mar del Plata

Brew Hoop goes south!

Our favorite Argentinean Sebas Adúriz (aka Palomba) is in Mar del Plata for the FIBA Americas tournament this week and was kind enough to file the following report. Check out the box score here, and time permitting he'll have more this weekend. Thanks Palomba!

FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifiers: September 7, 2011. Islas Malvinas arena, Mar del Plata, Argentina.  

Well, I believe this Brew Hoop correspondent thing cannot get better than this. Wednesday night I made my way to the press seats in the Islas Malvinas arena (thanks to some connections with the organization…ejem), and made myself comfortable to watch Argentina’s third game of the second round of the FIBA Copa de las Americas, the so-called continental Olympic Qualifiers for London 2012. 

The opponent was no less than Brazil and head coach Ruben Magnano, the Argentinean who just so happened to guide his home country to the Olympic Gold medal in Athens in 2004. Even though both teams had already qualified for Saturday's semifinals--the two other qualified teams are Puerto Rican team led by Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea and Al Horford’s Dominican Republic--the South American derby still mattered for both teams and fans. After all, no one wants to stand the other side's jokes when the game is over. 

Not surprisingly the arena was packed, a sea of white and light blue shirts, hats and flags chanting for the home Argentinean squad. But the partisan crowd got an indication of the struggle that was to come just four seconds after the opening tip, as Andres Nocioni landed badly on his right ankle after the initial tap and was out for the rest of the game (now they are trying to figure out if he will be out for the remainder of the tourney, too).

Without Chapu, Argentina suddenly was left without playing space and struggled to contain Brazil on the perimeter. With Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola well defended, Argentina held together mainly thanks to our South American Buck: Carlos started his game with a corner trey and added four more early points, one of them with a beautiful long jumper from the right side. The first quarter ended 19-17 for Brazil.

The second quarter started in the same manner--intense, scrappy and ugly--but Carlos was on the bench, with the unconfirmed rumored on Twitter that it was due to a jammed finger. Thankfully he returned with two minutes left before halftime, arriving in time to help Argentina take the lead for the first time in the game, 28-27.

But the third quarter was all Brazil, mainly thanks to Magnano's decision to play Rafael Hettsheimer over Tiago Splitter, who ended with 1 just point (0/6 fg) in 17 minutes. While the Spurs' big man struggled, his backup had a great night with 19 points, helping Brazil to take a lead of 10 points that would prove too much in the end.

Meanwhile, all the good work Carlos put in during the first half seemed to vanish in the second. Brazil's excellent defense on Manu and everyone in the paint frequently left Delfino (who initiates many of Argentina's offensive sets) with the ball in his hands with no passing options, which resulted in a number of uncomfortable shots late in the shot clock. So it's perhaps unsurprising that Carlos finished with the worst shooting percentage on the team (5/14, 36%).  


A measure of redemption came late in the game for Carlos, but by then it was too late. In the last seconds he made a layup after a nice drive and then drilled a monster trey to put Argentina down just two. But it wasn’t enough: Brazil won the game 73-71, taking revenge from the last World Cup and earning them bragging rights for at least one night.

After the game Carlos tweeted: "Ugly to lose at home and against Brazil. They showed all the [team] weakness we were talking about…Let’s take it as a lesson and move forward".

Today at 4 pm Milwaukee time Argentina will be playing to Dominican Republic, with both teams having already qualified for Saturday's semifinals. Hopefully we will be there watching how much was learned on Wednesday.

Brasil (73): Marcelo Huertas 17, Alex García 7, Marquinhos Vinicius 14, Guilherme Giovannoni 13 y Tiago Splitter 1. From the bench:  Marcelinho Machado 0, Rafael Hettsheimer 19, Vitor Benitez 0, Rafael Luz 0, Agusto Lima 2. Coach: Rubén Magnano

Argentina (71): Pablo Prigioni 13, Manu Ginóbili 14, Carlos Delfino 12, Andrés Nocioni 0 (inj), Luis Scola 24 (x) (fouled out). From the bench:  Juan Gutiérrez 2, Hernán Jasen 2, Fabricio Oberto 0 , Pepe Sánchez 0 y Federico Kammerichs 4.  Coach: Julio Lamas

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