Turkey and Argentina came away winners on the first day of group play at the FIBA World Championships, with their respective Bucks playing starring roles.
Turkey 86, Cote d'Ivoire 47 / Box Score
Ersan Ilyasova: 21 min, 4/8 fg, 3/4 threes, 6/8 ft, 8 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk, 1 stl, 3 pf, 1 to
This looked like a laugher from the opening tip, as Turkey jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Ivorians managed to claw their way back into the game a bit in the second quarter. The African team looked completely unprepared for Turkey's pressuring defense, turning it over 21 times and shooting just 28%. Overall, Turkey's balanced attack was just too much and by halftime they were cruising 40-22.
Wearing a clear mask to guard his busted nose, Ersan started the game with a fast break slam before sinking an open triple a minute later. It was for the most part typical Ersan, as he spent most of his time setting screens and looking to get open on the perimeter before crashing the offensive boards once a shot went up. Defensively he wasn't challenged much as Turkey alternated between full-court pressure, zone, and man-to-man defense, but his usual hustling style was still evident. He ended up diving on the floor a few times as well, showing little concern for the busted beak he picked up last weekend. Same old Ersan.
Physically, Ersan had spoken of trying to bulk up at the end of the regular season, and he looked in good shape but not overly bulky either. He also tried to get things going to the hoop on a handful of occasions, helping earn himself eight free throw attempts, but he missed all three of his two point shots after that early dunk and nobody will confuse him for a point forward anytime soon. Ersan added a couple of late threes with the game in hand to finish with 17 points and eight boards in just 21 minutes. He was still playing in the final minute when I switched over to the Argentina game, which I found a bit surprising given the hectic group schedule. Fortunately he didn't play much in the middle periods, though I was still surprised he only totaled 21 minutes.
Argentina 78, Germany 74 / Box Score
Carlos Delfino: 38 min, 7/18 fg, 3/9 threes, 10/13 ft, 8 rebs, 2 ast, 0 to, 1 stl, 1 blk, 0 pf
The first half was a back-and-forth affair before Argentina went on a 14-0 run to lead by as many as 14 in third, including an 11-point edge heading into the final quarter. But the Germans kept fighting back and both teams were sloppy in the closing minutes. Young German big man Tibor Pleiss got the better of Argentina's veteran big men in the early going, but Luis Scola's influence grew as the game went on.
Delfino and backcourt mate Pablo Prigioni shared ballhandling duties for much of the game, though it was Delfino and Scola who not surprisingly were Argentina's bread-and-butter time and again. We're used to seeing Delfino casually launch threes from well beyond the NBA three point line, and it doesn't seem like Carlos is alterring his approach too much with the shorter international line. He scored 10 in the first half and added another 11 in the third as Argentina made their run, relying mostly on his jumper. He also had a couple of opportunistic buckets off turnovers, but he mostly tried to keep things simple as Argentina looked to play their deliberate, half-court game.
Obviously Delfino's not a true point, but he played within himself while embracing the challenge of leading Argentina in Manu Ginobili's absence. It's different from his role as a complementary player with the Bucks, but it's encouraging to see him rise to the challenge in his country's colors. Though his jumper stopped falling a bit late, Carlitos neither turned the ball over nor committed a single foul. He also attacked the hoop to draw fouls twice in the waning minutes, first off a cut and then off a drive, while adding 3/4 freebies in the final 10 seconds to seal the game.