After going 4-1 in the preliminary round of the Olympic games, the Brazilian basketball team faltered in their first single-elimination game against Argentina. A game that may have been lost in the second quarter, Brazil let the Argentinians run rampant over them by allowing them to regain a lead that the Brazilians would not see for the rest of the game. A mid-game surge helped Argentina to hold on to a 82-77 victory in the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t a coast to the end for Argentina, however. Led by a quick Brazilian backcourt, they cut the lead to two at the 4:20 mark in the fourth quarter. Down by 10 to start the final ten minutes of play, Brazil then went on a 14-6 run to make the game interesting with under five minutes to go. They could just never fully comeback and retake the lead, as time ran out and the hopes of Brazil capturing a medal were gone.
Brazil, a team not known for its offensive flair, managed to score 26 points in the first quarter. They finished the first 10 minutes up by three points, as the play of Marcelinho Huertas netted his team 13 first quarter points. He finished the game with 22 points and shot the ball 17 times, a strange sight from the hands of Huertas. The starting guard play from Brazil shined the brightest, as they combined for 44 points and shot 46.7 percent from three. They accounted for all of Brazil’s three-point buckets.
What frustrated me the most about Brazil’s loss to Argentina was the way that Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Anderson Varejao played. Varejao often saw himself mixed up with mismatches on defense, as he watched quick Argentinian guards such as Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino dart past him for the score.
Although Varejao has effective on the offensive glass (snatched up three of his five rebounds), he lacked on the defensive end where his team needed him the most. Argentina is a high-scoring team, and a defensively-minded team like Brazil just didn’t show up today. They did beat the Americans back in ’04 in Greece. He managed to block only one shot in his 16 minutes of play.
He also didn’t contribute much on the offensive end, completing one of two shots and scoring four points. Leandro Barbosa and Alex Garcia had to make up for his lack of production, combining for a total of 72 minutes played.
Another big contributing factor to the Brazilians loss was their rebounding effort, which is usually great. They were outrebounded 33-29, as the Argentininan starters accounted for 28 of their 33 rebounds. In fact, the starters played all-around great basketball, scoring 67 points and putting four in double figures.
Since Brazil lost in the quarterfinals, Argentina will be moving on to play Team USA on Friday at 4 p.m.
- The Russians continued a dominant Olympic run, beating Lithuania 83-74 on their way to a matchup against the Spaniards on Friday. Both teams had to rely on strong bench efforts to keep the game competitive, as the only player to put in a good starter performance was Andrei Kirilenko. Kirilenko tallied 19 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, three steals and shot 62.5 percent from the field and 9-12 from the free throw line. He also played for 39 minutes.The four Russian bench players totaled 79 minutes of play, while scoring 38 points. The Lithuanian starters only managed to tally 25 points and shot at a 21.0 percent clip. Russia forced 14 turnovers on their way to a birth in the semi-finals. Russia will play Spain at 12 p.m. on Friday.