Tiago Splitter added 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists in an impressive 16-point route over Argentina.
The only caveat: Argentina was without the indomitable Manu Ginobili and Carlos Defino, whose shooting ability bolsters any lineup. So, while the win is certainly a deserved one, Brazil didn’t exactly beat a team stocked with their top talent.
Ginobili (gastroenteritis) was replaced by Hernan Jasen in the starting lineup. No disrespect to Jasen, who is probably a fine international player, but he doesn’t have the requisite passing and scoring ability of Ginobili. Argentina, despite valiant efforts from Luis Scola (19 points and six rebounds) and Pablo Prigioni (11 points and eight assists), couldn’t muster a victory against Brazil.
Argentina netted two technical fouls courtesy of head coach Julio Lamas and Andres Nocioni. A confrontation ended with the ejections of Leonardo Gutierrez and Marcelinho Machado. Scola, who was amnestied by the Houston Rockets today according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, left with a sore right knee.
After withstanding the brunt of their emotions and injuries, Argentina began the third quarter on a 5-0 run before Brazil ratcheted up the intensity. Though the game remained remarkably close given the circumstances, Brazil still controlled the tenor of the game. Entering the final frame, Brazil held a mere five point lead.
Brazil closed out the game by outscoring Argentina by 11 points. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao added in 17 points to support the cause. In the end their talent and pressure defense proved too much for Argentina.
Regardless, it’s a telling sign that Argentina withstood the undeniable talent disparity for the majority of the game. Save for a poor fourth quarter they never wavered.
But next time they’ll have Ginobili. And sometimes that’s all you need.