That was strange. The Brazil collapse coincided when their floor general, Marcelinho Huertas, was sent to the bench with two fouls in a mere three minutes of play. In the seven minutes without Huertas, the Brazilians missed 16 consecutive shots to finish with four points in the first quarter. (!!!!) Thankfully, basketballs eventually fell into the hoop and the world returned to normalcy when Brazil prevailed over Great Britain, 67-62.
Leandro Barbosa knocked down a 3-pointer to begin the second period to cut Britain’s insurmountable seven point lead to four. While the Brazilians missed 12 of their 13 3-point attempts in the first half and missed their only free throw attempt, they had immense success defensively. Britain’s negligence fed the inefficient Brazilian squad as 13 of their 27 first half points came from turnovers.
The gap between the two teams grew incrementally in the third period. It was apparent that the gritty Britain team couldn’t withstand the full barrage of Brazil’s frontcourt — especially the multi-faceted pick-and-roll with Huertas and Tiago Splitter, who finished with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting and six rebounds, that proved to be a tough task to handle.
Great Britain regained temporary control in the final frame when Nate Reinking knocked down a couple of 3-pointers that was apart of an 8-0 rally. The rally was only temporary because Splitter quickly followed with a layup to put Brazil up one point.
The final eight minutes were tightly contested though Britain’s final lead came after Luol Deng manufactured a personal 5-0 run. Then Huertas went to work. He found Alex Garcia in the corner for a 3-pointer in the waning minutes and he harped on the inattentive British defense by firing a laser to Nene for a layup and a free throw. By then there was little time to make up for what was an already impressive showing for the 43-ranked team in the world.
Brazil, however, didn’t look too sharp against a team they should have handled easily. They will need to play with more consistency against an Andrei Kirilenko-led Russia squad that is capable of turning mistakes into points on Thursday.