San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter gave each other a small “sports” hug and said very little on the floor as Brazil handed Argentina it’s first loss of the 2011 FIBA Americas tournament 73 to 71.
Just before the half, former Spur Fabricio Oberto had a block on Splitter. Argentina took a 28-27 lead into the half. It was announced that Philadelphia 76ers’ Andres “El Chapu” Nocioni would not return to the game after spraining his right ankle. Nocioni may miss Thursday’s game against the Dominican Republic, but is expected to be back on Saturday for Argentina.
After ending the half with three personal fouls, Splitter didn’t start the third quarter. Brazil’s team however regained the lead and led through the third quarter. Midway through the third, Ginobili fell on his right elbow, the one that forced him to miss game one against the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoffs; but he stayed in the game. Ginobili showed signs of irritation as he was seen rubbing the elbow when play would stop. Ginobili’s elbow finally looked better late in the third quarter as he began slashing to the basket again.
Ginobili would get some rest with just 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter as Brazil took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter. Splitter never saw any minutes in the entire third quarter so his coach could save him for the final quarter.
Ginobili started the fourth quarter for Argentina and stayed in for the rest of the game. With three minutes remaining and Brazil leading 64-59, Splitter was reinserted into the game. Argentina suffered a big loss as Houston Rockets’ Luis Scola fouled out of the game with just two minutes remaining. With Scola gone, the paint was open for Brazil and Argentina lost their leading scorer for the night (24 points.)
Brazil held a seven point lead after a Marcelo Huertas lay-up with just 1:13 remaining, but Argentina battled all the way back to make it a three point game with five seconds remaining due to Milwaukee Bucks’ Carlos Delfino making a three pointer off of the backboard.
Another former Spur Alex Garcia, sank two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining as Brazil would go on to win 73-71. The crowd’s noise level was very loud throughout the game as the two heavyweights battled for 40 straight minutes.
After the game, Argentina’s fans began yelling, “Argentina, Argentina, Argentina,” as both teams were exiting the floor.
Ginobili ended the game with 14 points, three rebounds, one steal, and one block in 33 minutes. He struggled with his shot as he went 5-of-12 while missing all three of his attempted three pointers. Splitter shot 0-for-6 and ended the game with one point, eight rebounds, and three steals in 18 minutes. Brazil was lucky the young Rafael Hettsheimer played out of his mind leading the team with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Ginobili and Argentina are now 2-1 in the second round of the FIBA Americas tournament. Splitter and Brazil move onto 3-0 in the second round as they face Puerto Rico on Thursday.
Cory Joseph and Canada kicked off the day with a close 70-68 win over Uruguay. Joseph played limited minutes again with 14 as he scored two points, two assists, one steal, and four turnovers while shooting 1-of-3 for Canada. With the win, Canada is showing signs of life as they’re now 1-2. They’ll face Panama on Thursday.
Tony Parker led France to a 68-64 win over Turkey as the second round of the FIBA Eurobasket kicked off earlier. Parker finished with a team high 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists in 37 minutes of action. Spurs draftee Nando De Colo had three rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes for France while missing all three of his attempted shots.
Parker and France will resume action on Friday against Lithuania.