MUnlike the first two games of the quarterfinal games, the first half of the 3rd game was actually exciting with some free flowing offense mixed with solid defense, especially from Argentina.
In the first quarter, Brazil quickly got off and torched Argentina on the offensive end led by guard Marcelinho Huertas’ three 3 pointers. Huertas, who shot 18% from distance before this game, shot 3 for 5 in just the first 10 minutes of play against Argentina. However, Argentina answered every single blow Brazil threw at them with well balanced attack with former NBA player Andres Nocioni, and NBA players Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, and Carlos Delfino.
At the start of the first quarter, Argentina relied on their jumpshots which fell down for them but closed out the first quarter by attacking the rim, but still were down 23-26 at the end of the first quarter. At the end of first, it was a sign that this game would be a game to watch and game that Team USA should watch and learn from as either team will be their opponent in the next round as USA just recently defeated Australia in their own quarterfinal contest.
Forward Andres Nocioni would start off the came hot by knocking down shots and making layups which allowed him to get a good feel from the get go which would eventually lead him to score 12 points on 5 for 7 shooting including two 3 pointers. In the second quarter, Argentina started to tighten down on the defensive end as they held Argentina to just 14 points in the quarter as it helped Argentina to do well on the offensive end as big man Juan Gutierrez started to join in the balanced attack of Argentina. The Argentines would then take control for most of the second quarter and would end up with a 6 point lead to end the first half.
The third quarter wouldn’t be much different as Argentina would continue their attack and would increase the lead to 10 points at the entering the final quarter where it looked like Argentina had a sure win. While watching it, I thought Argentina was sure to win it. However, I had to eat my words as I quickly saw Brazil make a strong come back. Down 70-59 after a Ginobili 3 pointer which silenced the Brazilian fans, Brazil as a team cut the lead to just two after a 11-0 run. Fortunately for the Argentines, guard Pabl Prigioni, who just recently signed with the New York Knicks, hit a jump shot which was then followed by a Nocioni layup which gave Argentina a little bit more cushion and some air to breathe.
NBA free agent Leandro Barbosa would, however, not let his team back down so easily as he would knock down a three pointer to put Argentina’s lead back to three with 1:46 left in the game. Unfortunately though, Brazil would not score until the 19 second mark as Argentina would close out the game on the line knocking all 8 of their free throws within that time span when Brazil couldn’t buy a bucket. Barbosa would try his best to pull off a miraculous comeback by knocking down two three pointers in a row as Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola would miss his last 4 free throws. End result? Argentina wins 82-77.
With a balanced attack, Argentina had five players score in double figures which includes four starters. Starter Luis Scola led the way with 17 points on 50% shooting from the field but 50% as well on the strike. Manu Ginobili had 16 points and 8 rebounds, Carlos Delfino would finish as well with 16 points, and Nocioni had 12 points. Off the bench big man Juan Gutierrez would chip in with 11 points and 4 rebounds.
For Brazil, guards Marcelinho Huertas and Leandro Barbosa both scored 22 points. Huertas also had 5 assists. Both players combined for 7 three pointers. Forward Alex Garcia finished with 10 points and off the bench center Nene of the Denver Nuggets finished with 7 points and 12 rebounds.
With Brazil eliminated, Argentina is set to take on USA for the third time this summer. USA has just defeated Australia in their quarterfinal game which closed out the quarterfinal round for the 2012 London Olympics by defeating Australia 119-86. In Argentina’s last pool play game, USA defeated them 126-97.
The semi-final game between USA and Argentina will tip off at 3:00 PM CT.