Brazil ends group stage with a win, still remains eliminated
The final day of group play began with the bottom seeded teams of Nigera and Brazil facing off for a chance at a quarter final spot. Both teams came in with a 1-3 record, meaning a victory would only mean that their hopes to continue in the tournament would be reliant on the results of the later games. The host nation was coming off of a tough double overtime loss against the rival country of Argentina and would look to bounce back against the Nigerians.
Early in the second quarter Brazil capitalized on the sloppy play of Nigeria to jump out to a 14 point lead before the end of the half. The African team ended the game with 18 turnovers, many of which were unforced. Brazil’s Nene led the team to their dominant performance on the glass adding seven of his own. The Brazilians hauled in 20 offensive rebounds, doubling up Nigeria in that category.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s defense would search through several methods to slow down the Brazilians. They began in a standard man defense and quickly moved a 2-3 zone when Nene was having his way with Nigeria’s big men. As the margin began to widen. coach Voigt would have his team in a 3/4ths press to push the tempo. The Brazilian backcourt of Marcelo Huertas and Leandro Barbosa did a great job of breaking the press and extending the lead.
The absence of Nigeria’s NBA players was evident in this one as they were dominated by the more experienced roster of Brazil. Huertas double-double of 12 points and 11 assists led Brazil to victory, only to find their team eliminated after the evening results.
Brazil and Nigeria now both find themselves outside of medal contention with respective records of 2-3 and 1-4.
Argentina’s crushing 19 point loss demotes team to fourth seed
For the second game of the day Spain took on Argentina, needing a win to secure their spot in the knockout rounds. Meanwhile, Argentina was already guaranteed a playoff birth and subsequently decided to limit the minutes of star guard Manu Ginobili.
Spain got off to a sluggish start in the first, giving up an 8-0 run immediately. Pau Gasol and the troops rallied back after a quick timeout by head coach Sergio Scariolo. After surmounting the early deficit, the Spanish would hold the lead for the rest of the game and begin to pour it on, leading by as many as 22 points. In the second half, as Spain continued to dominate, tensions ran a little high as the officials handed out four technical fouls, with captain Juan Carlos Navarro receiving his second technical for an accused flop and so he missed the rest of the game. The third quarter was drawn out by this as well as both teams hitting the penalty early in the quarter, which saw an unusual amount of fouls. Argentina would turn to a full court press in the fourth to put together a few runs, but ultimately could not maintain a close margin. Spain would close out the win behind Rudy Fernandez’s 23 points and Gasol’s double-double to move into the second seed of the group.
Argentina must now face the undefeated and overwhelming favorites in Team USA this coming Wednesday, while Spain will class with France the same day.
Croatia wins Group B with 90-81 win over Lithuania
With the final match of the day Croatia and Lithuania would face off, neither of which had secured a spot in the upcoming quarter finals. Croatia was able to secure their spot, as was Lithuania despite the loss.
Forward Dario Saric energized the Croatians early to set the tone of the game. Sacramento Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic would then lead the team with a team-high 22 points. Lithuania struggled to defend the hot shooting of the Croatians who were nearly at 60% percent for the game from distance. The entire roster was on the same page as Croatia’s bench contributed 23 points to the win. The efficiency of Lithuanian guard Mantas Kalnietis, who shot 10/12 the and totaled 26 points to go with 11 assists, would not be enough to push the team to a winning record in the group stage.
With this result, Croatia moves to the top of the group to face Serbia in the next round. Lithuania, meanwhile, moves down to third place where they draw Australia.
The quarter final match-ups will all be played this Wednesday.