2006 FIBA World Champs--Argentina 83, Serbia 79
--Carlos Delfino saves the day. Delfino continued his stellar play this summer with a huge offensive lift off the bench for the Argentines. Soon after entering the game in the 2nd half, Carlos made his presence known with a 3-pointer to spark a sluggish Argentina. Then followed it up the next possession with a beautiful dish to Ruben Wolkowisky to help trim the Serbia lead to 68-66. A little later, Carlos hit a nice pull-up, then soon after added another sweet pass off the dribble to a cutting Scola. But, he was not done yet--he then buried two huge 3pts. back2back to tie the game at 74-74. He had 11 pts. in the 4th, and finished with 14 pts. on 5/6 shooting.
Pepe Sanchez, not known for his shooting, drilled two 3pts. in the 2nd half to help the Argentina comeback--he had 9 pts., 3 3-pointers & 10 assts. Luis Scola was a force in the paint either scoring off of straight post-ups or lay-ins--he had 22 pts & 5 assts. He also worked the glass, including some big offensive boards late--13 rebs (8 off.). I thought Manu forced too much one-on-one action, but he did have the touch from outside--3/6 on 3s.
I thought Argentina really struggled to score in the middle portion of the game & were looking to go isolation too much. Some of that had to do with Serbia's smart defensive gameplan. They played a lot of a sagging man where they really dropped their bigs in the paint, especially Darko who basically camped out in the lane. This really did a good job disrupting Argentina's flex offense--the good cutting & passing lanes were not readily available. The classic Argentina offense just wasn't as prevalent on Thursday. They were fortunate they offset this with some sharp outside shooting--12/26 from 3pt. range.
Serbia was basically a two-man show: Igor Rakocevic & Darko Milicic. Igor continued his FIBA all-star level play by scoring in a variety of ways & really putting the Argentina defense on their collective heels with his great speed--25 pts.(3/4 form deep). He was matched against Manu some, and he seemed to get the better of him. I really feel this guy should get another look from the NBA because he has improved his shot, and the NBA-level speed is still there.
Darko also did damage inside & out--25 & 12. He really likes the elbow jumper, maybe too much. But he also was a presence in the paint at both ends. He had some pretty post moves & some nice finishes (including an aggressive put-back slam in the 4th). But he also missed a handful of point-blank shots where he seemed to go up too soft--including a huge missed lay-in that could have cut the Argentina lead to 1 with 20 seconds left. Serbia missed a bunch of chip shots in the 2nd half. He did do a nice job on defense just using his size to deter a ton of shots. But he still fades away too much on some shots, even jumpers.
Another minor problem that reappeared in this game for Argentina was their slight lack of size. This has always been a minor issue for a couple years--it hurt them in '03, when Duncan & J. O'Neal were the difference in the close pool play game--and it was magnified by how Darko used his size to cause problems.
I mentioned in my Worlds preview that you should consider throwing some zone at Argentina because it can really mess up their offensive rhythm & continuity. A zone is very effective vs. Princeton-type or motion offenses, which is somewhat similar to what they run. It can limit the cuts, passing lanes, back picks & backdoor cuts. Argentina is a solid 3pt. shooting team--they have been shooting 40% thru 4 games. But I'd rather have them do that sometimes because when they get that offense rolling, they get a tremendous rhythm that permeates the rest of their game. Definitely mix up the defenses to try to ruin their flow.
Sort of like playing the US, where you want to discourage driving lanes. Instead with Argentina, you want to cut down their passing & cutting lanes. US builds rhythm with their drives (which often lead to drawn fouls) and Argentina builds rhythm with their great ball movement. Simply, both teams should be defended with plenty of zone or sagging man.