USA Stays Perfect; Prepares for Argentina
*-USA-Uruguay recap in the lower half of this post.
- Team USA is now on to undefeated Argentina for the final tune-up before the playoff portion, in a possible Gold medal game preview. This is not the Argentina A-Team that the US will face, but it's still a dangerous squad that is well-versed in the unselfish Argentine style. They are very disciplined in their offensive spacing, and very patient in waiting for screens & passing angles to develop. This team displays the requisite great ball movement we're accustomed to with Team Argentina. The offense has a ton of off-the-ball movement & off-the-ball screens, combined with multiple options on each play & counterplays-a-plenty -- this is the type of offense that has given Team USA fits in the past. The good thing this time around for Team USA: Argentina does not have the overall talent running this offense that they've had in the past.
- Luis Scola is a handful in the painted area and is having a superb tourney so far. He does damage in a variety of ways: very effective playing off Prigioni in the high post and he can drill mid-range jumpers off the screen action; he can take you down on the block; he has a knack for drawing fouls; and he will utilize the baseline picks/cuts of the offense to free himself for high-quality looks. Carlos Delfino is their other main option. 'Los has had a pretty solid if somewhat inconsistent tourney so far. His scoring has come in spurts, but his rebounding, defense, & passing have been consistently good thru-out.
- PG Pablo Prigioni is just a heady floor general with a pass-first mentality. Pablo has always been a great passer, but he has shot the ball well in the tourney, something he's not known for. Paolo Quinteros & Leo Gutierrez come off the bench to provide perimeter shooting. Forwards Carlos Sandes & Diego Lo Grippo are high-energy role players, and you have to locate & get a body on Sandes, because he loves to crash the boards.
- On a side note, Argentina always seems to be the hairstyle trendsetters of the int'l teams, with guys like Oberto & Herrmann bringing a hirsute flair to the table, and this year's team does not disappoint either. Scola & Carlos Sandes are easy to mix up with their Oberto-inspired manes. Not to mention Carlos Sandes reminds me of Mitch from "Dazed & Confused" or maybe he's just the dude who use to play guitar in Extreme. Diego Lo Grippo needs for this tourney to end soon so he can back to his gig as a roadie on the killer Dokken/Night Ranger/Loverboy summer triple-bill reunion tour. And what can I say about Federic Kammerichs, not sure if he lost a bet, but totally concur with the esteemed Rick Kamla that Federic has a Brent Barry resemblance. But I'll take it a step further considering Feddy's prodigious 'stache--he looks like Brent Barry if Barry grew up in Kazakhstan. Think Brent Borat Barry.
USA 118, Uruguay 79
- USA again came out looking disinterested, and even seemed a little tentative on offense early on, believe it or not. Though, can't really expect them sell out & play at a fevered pitch every night, especially on the type of back-2-back-2-back-2-back schedule required in FIBA play.
- Uruguay stayed with the US for most of the 1st quarter, and Esteban Batista was shaking loose exposing the porous interior defense. So Team USA decided to flip the switch in the 2nd quarter once again, and started to open up the lead by pushing it in transition. They would cruise the rest of the night, and Uruguay would not put up much defensive resistance, basically getting out of the way of any USA player who swooped to the rim.
- Did not think the defensive effort was quite as good as we have seen in the 1st round, but still does not really matter when you're playing such inferior comp--Uruguay shot just 37.5% from the floor. Team USA kept up their ridiculously good offensive ways by going 64% from the floor, and continued to look impressive from long-range--13/26 on 3pts.
- Amare was active once again, and too explosive for the Uruguay frontline to handle--Amare had 19, 7 rbs & 3 stls. Tay Prince had a nice all-around effort off the bench with 13 pts, 6 rebs, 4 asst & solid defense. Esteban Batista was the lone source of positive vibes for Uruguay. Showed off a nice little package of baseline moves to finish with 20 pts. He showcased some of his impressive footwork thru-out the tourney, but did not think he would be able to shake loose from the quicker US bigs, but he was surprisingly effective.
- Bron was the one American who had it flowing from the opening tip, and most encouraging was he was drilling his outside jumper once again, he couldn't miss, literally. Bron finished the game shooting 11/11 & 4/4 from 3pt. range for 26 pts, and he didn't play in the 2nd half. We commented on Bron's apparent improved shooting yesterday, and now Bron is shooting 14/20 from 3pt. land for the tourney. He seems to be getting a nice bend in his knees & seems to be avoiding the tendency he has for leaning back on his shooting motion. Has he turned the corner to become a reliable long-ball threat? Not sure, but his play of late is encouraging & possibly scary for opposing NBA teams.