San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili and Team Argentina, and Tiago Splitter’s Brazil had a long list of international battles.
Both teams were equally matched and consider themselves biggest rivals.
Even with not much at stake, other than positioning in the next round, Argentina and Brazil lived up to the hype.
Brazil took the first quarter 19-17, before Argentina countered in a low-scoring second quarter, which Argentina won, 11-8 as they held a 28-27 lead at halftime.
With Splitter struggling with his shot and battling an early foul trouble, coach Ruben Magnano opted to rest the Brazilian big man for the entire third quarter to preserve him for the game’s final 10 minutes.
Nonetheless, with Splitter on the bench, the Brazilians were able to regain the lead, outscoring Argentina 26-19 in the third quarter to take a six-point lead, 53-47 heading into the final canto.
In the fourth quarter, Splitter re-entered the game with Brazil holding on to a 64-59 lead and immediately grabbed another defensive board off an Argentine missed shot.
But he continued to struggle committing another foul and a turnover on the next play.
However, Team Brazil got a huge break when Houston Rockets’ Luis Scola was called for two quick fouls late in the game, causing him to foul out at the 2:20 mark.
With Scola gone, Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas attacked the basket as he helped his team build a 71-64 lead over Argentina with just 27 seconds remaining.
But Argentina would make a final run.
Pablo Prigioni made a quick two to cut Brazil’s lead to five and on the ensuing possession, former Spur Alex Garcia lost the ball to Carlos Delfino who made a three-pointer to put Argentina back in the game 69-71, with eight seconds left.
Ginobili immediately fouled Garcia on the next play to stop the clock. Garcia redeemed himself by sinking two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining to extend Brazil’s lead 73-69.
Prigioni made another layup for final score 71-73, as Brazil handed Argentina their first defeat of the tournament.
Scola led the Argentines with 24 points and 11 boards, while Ginobili finished the game with 14 points, three rebounds, one steal, and one block in 33 minutes of action.
Former Spur Fabricio Oberto played sparingly blocking one of Splitters’ shot and added two rebounds and one assists for Argentina.
Splitter struggled offensively for Brazil as he went 0-of-6 from the field and scored just one point for the entire game, a free throw he made off a Ginobili foul in opening period.
But as usual, Splitter found other ways to help his team. Tiago added eight rebounds, three assists and one steal in 18 minutes of play.
Rafael Hettsheimer gave Brazil a huge offensive boosts as he led Brazil with 19 points and eight rebounds and shot 9-of-11 from the floor in 22 minutes off the bench.
Philadelphia Sixers’ Andres Nocioni sprained his right ankle in the first half and did not return to the game for Argentina. He might miss Thursday’s game against the Dominican Republic.
Ginobili and Argentina are now 2-1 in the second round, while Splitter and Brazil move onto 3-0, and will try to stay undefeated in the quarter final round when they face Puerto Rico on Thursday at 20:30 (GMT -3) in Mar del Plata.