Thursday, June 23, 2011

FIBA Americas Cup 2011 -- USA Beats Argentina by 21

Leaping Big Hurdles
The second day of the Cancun tournament saw the U16 men's teams from the USA and Puerto Rico clinch their spots in the medal round with wins over their closest Pool competitors. The Puerto Rican team beat Team Canada by four points, 90-86 in a game that saw the Canadians lead by 10 after the first period and by one at the half. The Puerto Ricans stormed back in the third quarter to take control of the game, and hold off a Team Canada fourth quarter comeback to notch the win. Should Team Chile's 22 point third quarter lead over host Mexico hold up, Team Canada can clinch their spot with a win tomorrow (Thursday) irrespective of the other outcomes in their pool.

USA 102 - Argentina 81
That the margin of victory (21 points) is not as impressive as the gap over Team Brazil Tuesday (35) should worry no one, as Team Argentina was picked as the USA's strongest challenge in Pool B play. Argentina, favored to defeat Team Brazil in Pool B play Thursday, should advance to the medal round. Jabari Parker, for the second consecutive game, led all scorers, this time with a 21 point outing on 10-20 (1-5, 9-15) shooting from the field. Team Argentina led Team USA by a point, 23-22 at the end of an opening period, that saw three ties and three lead changes in the 10 minute period. The American's second period 30-11 outburst brought them the lead perminantly. Team USA used the third period to push the lead out to 19, and they floated on a 20+ point cushion through much of the fourth period. Six of Parker's teammates, Kendrick Nunn, a 6-1 guard and teammate at Simeon High School, Chicago (14 points), along with Larry Austin (11 points) and four others (Jahlil Okafor, Theo Pinson, Tyus Jones and Aaron Gordon) who recorded 10 points apiece, also scored double digits points. A good sign the scoring was fairly evenly distributed this outing. Okafor made it a double-double with 11 (5-6-11) rebounds. This was the second double digit scoring night for Parker, Gordon and Okafor. Crunching the game boxscore to develop some possession-based stats for the game...


Like the Brazil game, the pace continues to look very NBA-like rather than high school or (Division 1) college ball in the USA. The team continues to record +1.00 points per possession (ppp) while simultaneously limiting opponents to < 0.90 ppp while running at 90+ possessions rate is promising. The Americans continued to shoot an encouraging 54.6% (eFG%) from the field while nearly matching their Brazil-game tendancy to get to the line (47.5% FTA Rate). Team USA's turnover rate (21.8%) continues to trouble. Argentina's turnover rate, at 23.8% is definitely down from Brazil's 32% rate. Perhaps this will prove to be a vulnerability in the medal rounds, but for the Costa Rico game, it should not be a problem. The USA continues to get to the line easily (more close-in scoring -- note that the percentage of 3FGAs to 2FGAs was 15.8%, a clear sign that Team USA goes inside for it's scoring opportunities.

On the boards, Okafor's "normal" strong effort was complemented by matching efforts from Theo Pinson and Nunn, especially under the Argentina's basket.

The U16 team will close out Pool B play with a tilt against Team Costa Rico. Given the Costa Ricans are 0-2 with a combined margin of -141 points, the Americans should win comfortably. Coach Showalter will most likely give the 10-12 rotation players some run, resting Gordon, Jackson, Nunn, Okafor and Parker after a short warmup interval.

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