Sunday, September 11, 2011
FIBA Americas 2011 Semis set
Source : FIBA.com
MAR DEL PLATA (FIBA Americas Championship) – “Every effort we’ve made, every game we’ve played, every training session we've had, every video we've watched and absolutely everything we've done, we've done it to make it to the 10th August.”
Emanuel Ginóbili’s words could describe the feelings of every Dominican, Brazilian, Puerto Rican and Argentine player that will be part of Saturday's semifinals in which a win is equivalent to a spot for London, while the losing sides will play next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Dominican Republic v Brazil
Brazil, who topped Group X after winning seven games and losing only one in the tournament, are led by Marcelo Huertas, who averages 11,3 points and 5,1 assists per game.
All the Brazilian players carry a heavy weight on their shoulders as Brazil have missed the last three Olympic Games.
Experienced Marcelo Machado, who has played in the National Team since 1998, said he refuses to retire without playing an Olympic Game.
“We can’t miss a new chance. It’s my dream to play in the Olympics and we will put all of our efforts to make it,” added the 36-year old player.
Brazil, the only team that have all of their players available, will have to defend strongly in the low post in order to stop Al Horford and Jack Michael Martínez.
Dominican Republic will try to repeat their preliminaries performance, in which they beat Brazil 79-74 thanks to a good defence on Huertas (10 turnovers) performed by Francisco García, who also scored 14 points.
“We beat them once, but now we have no pressure as they are favourites,” said Dominican coach John Calipari.
“We follow a goal never achieved by the Dominican Republic, make it to the Olympics. That’s something the players must know and give the biggest effort on the court.”
Guard Edgar Sosa, who fractured his leg during the tournament, arrived in Dominican Republic and sent his best wishes for the team.
Argentina v Puerto Rico
Argentina have been the favourite team from the beginning of the tournament due to their experience and talent. However, a loss to Brazil on Wednesday brought in some doubts.
“It doesn’t matter how many games we won or lose,” said Ginóbili. “It’s all about Saturday’s night game.”
The San Antonio Spurs player had 23 points and Luis Scola added 16 on Argentina’s 81-71 Preliminary Round win over Puerto Rico.
Pablo Prigioni, who delivered eight assists on that game, knows it will be a whole different story.
“We have to control their guards. (José Juan) Barea and (Carlos) Arroyo they can score and make their teammates score as well,” said the 34-year old point guard.
Carlos Arroyo contributed 24 points against Argentina but expects Puerto Rico to defend much better than they did in the Preliminaries.
“We have to be aggressive on our defence and be lucky. We are absolutely ready for the game,” expressed Arroyo, who enjoyed a day-off together with his teammates to rest from playing in four consecutive nights.
Both teams will wait until last minute to recover one of their key players.
Argentina’s forward Andrés Nocioni has torn a right ankle ligament and remains doubtful for the Semi Final.
“I have no pain when I walk and that’s good because the injury was only 48 hours ago. I will try to put some weight on the leg tomorrow’s afternoon but I won’t do anything stupid,” said Nocioni.
Daniel Santiago suffered from a plantar fasciitis and was expected to rule out from the tournament. However, his condition has improved and he will also try to play.
“It stills bothers me but I want to play. I will only know it a few hours before the game,” said the 2,18 metres centre.
After 36 FIBA Americas' games, everything reduces to whatever happens this Saturday when two teams will clinch two spots for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Brazil beats Dominican Republic 83-76
Machado leads Brazil with 20 points