Aug 8, 2012, 5:33 PM EDT
Argentina’s “golden generation” will be playing for a London Olympics medal.
And (barring a major upset) they are going to get one more crack at the United States first.
Argentina beat Brazil in an emotional South American rivalry game Wednesday thanks to their savvy team play and defense. That team play turned out to be too much for the high-scoring guards of Brazil, so Argentina won 82-77.
If you didn’t think this game mattered to them, you should have seen them celebrating like they won a medal after it was over. They cared a lot about it.
Argentina next will face the winner of USA vs. Australia. Brazil will head one.
Argentina came out from the start in this game doing what they do — two man game, pick-and-roll at the top of the key, moving the ball and spacing the floor — all of which means good looks because they execute so well. And when they get good looks they will hit them — Argentina shot 60 percent behind balanced scoring in the first half.
Still, they were up just 46-40 at the break, in large part because Marcelinho Huertas was keeping it close for Brazil. He is not some guy who came out of nowhere, Huertas plays for Spanish powerhouse Barcelona and is an experienced international point guard. Huertas finished the game with 22 and got almost all his points in the first half.
However in the third the Argentinian defense tightened up and they started to pull away, stretching the lead out to 15 at one point. Brazil only scored 14 points in the third quarter while Argentina continued to score — Manu Ginobili finished with 16 as did Carlos Delfino, while Luis Scola had 17.
Brazil would not roll over — they cam back and made it a game late in the fourth quarter. Mostly because Leandro Barbosa started nailing threes and making plays (he finished with 22). But it never really felt like the veteran Argentinians would let this one slip away once they had control of it.
Argentina has lost both times they faced the USA this year. In a tune-up game they let the Americans get out to a huge lead then ground the game down and ended up losing by just six. The second meeting in the final day of group play it was close for a half but the USA went on one of it’s big runs in the third and Argentina kind of walked it in during the fourth.
Argentina has played the Americans well and they have the talent. If they can just control the American’s runs a little and make it a half-court, grinding game it could get interesting.
Even if Argentina were to lose that game, they would play for a bronze medal on Sunday.