On the best game so far in the Olympics a stellar performance from Nene wasn’t enough for Brazil.
Story of the Match
Tickets sold out at Carioca Arena 1, Brazil and Nene desperately needing the win. And on the other side of the court the hosts most infamous adversary – or enemy – Argentina.
Once again Ruben Magnano’s team started the game cold and the visitors quickly took a nine point lead on the back of Andres Nocioni three pointers.
This time however the Olympic hosts responded fast with a new attitude on defense and Alex Garcia’s ferocious efforts. Specifically focusing on guarding long shots by Nocioni and Facundo Campazzo Brazil was able to mount their comeback. On the offensive end the home team relied solely on strength and post moves by Nene as well as Marcelo Huertas ability to find the open man and make the assist.
At the half Brazil led Argentina 52-44 to the delight of fans inside the packed but surprisingly split Carioca Arena. With many fans coming all the way from Argentina to see their heroes. Some of those heroes were: Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni as well as former Houston Rockets players such as Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino
In the second half Argentina slowly kept clawing back points and by the fourth quarter Brazil was within reach. Finally after some terrible plays and turnovers by Leandro Barbosa Argentina managed to tie the match.
Nene Hilario though had something to say about that. In the final minutes the power forward took the game for himself and imposed his will inside the paint. Nene was drawing fouls, grabbing offensive boards and even got a monster dunk in Luis Scola’s face.
With Brazil leading the game by a thin 3-point margin and Argentina with no timeouts left, it seemed Brazil was about to take the game for good. However Andres Nocioni had other plans and knocked down his 7th three-point shot of the game with 3 seconds left to take the game to overtime.
In the first overtime Scola as well as Marcelo Huertas fouled out and once again Brazil was leading the match. This time much more solidly though, with a 6-point margin with less than 3 minutes to go. A futile effort nevertheless. Nocioni scored his eighth three pointer and coupled with Campazzo’s layup tied the game for another overtime.
Baffled by Nocioni’s 11 rebounds and 37 points on 8-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc Brazil just lacked the strength to go one more round against Argentina. The visitors despite having Nocioni fouled out still managed to knock down three point shots. This time with Facundo Campazzo who unexpectedly ended up with 33 points and 11 assists.
Leandro Barbosa resurected from the bench scored 9 of his 11 points in the second overtime to give Brazil a lifeline but it was too little too late: Argentina 111 – 107.
However even if all Argentina starters ended the game with double digits it was Nocioni’s Stephen Curry-like historical performance that completely dismantled Brazil.
Stats: 24 Points, 11 Rebounds, 2 Steals
It wasn’t even close, honestly. Nene was Brazil’s heart and soul. He was the force that drove Brazil’s offensive efforts. Nene broke through Argentina’s defense with strength inside the paint, pushing defenders backwards and scoring easily with layups and dunks.
Despite Nene’s success in the paint his mid-range jumper looks weak. Thus going forward with the Houston Rockets it’s probably recommended that it’s employed only as a last resource weapon.
On defense Nene had a few troubles when switching his marker but remains highly effective when protecting the rim. Proof of that is Brazil only getting scorched from beyond the arc as Luis Scola was largely a non factor throughout the game.
Stats: 37 Points, 11 Rebounds, 66% from beyond the arc (8-for-12).
An epic performance for the ages. By far and away the best exhibition in this year’s Olympics Basketball Competition and likely Nocioni’s greatest performance ever. A somewhat mediocre player in his time in the NBA, the 36 year-old forward scored 21 points in the first half alone.
Nocioni single handedly kept Argentina in this game and just couldn’t be stopped never mind who was guarding him.
Stats: 33 Points, 11 Assists, 4 Steals, 4 Rebounds, 50% from beyond the arc (5-for-10).
If Nocioni was responsible for keeping Argentina in striking distance all game, point guard Campazzo was the one that struck the final blow.
Campazzo took Raul Neto for nothing and when the game went to overtime scored 13 of his 33 points sending Brazil to the canvas for good.
Ups and Downs
Up – All-around Performance
Brazil can’t be faulted at all for this performance. They gave their best. Even Leandro Barbosa who had a general weak display on regular time improved in overtime. The team also fixed their problems at the charity stripe. After giving up their first game for Lithuania due to losing too many free throws Brazil managed to score 81.5% of their FTs this time.
Additionally Brazil’s bench contribution was immense. Not only they outscored Argentina’s bench 44 to 4, but they also grabbed 19 rebounds against only 5 from the visitors bench.
Down – Three-point defense
No disrespect to Andres Nocioni or Facundo Campazzo who are hard working decent role players. Still, there’s absolutely no reason for Brazil to let them score over 10 buckets from long range. The home team paid for their inability to guard the long shots and shoo players away from the three-point line. If forced inside those players would inevitably have to deal with Nene’s strong rim protection
Up – Nocioni and Campazzo
There’s really nothing else. Nocioni and Campazzo won this game. Responsible for 70 of the 111 points from Argentina as well as 11 rebounds and 11 assists. That was the performance of their lives.
Down – Ginobili and Free-throws
On every decisive moment Manu had the ball in his hands and he failed in every single one of them. Ginobili lost all of his 8 three-point shot attempts and went 5-for-10 from the charity stripe. For a player with an 82% free-throw career average that seems way too low.
Argentina as a team were bad as well, scoring just 22 of their 34 attempts. Good for only 64.7%.
Nene Hilario followed up his great Olympic exhibitions one more time this monday leading Brazil once again. This time however Nene led the team all the way for a win against Nigeria in Brazil’s final Olympics game. Nene filled up his stat sheet finishing up with 19 points, 7 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 3 Steals and 1 Block.
Brazil’s efforts were for naught though as they relied on Argentina winning their last game against Spain for a final spot in the Olympics quarter finals. Nocioni returned to his normal self scoring 6 points and 3 turnovers.
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