After a disappointing loss to Russia in the opening game of the preliminary round, Great Britain gave Brazil everything they had, but still came up just short. In the second tight game in a row for the Brazilians, a team that looked like it could come home with some silver now has to step up their game if they want to make it to the championship game.
Brazil thrives on putting defensive pressure on their opponents, and that’s what helped them squeak out a 67-62 victory on Tuesday against GBR. A British squad that is trying to please the home crowd in London has had two tough match ups so far, losing a no-contest game against the medal-favored Russians and this most recent loss against Brazil.
Brazil now improves to 2-0 in Pool B play, along with Russia and Spain. Center Tiago Splitter led the way for Brazil with a team-high 21 points and six rebounds. He converted on nine of his 11 shots, dominating the middle for most of the game. Brazilian guard Marcelinho Huertas logged in 13 points and dished out a team-high eight assists.
Our very own Anderson Varejao was pretty effective throughout the game, especially on defense. He brought in six rebounds and recorded two steals, as he helped his team contain GBR on offense by only holding them to 62 points. Wild Thing also tallied eight points in the victory, as he continues to be a big contributor on this Brazilian squad.
Brazil will have to find a way to ignite their offensive game, as they only scored four points within the first 11 minutes and 21 seconds of play. A 13-9 Brazil run, that was capped off by a Varejao slam, caused Great Britain to call a timeout a litter over midway through the second quarter.
Splitter and Huertas closed out the final four minutes of play by scoring eight of the team’s final ten points, bringing the game to a 27-27 deadlock. Great Britain did everything they could in the second half to hang with Brazil, as Pops Mensah-Bonsu grabbed an impressive seven rebounds and managed one steal in the final 17 minutes. He finished with a team-high 13 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
After the two teams reached another deadlock at 42 with under three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Brazilians went on a 6-1 run to end the quarter. Varejao scored four of those six points, as Brazil went up 48-43 going into the final 10 minutes of play.
After GBR and Chicago Bulls player Luol Deng hit a three pointer in the fourth quarter to put the Brits up 57-56 with a little over four minutes to go, Brazil took over. A 11-5 run to secure the five-point victory. Huertas and Splitter were very clutch down the stretch, showing that they will be very important factors in upcoming games.
Brazil (2-0) and Varejao will face off against Russia (2-0) at 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, August 2.
- Russia dropped China 73-54, putting the Chinese on the brink of elimination as they now have a record of 0-2. NBAer Andrei Kirilenko led the way for the Russians, scoring 16 points while shooting 58.3 percent from the field. AK was also a menace on defense, grabbing nine rebounds, blocking one shot and recording four steals. Chinese and Dallas Mavericks forward Yi Jianlian led the way for China with 16 points and seven rebounds. He played a whopping 37 minutes in the loss.
- Spain continued their Pool B dominance with a 82-70 win over Australia, who now drops to 0-2 in Pool B play. Spain quickly erased a five-point first quarter deficit with a 20-9 run to start off the second quarter. Spain didn’t look back and led the rest of the way. Brother Pau and Marc Gasol totaled 32 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. Spain is in position right now to make another run for gold, even without point guard Ricky Rubio.