U18 Title: USA/Brazil Liveblog
Dukin’ it out for bragging rights of the Americas.
For any hoophead, the period between the NBA Draft and the July AAU period/NBA Summer League is always a difficult one. You find yourself reading virtually every article on the internet for the duration of the two weeks where there is no hoops going on (or at least I do) to try to get your fix. Luckily this year, we have quite a bit of International play going on with the FIBA Americas U-18 Championships concluding this evening, only to be followed by the FIBA U-17 World Championships popping off in Germany on Friday morning.
To take us where we are, Team USA spanked Canada 122-89 in the semi’s, led by Austin Rivers’ blazing 35 point showing. Austin was wet on his first 9 three pointers with his Dad (Celtics coach Doc Rivers) taking it in from the stands. In other semi-final action, Brazil topped Argentina. Brazil has a pair to keep an eye on in 7’0 Lucas Nogueira and 6’1 playmaker Raul Neto. Nogueira is a long, freakish athlete who has a chance to be the next Brazilian in the league, while Neto is a smooth point guard with a little Steve Nash in his game. Definitely hyped to see both against the US.
Here are some of my thoughts from the Gold Medal game:
-Oh, Canada topped Argentina in the bronze medal game by 3. SLAM Fresh 50 2011 member Myck Kabongo dropped a dime to fellow Fresh 50 member Kyle Wiltjer for a 3 pointer. SLAM Fresh 25 member Khem Birch was killing on the defensive end, amassing close to 10 blocks in the game. The future is definitely bright north of the border.
-Vander Blue continuing to impress in the tourney. Just exploded to the cup for a nice take and has looked comfortable running the pick and roll throughout the tourney.
-Kyrie Irving already showing why Duke is the favorite to win the national championship last year with the poise that he’s shown here. As pure a point guard as you’ll find and is willing to do all of the little things that it takes to win.
-Now I know the majority of college basketball fans can’t stand Duke, but if Irving stays for his sophomore year and Austin Rivers winds up committing, I’ll make them the early favorites to win 3 in a row. Get as many guys as you want Cal, but it’s been proven over and over again that guards win in college basketball. As I type that, another “and-1″ for Irving.
-My man Lucas Nogueira finally enters the game. Brazil has been bringing him off of the bench for the entire tournament, despite the fact that he is easily their best defender.
-Point guard Raul Neto struggling against the more athletic Irving, Blue, and Rivers. Just made a really nice read in transition, though.
-Nogueira with a powerful dunk in traffic. He’s barely 18 years old and has already signed with Estudiantes of the ACB. If he were in the class of 2011, he’s be a sure fire top 10 player.
-The Austin Rivers show continues. Austin Rivers 8, Brazil 7.
-Brazil doing a little better now. As long as they can keep this game within 10 points and limit turnovers, they can surely make it a respectable game.
-Rivers still putting on his best Steph Curry impression. He’s #4 in the Fresh 50 and if he keeps playing like this, he can definitely expect a bump up.
-USA up 22-15 at the end of 1 after a tough take by a wing from Brazil.
-Lovely camera men just made us miss a Tony Mitchell dunk that drew some “ahhs’ from the crowd.
-SLAM All-American Kyrie Irving with a gorgeous dime to Jereme Richmond for a dunk, followed by a mid-range jumper. There truly is a chance that he joins Corey Maggette and Luol Deng in the short list of Duke one and dones.
-Nogueira continuing his strong play. Just got a text from NBA personnel stating how impressed they were with how fearless he was and his lack of intimidation against USA.
-Patric Young continuing to play like a warrior down low. He’s a straight up enforcer in the paint, which should allow him to potentially start for Billy D as a freshman at Florida. They could have really used his rebounding, defense, and toughness last year.
-Lucas Nogueira with 14 of Brazil’s 25 points and he came off of the bench. I’ll say it right now. He’d be top 5 in the 2011 Fresh 50 if he were here in the states.
-Down to a 4 point game here with 1:50 to go in the half and Brazil has the rock. Game is much slower now, which caters towards Brazil’s mundane style of play.
-After a few turnovers by USA and capitalized opportunities by Brazil, the lead is now officially gone. Brazil on top 35-34 at halftime.
-Players of the half: USA- Austin Rivers Brazil- Lucas Nogueira
- Patric Young getting physical down low, as Lucas Nogueira blocks a pair of shots.
-Raul Neto has been very disappointing thus far. Made a really nice split there on the pick and roll, but then blew the lay-up.
-Vander Blue looking better and better. I hadn’t seen him since last July at the LeBron James Skills Academy and he’s gotten MUCH better since then. He’s on fiiiire within the flow of the offense.
- Haven’t heard much from a number of guys on Team USA. Josh Hairston, Tony Mitchell, Trevor Cooney, LeBryan Nash all really haven’t gotten it going yet.
-Irving putting on a clinic out there. Weaving in and out of traffic and threw a beautiful left handed bullet off of the bounce to future Dukie teammate Josh Hairston. Kyrie is now out of the game with cramps.
-Outstanding play ran by Brazil’s head coach Walter Roese (who is an assistant at Hawaii) to get dunk for Lucas Nogueira off of out of bounds play.
- As I type that, another dunk for Nogueira. As Lady Gaga says “that boy is a monsterrr!”
-Game is tied at 51 with 3:49 to go in the game. Another block by Nogueira. He’s right up there with Austin Rivers for MVP of the tournament so far in my eyes. Nogueira with 20 pts, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks with 2:45 left in the 3rd quarter.
-Brazil up 56-51 after drilling a 3 pointer with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd.
-Amazing flurry of action there. Kyrie Irving puts his defender on skates and goes to the tin for an “and1″. Next possession, Raul Neto gets in the paint, throws a behind the back pass, only to have Patric Young block a dunk attempt.
-Easily one of the more exciting games that I’ve seen in a long time because both teams are going SO HARD.
- 67 to 60 Brazil with 8 minutes to go. The USA can’t get Brazil to play the up and down style of play that they have dominated everyone with all tournament.
-Austin Rivers comes through yet again with a bigtime 3, but Brazil won’t miss. These guys don’t take bad shots, period.
-Through a number of the Twitter conversations that I’ve been having with other recruiting guys, it seems as if I’m not the only one who things Nogueira would be top 5 if he were in 2011.
-As I say that, Patric Young bangs on him and gets an “and1″.
-Tied game at 72 with just under 5 minutes to go.
-The top player in the SLAM Fresh 50, Quincy Miller, starting to get it going late for USA, who is up 76-75 with 3 minutes to go.
-78 to 75 with 1 minute to go. USA with the rock. Austin Rivers appears to be a bit banged up.
-USA with the shot clock violation with 57 seconds left. For all of the poise that Kyrie has, he missed the shot bock on that one.
-Raul Neto comes through with a HUGE three pointer to tie it up at 78 after having a relatively quiet game. Only has 11 points now, but don’t let it fool you. The kid can go.
-Quincy Miller hits the 3 with 25 seconds to go to win the gold medal for USA. Didn’t have the best game on the stat sheet, but still held it down for being SLAM’s top player in the class of 2011.
-Brazil with three good looks at a 3 pointer, but couldn’t get one to drop. Buzzer sounds.
-USA with the 81-78 win.
-I’m out guys. I’ll have my all-tournament teams within the next couple of days, including breakdowns of the top guys that caught my eye here at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championships!