In a poorly played, grind-it-out game, France dug deep and defeated Argentina 71 - 64 in their second game of the Olympics. France was coming off a decisive loss against Team USA and needed to win if they hoped to avoid Spain in the knock-out stage. Argentina played one of the best games in their history against Lithuania but couldn't keep the momentum going. After this game, both teams have a win and a loss.
Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker led their teams in scoring, while the other Spurs, Nando De Colo and Boris Diaw, had quiet performances. After the jump, Bob Nelson and I break down the play of both teams and after that comes a review of all of the Spurs and how they're performing in these Olympics.
Bob's Team France recap
Team France looked... ridiculous... against Team USA. Sure, there were reasons: the group had played exactly ONE preparation game with the whole roster, the best player and playmaker was still recovering from a STUPID eye injury, but whatever... Team France looked ridiculous.
Also... Team France had ambitions. A medal.
So the second game against Argentina was a case of "do or die". Even if a loss wouldn't mean leaving the tournament, it would have meant accepting second-class status.
Ouf!!! ... ... ... and thank you, Nico!
What a difference one player can make! All the others did their jobs, from top scorer Tony (17 points) to top rebounder Boris (6 boards) to often overlooked Mikaël to rock-solid Nando... but the key was Nico. Starting with a dunk on the first action of the game, Nico made the difference. Scoring inside and outside, blocking shots, taking boards in the stratosphere--he did it all.
Manu was magnificent, putting together the most impressive performance on the court....... but Nico won the game.
Now... Let's not relax against Lithuania...
Edg's Team Argentina recap
Well, that sucked
Argentina clearly wanted to slow the game down and went to Scola in the post early and often. Unfortunately, Luis couldn't score with any consistency, going 1-7 in the first quarter. The same offense that looked amazing against Lithuania dried out and, with Scola in early foul trouble, it was on Ginobili to get it going. Manu answered the call, but no other Argentine player had a good performance. Nocioni continues to underwhelm, while Delfino came crashing back to Earth after a fantastic Game 1, missing his five 3-point attempts.
There were three aspects in which Argentina did a phenomenal job against Lithuania and were the reason for the win: rebounding, 3-point shooting and turnovers. Against Lithuania, Argentina tied on the boards; against France they were out-rebounded by 12, allowing 10 offensive boards. After turning it over only 7 times in Game 1, they turned it over 12 times against the French. Those extra possessions are huge in a close game like this one. If the 3s were falling, Argentina would have won, not in small part thanks to France's mediocre play. Unfortunately, Argentina went 4-23 (17.4%) from deep to France's 9-25 (36%). Game over.
How did the Spurs players look?
Manu: Ginobili had another fantastic game, scoring 26 points to lead all players and contributing to the rebounding effort with 5 boards. He made three of Argentina's four 3-pointers and the only aspect in which he wasn't stellar was his playmaking. Argentina needs more from Manu than one assist to four turnovers.
Parker: Tony looked pretty bad to start the game, often deferring and struggling to make his mark on the game. In the second half, he was much more aggressive and got himself to the line eight times. Every one of those free throws was needed, since he shot poorly from the floor, connecting on only four of his seventeen attempts. Tony will need to cut down the 3-pointers (0-5) and assist a little more for France to have a shot at a medal, but his second half performance was encouraging.
Nando De Colo: Nando Calrissian played a pretty complete game, as Bob pointed out. 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists for De Colo, but the most impressive part of his game was his 3-point shooting. De Colo, Gelabale and Batum had three 3-pointers each and that might have been the difference between this two teams.
Boris Diaw: Not the best game for Boris, who struggled on both sides of the ball. He did have 3 assists and 6 boards, but France expects more from Diaw than 2 points in six shots in only 18 minutes of action before fouling out. Fortunately for France, Kevin Seraphin (10 points, 3 blocks) picked up the slack.
So Tony got the best of Manu in their first ever game going against each other. Both teams will make the next round, but France needed this win after a borderline embarrassing performance against Team USA. Argentina should take this game as a warning that opposing teams know how to hurt them and try to improve on the boards.
Like we mentioned, France will play against Lithuania on Thursday, and a win will make the French a shoe-in for the second place on the group behind the U.S. If Lithuania wins, France will probably finish 3rd in the group.
Argentina will have an easy couple of games against the African nations before meeting Team USA on the final match of group play. If France wins against Lithuania, Argentina will likely finish 3rd in the group and will face either Brazil or Russia in the quarter finals. If France loses, Argentina should finish 2nd.
Tiago Splitter: Tiago played a fantastic game in the close win against Great Britain. He scored 21 of Brazil's 67 total points and was the leading rebounder with 6. He shot remarkably well from the floor (9-11), but his free throw shooting (3-7) remains below par. Such a Spur.
Brazil will face Russia on Thursday in a game that could determine who finishes second in the group.
Patty Mills: Patty continues to struggle from the field on the Olympics. In Australia's blowout loss against Spain he went 5-16 (0-5 from 3) and is 14-40 (1-14 from 3) for the tournament. He averages around 15 points per game, but his inefficiency is hurting Australia. That being said, Patty often has to bail his team out, since Australia's offense is not exactly filled with shot creators.
The Aussies will face China in a must-win game this Thursday. The winner will likely finish 4th in the group and go on to face Team USA.