Brazil came into this tournament boasting perhaps the best frontcourt in Turkey, and certainly the most efficient. Neither Nene nor Tiago nor Varejao dreamed of three pointers and fadeaways from the elbow. Their work was done toward the basket, the way Mikan intended it.
But now Varejao is sitting out with an ankle issue and Nene’s leg will keep him out for the duration, so Splitter is left to his own devices against the Beast of the Middle East: Hamed Haddadi. Let’s get it:
-I returned home (my seat, but feels like that after my ass has been parked here for six straight hours) after a kebab break to find Hamed Haddadi hoopin’ up a storm. First He took Marcelo Huertas (thaqt’s point guard Marcelo Huertas) off the dribble from the top of the key, spun, stepped back and nailed the jumper. The next way down, Tiago got it on the block and tried to take him one-on-one. It was a great move; patented Tiago pump left, spin right. Only problem is that Hamed’s arms are longer than lines at the DMV and he swatted it out. A couple possessions later and another block. Then he leaked out in transition and waited at the three point line. He got his wish, then he got swish. Cheesy but true. Hamed is getting his.
-Tiago continues to be the smartest post defender in Europe. Couldn’t care less about blocks as long as he makes the shot more difficult. Nine out of ten times, he does. Big men should follow his lead and never bend at the waist. Brazil leads it 17-12.
-Iran not playing overly sloppy to the eyes, but Brazil capitalizing on everything with 12 points off turnovers already.
-When Hamed Haddadi’s out this Iran team looks utterly hopeless, especially as far as defending the basket. I know he needs rest, but maybe the end of quarters isn’t the best time to do it. Start of the second maybe, a la LeBron.
-Brazil leads 22-12 at the end of the first. Come on Group B: give me a close game today.
-Joao Paolo Batista, Nene’s injury replacement, looks like he hasn’t jumped since his days at Gonzaga. In fact, not sure he ever jumped then either. I shall consult YouTube later. Oh wait, it’s blocked by the Turkish government.
-Brazil just turned a fastbreak opportunity into a near turnover. First three passes were cute but the last two, unnecessary. If you’re there, put it up. Especially if Ashgar Kardoust is the only thing standing between you two and an easy two.
-Mahdi Kamrany knocks down a three. He ain’t the captain for nothin’. Lead down to 9, 15-24.
-Marcelo Machado spoils the party with a long one of his own. Lead back to 12. He’s another one of the swingmen who needs to step up if Brazil wants to be the medal contenders I once thought them to be.
-I’ve got to check on this, but Aren Davoudichegani just might have the longest surname of anybody here. Oh, and he just hit a jumper.
-Huertas draws a foul and hits a pair and Haddadi cleans one up on the other end. Next possession he hits a jumper. Now Giovonnani makes a lay-up. Somebody play some defense, for God’s sake. My typing cannot keep up. It’s 27-35 Brazil.
…and right as I went to click ‘Update’ Barbosa makes a transition lay. The n Haddadi turnaround jumper. Geez. Give a blogger a break.
-Pick and roll executed perfectly by Huertas and Splitter. Best we’ve laid witness to all day. That’s why Caja Laboral were the ACB Champs.
-39-29 at the half.
-Tiago Splitter touches the ball to his spine and then finishes with two hands on the break. This guy is so much better than people give him credit for, even though they give him plenty to begin with.
-Hamed just cleared everyone out, called for it at halfcourt and tried to take Splitter one-on-one from the top. Tiago almost ripped him before Hamed recovered, got to the hoop and dished it to his right where his buddy missed a jumper. You’ve gotta love his ambition though.
-Two consecutive Iranian possessions end with missed lay-ups. That might’ve been their last chance to cut into this 17-point lead. With under a minute left to go in the third, 13 sure would’ve sounded a lot better.
-Well at least they got it to 15 thanks to a leg-kickin’ three from Davoudichegani as time expired in the third.
-Brazil takes a 61-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
-Saman Veisi blocks Machado’s shot and is rewarded on the run out. Catches the rock and puts it where it belongs. Those missed lay-ins loom large now. 61-48.
-And in three possessions Marcelo and and Splitter perform their intended duties excellently. Huertas foes glass for two. SPlitter jam. Then Huertas drives and leaves it behind for Splitter to put it off the square. And with that 6-0 run, the Iranian fans have taken their seats. Giovanonni tacks on another pair and it’s now 72-52.
-Telling statistics thus far: Brazil leads in fastbreak points 20-2. They’ve made 15/18 FT’s as opposed to Iran’s 8/13. They’ve assisted on 14 of their buckets versus only 7 for Iran. All of these stats the results of quick, directed offense. Iran came into this with no plan other than “Let’s hope Hamed plays well.”
-And Brazil closes it out 81-65. Iran played hard, just not very smart all of the time. Considering the talent gap and all the mental mistakes they made, 16 points isn’t really all that bad.
-Damn, hate to spoil the final stats, but just realized Haddadi had 5 blocks tonight. Goodness gracious. I know it’s hip to poke fun at him in NBA circles (I do it also because he’s just such a character) but this man can play some roundball.
Brazil: Giovannoni (17 pts, 7 rebs), Splitter (13 pts, 4 rebs, 1 block), Barbosa (13 pts), Huertas (10 pts, 9 assists)
Iran: Hamed Haddadi (16 pts, 9 rebs, 5 blocks)Mahdi Kamrany (13 pts, 4 assists), Arsalan Kazemi (9 pts, 6 rebs, 2 steals)
I’m going to try and find Haddadi and tell him I’m secretly his biggest fan. It’s been fun today everyone. Tomorrow’s line-up looks like this:
USA vs. Slovenia @ 16:30 GMT +3
Croatia vs. Iran @ 19:00 GMT +3
Brazil vs. Tunisia @ 21:30 GMT +3