“While we sometimes automatically say the world has grown closer to catching up to the USA, the truth is, country by country, there’s a bigger gap than ever,” Fraschilla said. “There are quality NBA players among international players, but there are also more quality American players in the NBA who are now in the USA Basketball pool. “Argentina and Spain and the rest of the world for that matter don’t have the depth of talent pools that will be able to – in the next four-year cycle – consistently compete with the USA. Now, it doesn’t mean the USA can’t get beat at some point. But it’s less likely than it was say back in 2004 and 2006.”
Heissler Guillent scored 15 points and Venezuela pulled off another upset, beating Argentina 71-67 on Saturday night to win the FIBA Americas championship for the first time. Guillent scored 19 points in the semifinals against heavy favorite Canada on Friday night to give the Venezuelans their first Olympic berth since Barcelona in 1992. Also Saturday, Canada beat Mexico 84-83 in the third-place game.
Luis Scola (Argentina), who led the tournament averaging 21.1 points, along with 10.1 rebounds per game (2nd best in the tournament), was named Most Valuable Player of the Championship, presented by Tissot. Scola headlined the All-Star Five which also consisted of Heissler Guillent (Venezuela), Andrew Wiggins (Canada), Andres Nocioni (Argentina) and Gustavo Ayon (Mexico).
Luis Scola, like just about every 35-year-old who’s played in more Olympics and World Championships and FIBA Americas than he’d probably care to remember, knows all the tricks of the trade. He’s sneaky and rough and he’s been around long enough to know what he can get away with then, as he pointed out after the game. “When you play in a lot of these tournaments you kind of take a little bit of advantage. You know what’s going to happen, you know how the refs are going to call, you know the other team. Like for me, I was playing against NBA guys and that was a good thing for me because I’m used to it. For those guys, they are playing Argentina, Brazil, Spain and they’re playing different basketball. So it takes a little time, it takes a couple games and I’ve played a couple of those.”
Luis Scola had 35 points and 13 rebounds, and Argentina beat Canada 94-87 on Tuesday in the men’s Olympic qualifying tournament. Scola, a 35-year-old NBA veteran who just signed with Toronto, was 13 for 26 from the field. Nicolas Laprovittola scored 20 points, and Andres Nocioni finished with 15. Argentina improved to 2-0 in Group B. Venezuela (1-0) is second, followed by Puerto Rico (0-1), Canada (0-1) and Cuba (0-1).