Brazil hands Argentina first FIBA loss

Staff and wire reports

To understand the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil, think Spurs-Mavericks or Lakers-Celtics, with a healthy dose of nationalism added to the mix.

So while Wednesday’s game at the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in Mar del Plata, Argentina, meant little in the scope of the event — both teams already had qualified for the semifinals on Saturday — it meant a packed house at Malvinas Argentinas Arena, filled mostly with flag-waving, chanting Argentines.

But the locals were left stunned by the outcome: Brazil 73, Argentina 71.

Worse than Argentina’s first loss of the tournament was an injury to Andres Nocioni, the Philadelphia 76ers forward who is one of the team’s top offensive players and its emotional leader.

Jumping center for his team, Nocioni won the opening tap from Spurs center Tiago Splitter but landed awkwardly on his right ankle. Nocioni left the game and did not return, and his status for the remainder of the tournament is unclear.

Coming off a 26-point game against Uruguay in which he made 6 of 8 on 3-pointers, Spurs star Manu Ginobili missed his three long-range attempts against Brazil and made only 5 of 12 total shots. Ginobili scored 14 points but had only one assist and three rebounds, his least effective game of the tournament.

Splitter was in foul trouble early and played only 18 minutes but still managed to grab eight rebounds and hand out three assists.

Canada 70, Uruguay 68: Canada, with Spurs draftee and former Texas star Cory Joseph getting two points, two rebounds and two assists, kept alive its hopes for a spot in next summer’s pre-Olympic qualifying tournament with a win. The fifth-place team at the FIBA Americas will earn that spot. The Canadians need a victory against Panama today, plus a Puerto Rico victory over Venezuela, to clinch that berth.

– Mike Monroe

France 68, Turkey 64: Led by 20 points from Spurs point guard Tony Parker, France moved closer to the quarterfinals of the European basketball championship by beating Turkey.

Parker made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 18 seconds to lift his team, although France nearly squandered a 15-point lead in Vilnius, Lithuania, in the second-round group stage of the tournament.

Spain 77, Germany 68: The Gasol brothers — Pau and Marc — got the better of Dirk Nowitzki, leaving Germany on the brink of elimination of the European tournament.

– Associated Press

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