It was an emotional scene for Brazil’s coaches, players, and fans on Saturday night as San Antonio Spurs’ Tiago Splitter and Brazil defeated the Dominican Republic 83-76 in the 2011 FIBA Americas tournament. A win not only secured a slot in Sunday’s championship round; but also an automatic Olympic birth for Brazil in the 2012 London Games.
Brazil’s basketball program hasn’t qualified for the Olympics since 1996, it was a very proud moment for the players as they hugged and corralled around each other. A fan was cheering in the stands and then broke out in tears, you could see the emotion from all wearing the colors white, green, and yellow.
The game was close throughout and though Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford and his teammate Jack Michael Martinez combined for 36 points and 22 rebounds, Brazil was able to persevere in the end as their frontline racked up foul after foul throughout the game.
Splitter was one such player who got in early foul trouble as he had three fouls in seven minutes for zero points in the first half. Splitter would sit the entire third quarter and be reinserted early in the fourth quarter before being called for is fourth foul. He was taken out once again but was able to close out the game with Brazil as he finished with three points and three rebounds.
Marcelo Machado was the man for Brazil as he led the team with 20 points by lighting up the arc going 5-of-8 shooting.
Brazil awaits the winner of Argentina and Puerto Rico for the championship match of the 2011 FIBA Americas on Sunday.