Paraguay head coach Arturo Alvarez predicted an upset over Argentina before today’s Group B matchup in the FIBA Americas Championship.
Someone apparently forgot to tell Argentina. Argentina opened the game with eight straight points from Houston Rockets forward and former San Antonio Spurs draft selection Luis Scola.
That would pretty much set the pace for the entire game as Argentina prevailed over Paraguay with a commanding 84 to 52 win.
After Scola dominated inside early on, Argentina got a little sloppy with their passes and Paraguay big man Guillermo Araujo found a weakness in Argentina’s post defense without former Spur Fabricio Oberto, who is expected to be back for Argentina’s second game.
Argentina them clamped down on defense, making Paraguay work for every shot attempt, while running a smooth transition offense with pinpoint passing.
At the end of the first quarter, Argentina was up 30 to 8 with no plans to let Paraguay within arm’s length.
While Spurs guard Manu Ginobili didn’t have a great game, especially after struggling early, Argentina has always been about the team and not about the superstars, so Ginobili found ways to be effective, whether it was on defense, dishing touch passes to open shooters or using his dizzying array of dribble drives to get into the paint to score or get fouled.
Ginobili looks to be in great shape, especially when on the offensive end, but he struggled a bit when he was moved over to small forward and matched up against Bruno Zanotti. A few possessions after that, he was asked to guard Paraguay’s point guard and he’ll likely be asked to guard three positions throughout the qualifier.
One player that may be overshadowed by Ginobili, Scola, Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino and Fabricio Oberto is guard Pedro Quinteros, but he found a way to make an impact today, leading Argentina with 19 points. Scola scored 14 points and Ginobili finished with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. He’ll have to work on turnovers and being patient while driving to prevent from forcing the offense or turnovers.
For Paraguay, Araujo had 18 points and Zarotti pitched in 13. Paraguay’s three-point shooting ailed them all game, only connecting on 2-of-18 three-pointers.
Ginobili and Argentina will be back in action against Uruguay tomorrow.