FIBA Americas Qualifier: Day 3

By Alfredo R. Berrios


SAN JUAN -- Frustration has reached unexpected heights within Argentina's team.

An incident that took place in the Argentina's locker room after their 76-67 loss to Brazil is under investigation.

"An incident did occur but we're not going to comment for now," said Javier Otero, FIBA Americas' director of communications.

ESPNdeportes.com learned that FIBA America is looking into an incident which involved several players who allegedly damaged the benches and threw objects at the walls. A fine of up to $5,000 could be levied.

Argentina lost to Brazil 76-67 on Friday, Day 3 of the qualifying round.

The Brazilians already qualified to the quarterfinal first round of the FIBA Americas Championship after winning their first three games. Their last game of the first round is on Sunday against Panama.

Leandro Barbosa had 21 points, Anderson Varejao 19 and Marcelo Huertas 18 for Brazil.

Luis Scola led Argentina with 19 points.

Argentina is now under pressure and will have to win at least one of their two remaining games against Panama (Saturday) and the Dominican Republic (Sunday) to keep its hopes alive.

On the court, Argentina resembled the team that won an Olympic gold medal five years ago.

"In reality, I think we played intelligently," Argentina's coach Sergio Hernandez said after the game. "We were haunted by the previous games in which we couldn't make a basket. (Scola) had a strong presence in the paint. We just couldn't complement with the perimeter."

Argentina dominated the boards (34-32), points in the paint (38-32) and second-chance points. Argentina also shot 41 percent from the field, but missed 21 of 42 free throws.

"We played. We fought. We played better at times and defended better," said Scola, who grabbed three rebounds. "We have an important game against Panama [on Saturday]. We will be fine if we play the way we did today."

Said Varejao: "It was a well fought game until the end. Argentina was there until the end of the game but I am happy that we won. Our next step is our next game [Sunday vs. Panama]. We're going to do everything possible to win that game ... one game at a time."

Dominican Al Horford knows that the Atlanta Hawks can now take that next step.
The Hawks, who were swept in four games in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Cleveland Cavaliers, finished the season with a 47-35 record.

"We're very optimistic, waiting for this year to be a good one for us," said Horford, who joined the Dominican Republic national team for the FIBA Americas Championship.

"We added Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith and were able to sign the players we had last year."

Smith, 6-10, is a veteran forward who's played for 10 teams in the NBA, while Crawford, acquired from the Golden State Warriors, averaged 19.7 points and 4.4 assists per game last year.

Horford said that he feels fortunate for being able to participate in the FIBA Americas Championship with his country's team. He added that he enjoys playing with Charlie Villanueva of the Detroit Pistons and Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings.

"It feels good. I feel fortunate to be a part of this team,” said Horford of the Dominican squad. "We have a great team this year. Until now we have meshed well. The chemistry is developing and we're getting to know each other's game. We have a different style and I think that's going to help us out in terms of team unity.”

Dominican Republic [and Mexico] had the day off.

Carlos Arroyo is ready to return to the NBA. However, the Puerto Rican guard, who last played in the NBA with the Orlando Magic, won't reveal the names of the teams that are allegedly having talks with his agent -- not until the FIBA Americas Championship in San Juan concludes.
"There are some opportunities that we're considering. Negotiating a contract is a pretty slow process," Arroyo said. "But my focus is totally on Puerto Rico's national team. My mind and heart needs to be here."

According to several sources, Arroyo, represented by Leon Rose, is in talks to join either the Boston Celtics or the Milwaukee Bucks. However, both teams told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan that they have had no contact whatsoever with Arroyo or his representatives.

On Saturday, El Nuevo Dia, a newspaper out of Puerto Rico, reported that Arroyo was close to signing a deal with the Chicago Bulls. According to the report, the agreement would be for one season and $1 million.

Arroyo guided Maccabi Tel Aviv last season to an Israeli Premier League Championship and was named MVP of the finals.

He averaged 14.4 points and 4.1 assists during the season.

For now, Arroyo says he's very happy while being back home for the FIBA Americas qualifier.

"It's always wonderful to be able to play in front of your fans. It fills me with joy," added Arroyo, who spent seven seasons in the NBA with Toronto, Denver, Utah, Detroit and Orlando.

Puerto Rico became the second team to secure a spot in the quarterfinal round after defeating Uruguay, 71-54.

Arroyo led Puerto Rico with 18 points while Peter John Ramos finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Uruguay was led by Esteban Batista with 19 points and Mauricio Aguiar scored eight points.

Canada defeated the U.S. Virgin Islands, 87-67.
All 11 Canadian players in court scored, led by Jesse Young with 14. Olu Famutimi netted 12 and Andy Rautins scored 11.

Panama took an important step in the qualifying race while defeating Venezuela, 80-71.

Panama's Jaime Lloreda led with 19 points and Danilo Pinnock scored 17.

Venezuelans Hector Romero and Greivis Vasquez scored 17 points each and Richard Lugo had 15.