Barbosa, Brazil find scoring touch, clinch semifinal berth

LAS VEGAS -- Leandro Barbosa scored 32 points to lead Brazil
to a 96-62 victory over Uruguay on Thursday and a berth in the
semifinals of the FIBA Americas tournament.

Brazil (4-3) clinched third place and will play Argentina in the
semifinals on Saturday.

The top two teams in the tournament earn berths in the Beijing
Olympics, while the next three finishers advance to an Olympic
qualifying tournament next July.

Argentina beat Brazil 86-79 in overtime on Wednesday in their
second-round meeting and Barbosa, the tournament's leading scorer
with a 22.3 average, had 16 points on 5-for-18 shooting.

"Since we lost yesterday we came in with a lot more energy and
was more physical," Brazil center Nene, who plays for the Denver
Nuggets, said after getting eight points and four rebounds against
Uruguay. "We'll bring that energy Saturday. It will be a big game
for both teams."

With the semifinal winners earning the Olympic berths, the rest
of the field talked all tournament about avoiding the United States
in the semifinals.

Uruguay (2-5) scored the opening basket of the second half to
get within 44-39, but Brazil used its depth and size advantage to
take over. Brazil scored 10 straight points and held Uruguay to
just three more field goals in the quarter in opening a 74-45 lead.

Barbosa had 15 points in the quarter and except for his two 3-pointers and another by Valter Da Silva, Brazil's points all came near the basket. Batista had all of Uruguay's points in the quarter.

Uruguay's Esteban Batista finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Uruguay still had a chance to finish fifth and play in the Olympic qualifying tournament, but needed Canada to beat Puerto Rico. As the final second of Puerto Rico's victory wound down, the Uruguay players filed out of their seats behind the basket and silently headed for the team bus.

In other action on Thursday:

Puerto Rico 72, Canada 66

On the verge of being eliminated from the FIBA Americas
tournament four days ago, Puerto Rico made its way to the
semifinals with a victory over Canada.

Puerto Rico (3-4) will face the United States in Saturday's semifinals with the winner of that game earning a berth in the Beijing Olympics.

Last Sunday night, Puerto Rico looked like it wouldn't even
reach the second round of this 10-team tournament. It needed
Argentina to beat Panama and with two minutes left in regulation
Argentina was down seven points.

Most of the Puerto Rico team was in the stands that night to
watch Argentina force overtime and go on to a 109-92 victory.

"Our thanks go to the Argentina basketball team because they
gave us the opportunity and that's the kind of gift basketball
gives," said Puerto Rico guard Carlos Arroyo, who plays for the
Orlando Magic.

John Peter Ramos' hook shot two minutes into the fourth quarter
gave Puerto Rico a 62-43 lead. Canada (3-4), coming off a third quarter
when it shot 3-for-18 from the field, suddenly started hitting
shots and went on an 11-0 run.

After Arroyo's driving jumper gave Puerto Rico a 68-61 lead with
3:06 to play, Puerto Rico came up empty on six straight
possessions. But Canada didn't take advantage missing three of six
free throws before David Thomas' layup got it within 68-66 with 21
seconds left.

Jose Juan Barea, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks, made two
free throws for Puerto Rico with 16 seconds left and Filiberto
Rivera added two more with 8.2 seconds left for the final margin.

Even though Canada didn't reach the semifinals, it -- along with
the semifinals losers here -- advanced to an Olympic qualifying
tournament next July when the final three berths in Beijing will be

"We all get a little greedy," Canada coach Leo Rautins said.
"The top two go from here and that's what we wanted but
realistically, with this team's age and experience, the top five
gets us where we want to be. We'll be a year older and a year
stronger. The road's just beginning."

Mexico 101, Venezuela 91

Anthony Pedroza scored 27 points and Mexico
snapped a six-game losing streak by defeating Venezuela on Thursday in the teams' final game at the FIBA Americas tournament.

Mexico (2-5) opened the tournament eight days ago with a 100-89
victory over Puerto Rico then lost its last three games of the
first round -- one of which didn't carry over in its record to the
second round -- and its first three of the second round, including a
127-100 loss to the United States.

Romel Beck, Mexico's leading scorer at 20.3 points per game,
didn't play against Venezuela. Beck, who played at UNLV, was
limited to 19 minutes in the loss to Canada on Wednesday because of
sore calf muscle and coach Nolan Richardson decided to keep the
6-foot-7 guard out of the final game.

Hector Romero had 23 points for Venezuela (1-6), which finished last among the eight
teams that advanced to the second round.

Venezuela shot 51 percent (20-for-39) in taking a 50-46 halftime
lead. Mexico held Venezuela to 5-for-15 shooting and 15 points in
the third quarter and went ahead 77-65. The lead was as much as 21
points in the fourth quarter, the last time at 93-72 with 4:40 to

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.