Game Day 3 was the last day of group play. Group play doesn’t eliminate anyone, it just seeds teams for the final round. The final round doesn’t eliminate anyone either. All 16 teams get four more games and a definitive ranking from 1 to 16. Both Australia (1-1) and Argentina (2-0) came into the day with the possibility to finish anywhere from 1st to 3rd in their group; finishing first would be a big benefit because it would mean playing a 4th place team in the round of 16 and avoiding another 1st place team until the semifinals.
Australia played a tight game with group leader Mali (2-0.) Cody hit a go ahead alley oop layup with 47 seconds left, and his teammate later hit a game winning 3 points with about 10 seconds left after Mali had tied the score again. With their win, there was a three-way tie at 2-1 between Australia, Mali, and Canada. The tie-breaker was point differential in the games between those three teams, so Australia got 2nd in the group. If the tie-breaker had been overall point differential, Australia would have gotten 1st because of its shellacking of Latvia.
Mali was on a different level athletically than Australia, but they looked raw. Mali had lot of missed layups, a missed dunk, and 20 turnovers from flinging the ball all over the court. Australia jumped out to a 12-0 lead. Kody scored the last four points in that run with a great take and finish, followed by an immediate steal in the Mali backcourt and another layup. Mali came roaring back, forcing 26 turnovers through their athleticism, and Australia’s lack of discipline.
Australia plays Lithuania today at 5:45 PM local time/10:45 AM ET in the round of 16. If they win, they probably get undefeated Serbia in the quarterfinals. If they lose, probably Philippines in the losers’ bracket.
Argentina had an exciting comeback win against host Greece (1-1.) There were a few hundred fans at the game, maybe an order of magnitude more than I’d seen at any other game. Greece went up by as many as 16 with 16 minutes left, but Argentina fought back to win by 5 behind 47 second half points. With the win, Argentina wrapped up group play undefeated, but they did it by only 12 total points. Nothing was easy.
Argentina faces Puerto Rico in the round of 16 at 4 PM local time/9 AM ET. Puerto Rico lost their three games by only 29 total points, the best differential of 4th place teams. With a win, they’d face the winner of New Zealand and Mali, two 2-1 teams.
As usual, I caught the games with Coach Soderberg. After the games, I ran into Australia back in town and got a picture with Kody. I’m 6’4”, so he looks a 6’6” or 6’7” to me. We walked and talked for about a minute and most of the conversation was him asking me for major advice! I love that UVA basketball players are real students.
Stattmann Stats, Info, and Time Stamps
Kody started and played 21:33 (FIBA games are 40 minutes). This is a lot less than he played in the first game, which was also close. I think the difference was that Kody was missing everything a back up Alex Ducas, a St. Mary’s commit, was playing well.
Australia won by 3, and was +2 with Kody on the court.
Kody was 3-5 on 2s, 1-8 on 3s and didn’t attempt a FT. He also had 1 TO. That’s 6 points ending 14 possessions, .43 PPP, which is abysmal.
Through three games, Kody is 5-23 from three (21.7%) and has 33 points ending 49 possessions for .674 PPP. Both of those are quite bad, especially for someone who is supposed to be a shooter and is clearly better on the offensive end than the defensive end. But three games is a crazy small sample size; I’m sure we can find three game stretches when even Dre or Ty were terrible last year.
The rest of his stats: 1 DR, 2 S, 1 B, and 1 TO.
I thought played a very good first half. I thought his decision making on drives was bad the first two games, but it was good in the first half. One drive, led to a defensive foul. One led to a nice lay up. One led to a kick to an open shooter. He was only 1-4 from 3, but it was a solid showing.
The second half was rougher. He missed four more 3s without hitting one, and he sat for a nearly 10 minute stretch. But I like that he kept working. He made a nice back door cut with less than a minute left in a tie game and scored an alley oop lay up.
On offense, Australia runs what looks like the NBA style to me: a ball screen with shooters in the corners. So Kody does a lot of standing around at the three point line. They do run plays designed to get him three point looks off of screens, which are more similar to what he’ll be expected to do at UVA. He has made some 3s off those plays, but as noted, his shooting percentage has been quite low this tournament.
His defense was impossible to judge this game because Australia played a 2-2-1 zone press and then a 2-3 half court defense for much of the game with only a little man defense thrown in. It’s disappointing he’s not practicing real defense with his teammates in Charlottesville right now instead of running these gimmicky sets.
Kody (#6) Time Stamps to go along with this video of the game:
6:25 catches, attacks, draws foul
6:17 play designed for Kody leads to made 3
6:00 great take and finish, immediate steal, and another lay up to push lead to 12-0
4:50 transition 3 miss
9:30 nice drive and kick
8:11 designed play for Kody, misses 3
7:53 travels trying to make something happen at end of shot clock
6:10 misses a layup after going coast-to-coast in transition
0:47 oop layup to break tie
Francisco Stats, Info, and Time Stamps
Papi started and played 21:10. His minutes were limited by a left calf injury and fouls. He told Coach Soderberg he had been kicked there in game 2 and was in pain. The leg was clearly being worked on throughout the came. Whatever they did to it at halftime made it bright red. At time outs in the second half, his leg was being iced on the bench. He also had two fouls in the first quarter, a third right after halftime, and a fourth in the fourth quarter. He fouled out with 1:35 left.
Argentina beat Greece by 5 and was +6 with Papi on the court.
Papi was 2-3 on 2s and 2-2 on FTs. He also had 3 TO. That’s 6 points ending 7 possessions, for 0.86 PPP.
His totals are 32 points on 32 possession for 1 PPP, which is adequate. He’s 13-22 on 2s and 6-13 on FTs.
Papi had 9 DR, 1 OR, and 1 B. The rebounds were getting fist pumps from Coach Soderberg.
Papi’s first game he had problems with cramping. His second game, we thought he was cramping again, but he told Coach Soderberg that he had actually been kicked in the left calf. Apparently he was in a lot of pain, but he played as much as fouls allowed today and played effectively on the glass and when he got a chance on offense. I wish they would feed him more.
From what I’ve seen and heard, Papi is full of confidence. “Oh we’ll beat Greece,” he said when asked before the game. Right before taking the court, he bent over to kiss the bald head of an Argentina manager. Coach Soderberg said Papi better not do that to him. Then there’s the nickname. How one gets the nickname Big Papi or has the onions to ask college and national coaches to call him that is beyond me. We’ve had a few outgoing, confident, and fun-loving guys on the team--Mamadi and Kyle come to mind--and they’ve been fan favorites. I think Papi will be too.
On defense, Papi looked good down low. He had a block and he had some shots he contested with perfect verticality a la Jack Salt. But for whatever reason, Argentina was switching most screens, so he often ended up guarding someone on the perimeter. At one point, Greece made three straight 3s over him. I don’t think that was Papi’s fault; it was the coach’s. He won’t be asked to guard on the perimeter at UVA. Unfortunately Argentina doesn’t have the big man hedge on ball screens, so I don’t know how capable Papi is of that very important skill for UVA big men.
Papi (#11) Time Stamps to go along with this video of the game:
6:35 fumbles a catch
4:01 moving screen, foul #2
4:54 strong finish in traffic
0:55 offensive rebound, one dribble, dunk, then defensive rebound
8:35 perfect verticality on defense
8:05 suspect fourth foul on what looked like a clean block from the stands