Luis Scola, Argentina rout Tunisia despite poor first quarter

Before the Olympics, Suns forward Luis Scola said there’s always one Olympic team expected to contend for a medal that falls well short of expectations. After one quarter of play on Thursday coming off an upset loss to France, Argentina looked to be that team.

But after falling behind 28-14 in that opening period, the Argentinians showed why they were expected to challenge for a medal in the first place by bludgeoning poor Tunisia 78-41 the rest of the way to earn a 92-69 blowout victory.

Scola once again was instrumental in the win, playing a superb all-around game with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while shooting 8-for-14 from the field in 36 minutes. Scola was third on the team in scoring (Many Ginobili went for 24 and Carlos Delfino 21), first in boards and second in assists, not a bad day’s work for the Argentinian team captain.

After this excellent performance, Scola ranks third in scoring (22.7 ppg, behind Ginobili and Kirilenko), seventh in rebounding (7.7 per contest) and first in fouls drawn (7.3 a game after drawing five in this one) among all Olympians.

I’m not quite sure what went wrong in that ugly first quarter for Argentina, but this veteran squad fixed it in a hurry, outscoring Tunisia 26-12 in the second period to go into the break tied and then 31-16 in the third.

This game was supposed to be a mismatch with Tunisia ranked No. 32 in FIBA’s world rankings and Argentina No. 3, so the outlier certainly seems to be the first quarter rather than the domination that occurred thereafter.

Since this victory was supposed to be a foregone conclusion, the real drama for Argentina occurred earlier in the day when France held off Lithuania, 82-74, thanks to an excellent third quarter that Tony Parker’s crew won 20-9 after trailing by four at the break.

So long as no upsets occur, this victory clinched the No. 2 seed in Group A for France (2-1) and the No. 3 seed for Argentina (2-1).

After watching Team USA’s sublime effort in its 83-point blowout of Nigeria that set a slew of offensive records, it seems safe to say Argentina will also defeat Nigeria when they face off on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. MST and that they have little to no chance against the Americans on Monday.

If Argentina were to somehow knock off Team USA, they could forge a three-way tie with France and the United States that would likely lead Argentina to the No. 2 seed, but that seems unlikely enough that there’s no reason to waste any more bandwidth pondering it.

Over in Group B, Russia shocked Brazil on an impossible game-winning three in the final seconds in the de facto battle for the No. 2 seed (assuming Spain does in fact beat the Russians on Saturday in a game for the top seed in the group). As the likely No. 3, Argentina should face off against the loser of that Spain-Russia game in the quarterfinals, unless Spain falls to Russia and Brazil in its final two games, in which case Argentina would get its South American counterparts.

The worse news is that means Argentina will be on a collision course with Team USA in the semifinals if they even get that far, and based on what happened today that sounds like a death sentence (although they could still receive a bronze without beating the Americans). If Spain were to fall to that No. 2 seed, Argentina would be standing in the way of the presumed top two teams in the field.

In other words, Scola and his teammates better sharpen their games Saturday against Nigeria because they will face a brutal schedule on their journey for a medal the rest of the way.

And 1

I joined LiveSportsTalk this afternoon to talk some Suns hoops:

Tags: Argentina Luis Scola

  • shazam

    uhhhm go argentina?

  • Jeremy A

    I wonder who is going to posterize Scola in Argentina v USA. My money is on Westbrook

  • sun also rises

    Maybe Love will use poor Luis’s face as a welcome mat again.

  • JT’s Hoops Blog

    That makes Argentina 1-2 or 2-2?

    • Michael Schwartz

      2-1 actually.

  • Scott

    Here’s a question: if the Suns are going to spend the new few years rebuilding, does this mean there’s no particular need to keep Gortat, and he should be traded for younger assets?

  • Jeremy A


    Interesting thought. I have also been curious how Gortat is going to fit us in the future. I believe we have him for the next two years at around $7 mil per season. In 2 year’s he’ll be a 30 year old center looking for a new contract. Hopefully we spend a pick in the draft next year to develop a young center under Gortat (Rudy Gobert maybe?). Then idk what happens after 2 years. Interesting indeed…

  • Michael Schwartz

    The thing is the Suns are trying to compete in the present, it’s not like they are tanking in which case trading Gortat would be an obvious move. They want to be as good as they can be.

    I think it’s pretty likely that Gortat will be overpaid on his next deal after being underpaid on this one, and since he relies on speed and athleticism who knows how well he will age so I do see merit in a trade down the road perhaps. I really don’t think there is any chance they trade him before next summer. I do see your point though, and perhaps around the draft a deal will materialize as the Suns enter phase two of this rebuilding project.

  • Scott

    I figured the answer was going to be “yes,” and a time frame of one year. :)

    What got me thinking about it again was an article linked to on TrueHoop about how the Rockets still have so many young PF/Cs on their roster.