Argentina entered as favorites against Puerto Rico in its first game of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and it showed why during its 98-75 victory.
From the start, Argentina looked like the more consistent team. At one point in the first quarter, it was shooting 75 percent from the field, and it looked ready to prove that it is indeed a contender despite the absence of international superstar Manu Ginobili.
Puerto Rico, on the other hand, struggled rebounding the ball from the onset of the contest. That’s a problem when you’re missing shots, but the defensive efforts of Ronaldo Balkman kept things close entering the half.
Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, the third quarter is where the silver linings come to an end. The team had no answer for Argentina's up-tempo play, and worst of all, it stopped playing team basketball, reverting to one-on-one possessions and scoring just 11 points in the period.
J.J. Barea finished with 24 points in this one, but calling those "garbage time" points is not only fair, but extremely accurate. The true stars of the show were Luis Scola (20 PTS, 9 REB), Andres Nocioni (18 PTS, 11 REB) and, surprisingly, Selem Safar (18 PTS, 6-of-11 shooting), all for Argentina.
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