Brazil-Great Britain Preview

Brazil pulled off a slight upset in its first Olympic men’s

basketball game in 16 years. Its next opponent had a different

experience while ending a much lengthier absence.

With help from an experienced frontcourt, Brazil will try to

further its chances of advancing to the quarterfinals Tuesday by

getting past host Great Britain, which struggled during its first

Olympic appearance since 1948.

With one of its four NBA players and captain Marcelinho Huertas

leading the way, Brazil held off Australia 75-71 on Sunday. With 16

points, Indiana Pacers guard Leandro Barbosa led FIBA’s 13th-ranked

team in its win over the No. 9 squad.

Huertas, a point guard currently playing in Spain’s top league,

contributed 15 points, 10 assists and two free throws with five

seconds left.

“It was no doubt a special game,” Huertas said. “It is a moment

of joy because we started a very difficult competition on the right

foot. I am very happy because this win gives us much more

confidence for our next game.”

That next game will be against a 43rd-ranked British squad that

suffered a 95-75 defeat to Russia on Sunday. Chicago Bulls forward

Luol Deng, the only player with NBA experience on the roster, had a

team-best 26 points on 8-of-27 shooting, including 2 for 11 from

3-point range.

Former NBA player Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored 22 points and Joel

Freeland, signed by Portland earlier this month after being drafted

in 2006, was the only other player in double figures with 13

points.

Great Britain shot 32.9 percent (25 of 76) and was 4 of 26 from

beyond the arc. It also allowed Russia to shoot 62.7 percent.

Britain wasn’t awarded the host country’s traditional automatic

bid until March 2011 after FIBA received assurances that the

country planned to invest in the sport following the Olympics.

“(The game) was special,” forward Robert Archibald said. “We’ve

never had this in the UK, a crowd this size that’s behind the team.

It’s great. It was a special experience but it’s tough because

right now, we’re focused on getting wins and trying to achieve that

goal and get to the next round.”

The countries are meeting for the first time since a 76-11 rout

for Brazil in 1948. Britain went 0-5 hosting those games, while

Brazil won all five of its qualifying contests en route to the

bronze, one of its three Olympic medals in men’s basketball. It

claimed the most recent of those in 1964, also a bronze.

Tiago Splitter will try to help his country move a step closer

to another medal by improving on a 2-for-10 shooting performance in

Sunday’s game. The San Antonio Spurs center had seven points and

seven rebounds.

Washington Wizards post player Nene Hilario had eight points and

seven boards, while Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao was

Brazil’s third player in double figures with 12 points.