The opening day of the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship featured no upsets, and just one close call. Three of the four games ended with margins of 30 points or more, as the gap between the best and worst of the region was in full view.
The only close match came between a Brazil team lacking three of its four NBA players and a Venezuela squad led by Greivis Vasquez and coached by Eric Musselman of the D-League's L.A. Defenders. Venezuela led for much of the game, but the Brazilians took control behind the Spurs' Tiago Splitter and Barca point guard Marcelinho Huertas late to finish with a 92-83 victory. Splitter had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Vasquez, who plays for the Grizzlies, finished with 26 points and seven assists.
In the Dominican Republic's 90-60 romp over Cuba, the Hawks' Al Horford made his case as the best player in the tournament. Horford finished with 24 points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes of action, and was joined by Jack Michael Martinez (16 points, 10 rebounds).
In Group B, Argentina beat up on Paraguay as expected. The Argentines pulled out an 84-52 win with Paolo Quinteros racking up 19 points. Manu Ginobili played just 21 minutes in the blowout, finished with 10 points. Luis Scola popped in 14 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes.
Argentina's only challenger in Group B, Puerto Rico, took care of Panama 99-66. Surprisingly it was Bimbo Carmona -- not Carlos Arroyo or J.J. Barea -- who led the P.R. in scoring with 16 points. Arroyo scored 11 and Barea added eight.
The most intriguing match on Wednesday's docket is a meeting between Canada and Brazil in Group A. The Canadians aren't expected to win an Olympic berth outright in this tournament, but are much stronger top-to-bottom than Venezuela and could test the Brazilians. In other action, the Dominicans will meet Venezuela, Paraguay will take on Puerto Rico and Argentina will face Uruguay.