Tue, Aug 28, 2007 - Page 18 News List

James, Bryant star as US crush Brazil in FIBA Americas


LeBron James scored 21 points, Kobe Bryant added 20 and harassed Leandro Barbosa all over the court, and the US clinched the top spot in its group by beating Brazil 113-76 on Sunday in the FIBA Americas tournament.

Carmelo Anthony also had 21 for the Americans (4-0), who for the second-straight game pulled away by holding their opponent without a field goal for more than 6 minutes in the second quarter.

The US improved to 30-0 in Olympic qualifying games and were to open second-round play yesterday against Mexico, the fourth-place finisher in Group A.

"When you see Kobe Bryant diving for loose balls and you see LeBron and Carmelo giving it the kind of work that they're putting into this, that commitment and passion, that's a message," USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said.

Bryant led the defensive effort that held Barbosa to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting.

"I knew that he was going to come up and defense me and guard me like he did and all I was trying to do was get the ball, but I didn't have many balls in my hand," Barbosa said. "But that's OK. It's about tomorrow now, let's forget about this."

Tiago Splitter, drafted by San Antonio, led Brazil with 13 points.

Brazil (3-1) settled for second place in Group B and were to face either Panama or Puerto Rico yesterday. The teams with the four best records after second-round play advance to the semi-finals on Saturday. The winners of those two games earn spots in Beijing. The next three finishers advance to an Olympic qualifying tournament in July.

Earlier, Greivis Vasquez and Hector Romero both scored in double figures to lead Venezuela to a 100-90 victory over the US Virgin Islands, advancing the South Americans to the second round.

Vasquez had 18 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, while Romero had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Venezuela (1-3), which finished fourth in its five-team pool. It will play four games in the second round starting with Argentina, the top seed from the other pool, yesterday.

Also on Sunday, Nicolas Mazzarino scored 36 points, including a tournament-best eight 3-pointers, and Uruguay beat Mexico 91-82.

Vasquez, who will be entering his second year at the University of Maryland in the US, played 38 minutes in the win over the US Virgin Islands (0-4).

"I know I'm a college player, but I have to be more professional like these guys and play that way," he said, referring to his teammates, almost all of whom play in professional leagues in Venezuela. "I have a lot of work to do if I'm to play in the NBA one day and play with the best."

Venezuela pulled away from a 37-33 halftime lead with a 12-4 run. It was capped by a 3-pointer by Romero on a kickout pass from Vasquez, who had driven the lane and drew in the defense.

Jason Edwin led the US Virgin Islands with 32 points.

Mazzarino, who plays for Pallacanestro Cantu in Italy, matched Brazil's Barbosa for the highest point total in the tournament. Barbosa had 36 points on Saturday in a victory over the US Virgin Islands.

Esteban Batista had 25 points and 15 rebounds for Uruguay (3-1), which finished second in its five-team pool and were to open second-round play yesterday against Canada (2-2).

Romel Beck had 28 points for Mexico (1-3).

Batista, the tournament's leading rebounder at 14.5 per game, hit a free throw with 5:31 left to give Uruguay a 72-71 lead.

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