By Alfredo R. Berrios
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The Brazilian Golden Boys. Brazil won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship by defeating Puerto Rico 61-60 Sunday.
Leandro Barbosa scored 24 points and Tiago Splitter added 13 points with 9 rebounds for the Brazilian squad.
Players coming from the bench gave Puerto Rico a final offensive push in the final quarter. However, they fell short.
Carlos Arroyo led Puerto Rico with 14 points and missed a crucial final shot.
Argentina finished with a bronze medal after defeating Canada 88-73 in the first game of the final stage.
Luis Scola led his team once again with 27 points and Pablo Prigioni scored 17 with 8 assists. Paolo Quinteros helped with 13 points and Juan Cantero came from the bench to make 11.
Jermaine Anderson scored 19 points and 11 assists for Canada; Levon Kendall scored 12 points, Aaron Doornekamp 11 and Kyle Landry 10.
Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Puerto Rico have qualified for the 2010 FIBA World Championship. The World Championship will take place in Turkey from August 28 to Sept. 12, 2010.
Luis Scola was chosen as the MVP of the FIBA Americas Championship by members of the media who covered the tournament.
The Houston Rockets forward averaged a tournament high 23.3 points per game with a total of 233 points in 10 games.
Arroyo and Splitter were also considered in the voting.
Scola totaled 172 points from the field (52.8%).
Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea practically announced his plans to join Puerto Rico's national team for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
"I'm sure that I will be in the World Championship, unless I'm injured," said Barea before the conclusion of the tournament Sunday. "I hope to be healthy and if I'm healthy, they (Dallas Mavericks) wouldn't have a problem letting me play for Puerto Rico."
Barea was removed from Puerto Rico's roster by the Mavericks before the beginning of the qualifying tournament because he was recuperating from shoulder surgery. The guard said he was emotionally affected by their decision and he's been keeping up with some prior commitments sponsored by a mobile company.
"It is very difficullt for me. I came here [to the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, where all games took place] because I had to handle some things, but it is very difficult to be with the guys and the fans... It's been hard for me," Barea said.
He said he spoke with the Mavericks' management, which did not want Dirk Nowitzki to play for Germany at the EuroBasket qualifying tournament beginning Monday, and Nowitzki isn't. According to Barea, the team said that they wouldn't have a problem with Barea playing in Turkey if he's not hurt.
After being eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals last season, Barea expects the Mavs will have a great season. He counts the addition of forward Shawn Marion as one of the elements that triggered his renewed hope.
"We're very fine. We have some good new talent," said Barea, who expects to maintain the same level of playing time he had last season with the team.
During the 2008-09 season, Barea played in 79 games while starting 15 and averaging 20.3 minutes per game. On the offensive end, Barea averaged 7.6 points per game and 3.4 assists.
"I've proven myself and they have the confidence in me. The opportunity is going to come and I have to take advantage of it."
Argentina will start its preparation to the 2010 World Championship 50 days before the opening of the tournament with a higher number of NBA players.
"We will begin in America and then we'll move over to Europe," said coach Sergio Hernandez moments after the end of the team's participation in the FIBA Americas Championship.
According to Hernandez, the objective is to increase Argentina's experience level against European teams.
Hernandez also explained that the preparation time won't be any longer, considering that a lot of the players on his team also play in Europe and the NBA. In the past, the schedule allowed for three months of team practice and international friendlies.
"Before, most of the players played in the Argentinean league. Now, almost all of them play in Europe and the NBA," he said.
It is expected that Argentina will tap other NBA players such as Carlos Delfino, Scola, Andres Nocioni, Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto as well as those who play in Europe such as Paolo Quinteros and Pablo Prignoni, among others.