Friday, August 31, 2007

Tennis US Open - Amazing Calleri

It was definitely a perfect day for the Albiceleste as all representative progress further without much trouble. Among the most outstanding performers of the day were Juan Martin DEL POTRO and Agustin CALLERI.

CALLERI was outstanding in his match against Lleyton HEWITT despite going down in the first set 4-6. he bounced back to outplay HEWITT in the following three set 6-4, 6-4 & 6-2 to set an All-Albiceleste match in the third round against Juan MONACO. MONACO defeated Dudi SELA from Israel 6-4, 6-0, 6-7 & 6-4.
DEL POTRO on the other hand dispatch 31st seed Jurgen MELZER from Austria 6-3, 6-1 & 6-4. while the former warrior David NALBANDIAN did not see much obstacle in his encounter against Belgium's Xavier MALISSE 6-4, 6-4 & 6-2.
Here is the full list of result on the Albiceleste Army.
Agustin CALLERI def Lleyton HEWITT (AUS) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 & 6-2
Juan MONACO def Dudi SELA (ISR) 6-4, 6-0, 6-7 & 6-4
Juan Martin DEL POTRO def Jurgen MELZER (AUT) 6-3, 6-1 & 6-4
Juan Ignacio CHELA def Wayne ODESNIK (USA) 6-3, 6-1 & 7-5
David NALBANDIAN def Xavier MALISSE (BEL) 6-4, 6-4 & 6-2
The draw for the third round will once again see plenty of mouth watering clash, apart from the Albiceleste derby that I've mentioned earlier. DEL POTRO will have a tough assignment ahead of him when he plays against Serbians 3rd seed Novak DJOKOVIC. CHELA will face 12th seed Ivan LJUBICIC from Croatia while NALBANDIAN will be up against 15th Spaniard David FERRER.
Good luck to the racquet's kings.

Tennis US Open - Bad Day For Albiceleste

Not a good day it was for our Albiceleste Army in the first day of the second round fixture. It was a further Jose ACASUSO. Playing against birthday boy and local favourite Andy RODDICK, El Chucho had the better start when he took the first set 6-4. However A-Rod took the next two sets 6-1 , 6-2 but at the end of the third set, ACASUSO retired from the game with a left knee injury.
But the bad news did not just end there. Guillerme CANAS, probably our best player at the moment suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of Korean LEE Hyung-Taik 5-7, 5-7 & 3-6.
The rest of the second round fixtures will be played today. The one that to look forward without a doubt will be Agustin CALLERI against Lleyton HEWITT.

2007 FIBA Americas - No Shame In Defeat

Despite playing against the best team in the tournament with virtually a B Team, the Tall Albiceleste could go to the semis with their heads held high. The United States sealed the top seed in the Semifinal Round of the FIBA Americas Championship with a 91-76 victory over Argentina in the final game of the day on Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The 15-point win for the U.S. was its' smallest margin of victory in this tournament.
As expected the US raced out to a 28-13 lead after the first quarter, relying on the hot hand of Kobe BRYANT, who netted 15 of the team's points in the opening stanza. BRYANT, who led all scorers with 27 points, connected on 10-of-15 shots from the field in just under 23 minutes of play. After leading by as many as 25 points earlier in the contest, the U.S. took a 21-point lead into the fourth quarter. Argentina outscored the U.S. by six and held the Americans to five rebounds in the final quarter.
Luis SCOLA was our best performer of the night with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist & 1 block shot. Not a good game for the rest but I'm sure Sergio HERNANDEZ would want to keep them fresh for probably the most important match of all in the semis.

So once again, standing between our way and the Olympics in non-other than Brazil. In the first meeting we were given a real hard time before BARBOSA and Co. shot themselves in the foot. So what's its going to be this time. My heart is really nervous to say anything. Argentina please not this time, not when we're this close.

Under-17 World Cup 2007 - Swinging Sauro

Argentina put in a solid display to defeat Costa Rica 2-0 on 30 August in Goyang City, and now take their place in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007. Both PIBITOS goals came from the head of Gaston SAURO, supplied by pinpoint crosses from Santiago FERNANDEZ.
Argentina, coached by Miguel Angel TOJO, started the match the stronger, though neither side was able to find their rhythm in a disjointed opening period. As is so often the case on these tense occasions, it took a set piece to break the stalemate. On the 25-minute mark, FERNANDEZ whipped a corner over to the far post, where SAURO arrived to plant a firm header into the net.

TOJO said "I'd like to congratulate Costa Rica because they gave us a very tough game. We won because we were effective from set-piece situations, always a useful weapon in close-fought matches like this, but we didn't put in a particularly sparkling performance during the game itself. This team may not be overflowing with individual talent, but it's packed with typical Argentinian qualities like grit, hard work and intelligence, which is what saw us through."
Their second came 16 minutes later, in an almost identical passage of play, SAURO using his head to finish another sumptuous FERNANDEZ delivery. Costa Rica coach Manuel URENA changed things around after the break, unleashing forwards Josue MARTINEZ and Marcos URENA from the bench. However, despite the latter's best efforts, the Argentinian defence held strong throughout and ensured their team's place in the last eight.

SAURO said "I'm very happy to have scored two goals, especially because they sent us through to the quarter-finals. It was a difficult game, but we were able to use set pieces to good effect - those situations can often prove decisive. Next up are Nigeria, who are very difficult opponents with extremely strong players. We'll stay faithful to our style, however, and I fully believe that we can win the match."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

2007 FIBA Americas – A Lesson Could Come Handy

Losing to Brazil can be very hard to digest for any Albiceleste supporter like you and me. And today I almost had to believe that we had received another biting from them only this time in a totally different manner. After wining six consecutive matches in a row, finally now I’m beginning to realize just how much we are missing GINOBILI and the rest our main figures in the basketball team.

Despite having a positive start in the early stages, bad passing and repeated turnovers caused us badly in the first two quarters. At one point Argentina were trailing by 17 points. But a spirited Tall Albiceleste rallied back to beat our great rival in overtime with a 86-79 score.
Brazil struggle much of the third and fourth quarter after Leandro BARBOSA and Tiago SPLITTER were struggling with foul troubles. Half way in the fourth, SPLITTER was fouled out of the game and that became the turning point of the night.

Luis SCOLA was only on 7 points and rebounds in the first three, would go on to finish a game high 23 points, 12 rebounds & 1 assist. Much of the damage came after SPLITTER was shown the exit as SCOLA was struggling in every one on one situation with his former Tau Ceramica colleague.
Paolo QUINTEROS and Carlos DELFINO were the other star performers of the night. QUINTEROS posted 19 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist & 2 steals. DELFINO posted 17 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist & a game high 5 steals.

Now this is how the situation is going to be. With this victory it is confirm that irrespective of tomorrow’s results against the USA, Argentina will still finish in 2nd place and play in the semi-finals against the team that finishes 3rd. In consequence Argentina will avoid playing USA in the semis. However the tricky part is, there is high possibility that we could end up playing Brazil again in that stage. For now I’m just going to be happy with this result and leave the rest to everyone’s imagination.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Under-17 World Cup 2007 – Argentina vs. Costa Rica (Match Preview)

Argentina will take on the Ticos in their second round encounter for a place in the quarter-finals. Despite having a dreadful start to their campaign after a draw against Syria, Los Pibitos went on to score a convincing 4-1 victory over Honduras before almost piping Spain for the top spot in Group C.

Miguel TOJO young boys will need to improve further in this stage against unpredictable Costa Ricans. This will be fourth meeting between these two sides at this level. I’m happy at least history is our side because in all meeting we have won further positive note to this is the fact that we have yet to concede a goal in all those meetings.

The only setback for TOJO towards the build up to this game is that he will have to do without Alexis MACHUCA, who is serving a one-match suspension. His replacement for the match will be Gaston SAURO.

The match will be played at the Goyang Stadium on the 30th of August, 17:00 (local time)


Albiceleste At The US Open - Day 2

There were plenty of smile in the Albiceleste camp on Day 2 of the tournament. Our entire representative for the day made in through the next round with the exception of Diego HARTFIELD, Carlos BERLOCQ and Martin Vassallo ARQUELLO.

HARTFIELD suffered at the hands of Austrian Jurgen MELZER in straight set, 4-6, 5-7 & 5-7. On the other hand BERLOCQ, despite giving a tough fight, fell to Radek “Mr.HINGIS” STEPANEK from the Czech Republic 6-7, 7-6, 4-6 & 2-6. However in ARQUELLLO case it was a bit strange as he was up against fellow Argentine Jose ACASUSO and the latter won the All-Albiceleste encounter 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 & 6-4.
Our seeded players, David NALBANDIAN and Juan MONACO had quite a bit of trouble in their respective encounter. NALBANDIAN won his tie against Spaniard Ivan Navarro PASTOR, 7-5, 7-6 & 7-6 while MONACO dispatch Edouard Roger VASSELIN from France, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 & 7-5.

Here are the results involving all our players from Day 2

David NALBANDIAN beat Ivan Navarro PASTOR (ESP) 7-5, 7-6 & 7-6

Carlos BERLOCQ lost. Radek STEPANEK (CZE) 6-7, 7-6, 4-6 & 2-6

Juan Ignacio CHELA beat Michael McCLUNE (USA) 6-2, 6-1 & 7-6

Diego HARTFIELD lost Jurgen MELZER (AUT) 4-6, 5-7 & 5-7

Jose ACASUSO beat Martin Vassallo ARQUELLO 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 & 6-4

Juan MONACO beat Edouard Roger VASSELIN (FRA) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 & 7-5

Juan Martin DEL POTRO beat Nicolas MAHUT (FRA) 6-0, 6-4 & 6-2

Agustin CALLERI Vs. Andreas SEPPI (ITA) 6-4, 6-4, 3-6 & 7-5

So what can we expect from the Round Two. Well looking at the draw, there is not one but two matches that stands out among the rest.

The first will Jose ACASUSO facing non other than Andy RODDICK. Without a doubt a huge task for El Chucho not the only with the home crowd against him but also it will be interesting to see how he takes on those fast serves and forehands from A-ROD. The head to head to record between them is at 3-1 in favour of RODDICK with ACASUSO last victory coming at Roland Garros in 2005.
The other mouth-watering clash will once again resume the rivalry between Australia’s Lleyton HEWITT and Argentina. This time it will be Agustin “El Gordo” CALLERI turn and once again the record of head to head to meeting does favour us as HEWITT has won both previous encounter between them.

Here is the list of all the second round fixtures involving the Albiceleste Army


Guillermo CANAS vs. LEE Hyung Taik (KOR)

Agustin CALLERI vs. Lleyton HEWITT (AUS)

Juan MONACO vs. Dudi SELA (ISR)

Juan Martin DEL POTRO vs. Jurgen MELZER (AUT)

Juan Ignacio CHELA vs. Wayne ODESNIK (USA)


2007 FIBA Americas – No Problem Against Canadians

It wasn’t that long ago that the Canadians defeated us in a pre-Las Vegas mini tournament in Puerto Rico and playing against them yesterday sure was scary as hell. After all the Mexicans did gave the USA some fight worth remembering and Brazil fell to Puerto Rico and results like that suggests that surprises are possible at the FIBA Americas.
But yesterday game was a different story altogether. By half time Argentina dominated from power to strength to command a 46-16 lead. But the maple leaf outfit did show some character in the next two quarter but in the end the damage was already done as Argentina won by 85-70 and kept their winning streak to 5-0.

Tonight Luis SCOLA was once again giving some hint to his future employees at Houston on what they can expect from him as he was best man in the court for us with a 23 points, 6 rebounds & 1 block shot performance.
Carlos DELFINO inflicted further damage on the Cannucks with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists & 1 steal. Pablo PRIGIONI is also having the time of his life and proving that he every penny worth as Pepe SANCHEZ with a game high 11 assists.

With this result we can safely say that the Tall Albiceleste have at least secured the minimum requirement, which is a place in the semi-finals or at least qualification for the wild card tournament next year. But the toughest part as yet to come and whatever that is I’m not too clear what to expect at the moment. Will keep you posted soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

COCO Names Squad For Down Under Trip

The news has just came in that Coco BASILE has named the 21 player that will travel to Melbourne, Australia for next month friendly international against the Socceroos. COCO has picked a near full strength squad but before we highlight some of the important notes from this team, lets looks at the team first.
Roberto ABBONDANZIERI (Getafe)
Oscar USTARI (Getafe)
Sergio ROMERO (AZ Alkmaar)
Gabriel HEINZE (Real Madrid)
Daniel DIAZ (Getafe)
Gabriel MILITO (Barcelona)
Fabricio COLOCCINI (Deportivo La Coruna)
Nicolas BURDISSO (Inter Milan)
Javier ZANETTI (Inter Milan)
Fernando GAGO (Real Madrid)
Martin DEMICHELIS (Bayern Munich)
Jonas GUTIERREZ (Mallorca)
Javier MASCHERANO (Liverpool)
Federico INSUA (America, Mexico)
Cristian LEDESMA (Olympiakos)
Maxi RODRIGUEZ (Atletico Madrid)
Sergio AGUERO (Atletico Madrid)
Javier SAVIOLA (Real Madrid)
Hernan CRESPO (Inter Milan)
Carlos TEVEZ (Manchester United)
Lionel MESSI (Barcelona)
There are a few things that I would like to highlight about COCO's latest selection.
Among the most notable returnees are PATO, CRESPO, TEVEZ and HEINZE but the one that caught me by surprise was Martin DEMICHELIS. After all when was the last time he played and after losing his place in Bayern last season, I doubt we will ever see him in an Albiceleste jersey. This season he has found himself back into the Bayern's first team and being the given the recall will be great reward for him.
As for PATO, this could probably suggest that COCO will want to stick to experience (perhaps for time being I supposed) rather than youngsters to guard the post.
Another important issue which will once again take center stage in our discussion is the absence of either RIQUELME or AIMAR. So once again, INSUA will be given the play making duty.
However sincerely what I would like to know, is what do you guys think?

Albiceleste At The US Open – Day 1

Whenever there is a Grand Slam only two things come to mind, Roger FEDERER and Rafael NADAL. And it could be the most likely scenario at the 2007 US Open but the fact is there is plenty of class and talent among those flying the Argentina flag to dispatch either of them.

In the Men’s Single event, only Guillermo CANAS (14th seed) came out with a win after defeating Ruben Ramirez HIDALGO from Spain 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 & 6-3. While two other Argentines Juan Pablo GUZMAN and Sergio ROITMAN were both eliminated by Jonas BJORKMAN and Richard GASQUET respectively.
In the Women’s Single, it all came to end for Gisela DULKO after she crashing in straight set to Alona BONDARENKO from Ukraine 4-6 & 3-6. This must be a bitter disappointment for her after freshly wining The Forest Hills Women’s Tennis Classic recently.

Here are the results involving from Day 1

Men’s Single – First Round

Juan-Pablo GUZMAN lost Jonas BJORKMAN (SWE) 3-6, 6-7 & 2-6

Guillermo CANAS def Ruben Ramirez HIDALGO (ESP) 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 & 6-3

Sergio ROITMAN lost Richard GASQUET (FRA) 5-7, 1-6 & 2-6

Women’s Single – First Round

Gisela DULKO lost Alona BONDARENKO (UKR) 4-6 & 3-6

Jorgelina CRAVERO lost Aravane REZAI (FRA) 3-6 & 5-7

Day 2 will promise to have more action, as two other Albiceleste hopeful will begam their campaign. 24th seed David NALBANDIAN will face Spaniard Ivan Navarro PASTOR while fast rising 23rd seed Juan MONACO will take on Edouard Roger-VASSELLIN from France. There will also be an All-Albiceleste clash between Jose ACASUSO and Martin Vassallo ARQUELLO.

The following is the list of fixtures involving our players from Day 2

David NALBANDIAN vs. Ivan Navarro PASTOR (ESP)


Juan Ignacio CHELA vs. Michael McCLUNE (USA)


Jose ACASUSO vs. Martin Vassallo ARQUELLO

Juan MONACO vs. Edouard Roger-VASSELLIN (FRA)

Juan Martin DEL POTRO vs. Nicolas MAHUT (FRA)

Agustin CALLERI Vs. Andreas SEPPI (ITA)

Good luck to all of them!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

2007 FIBA Americas – Business As Usual

Argentina continues from where it left off from the first stage by defeating Venezuela 98-63 in their first match in the second stage. Despite being forced to play in overtime a day earlier by Panama, the Tall Albiceleste showed no sign of fatigue and were dominating throughout the match.

It was another sensational performance from Roman GONZALEZ as he was the best performer with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block shot. With some of the big names being absent, GONZALEZ whom also plays under Sergio HERNANDEZ at his club Penarol, has been one of the revelation in this tournament.

Carlos DELFINO is also relishing this moment as he capped another superb performance by notching 19 points, game high 11 rebounds and 3 assists.
Tomorrow, Argentina will take on Canada and the Cannucks should not be taken lightly having already push Brazil until the very end. Could possible be a nerve wrecking encounter.

2007 FIBA Americas – Tall Albiceleste Survive Panama Scare

Game 4 - Highlights

Not recognizing its' apparent underdog status, Panama almost looked poised to knock Argentina’s from completing its 4-0 perfection in the first stage. In a back-and-forth battle which needed overtime to decide it, Argentina ultimately retained its' unblemished record, tallying a 109-92 triumph.

Trailing by as many as 14 points early in the game, Panama fought back to take a 63-59 lead heading to the fourth quarter. When Jamar WARREN connected on a three-pointer with just over four minutes remaining to give Panama a 77-68 lead, it looked as if the biggest upset of the first round was about to occur.
Argentina, however, would not go away, storming back to tie it at 79 apiece with just under two minutes to play. Carlos DELFINO's steal and breakaway dunk then gave Argentina an 81-79 lead with 1:30 remaining. Back-and-forth it went as Jaime LLOREDA's lay-up just 15 seconds later tied it again.

Luis SCOLA made two free throws to give Argentina the lead again at 83-81, but those would be his final points of the evening. Gary FORBES drove the length of the floor and made a lay-up while also drawing contact from SCOLA, marking his fifth and final foul. FORBES made the free throw and gave Panama an 84-83 lead.

On Argentina's next possession, Paolo QUINTEROS missed a three-point try and when Pablo PRIGIONI was whistled for going over the back in his failed attempt to secure the offensive rebound, Joel MUNOZ would step to the line for Panama. MUNOZ hit one-of-two foul shots and Panama led 85-83.

Diego LO GRIPPO got free on the following trip down the floor, dunking home the tying basket with 25 seconds to play. Panama worked the shot clock down and missed a jumper from the top of the key near the end of regulation.
A half-court heave by Argentina at the buzzer was no good, and the game headed to overtime.
It was all Argentina in the extra session, as 17 points outscored Panama in just five-minute overtime. QUINTEROS would score seven points in the final session and was Argentina’s best performer with 22 points led Argentina.

With this final round from the first stage being completed, Argentina alongside Uruguay, Puerto Rico & Mexico will qualify for next stage from Group A. Meanwhile from Group B, as expected USA and Brazil qualified alongside Canada and Venezuela.

First up, Venezuela on the 27th August.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

2007 FIBA Americas - Another Win For Tall Albiceleste

Its three wins out of three for the Tall Albiceleste as they defeated Mexico by 104-83. Tied at 23 apiece after one quarter of play, Argentina began to distance itself in the second, thanks to a hot-shooting Paolo QUINTEROS.

The 6'1'' QUINTEROS tallied 14 points in the period on five-of-seven shooting, helping Argentina build a 51 - 41 lead by halftime. Argentina's lead ballooned to 83-59 at the end of the third, and Mexico didn't get much closer in the final stanza. QUINTEROS finished off the game with 18 points, 3 rebounds & 2 assists.

The best performer of the game was once again Carlos DELFINO who posted 20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists & 3 steals. While Boca Juniors ace Leonardo GUTIERREZ who recovered from his injury had his best in the tournament with 14 points, 2 rebounds & 1 block shot.

Now the only thing that is standing between us from finishing on top of our group with a perfect 4-0 record is Panama. That match will be played on the 26th of August.

U-17 World Cup 2007 - Little Argentina Settle For draw

It was impossible to separate Spain and Argentina in their final Group C match at Soccer Only Field in Gwangyang on Saturday. A 1-1 stalemate means both teams go through, with the Europeans qualifying as section winners.
Already assured of a place in the Round of 16 and with one eye on that game, Spain kicked off the encounter with their first-choice performers on the bench. That philosophy contrasted sharply with Argentina's fierce desire to win at all costs, an attitude rewarded after 32 minutes when neat passing between Pablo ROLON, Eduardo SALVIO and Carlos BENITEZ led to the latter spinning and firing home from the edge of the area. Iago came close to equalising in first-half stoppage-time, but his excellent free-kick cannoned off an upright.
Spain were more ambitious after the interval and twice looked destined to score early on, only for Daniel AQUINO to fluff his finishing touch. All hope was not lost, however, and with 68 minutes gone it proved to be a case of third time lucky as 'Dani' powered a header in at the near post from Isma LOPEZ's right-wing cross. The Argentinians responded by looking for the winner that would win them the group, but could do no better than substitute Santiago FERNANDEZ's thunderous drive, which struck the woodwork.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

2007 FIBA Americas - Argentina vs. Uruguay

2007 FIBA Americas - It's Two Out Of Two

Game 1 - Highlights
When Uruguay were pushed all the way into over time in their over Panama, it was clear indication that surprise may just happen.
After being given a rest in the first day, Argentina has finally tipped off its FIBA Americas campaign when they took on the Uruguayans in Day 2 of the tournament. Despite all the uncertainties that took place within the Tall Albiceleste squad during the build up to Las Vegas, Argentina cruised through a 90-69 win in their first match.
This is definitely the kind of news that I’m waiting to hear after going through a very tough week. Not just in terms of my job but also that fact that some of the bad news that I got from our beloved Albiceleste in various front.
Not to my surprise, it was the Tau Ceramica formula that dominated this game with Luis SCOLA and Pablo PRIGIONI being the two best performer of the day. PRIGIONI posted a game high 20 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds & 3 steals while SCOLA was very close behind with 16 points, 4 assists, 6 rebounds & 2 steals. Another TAU connection, Carlos Matias SANDES posted a game high 10 rebound including 7 points, 1 assist & 2 steals. Other top performer of the game was Roman GONZALEZ (15 points) and Antonio PORTA (14 points).

Game 2 - Highlights
Certainly that victory against Uruguay, HERNANDEZ and his team can surely built their confidence as the tournaments goes by and tomorrow could be another acid test when they take on Puerto Rico.

Arguably the most toughest match that Tall Albiceleste could expect in their first round matches, another impressive performance as they notched a 87-75 win.

This time it was the NBA connection that became the heroes of the night. Luis SCOLA powered Argentina by posting 22 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists & 1 steal. Carlos DELFINO had his best game in Las Vegas so far with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists & 2 steals.

Next up, is against Mexico and from the looks of it we just can't go wrong. At least in the first stage that is. Till then......


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

FIBA Americas Preview - Part III (USA & The Rest)

In part-I I did mentioned that we have manage to avoid some of the stronger opponents in our group but that doesn’t mean that we have avoided them altogether at all.

From what I’ve learnt, the format for this competition is done in such a way that we would still end up playing teams, who occupy the top four positions from the other group in the second stage. I might be a little bit confusing here but I’m sure as the tournament goes by we’ll have better understanding

In this part we will do a brief analyst or info on all the other team that will compete in this qualifier based on the team that we have for Vegas.


Call them the Dream Team or not, everybody loves to watch them play and I have to admit that. Once again coach Mike KRZYZEWSKI will bring on some of the best and biggest names into the court with a mission of restoring pride of the once upon time untouchables. From LE BRON to ANTHONY the name says it all. On paper they do look as good as tournament winners but isn’t that what they always say. A sure bet for the automatic birth. Or would it be third time victory for us? I rather not say anything at the moment.


At present when writing, it seems that Coach Lula has managed to assemble all his big names for this competition, with exception of VAREJAO and AROUJO (both have contract issues with their club). And very much so, confidence will be looming high after they have won the gold medal at the Pan Am Games and most certainly from the way it looks, this could probably be our biggest threat (apart from USA) for us in the competition. I would not want to be too confidence on this but on paper and I still believe there is a 50-50 chance between them and us.

Puerto Rico

If anyone knows their basketball well, they will tell you not to take this team lightly. Incase you’ve forgotten, Puerto Rico was one of the team to beat the USA at the Athens Olympics Games. At last year World Championship, they only lost to them only just by an 11-point deficit. In fact we’ve also lost to them in the recent Pan Am Games. In Carlos ARROYO they do have a formidable point guard to call the shots while other names worth mentioning are Peter John RAMOS and Daniel SANTIAGO. With a slight advantage in some aspect, we should be able to beat team.


Traditionally a baseball powerhouse, they could be the dark horse of the competition and based on their recent improvement, another team not be taken lightly. Former Houston ROCKETS & Golden State WARRIOR, Oscar TORRES remains the only star and will probably pose the biggest threat to any opponent. Overall we do have more option to win this one. For the record, we did beat them at last year’s World Championship 96-54.


Another team not to be underestimated as there is plenty of potential in the Mexicans to stir some upsets. Much also depends on whether their forward, Denver NUGGET’s Eduardo NAJERA is going to be part of team but there is still equally good players such as Omar QUINTERO, Horacio LLAMAS & Lorenzo MATA to be aware off. However I have confidence that the Mexicans could not do much damage towards us, so I’m pretty sure we could win this one.


Another team that will come to Vegas with confidence in full throttle, especially after their history win against us at the Pan Am Games. Yes, our make shift team (in the absence of DELFINO, SCOLA etc.) were defeated by the Uruguayans in the bronze meal match. It’s hard for me to imagine that it might repeat again but it is good to beware of their two-danger man, Fernando MARTINEZ and Atlanta HAWKS Esteban BATISTA.


For years, the Canadians have relied heavily on the brilliances and inspiration of Steve NASH. There is still no clue yet whether he will make a comeback but there is new star in the maple leaf camp, his name is Samuel DALEMBERT. Born in Haiti, DALEMBERT who plays for the Philadelphia 76ERS, has just receive his citizenship just in time and will be crucial for the Canadians in Vegas. We could face tough resistance in some aspect but overall strength will see us winning this game. That is if, we should play against them.


Another team that has the potential to be the dark horse of the tournament, after all they did finish a creditable sixth place at the recent Pan Am Games. Just for the info, we did loose to them in the last FIBA Americas back in 2005. It will be unwise to underestimate them but I’m confident we will get it right. Among the potential danger man, Michael HICKS

US Virgin Island

Though they were born on the island, Tim DUNCAN is not eligible to play for them (having already represented US on the International stage) and I’m not too sure whether Raja BELL of Phoenix SUNS will answer the call. Probably the team with least amount of quantity in terms name and reputation. They could be just happy to be in Vegas but you’ll never know what’s up in their sleeves.

There you have it, Mundo Albiceleste three-part preview on the 2007 FIBA Americas. The first match will be against Uruguay on the 23rd August.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Information avalanche

After 8 months of hard work, I'm leaving Brazil. I'll be flying all day on Wednesday and I don't know when my last post is going to be.

But I'm willing to sleep a little bit less in order to give you the latest relevant info about the Albicelestes around the World.

Here are some headlines and brief info on the main activities and news involving Argentine teams and players:

Argentina with confirmed lineup to face Norway


ZANETTI (captain), Ezequiel GARAY, Nicolás BURDISSO and Gabriel MILITO (moving to left back for this match).

Javier MASCHERANO, Maxi RODRIGUEZ (left), Lucho GONZALEZ (right) and Lionel MESSI (as play-maker).

Up front? Ezequiel LAVEZZI and Diego MILITO (rumoured to be on the verge to a move to Real Madrid, which will see him playing in Gabriel MILITO's arch-rivals, just like back in the days when Diego played for Racing and Gabriel for Independiente in Argentina).


Coco BASILE have announced his decision of not training with the players that still compete in the local league because he doesn't have the support he needs from the Argentine clubs and that they always blame the National Team of the injuries the players suffer.

Los Pibitos face Honduras with a win as the only option
Argentina will play their second match in the U17 World Cup Korea 2007. Our rivals will be Honduras (lost 4-2 against Spain in their first game). Anything but a win will be a horrible result for our little boys as they will be up against Spain in the third match and they would risk an early exit if they arrive to that fixture without a win in their bag. The match will be played at the Ulsan Complex Stadium on Wednesday at 8 AM (Buenos Aires), 8 PM local time.

Gabriel HEINZE is a new Real Madrid player
After a troublesome period between the end of the Copa America and the beginning of the European season, Gabriel HEINZE saw his intention of moving to Liverpool soundly crashing. But, when everything looked set for him to be left out of Sir Alex FERGUSON's plans at Old Trafford for this season, he saw the light at the end of the tunnel and it is a bright white light: Real Madrid. El Gringo will join the White Empire in exchange of 12 million euros. He becomes the fourth Argentine in the current Real Madrid squad, joining Fernando GAGO, Gonzalo HIGUAIN and Javier SAVIOLA. They could soon be followed by Diego MILITO (as mentioned above).

Gabriel PALETTA joins Boca on loan from Liverpool
From Banfield (a small team from the Southern area of the Great Buenos Aires -a huge region surrounding the City of Buenos Aires and gathering more than 10 million people-) to Liverpool. It was a hell of a leap for Gabriel PALETTA to make. And it proved very difficult for him to earn a spot as a regular in Rafa BENITEZ's team. In fact he only played a couple of Premiership matches last season when Liverpool had nothing to play for there and had to face AC Milan for the Champions League final.
Now he moves back to the Argentine league and will surely earn a lot of experience and playing time.

Basketball: FIBA Americas starts with a day of rest for Argentina
Not that we needed it or we wanted it, but we have it. The FIBA Americas Tournament in Las Vegas, will start on Wednesday and Argentina won't be playing. But from Thursday, day of our debut against Uruguay until the end of the first round, we'll play 8 matches in consecutive days. The FIBA Americas Tournament qualifies the two first teams to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Those are the more relevant news as of now. I'll be back posting and commenting as soon as I can. Would love to see some updates from you, of course!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday recap, so far...all bad news!

Let's start with what happened late last night in Puerto Rico, where Argentina defeated the home team in the basketball friendly cup Tuto Marchand. Argentina ends up the tournament with 2 wins (against Brazil and Puerto Rico) and one loss (Canada). Brazil defeated Canada by 13 points and took home the cup. You can read more about the FIBA Americas preview if you scroll down this page and check what John wrote.

Argentina started off wiht a disappointing 0-0 draw against Syria. I didn't watch the game but you can check out the goals at Next match for Los Pibitos will be Honduras (a team that lost 4-2 against Spain in their first match).

Carlos TEVEZ:
Played 90 minutes in United 1-0 loss against a brave Manchester City team. The Red Devils were the better team during the first half hour, but Portuguese youngster, NANI, showed a lot of skill but very little brains, often misjudging and making wrong decisions. In the 31st minute, City had their first shot on goal and it went in (Geovanni). After that, it was all confussion for United and Micah RICHARDS, now playing as a central defender, was immense. Carlitos slightlly deflected a cross from the left and the ball went out kissing the right post. Then in the 90th minute, he couldn't connect properly with his head and again, the ball went just a couple of inches wide.

Stayed in the bench for Liverpool as they drew 1-1 against Chelsea (TORRES and LAMPARD the scorers).

Argentina lost against Brazil (for a change!!!!) in the 5-a-side football tournament final (for blind athletes). It was 1-0 and a silver medal for us.

FIBA Americas Preview - Part II (The Team)

The following are the profiles of the 12 players that have been selected for the Las Vegas trip, by Sergio HERNANDEZ: -

Player Profile

Name : Antonio PORTA
Position : Point Guard
Club : Spartak St. Petersburg (RUS)

Name : Roman Javier GONZALEZ
Position : Center
Club : Penarol (ARG)

Name : Leonardo GUTIERREZ
Position : Power Forward
Club : Boca Juniors (ARG)
Name : Luis SCOLA
Position : Power Forward/Center
Club : Houston Rockets (NBA)

Position : Center/Power Forward
Club : CB Granada (ESP)

Name : Paolo QUINTEROS
Position : Shooting Guard
Club : CAI Zaragoza (ESP)

Name : Carlos DELFINO
Position : Shooting Guard
Club : Toronto Raptors (NBA)

Name : Guillermo Federico KAMMERICHS
Position : Small Forward
Club : Polaris World Murcia (ESP)

Name : Diego LO GRIPPO
Position : Power Forward
Club : Autocid Ford Burgos (ESP)

Name : Pablo PRIGIONI
Position : Point Guard
Club : Tau Ceramica (ESP)

Name : Carlos Matias SANDES
Position : Shooting Guard/Power Forward
Club : Tau Ceramica (ESP)

Name : Martin LEIVA
Position : Forward/Center
Club : Autocid Ford Burgos (ESP)

For most critics, the vacant place left by our big names means there is huge hole that is need to be filled. Yes at some point but not really if you look at it from a different dimension. There are plenty of strong characters in this team that is good enough to take up the responsibility. The key figure behind this team, without a doubt will be Pablo PRIGIONI, Luis SCOLA and Carlos DELFINO.
For the point guard role, PRIGIONI is likely to be given the nod ahead of Antonio PORTA. Last season, he was regarded as one of the best for his position, both in the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto (ACB) and Euroleague as well.
His soon to be ex-club teammate Luis SCOLA, will most certainly be on top of HERNANDEZ list in the starting five. He could use in either as a power forward or in center position. SCOLA, who is bound for the NBA next season, was in the form of his life for Tau Ceramica last season. He was also rewarded as the Regular season MVP at the ACB.
Another important element in this team is that both PRIGIONI and SCOLA are pick and roll partners at club level, a formula which HERNENDEZ is most likely to tapped in as it has brought plenty of success for their club last season. A further point to be noted is that PRIGIONI has the second highest assist at last season Euroleague while SCOLA is now the all-time Euroleague point scorer.
Carlos DELFINO, the only NBA based player in the team (SCOLA will only join the Houston ROCKETS next season), presents could be crucial and HERNANDEZ may give him with the shooting guard role. Unlike most oh his compatriot who made the transition from Europe to NBA; he never enjoyed the amount a time play during the last three years in Detroit. Having just completed his move to the Toronto RAPTORS, he will be eager to reproduce the type of form he had during his pre-NBA days. Las Vegas will be the perfect platform for him to do so.
Another player with NBA connection is Federico KAMMERICHS who was drafted by the Portland TRAIL BLAZERS in 2002. After being out of picture during the last couple of years, his return couldn’t come at a much better time. With his ability to drive to the basket and around the rim plus with the added value to his excellent leaping and block shots, he is perfectly enough to fill in for Walter HERRMANN.
Leonardo GUTIERREZ is another important figure in the team as he was sensational in helping Boca Juniors to win the Liga Nacional de Básquetbol (LNB) championship, averaging 15.5 points per game and subsequantly was also voted as the MVP for the play-offs final. He is another best option for the power forward position.
Motivation is also another reason why I believe this team is capable of achieveing its objetive. DELFINO insists the team “ will have more energy and hunger for glory than the one that won the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens”.
SCOLA played down the effect the absences would have, vowing the team will secure one of the two automatic qualifications. The 27-year-old said: "Too much importance is being given to a theme which does not deserve it. The ones that didn't come have the right to rest and we are here because we want to be here. Argentina will go to Las Vegas with a competitive squad and our possibilities of qualification are intact."
In Part III, we’ll be briefly analyzing on all the other contesting teams that will take part in Las Vegas

Saturday, August 18, 2007

U17 World Cup - Lineup confirmed to face Syria

Hours before Argentina's debut in the Under 17 World Cup Korea 2007, our manager, Miguel Angel TOJO, have confirmed the starting lineup to face Syria in the Ulsan Complex Stadium.

Luis OJEDA in goal, with Mateo MUSACCHIO, Alexis MACHUCA, Fernando MEZA (captain) and Maximiliano OLIVA in front of him. Guido PIZARRO DEMESTRI, Fernando GODOY, Pablo ROLÓN and Santiago FERNÁNDEZ will play in midfield while Eduardo SALVIO and Gustavo FERNÁNDEZ will form our striking partnership.

It was decided that Argentina will wear the tradicional Albiceleste shirt with black shorts and white socks, while Syria will be entirely dressed in red.

Fernando MEZA, the captain for this debut, said to "There are a lot of guys in our team that could be wearing the captain's armband. I was the chosen one and it is a great honour that comes with a huge responsibility. I'm proud of being the captain but I would never think I'm more special because of that."

"It's great to be the captain of the team, but it'll be even greater to start our campaign with a win over Syria".

This will be the first time Argentina will face Syria at any level.

The match will kick-off at 7 AM (Buenos Aires).


LAVEZZI thrills the San Paolo with a hat-trick

A lot of people don't know who Ezequiel LAVEZZI is. There were a lot of questions regarding whether Coco BASILE was right or wrong in calling him for Argentina's friendly match against Norway (August 22nd in Oslo).

Well...he's just arrive to Napoli after winning the Clausura tournament with San Lorenzo last season and on Saturday, he couldn't have had a better presentation in front of the San Paolo crowd!

For the Italian Cup second round, Napoli hosted Pisa and within 20 minutes they were down 1-0, due to a KUTUZOV strike.

After half-time, Ezequiel LAVEZZI was sent to the field and he only took 5 minutes to find the back of the net with a great personal effort that saw him finishing with a lovely strike. 1-1.

But both teams failed to score again and the match went to extra-time. And LAVEZZI saved the best for the final moments.

He scored two more goals to record his first hat-trick in his new club, send them to the next round -when they will face Livorno- and to start conquering the crowd that had the privilege to watch the best player of all time at his best.

Late reaction, not enough for Pumas in Wales

It has to be considered a positive test match for Los Pumas. With less than a month to go before their debut against France in the Rugby World Cup (September 7), Argentina visited Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the result was a 27-20 defeat that saw the Southamericans fight back but fell short in the end.

After an initial try by Ignacio CORLETTO, Wales scored 24 unanswered points and made life very complicated for Argentina.

Another CORLETTO's try and 10 points from Federico TODESCHINI's right boot gave Los Pumas some hope but substitute Martín DURAND failed to control the ball in the dying seconds and committed a knock-on that cost his team the chance to get a draw.

That particular play in which DURAND couldn't score a try, left Argentina manager Marcelo LOFFREDA fuming against the referee Chris WHITE.

According to the BBC, LOFFREDA accused WHITE of "coaching Wales instead of refereeing" (here's the full article and you can read a match report here:

Los Pumas will face Belgium XV next Saturday in what will be their last friendly match before the "real thing" begins.

Friday, August 17, 2007

2007 FIBA Americas Preview - Part 1 (Introduction)

It’s hard to believe that it was three years ago that arguably one of the biggest landmarks in Argentina’s sporting history took place. Yes, winning the gold medal in football was something, but to do it in basketball was a bigger achievement all by itself. Never in my life I thought I will see the day when the mighty Dream Team USA will be brought down to earth, and the fact that the Tall Albicelestes have done it in more than one occasion really means something special.

Although I grew up in an era where the likes of JORDAN, MALONE, PIPPEN, and BARKLEY ruled the world, it wasn’t until I saw Manu GINOBILI & Co. that I fell in love with the game even more. Very much so, that I would put it second in my favourite's list. (The first is football obviously).

Come August 22nd, Las Vegas, Nevada will be the host for the 2007 FIBA Americas. The venue will be the 18,000 capacity Thomas & Mark Center. Part of the importance of the tournament is because the top-two teams will qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics automatically and those who finished from third to fifth will take part in a qualifying tournament sometime next year.

Regardless of their of their lack of credibility and success by their own standard in recent times, Team USA will always be the side to watch and the most certain to book a place in Beijing next year. The likes of LeBron JAMES, Kobe BRYANT, Carmelo ANTHONY and the rest will be there. Once again, at least on paper, it is unlikely that they will ever miss out the trip to Beijing next year. So which is the most likely team to follow them?
If someone was to ask me this question a year ago, without a doubt Argentina will definitely be the one to do so. But all that has changed during the last few months, as coach Sergio HERNANDEZ has been rocked by the news of the withdrawals of superstar Manu GINOBILI, Fabricio OBERTO, Andres NOCIONI, Walter HERRMANN, Pepe SANCHEZ & Ruben WOLKOWISKY due to the their physical conditions and club contract issues. Apart from USA, Brazil and Puerto Rico will also bring their biggest names; as a result of this the competition is there for anyone’s taking.

So now the quest to defend the gold that we won in Athens will begin right away in Sin City, as coach HERNANDEZ will need to bring the best out of the ones at his disposal to ensure that we will book one of the two automatic spot for Beijing 2008. This means that HERNANDEZ will need to make sure that every moment and decisions that he makes can be crucial if we were to get the right result.
For a start, the draw for the first round group stage has been favourable for us, as we are placed in Group A alongside Panama, Uruguay, Mexico and Puerto Rico. As such we have manage to avoid continental powerhouse such as USA, Brazil and Venezuela, so I do expect our tall heroes to topped the group and build plenty of confidence before we progress smoothly towards the next stage.

In Part II, we’ll take a closer look at the names and faces plus an overview on the whole team that HERNANDEZ has entrusted to participate in this difficult but not impossible mission

Thursday, August 16, 2007

KUN and MAXI help Atletico in European return

It's been seven years since Atlético de Madrid played their last match in a European Competition.

Today, in a sold-out Vicente Calderón Stadium, the Spanish side defeated Vojvodina (Serbia) 3-0 in a UEFA Cup Qualification match and two of those goals were scored by Argentine players, while Leo FRANCO kept a clean sheet. Mariano PERNÍA, born in Argentina but representing Spain at international level, was also in the starting eleven.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ drew first blood after a piledriver by Kun AGÜERO in the 37th minute.

Former Independiente (Argentina), Manchester United and Villarreal striker, Diego FORLAN, scored the second for Atlético after a MANICHE shot took a deflection in one defender with 61 minutes gone.

And with 20 minutes to go, the Uruguayan sent a cross to AGÜERO for him to score a great goal.

Six minutes later, Kun received a standing ovation while Luis GARCIA replaced him, and with eight minutes to go, Maxi RODRIGUEZ gave Leo FRANCO the captain's arm-band as he was replaced by JURADO.

MESSI's cousin helps Flamengo beat Fluminense

It is one of the most attractive derby matches in the world. One that in the past, knew how to attract crowds of 160.000 people at the Maracana Stadium. It's one of Rio de Janeiro's top spoting events. It's Flamengo - Fluminense. Or Fla-Flu as the locals call it.

These two teams are not enjoying a great campaign in the Brazilian league. After Flamengo won the state championship earlier in 2007 and Fluminense won the Brazilian Cup (reaching the Copa Libertadores for the first time in a loooooooooooong time), they are very far from league-leaders São Paulo.

'Mengo', the most popular team with 35 million supporters only in Brazil, is in the relegation zone. Granted they have 3 games in hand and they depend on themselves. While 'Nense' is sitting in mid-table after a promising start.

When they faced each other tonight, though, it was all about Argentina!

How come?

Well...Flamengo's number 10 is a guy from Rosario that goes by the name of Maximiliano BIANCUCCHI. And he happens to be Lionel MESSI's cousin!

He's one of Flamengo's new signings and he scored the only goal to help the red and black hooped team to beat one of their most important rivals (the other being Vasco da Gama).

Maxi scored his first goal for Flamengo in his first start and I'm sure Lionel will be proud of his cousin being in the cover of every major newspaper in Brazil tomorrow.

Not bad for Maxi! 35 million people are a little happier tonight, and only because of him!

KUN and MAXI help Atletico in European return

It's been seven years since Atlético de Madrid played their last match in a European Competition.

Today, in a sold-out Vicente Calderón Stadium, the Spanish side defeated Vojvodina (Serbia) 3-0 in a UEFA Cup Qualification match and two of those goals were scored by Argentine players, while Leo FRANCO kept a clean sheet. Mariano PERNÍA, born in Argentina but representing Spain at international level, was also in the starting eleven.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ drew first blood after a piledriver by Kun AGÜERO in the 37th minute.

Former Independiente (Argentina), Manchester United and Villarreal striker, Diego FORLAN, scored the second for Atlético after a MANICHE shot took a deflection in one defender with 61 minutes gone.

And with 20 minutes to go, the Uruguayan sent a cross to AGÜERO for him to score a great goal.

Six minutes later, Kun received a standing ovation while Luis GARCIA replaced him, and with eight minutes to go, Maxi RODRIGUEZ gave Leo FRANCO the captain's arm-band as he was replaced by JURADO.