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Tello, Atencia lead Colombia to edge Argentina in final window of FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Qualifiers
CALI (Colombia) – Juan Tello and Hansel Atencia’s 32-point, 11 rebound performance was the difference that kept Colombia’s AmeriCup dreams alive as they beat Argentina 71-63 to conclude their Group A play on Monday evening at Coliseo Evangelista Mora.
Both teams were aggressive during the first quarter, with the lead changing five times between both teams, and Colombia coming from behind by as many as 5 points multiple times during the first 10 minutes.
Though Colombia continued to keep up with their opponent, a turnover with 10 seconds left gave Jose Vildoza the chance to put Argentina up by 4 to end the quarter.
Tayavek Gallizzi led Argentina with 7 points in the first, while Pablo Siaan Rojas Gardner led Colombia offensively with 6, while adding 2 rebounds on the defensive end.
Holding Argentina scoreless through the first 3 minutes of the second quarter, Colombia continued to outrebound their opponent defensively and eventually got their lead back with just under three minutes to play in the first half.
Tello led all scorers through two quarters with 10 points, and hit the 3-point shot to put Colombia back in the lead, while also leading the team with 5 rebounds, including 4 defensively. Turnovers and defensive mistakes would allow Argentina to pull ahead by 3 once again by halftime, despite Colombia outscoring Argentina 15-14 in the half.
After ending the first half 33-30 in favor of Argentina, Colombia would be first to strike to tie the score once again less than a minute into the third quarter. Colombia continued to fight for their AmeriCup hopes by inching closer to Argentina when behind, but sloppy play allowed Argentina to lead once again.
The difference maker to keep Colombia in the game would be Atencia, not only defensively allowing Argentina’s offense to make contact and cause offensive fouls, but also by tallying 11 points and 3 assists by the end of the third quarter.
Vildoza and Carlos Schattmann combined for 20 of Argentina’s 50 points by the end of the third quarter, slightly outscoring Colombia 17-16 to hold a 50-46 lead to head into the final 10 minutes.
Colombia’s fight was apparent as they continued to crawl back, going on a 9-0 run just over 3 minutes into the fourth quarter, with Tello scoring 7 of those points to take a 2-point lead over Argentina in the must win game.
“We went into the half knowing that we could be down, we usually have a bad third quarter, and what we talked about in the locker room was to learn from the previous game and stay calm, stay positive, continue to share the ball,” said Tello.
“Of course there’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time, we learned from the game before against Venezuela and were able to execute, keep calm and not turn the ball over.”
Back-to-back 3-point shots from Rojas increased the Colombia lead as the clock continued to count down, but the Argentinian offensive threats of Fernando Zurbriggen and Vildoza kept their team in the game as well.
Schattmann and Vildoza combined for 25 points in their team’s loss, with no other scorers finishing in double digits for Argentina. Andre Felipe Ibarguen Andrews scored 10 points and 9 rebounds for Colombia in the win, while Rojas finished the game with 12 points as well.
“It was a difficult game, but that was expected. Argentina has a lot of talent, they’ve been working for a long time, they know their system – but we knew we had to come out very strong, we knew we had to fight on defense and that’s exactly what we did,” Tello said.
Colombia will now need to wait on the outcome of the Venezuela and Chile match to determine their future in the 2022 AmeriCup.