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United States Crushes Angola

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment

The US has still never lost to Angola after winning 121-66 today. Angola’s strategy was to let the Americans shoot from the outside, and they had no problem in doing so. The US took 38 three pointers and made 18 of them for a 47.4% clip. After struggling from the outside in the prelims, Chauncey Billips was 5-7 from three today. He led the team with 19 points. Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay all had 17. Everyone on the U.S. roster scored.

The US plays the New Zealand-Russia winner next.

In other quarterfinal action, Serbia beat Croatia, Spain beat Greece, Slovenia beat Australia and Turkey beat France.

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Knockout Round Set At World FIBA Championships

September 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Over at the official site of the 2010 FIBA worlds is the bracket for the knockout round

Some quick notes:

  • The United States lucked out in getting Angola in their round of 16 game, and then either Russia or New Zealand in the quarters. They won’t have to play a really quality opponent until the semifinals, leaving the deepest team in the tournament probably the most rested
  • The most intriguing round of 16 game has to be Brazil v. Argentina, as they are two good teams, but obviously South American rivals
  • Spain-Greece might be the best game though. Spain, a pre-tournament favorite, struggled in the opening round going just 3-2
  • If I had to be an upset semifinalist right now, I think I might go with Slovenia to beat Australia then upset Turkey in the quarters.
  • At this juncture, I like a semifinals of Spain v. Slovenia and United States v. Argentina, with the U.S. beating Spain in the final
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FIBA World Championships Predictions

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The FIBA World Championships are set to kick off in four days time in Turkey, and I figured now is as good of a time as any to pick who I think will advance from each of the groups.

There are four groups of 6 teams each, and the top 4 teams from each group advance to the knockout round. Without further ado:

Group A (Argentina, Serbia, Australia, Germany, Angola, Jordan)

Possibly the most cut and dried group. Argentina is ranked #1 in the world after finishing in 3rd in the Olympics, but haven’t won gold or silver at the Worlds since 2002. Serbia has only one player – Nenad Kristic – but are still ranked 5th in the world and finished 2nd at the 2009 EuroBasket tournament. Australia is led by former St. Marys star Patrick Mills, and although Germany is vulnerable without Dirk Nowitzki or Chris Kaman, neither Angola nor Jordan is strong enough to push them

Advancing teams: Argentina, Serbia, Australia, Germany

(For a more in depth look at group A, go to Sparty and Friends)

Group B (USA, Slovenia, Brazil, Croatia, Iran, Tunisia)

Obviously the game to watch here is USA v. Iran, if only for the political connotations. This is easily the most top seeded group as the defending Olympic gold medalists United States are ranked #2 in the world, and the next highest seeded team, Brazil, is ranked 14th. Brazil has some good youngsters, as they made it to the championship of the FIBA U-18 worlds, but this year’s Brazilian team has just two NBA players, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter. Brazil has not medaled at the Worlds since 1978.

Slovenia also have just two NBA players: Goran Dragic and Primoz Brezec. The Slovenians come from Yugoslavia’s rich basketball tradition, but have not had much of their own since splitting. Croatia, another former Yugoslav republic, has not a single NBA player on their roster, but they have many seasoned veterans of international ball who will be a tough out.

Advancing teams: USA, Brazil, Slovenia, Croatia

Group C (Greece, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Russia, China, Ivory Coast)

Greece, the 4th ranked team in the world, has no NBA players, but they have a team whose pick and roll gave the United States fits at the last world championships. Their best known player is Sofoklis Schortsanitis aka Baby Shaq, but Greece has a solid stable of players who should win the group, and should sneak up on teams in the medal round. Watch 20 year old Nikos Pappas, who was named the best young Greek player this year.

Turkey has multiple NBA players, including Hedo Turkoglu, but Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur should miss the tournament due to injury. Turkey has qualified for the worlds only three times, and it will be up to Hedo to carry them as far as they can go.

Puerto Rico is ranked 10th in the world, and their two best players are a pair of quick guards: the Miami Heat’s Carlos Arroyo and the Dallas Mavericks’ Juan Carlos Barrea.

With no Andrei Kirilenko for Russia, we have our first upset:

Advancing teams: Greece, Turkey, Puerto Rico, China

Group D (Spain, France, Canada, Lithuania, New Zealand, Lebanon)

Spain is perhaps the favorite to win the tournament, even without Pau Gasol. Marc Gasol is a capable center and is flanked by some great guards including Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio. Spain might not win the tournament, but they will probably be the most fun team to watch.

Although this isn’t a traditionally strong Lithuanian team, they should have enough to finish second in the group. They played the US tough early in an exhibition game before being overrun by superior athleticism. They’re not the greatest shooters, so they need to slow the game down and work the ball inside.

France would look a lot better with Tony Parker, but they have some NBA players including captain Boris Diaw who should ensure the French get to the knockout round.

Canada hasn’t been to a world championships since 2002 and have never medaled. Former Syracuse star Andy Rautins could shoot the Canadians into the medal round.

Advancing teams: Spain, Lithuania, Canada, France

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FIBA Might Switch from “World Championships” to “World Cup”

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Although the basketball World Championships are of secondary importance in the United States (see the 2008 Olympic roster vs. the 2010 Worlds roster), but for the rest of the world, the tournaments are at least close to being on an equal plain. To get the Worlds on an equal level, FIBA is considering switching from the World Championships to either the FIBA World Cup, Basketball World Cup or World Cup of Basketball.

Reportedly David Stern is in favor of this, and could even be described as a driving force. And as Bill Simmons continuously points out, the man is possibly the most powerful man in sports. Even FIBA wouldn’t want to cross this guy. Bet on the 2014 Worlds in Spain being called the World Cup.

(h/t Pro Basketball Talk)

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U-17 Girls Basketball Wins Group at World Championships

Breanna Stewart had 30 points in the winNot to be outdone by the U-20 soccer team winning their group, the U-17 basketball team won theirs in impressive fashion, defeating Japan 133-71.

Future UConn Husky Breanna Stewart had 30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks for the Americans, who moved to 5-0 in the tournament. The Americans outscored Japan 96-28 in the paint. The US shot 64.4% from the field and had 37 points in the 3rd quarter alone.

All 12 girls on the roster scored, and 6 were in double figures. Ariel Massengale had 10 assists for the victors.

By virtue of winning their group, the US girls will play the #4 seed from Group B, which has yet to be determined.

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United States Win U-18 Basketball Gold

The gold medal game between the USA and Brazil was a tight one until the end, but in the end the giants of international basketball came out on top. Kyrie Irving, who will be headed to Duke in the fall, had a game high 21 points. He also had 10 rebounds and 5 assists. He and Austin Rivers, who had 19 points, stole the show for the USA all tournament. Their speed was nearly impossible for opponents to combat.

Rivers, who is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, upped his recruiting stock more than perhaps any prospect in this tournament as he flashed a smooth shooting stroke, including a 35 point outburst in the semifinals against Canada when he made 7 three pointers in a row.

The team was coached by Jeff Capel, who coaches the University of Oklahoma.

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FIBA Asia Championships In Full Swing

August 9, 2009 3 comments

The tournament started Thursday in China, but if you’ve missed any action so far fear not; the competition doesn’t conclude until next Sunday. The current group leaders are Korea in Group E and China and Jordan tied in Group F. Even without Yao Ming, China has played well, especially Yi Jiianlian, who has averaged 15 pts and 7.7 rebounds per game. Former Dallas Maverick Wang Zhizhi is also asserting himself well, averaging 14.3 pts and 9.7 rebounds. However, it should be noted that some of the opponents are not up to snuff. China has beaten India 121-49, Kazakhstan 74-56, and Qatar 92-61. They’re hardly playing Spain, Argentina and Australia.

Teams qualified for the Asia Championships in the following manner:

China – automatic qualification by being the host.

Jordan – automatic by being 2008 FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup

The top 5 finishers in the 2008 Stakovic Cup earned an additional qualifying spot for their sub-zone. Here is the zonal breakdown:

WABA: Iran, Jordan, Leabanon

Gulf: Bahrain (withdrew), Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates

Middle: India, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan

East: China, India, Japan

Southeast: Indonesia, Phillippines

*Note: Taiwan was given a wild card berth when Bahrain dropped out.

From the quarterfinals on, the play will be a straight playoff format. The two teams that make the finals plus the 3rd place winner automatically qualify for the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey.

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