Monday, August 21, 2006

2006 FIBA World Champs--Sunday Games Recap

-USA 121, China 90-- Not too much to be gleaned from this expected blowout, so I'll try to make this a tidy summary. Again, no surprises with the US causing 24 turnovers, and also winning the board battle (44 to 35)--the US, once again, got a ton of off. rebs. (20), 2 short of China's def. rebs total.

Wade had a field day vs. China's man defense (Why man? Who knows) by getting to the line 9 times which helped lead to 26 points. Lebron had a nice all-around game with 11 pts., 7 rebs., & 4 steals. Chris Paul had another solid performance with 13 pts. & 8 assts. Once again, Dwight Howard set the tone in the paint with 16 pts. & 11 rebs & drawing fouls (8/11 fts).

But on the negative tip, they again struggled with their outside shooting (6/20 from 3pt.)--I thought this could be a problem going into the tourney & it really could come back to haunt them later in the tourney. The US also had issues again guarding the 3pt. line--China shot 42% from deep. This was a major problem in Athens where the US was one of the worst teams guarding the 3pt. line.

The next game vs. Slovenia should be a good test for the US, because Slovenia has better guards who should handle the pressure better & they have a collection of good shooters. So, we can hopefully see how Team USA responds to a game where they are not getting alot of turnovers & forced to rely more on their straight half-court defense & half-court offense.

- Turkey 76, Australia 68-- Not surprisingly, Group C is turning into the most competitive group. This game had a chippy tone with alot of minor dust-ups between teams, with Bogut mostly being in the middle of the scuffles. Australia built a comfortable lead in the second quarter by getting hot from deep & outscored the Turks 28-10 in the 2nd to take a 40-26 halftime lead. But the Aussies could not find their shooting stroke after halftime and were outscored 50-28 in the 2nd half. Turkey upped the intensity on defense in the 2nd half & kept Bogut under wraps by using a rotation of solid big bodies on him.

Ersan Ilyasova, remember that name. The current Buck was flat-out the best player on the floor. It was not just him playing well in a FIBA setting, but that he was doing it with a NBA-style game. The most impressive moves were two step-back 3pt. shots. He added a nice pull-up jumper off a great upfake & also hit a tough fadeaway long 2-pointer. Also, this 6-9 SF has a great body & good athleticism. I could easily see him starting at the 3 for Milwaukee in a couple years and then the Bucks could dump Bob Simmons for a real starting-caliber point guard.

Ilyasova got help from sharpshooter Ibrahim Kutluay who ended with 15 pts. off of 4/8 from 3pt & 2 big 3pts. late. The Turkish bigs did a super job by committee & did a good job on Bogut. Kerem Gonlum, Faith Solak, & Kaya Pekar combined for 31 pts., & 24 rebs. (9 off.) and just were too much for the undersized Aussie frontline which was playing with a 6-6 PF next to Bogut for most of the game. Bogut ended with only 8 pts but he only took 8 shots & did not get much help in the paint because of the lack of size for the Aussies. CJ Bruton had a great game for the Aussies with 24 pts. & 5 assts. with 5 3pts.

I have to say I am not that surprised by Turkey's 2-0 start. They have as much talent as any team in Group C, it's just they have not put it together the last couple years; maybe the chemisrty is better without Okur & Hedo. I picked Turkey to finish 5th in their group, but I also stated that I would not be surprised if they finished 2nd or even all that stunned if they finished ahead of Greece. They have a big, solid frontline that can hang with any team & good shooters surrounding those bigs.

-Greece 81, Lithuania 76 (OT)--Another entertaining game in Group C. Greece made this game alot closer than it should have been thanks to shooting 21/41 from the ft. line. But in the end, it was their renown defense that won the game--Lithuania shot 38% overall & had 24 TOs. Greece laid the hammer down defensively in the 3rd quarter by holding Lith. to 14 points. They created a bunch of steals & just played tremendous half-court defense with great help rotations. Greece's defense is great at getting deflections that either disrupt the half-court offense or lead to steals.

Theo Papaloukas had a great floor game on both ends & finished with 8 points & 4 steals. Euroleague Defender of the Year Dimis Diamantidis teamed up with Papaloukas in the 2nd half to cause alot of problems for the Lithuanian offense. Houston Rocket signee Vasileous Spanoulis led Greece with 15 pts. & was creating problems with his dribble penetration which led to 11 free throws. Antonios Fotsis showcased his all-around talent with 11 pts. on 4/5 shooting with 4 rebs. & 3 assts thrown in. Greece ran alot offense thru big man Lazaros Papadopolous, who showed off his nice footwork which led to some pretty nice post-ups. But he would sometime cancel out these sweet post moves by not being able to finish off point-blank shots o (he was 3/9). His lack of lift could be an issue for him in the NBA, but I still think he can be a solid back-up.

The usually sweet-shooting Lithuanians had a real rough go of it--6/31 from 3pt. land is a rarity. Arvydas Macijauksas had a tough night with only 10 pts. on 2/11 shooting (1/6 3pt.) & was just forcing things overall (7 TOs). But Darius Songalia kept his team close with a super game in the paint with 18 pts., 9 rebs., & 4 assts. Denver Nugget Linas Kleiza had a great all-around game with some big-time 3pt. makes (I counted at least 3, although the FIBA stats said 2) for 14 points & some solid defense. Maybe the Nuggets have a badly needed shooter right under their noses.

-Argentina 107, Lebanon 72-- No surprise, Argentina keeps showing why they are one of the elite teams in int'l ball. Recent Charlotte Bobcats signee Walter Herrmann exploded for 23 pts. in only 17 minutes of play--he was 6/8 from 3pt. land. Luis Scola pitched in with 18 pts. on 8/10 shooting & 7 rebs also in 17 mins. of play. Carlos Delfino continued his sharp play this summer with 14 pts & 7 rebs.--this guy has to get much more burn this season in Detroit.

-Spain 101, Panama 57--Spain keeps on chugging with another blowout. Pau shot 11/15 from the field for 26 pts. & 10 rebs. 1st-round draft prospect Rudy Fernandez finished behind Gasol with 21 points on 7/9 shooting & 4/4 from 3pt.

-Germany 80, New Zealand 56--Germany rolled to an easy victory after having a ragged victory vs. Japan. This win was a good sign for the Germans because they won easily with Dirk having an off night--he was 3/13 for only 11 points. SG Demond Greene led the way with 18 pts. on 4/5 from deep.

-France 65, Serbia 61--France rebounded with a hard fought victory that could possibly secure a 2nd place finish in Group A. Boris Diaw led the way with 20 pts & 8 rebs. and Fred Weis had a nice game with 11 pts., 7 rebs, & 4 assts. But again France was not good from long-range with a putrid 15.4% from 3pt. Serbia was once again carried by Igor Rakocevic with 22 pts & 4 assts. Darko pitched in with 14 pts., 9 rebs, & 3 blocks. But Serbia was let down by their 3pt. shooting (25%) & 18 TOs.

-Italy 80, Slovenia 76--In this battle for the 2nd place spot in Group D, Italy sneaked by Slovenia. Italy was led by young stud Marco Belinelli who was a force getting to the foul line & ending with 26 pts, covering for Basile who had an off night. Veteran big Denis Marconato rebounded with a solid performance in the paint--9 pts & 11 boards--after a poor 1st game. Rasho kept up his good play with 17 pts. & 8 rebs. PG Jaka Lakovic was burying shots from deep (4 3pts.) to keep Slovenia close with 11 pts. in the 4th.

-Other games-- Venezuela 84, Nigeria 77/ Angola 87, Japan 62/ Brazil 97, Qatar 66/ Puerto Rico 88, Senegal 79


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