Eurobasket '07 All-Tourney
• Also: Early look at 2008 Olympic power rankings
MVP--A. Kirilenko (Russia)- Was an all-around force thru-out Euro '07. Defensive juggernaut, who was allowed to roam like a free safety on defense. Hit the glass every game (especially the off. glass), and finished at the basket well the entire tourney. Came up huge on the offensive end in the Semi win over Lith. Andrei's sick Euro '07 stat line--18ppg, 8.6rpg (3rd overall), 2.4apg, 2.2spg (1st overall), & 1.8 bpg (2nd overall).
P. Gasol (Spain) - Was about 5 minutes away from a MVP, but those last 5 minutes were a doozy. Still, the meltdown at the ft line & costly TOs can't take away how dominant Pau was thru-out the tourney--1st in the tourney in FG% (62%) & his 18.8 ppg was good enough for 4th in scoring. But just as important as his offensive production was his defensive presence lurking on the backline of the vaunted Spanish zone. Was a defensive factor every game, turning back penetrators & forcing kick-outs, and turning back shot attempts to the tune of 1.8 bpg (2nd overall). But have to imagine that final quarter of 3/8 fts & 2 TOs will haunt him for awhile, especially since he did it front of the home folks.
D. Nowitzki (Germ) - Did everything he was supposed to do for his team, and helped Germany overachieve a bit by grabbing the 5th spot. Was even more of a one-man gang than usual this year since Okulaja cooled off as the tourney went on--Dirk was the only German in double figures & led the tourney in scoring at 24 ppg. Was 2nd overall in rebounding at 8.7 rpg, but shot only 31% from 3pt. He was throwing up a fair amount of rushed shots, but you can't really fault him since Germany does not have great options after Dirk.
S. Jasikevicius (Lith) - Was making a case for MVP of the tourney thru the opening rounds, but then he re-aggravated a hammy injury late in the 2nd round. He really never recovered his early round form in the playoffs, and Lithuania suffered accordingly. But still have to give him the nod for 1st team for his superb play through the first 5-6 games. Masterful controlling the offensive flow & directing Lithuanians. Ran the high pick-n-roll to perfection, whipping precision passes all over the floor, drilling jumpers when needed; sort of poor man's Steve Nash. We have already been on record multiple times in the last few weeks that he would be a valuable NBA back-up if put in the right situation--give him latitude like Nash to make decisions on the floor & put him in pick-n-roll situations. Saras led the tourney in assists with 5.6 apg to go along with 10.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg & 40% from 3pt.
Vik Khyrapa (Russia) - Probably the unsung hero of the Eurobasket. A poor man's AK47, but that's probably underrating his perfomance, he was nearly as good as AK. Underrated passer, and passes well off the move. Versatile defender that Coach Blatt let loose inside & out just like AK47, and Blatt allowed him to roam like AK. Crushed the boards every game & improved his shooting as the tourney progressed--Vik shot 45.7% overall & 40% from 3pt. Pretty sweet line for Khyrapa--11.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg (4th overall), 3.2 apg (5th overall) & 2 spg (2nd only to AK).
J. Calderon (Spain) - His outside shooting was the most impressive aspect of his play. Calderon's main weakness has been his outside shooting but he has shown over the last year that he has soldified his status as a reliable shooter--3rd in the tourney in FG% with 55.5% & was 19/38 from 3pt. Also, did a nice job pushing the ball in transition & attacked the basket when necessary.
T. Parker (France) - Sort of wore down as the tourney went on, and can't blame him since so much of the offensive burden falls on him. Has no one who can consistently spread the floor around him, making his patented drives thru the lane tough to come by. Was keeping the sagging defenses France usually faces honest early in the tourney. But his outside shooting tailed off as the tourney progressed, and looked very frustrated that the defenses were loading up on him. Still managed 20 ppg (2nd overall) on 47% overall, 32.7% from 3pt. Did have two costly missed free throws that could have tied games with seconds remaining (Slovenia & Russ).
Ramunas Siskauskas (Lith) - Versatile weapon for Lithuania. Did a good job doing the two things he known for: drilling 3pts (44.4%) & bulling his way into the lane to draw fouls. Also, pitched in 4 rpg, 2.6 apg, & 1.4 spg. Could possibly be a solid rotation wing in the NBA, though not sure he's interested & at his age of 28/29 he might have only a few productive years left.
R. Nesterovic (Slovenia) - 2nd summer in a row where he played well for Slovenia. Was a major interior presence on both ends of the floor. Was the focal point of Slovenia's strong defensive play, and was a major deterrent on the backline like Gasol--Rasho led the Euros in blocks (1.9) Also, did a solid job on offense converting in the painted area, especially using his nice little hook shot. Always thought he got a bad rap in San Antonio, but always felt he did a solid job in the Spurs' defensive scheme. Rasho pitched in with 12 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.9 bpg, & 50% shooting.
Matjaz Smodis (Slovenia) - Just beat out Songaila for this spot on the 2nd team. Very consistent performer from game to game. Did damage inside & out: drilled perimeter jumpers & also showed off a nice collection of polished post moves. Would have led the tourney in FG% (62.7%) but he did not qualify with only 7 fg attempts per. Shot 12/23 from 3pt. Averaged 13.4 ppg in only 23 mins per. Also an underrated passer. Could be at least a solid back-up 4 in the NBA, and is one of the better veteran prospects in Europe. Quickness is an issue, but has nice bulk to be able to hold position on the post combined with a refined skill set of perimeter shooting, post moves, & passing. Is 29, but other 6-9 Euro vets like Garbajosa & Oberto have shown they can come to the league in their late 20s and provide quality minutes.
Honorable Mention: JR Holden (Russia); H. Turkoglu (Turkey); D. Songaila, L. Kleiza, R. Kaukenas, K. Lavrinovic (Lithuania); A. Okulaja (Germany); M. Belinelli & M. Bulleri (Italy); J. Lakovic (Slovenia); Y. Halperin, Y. Greene, & M. Tapiro (Israel); R. Fernandez (Spain); V. Spanoulis, D. Dikoudis & D. Diamantidis (Greece); M. Kasun, Z. Planinic & M. Popovic (Croatia)
[Note: We should clarify that these are The Painted Area's choices for a Eurobasket All-Tournament Team. The official team consisted of Kirilenko (MVP), Gasol, Nowitzki, Calderon and Siskauskas.]
Coach-of-Euro '07: David Blatt (Russia)
This one was no-contest. Did one of the finest coaching jobs in Eurobasket history guiding a squad that was not even in the 24-team field of the '06 World Champs to the top of Euro basketball. Expected the defense to be staunch under Coach Blatt (and it was), but really could not picture a way where this team would generate enough offense to seriously compete for a medal this year. Love how he's willing to mix up his defenses constantly, and will even show multiple zone looks instead of the standard 2-3. Mentioned a few times during the Eurobasket, I occasionally had trouble deciphering exactly what type of defense Russia was in, and it seemed it was some type of hybrid look. He would often let Kirilenko & Khyrapa just freelance all over the defensive end. Name had been bandied about before for asst. gigs in the NBA, and have to imagine after the last few weeks, Blatt's profile has been raised in the eyes of NBA organizations even further.
• Also: Early look at 2008 Olympic power rankings