Sunday, September 09, 2007

Eurobasket Saturday (9/8) Recap

Lithuania 79, Italy 74

- The most entertaining & competitive game of the day featuring two evenly matched, similar teams. Both teams have plenty of shooting firepower across the board who rely on crisp ball movement & love to shoot the 3. But neither team could find the range combining for 10/42 from deep. But Lithuania was able to swing the game in their favor by dominating the boards & getting to the free throw line 13 more times.

- Something we pointed to in our preview was Italy's shaky rebounding ability, and it really hurt them badly today. Lith beat them by 15 on the boards overall, including grabbing 16 off rebs to only 20 def. rebs for Italy.

- Rimas Kaukenas (ex-Seton Hall) stepped up today in the place of Saras with a sizzling shooting day either off of standstill jumpers or pull-ups--Rimas was 9/11 for 22 pts. 6-11 Darjus Lavrinovic had another impressive outing with 11 & 2 blks, and is solidifying his status as one of the best NBA veteran prospects at this tourney. Saras had his poorest day of the tourney with 7 TOs, including a handful of bad errors late in the game. Though, he did seem to be laboring with some type of leg injury. The Nuggets' Linas Kleiza used his athletic advantage to rip down 4 off rebs for 9 total & 8 pts.

- Italy got a nice lift from their veterans: Gianluca Basile drilled some tough outside jumpers today for 13 pts; big man Denis Marconato did a nice job finishing off some shots in the paint; & Massimo Bulleri provided his usual soild floor game for Team Italia.

- Andrea Bargnani led Team Italia with 15 & 7. Liked Andrea's effort today because he looked to take his game inside a little more than just looking to chuck up jumpers all game. Though, he still was launching a few too many ill-advised shots; sometimes he has looked liked a black hole in this tourney with his mind made up to shoot before he gets the ball.

- Marco Belinelli had 3-4 beautiful drives in the 4th quarter, also made a nice backdoor cut to free himself for a dunk & foul. Believe he had all his 9 points in the 4th, but his sudden late burst of aggression was a little too late. Once again Marco showcased the biggest issue with his game--he just floats thru games too loosey-goosey like he's playing in a pick-up game, almost too carefree. Again, he reminds me of a poor man's Vince Carter where he seems to turn it on & off when he wants, and would prefer to settle for jumpers rather than utilizing his immense physical gifts to get to the basket.

Slovenia 66, Turkey 51

- Not too much expound upon with Turkey's play, besides they simply could not buy a bucket today. Actually painful to watch them not get any luck from the basketball gods today, and basically just had one those horrendous shooting nights you really can't do anything about--31% overall & 4/25 from 3pt. They only managed 22 pts for the 2nd half & were held scoreless for the first 6 minutes of the 4th. Just a brutal, brutal offensive day for Turkey. Hedo (17 & 8 rebs) & Memo (14 & 6 rebs) were the only 2 guys in double figures, but just like the rest of the team neither guy shot the ball well--a combined 12/33.

- But nonetheless, this game just adds to list of disappointing performances by the immensely talented Turkey squad that just can't seem to find a way to maximize their talent. Turkey's playoffs hopes are hanging by a thread, and pretty much have to win their next two games vs. Germ & France if they want to advance.

- Up to this game had been rather unimpressed with Uros Slokar, and wondered how he was even remotely ever considered a NBA prospect. But today he came out of nowhere to spark Slovenia in the 2nd half with his timely 3pt shooting--Uros finished with 12pts, 3/3 3pts all in the 2nd half. Slokar hit back2back 3pts that gave Slovenia back the lead for good late in the 3rd. Uros helped ignite a 18-1 run over the next 8 minutes that sealed the game. Though, can't say this game really swayed my original analysis that Slokar is nowhere near NBA-caliber.

- Another impressive outing by Slovenia's young guard Goran Dragic, who's good speed & constant activity has cause problems for the opposition in this tourney--Goran had 11 pts, 4 rebs & 3 assts. Rasho threw in a few nice little hook shots & was a solid interior presence to lead Slovenia with 13 & 6.

- Was not like Slovenia offense was all that impressive either--shooting 42% & 5/19 from 3pt--but as they have throughout this tourney, they just find ways to win. Have to commend their defense today which has been pretty consistent for the Eurobasket.

France 78, Germany 66

- Who would have guessed at the start of the day that of the six teams who played on Saturday, France would end up having the best day shooting from the perimeter. Hard to belive but true, and their surprising shooting was a big reason for their success vs. Germany. Even though France's 32% from 3pt does not look that impressive, they hit their mid-range shots well and shot 5/11 from 3pt. in the 1st half which helped them build a 8-point halftime cushion.

- Arguably France's best offensive outing so far--the 1st half was probably the best I've seen the French look offensively in the last few years. Parker was superb again leading the Frenchies on offense. Sticking with the theme of the day, Parker did most of his damage on the perimeter with his jumper--23 pts on 9/15 (3/7 3pts) for Mr. Longoria. Even Florent Pietrus somehow managed to throw in a few 3pts--Florent had 12 pts on 4/4 (2/2 3pts).

- Can't forget about the French defense, which was as usual a pesky bunch. Their collection of athletic wings--Pietrus, Diawarra, & Diaw--are so disruptive and helped France turn up the half-court pressure another notch forcing Germany into a 11/28 2nd half.

- Though, Boris Diaw continued to struggle with his shot he found ways to be productive in other ways--he rebounded well (10 rebs), and was very good overall on the defensive end, sometimes checking Dirk, & even coming up with a monster block in transition.

- Hard to criticize a guy for scoring 28 pts, but Dirk could have done a better job looking to attack the interior more. Sort of the same old strory with Dirk. Had Pietrus & Diaw guarding him most of the time, but he fell into his usual routine of settling for jumpers (sometimes fadeaways for no reason), instead of attacking the basket and/or posting up his smaller defender. He made one nice move where he spun past his defender for a nice lay-in in the 4th, and you expected to see more interior looks for Dirk, but he went right back to jumper-mode. Jacked up too many forced jumpers in the 2nd half; went scoreless in the 3rd quarter. Dirk got some help from his sidekick, Okulaja, who had another solid all-around game with 14 & 9 (4 off). But the secondary support pretty much fizzled out after Ademola.


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