Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Germany Keeps Olympic Hopes Alive

Germany 67, Italy 58

- Germany has been strictly a two-man attack of Dirk & Okulaja for most of the tourney with very little input from the role players. But facing elimination today, Germany got a big lift from its supporting cast in the 2nd half, and it couldn't have come at a more opportune time, considering Dirk was in the midst of his poorest day of the tourney. Recent West Virginia standout Johannes Herber was huge during a crucial 3rd quarter run--drilling 2 3pts & a jumper, and also blew by a gimpy Belinelli for a sweet lay-in. Herber also buried a big 3 pt with 2:00 mins left to give Germany a 57-52 lead, and helped punch his team's ticket for the playoff round.

- The aforementioned Herber led Germany with 15 pts & 6 rebs (4 off) on 6/10, 3/3 from 3pt. Dirk had a rough go shooting the ball--5/19--and he was only 2/9 from 3pt, but those two 3pts came at crucial times in the 4th quarter. Jan Jagla, whose provided great energy off the bench the entire tourney, particularly on the boards, crushed the glass once again with 10 rebs & 5 off rebs. Jagla is averaging 5.5 rpg (2.2 off) in only 14 mins per. PG Steffen Hamann helped down the stretch with a couple of hard drives for key buckets, finishing with 10 points of his own.

- Normally, Italy is known for their fluid Euro-style offense with nice ball-movement, cutting, & sharpshooting, almost a poor man's Lithuania. But really never saw too much evidence of this type of play this summer, and Italy's offense never quite clicked this entire tourney. Not sure really the reason why, but I believe the main reason was shoddy shot selection. We have touched on Bargnani & Belinelli's sometimes no-conscience approach this tourney, but some of Italia's vets were also showing little discretion out on the floor, especially Gianluca Basile. The usual solid outside shooting was not there this year--30.3% from 3pt--which is detrimental to a team that relies so heavily on the outside shot. Though, Italy was able to be competitive in every game it played, some of that can be attributed to their methodical style & low-turnover rate.

- Rebounding was something we knew would be a weakness for Italia going into the Euro '07, and has been thru-out the tourney. And in this game, the board battle bit them in the ass again & cost them big time--Germany outrebounded Italy 52-31. Gave up 21 off rebs to Germany while only pulling down 2 more def rebs (23)--a defensive reb. pct. close to 50% is not advisable.

- Andrea Bargnani's shot selection was again questionable, leading to a 3/12 shooting day. Like he has all tourney, he just seems to have his mind made up before he receives the pass that he's launching a shot no matter the defensive coverage.

- Marco Belinelli was the one consistent source of offense for Italy today with 25 pts on 6/11 (3/7 3pts). Marco came out sharp early in the contest, single-handedly keeping Italy in the 1st half. What you like about Marco's play the last few games is he has shown more ability to restrain his circus-shot tendencies.

- Germany now has the honor of facing Spain in the quarters. Not the greatest reward for this hard-fought win, but even though a triumph over Spain is unlikely, Germany is now in the mix to finish in the top 7, which would qualify them for the Olympic qualifying tourney next summer, where they'd have a solid chance to grab one of the last spots for Beijing.