Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Parker's Offensive Explosion Powers France

Group D: France 69, Italy 62

- T. Parker was sensational today, basically a one-man wrecking crew on offense--scored 36 of France's 69. Not surprisingly he shredded Italy with his patented drives, and showcased his improbable finshing ability. But most impressive of all was his solid outside shooting, not to mention a huge step-back 3pt. with the shot clock winding down to tie the game with about 3 minutes to go.

- Tony continues to show off his improved stroke, and was the only Frenchie who could hit from the perimeter--Tony was 4/9 from 3pt, while the rest of Les Bleus were 1/7. Strange saying this, but Tony might be the best outside shooting threat for France, maybe their only one that plays significant minutes.

- Tariq Kirksay (naturalized French from US) came up big in the 2nd half, mostly thanks to an array of running one-handed floaters that he must have picked up from Parker. Kirksay was the only other Frenchie in double figures (11 on 5/7), and also hit a huge 3pt late in the 4th to give France a 63-60 lead; this 3pt was the only one made outside of Tony's 4.

- France's defense was very good as expected, and even turned it up a notch in the 2nd half--they held Italy to 11 points in the 3rd. Yakhouba Diawarra (Nuggets), Florent Pietrus, & Diaw all were effective on defense. Diaw disappered at times, as he is wont to do, but he still had a solid all-around game with 9 pts & 7 rebs on 4/5. Mentioned Italy is a shaky board team in Euro07 preview, and France won the boards 40-31. Pietrus, who rebounded well last year, finished with 8 pts & 5 rebs.

- Italian PG Massimo Bulleri (11 pts) made things happen for Team Italia off the dribble with a few finishes & some great feeds to teammates. Marco Belinelli hit his first couple of jumpers, but then he settled into his patented fadeaway, off-balance jumper mode for the rest of the game. Marco was 6/15 overall, 2/8 from 3pt for 15 pts.

- A. Bargnani (16 pts) had pretty solid game--hitting 3s, even 2 impressive pull-ups off the bounce a la Dirk, but he probably rushed up a few too many bad shots & forced things in general (6 TOs). 2nd game in a row the normally sweet-shooting Italians didn't shoot well from deep.

- Have to say I'm thoroughly unimpressed with Coach Recalcati over the last few years. His refusal to play a zone vs. Team USA was a major blunder last season & rarely using a zone vs. France was another questionable decision. And when Italy did decide to go zone, they were so out of alignment, Parker was shredding it as much as their man. France did most of their damage by going right down the middle.

I know Parker was hitting jumpers, but no one else on France was even close on their perimeter shots, and France's outside shooting is a major flaw (France was 54% from 2pt range, 31% from 3pt, by the way) How bout a packed-in zone with all 5 guys surronding the lane.

Also, why no fouls in the last minute of the game? Italy just let France whittle away the clock, and Recalcati seemed he was fine letting the game slip away. Not to mention his peculiar substitution patterns, but then again this seems to be a recurring theme with many int'l coaches.

- Italy is now 0-2, and is forced into a must-win situation vs. 0-2 Poland. Think Italy is OK considering Poland might be the weakest team in the whole tourney. 2-0 France will face 2-0 Slovenia for the right to carry over an undefeated record into the next round.


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