Saturday, July 19, 2008

FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tourney--Semis Recap

Croatia 76, Germany 70:

Croatia came out on top primarily thanks to a outstanding defensive effort. And got timely shooting from role players like K. Loncar, Davor Kus (2 big 3pts in 4th), & Nicevic down the stretch. This outcome is a mild upset at best. Croatia actually has more offensive options than Germany, plus their defense is tight.

Croatia was extremely physical with Dirk all game. Tried to deny him the ball the best they could, and tried to push him out of his sweet spots. Germany had a hell of a time trying to run their offense all game.

Croatia's defense was superb. Swarming help, and outstanding recovery where they closed out on Germany's perimeter shots all day. Germany had very few clean looks on the perimeter. The great ball-movement that was a key vs. New Zealand was nearly non-existent vs. Croatia. Croatia has really made steady improvement defensively the last few years.

Germany's defense was pretty solid as well. Had a few miscues where they overhelped, which did seem to happen at the worst time in the 4th. Kus hit two 3pts, Nicevic & Loncar were left wide open in the high post and they buried a few jumpers. Held Croatia to 23 points in the 2nd & 3rd quarters combined. But were outscored 29-22 in the 4th.

Marko Tomas continues to be one of the top performers of the tourney. Drilled three 3pts in the 1st quarter, including one to beat the buzzer. Then had two tough dribble drives to his left, including a huge 3-point play in 4th. Marko finished with 21 & 5 rebs, and drilled three 3pts, all in the 1st quarter.

Can't fault Dirk, he continued to play with aggression--30 pts & 13 rebs. Since the German offense could not run properly, Dirk started to just go one-on-one in the 2nd quarter, and single-handedly led a 10-0 run in the quarter. Must have drawn 6-7 fouls just off-the-ball, but also attacked the painted area once again. 19 of Dirk's points were from the foul line.

Had some success setting up Kaman on the right block in the 3rd. Kaman had somewhat of a mixed bag of a game--had some nice post-up moves, but only 3 rebs after being a force on the glass thus far. Kaman was definitely effected by Stanko Barac's length.

Demond Greene was a complete non-factor, besides another foul-plagued game. If Germany wants to be a medal contender in Beijing, Greene is going to have return to his '06 Worlds play; that's assuming Germany beats Puerto Rico.

Greece 88, Puerto Rico 63

Greece easily advances to the Olympics by rolling over another opponent in Athens. Greece took control of this game in the 2nd quarter. Papaloukas sparked the Greeks with his patented playmaking. Pushing the ball & passing the ball ahead in transition, and creating in the half-court, usually off pick/rolls. Theo ended with 10 assts.

Really like when Coach Giannakis goes with the backcourt of Papaloukas-Diamantidis-Spanoulis. Have three guys who can handle and create offense. And this trio was on the floor when they made their decisive run in the 3rd.

Barea started the 3rd for the injured Arroyo, and kept Puerto Rico within relative striking distance with his attacking off the bounce. Barea was the only Puerto Rican in double figures.

Greece took care of business maybe even better than expected. In four games, they beat each opponent by no less than 20 points. The sterling defensive play was per usual, but the offense looks much better than last year. They have two more important offensive options that they did not have last year in Fotsis & Big Sofo, and are a serious medal contender in Beijing.

3rd Place Game: Germany vs. Puerto Rico

This is for the final spot in Beijing. P.R. is already in a hole because Arroyo looks doubtful for Sunday's game with a injury. Barea can pick up some of his slack, though Ayuso really needs a big game. P.R. can match up well with Kaman with Santiago & Ramos. But like with every other squad, they have no one to deal with Dirk. Ricky Sanchez might be the best bet. Going with Germany, think they've looked more impressive this last week, and their interior defense & rebounding is stronger.


At 4:49 AM, Anonymous Hylas said...

Thanks for all your thoughts about the qualifying tournament. While the games have mostly been blowouts, they at least count for something -- unlike the NBA summer league, that seems to get all the coverage and love from other sites.

I don't think it was only great defense that helped the Croatian team, but a lack of confidence from the Germans other than Nowitzki. At times they seemed genuinely afraid to take a shot, I remember a few times a player waited for the defender to close out and take a wild leaner of the dribble instead of just catching and shooting. Too bad Dirk is their only competent playmaker (!). I didn't see the whole game, but where was Kaman? He didn't play for a long stretch in the fourth and wasn't particulary effective then. Three rebounds?

On a related note, will we get a post about the free agency developments? Can you see Kaman and Camby playing together?

Greece was really head and shoulders above their competition; playing outstanding pressure defense and a pretty well-oiled offense. Too bad we won't see a finals game against Croatia. (A fact apparently lost on the ESPN web editors...)

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