Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 FIBA Worlds: Day 2 Analysis (USA-Slovenia, Turkey-Russia, Greece-Puerto Rico)

Group B: USA 99, Slovenia 77

Another day, another blowout for Team USA. Though they weren't as
sharp as in the opener on Saturday, the U.S. still handled a good
Slovenia team with ease, 99-77.

While it never felt as if Team USA was in danger, the Americans were
ahead just 28-23 with 3:36 left in the half and struggling through a
7-minute drought without a field goal, at about the time that a key
player in the game - Kevin Love - started to make an impact.

In the last 3 minutes of the first half, Love produced 6 points and 5
rebounds to propel Team USA to a 42-28 lead, and they never looked
back - a 17-2 run early in the third turned it into a laugher. On the
day, Love had 10 points and 11 rebounds in 13 minutes, and he did a
little bit of everything - mainly using his big frame to establish
position in the right spots. In addition to dominating the boards,
Love finished a hoop with a dunk on a Slovenian head, kindly handed
one of his 5 O-boards to Kevin Durant for a wide-open three,
threw a couple beautiful outlets, and offered a signature play in
which he caught an offensive rebound and flipped the ball in - all with
one hand, while holding off an opponent with the other.

Love now has 21 rebounds in 26 minutes played in the tournament. Those are Chamberlain-Russell kind of board numbers. It's a wonder this guy doesn't play more minutes for every team he's on.

Ho hum, Kevin Durant was the best player on the floor, and is
the best player in the tournament - he had 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4
assists, 4 steals on 8-13 FG in 23 minutes.

The U.S. should handle a banged-up Brazilian team easily on Monday,
and then they get to put it in total cruise control for the rest of
the week, with games vs. Iran and Tunisia on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, followed by a few days off before the medal round.

For Slovenia, Goran Dragic had a couple nice moves, but was
mostly bottled up by the USA defense - he had 7 points, 4 assists, 3
TO on 2-8 FG in just 20 minutes, after picking up some ill-advised
fouls early. Boki Nachbar had some nice moves en route to
leading Slovenia in scoring with 13. Gaspar Vidmar flashed some
impressive athleticism en route to scoring 10.

GROUP C: Turkey 65, Russia 56

Turkey beat a Vik Khryapa-less Russia to set up a battle of 2-0 teams with Greece on Tuesday. This game was a defensive-minded affair with a heavy dose of zone.

You know I constantly praise Russia's David Blatt's willingness to mix up his defenses and for his use of eccentric zone alignments. Well, Turkish Coach Tanjevic gets the props today for his use of a 2-1-2 for most of the game. It was extremely effective. And I always appreciate a well-played zone.

Turkey shifted well in the zone with good activity from their guards and Omer Asik/Semih Erden were effective as the focal points. It also helped that Turkey has great size. Granted, Russia is not the most naturally gifted offensive team, either.

You usually see 2-3 the majority of the time in FIBA or NCAA zones. I tend to prefer a 2-1-2 zone because it muddies up the paint, better at clogging driving, passing & cutting lanes. I understand you can't get out to the corner shooters as well, but that's what you need to sacrifice to shut down the paint. With the shorter 3pt. arc in FIBA, it is easier to get to shooters when in zone.

Isn't the idea of the zone mainly to clog the painted area? If I'm playing Team USA, I would try some 2-1-2; if they beat you with jumpers from the side, so be it. I'll accept some uncontested jumpers as long as the paint is squeezed. Lesser of two evils.

Also, like the use of zone vs. team who run Princeton-type sets (like Russia) because it disrupts the cuts and passes crucial to that formation. Also, zone keeps the bigs near the baseline which help against back cuts.

Russia often likes to keep the basket area open. And they could get no continuity going once Turkey went with the zone. Russia was difficult to watch on offense for extended stretches.

Russia had a brutal middle section of the game. The offense was all kinds of messed up, no quality looks to be had vs. the zone. Russia scored only 22 points in the 2nd & 3rd quarters combined on 6-of-24 shooting. Turkey held Russia to 32% shooting for the game.

Turkey's offense was not particularly exacting either. As usual, Russia mixed up its defenses and featured some of their off-kilter matchup zone.

Hedo Turkoglu stunk for most of this game by forcing the action and chucking up shots (1-for-9 thru three quarters). Then he decided to perk up in the 4th, scoring 12 of his 14 pts. Hedo started the 4th with a couple purposeful lay-ins, then later in the 4th, he made a nice jumper in an extended post-up.

Hedo possibly made up for his earlier transgressions in one key possession. Hedo saved the ball from out of bounds then finished off the possession with a 3-pointer to push the score to 62-51. Finally, Hedo iso-ed his defender up high and drained a step-back 3pt. to put the game away with :50 secs left.

Recently signed Chicago Bull Omer Asik continues to play well for the Turkish National Team. Asik finished with 10 pts on 5-for-7 with 7 rebs & 2 blks in 20 minutes--numbers similar to his Eurobasket averages. Asik changed multiple shots, including one on the perimeter and has a superb block on Monya off a pick/roll.

Did his usual quality job of finishing plays. He had a nice follow-up dunk, a tough finish for plus-1 off a Hedo dish, converted a nifty step-thru move with head fake off a roll and had a great drive past Timo Mozgov off a high post-up. Asik even connected on a decent looking hook.

As we mentioned in our scouting report, we feel Asik was a good bargain for the Bulls, and he should have an easier adjustment to the NBA than Mozgov thanks to a better feel for the game, plus a better overall defensive game with less fouling.

Turkey also got nice input from the other NBA frontliners. Ersan Ilyasova added 10 pts & 10 rebs, while Boston Celtic reserve center Semih Erden had a productive 20 minutes with 9 pts & 5 rebs.

Sergey Monya had another solid all-around game (13 pts, 5 rebs, 4 assts, 2 stls, 2 blks & three 3pters) and his on-point help defense was good as usual.

NY Knick center Timo Mozgov had a rough outing with three fouls in 12 mins. Timo's fouls came because he was way too aggressive ramming into opposing players. He did this yesterday vs. Puerto Rico and he needs to recalibrate how he takes angles. The major drawback in his game is constant foul trouble. He led Eurobasket in fouling last year with four per game.

Russia is expected to get Khryapa back for the next game and they will need him when they face Greece on Thursday.

GROUP C: Greece 83, Puerto Rico 80:

Greece (barely) survived another game without suspended Antonis Fotsis and Sofo Schortsiantis to keep its hopes alive of taking Group C.

Greece made a key run in the 3rd thanks to its veteran starting guard trio (Spanoulis, Diamantidis, Zisis), all of whom hit 3-pointers during that run. Vasilis Spanoulis led all scorers with 28 pts on 8-for-12 shooting.

The difference in the game was Greece's ability to get to the free throw line. Greece went to the line 15 more times than P.Rico. Spanoulis drew fouls all game, quite a bit on the perimeter, getting to free throw line nine times.

Also, Puerto Rico did not help itself by shooting 9-for-18 at the stripe. Though, some might say that the foul disparity was because of dubious officiating. Possibly. P.R. Coach Manolo Cintron sure thought so, and he was assessed an untimely tech with Puerto Rico down two points with 1:15 left.

Spanoulis banged home four 3-pointers most of them at crucial moments. Spanoulis hit two big 3-pointers that tied the game in the 4th. He also hit a momentum shifting 3-pointers early in the 3rd to ignite a 12-4 run. Spanoulis scored 14 of his 28 in the 4th. Spanoulis also showed off his patented in-out dribble move that he likes to use near the rim a few times. Very adept at setting up his defender, like he will dribble off a screen, then he goes away from the screen.

Dimis Diamantidis was a force in drive-n-kick action all game and came alive in the 2nd half, scoring 11 of his 12 pts. Also, he set up Bourousis for a buzzer-beating 3pt. at the end of 3rd off a sweet crossover drive. Dimis had a beautiful post-up in which gave his defender a half-reverse spin then spun back into a short jumper. Diamantidis had 12 pts, 7 assts, & 5 rebs.

But never mind all that, Dimis' best play was a poke steal on Barea with Greece clinging to a 75-74 lead with 2:30 left. Barea had Dimis iso-ed up high and tried to drive left but Dimis did a great job shuffling his feet to beat Barea to the spot. Forced JJ into a spin in which Dimis poked the ball away. Vintage Dimis.

Giannis Bourousis couldn't hit his 3PA (1-for-6) but did contribute 12 pts, 9 rebs, 2 stls & 2 blocks. Love the way he snatches the ball. He can rebound out of his area and grab the ball in traffic. Like we said before--Bourousis is a better rebounding Memo Okur.

Kostas Tsartsaris gave the Greeks an early lift when the rest of the team was struggling to score. Kostas scored all his 14 pts in the 1st half by finishing some rolls and drawing contact to get to the FT line.

Greece's defense was mostly unimpressive. Thought their resistance was weak and they let P.R. have too much space. Let Puerto Rico shoot 49% from the floor and 11-for-22 on 3PA. Greece's defense has been a bit shaky, and wonder if they've lost some of their defensive intensity because Coach Yannakis is no longer at the helm. Need to watch more before definitive answer.

For the second day in row, JJ Barea got to wherever he wanted off the dribble. But just like yesterday, some questionable shots were taken and some questionable decisions with the ball were made. JJ led Puerto Rico once again with 20 pts, 5 rebs & 4 assts.

7-3 PJ Ramos was a factor for the second game in a row. Ramos was stellar with 16 pts on 8-for-8 shooting, 8 rebs (5 off.) & 3 assts. As we mentioned in our preview, the big guy has spry moves combined with a soft touch. Effectively used his drop-step a few times, even contorting himself to score a reverse lay-in. Hit a soft hook and a short turnaround as well. Made some impressive passes out of the post as well. Understand why he entices NBA scouts, but think he has a rep for a low motor.

Greece gets Fotsis and Sofo back from suspension just in time for its anticipated clash with Turkey on Tuesday. That game should likely determine the Group C winner. These two teams are intense rivals and the arena should be electric.

Serbia was not as lucky dealing with the after-effects of the brawl. We thought Serbia would be pushed vs. Germany, and they lost in double-OT 82-81. But Serbia has yet to play Argentina and if they beat them, they could still win Group A based on tiebreakers, though Germany now can't be discounted, either.

More Day 2 analysis: Argentina-Australia and Spain-New Zealand

*--For other scores from Sunday check here.


At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Gaspar Vidmar" = "Gasper Vidmar"

Too bad he can't shoot. Not even free throws.

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Nice job on the pre- and reviews.

In case you're interested, I've some advanced team stats after gameday 3:

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