FIBA Analysis (9/3): Macedonia's McCalebb & Croatia's Tomic lead the way in Group C
We take a look at two EuroBasket Group C games and focus on potentially NBA-caliber players (Ante Tomic and Bo McCalebb) who led their teams to critical wins in the tight Group C. Macedonia and Croatia are now tied with Greece atop Group C, all at 2-1.
CROATIA 87, MONTENEGRO 81
- 7-2 Ante Tomic (Jazz own rights) led Croatia with 26 pts (12-of-16), 8 rebs, & 4 assts in 35 minutes. It was nice to see Tomic get more than his normal 20 minutes per game on Saturday. Tomic has been very efficient through three games: 16.7 ppg on 71%, 7.7 rpg & 3 apg in 25 mins/game. Tomic is 2nd in FG pct. behind Pau Gasol.
Tomic showcased his full arsenal of offensive skills today: feathery touch, great passing skills, soft hands, good ball skills and impeccable footwork. Tomic scored the majority of his buckets as the roll man. Hit multiple short jumpers as the popper, including two sweet bankers. Also finished off multiple rolls usually going with his patented hybrid floater/lay-in. Dropped a pretty bounce pass from the high post to backdoor-cutting Dontaye "Mad Man" Draper.
Ante can do all the things that Pau Gasol can do. He's just not as wide or strong as Pau--narrow frame with a weak base. Can be easily shoved off his spots on both ends of the floor. Does not enjoy contact and will disappear for long stretches.
Pau is more of a defensive presence as well. For guy who is 7-2 with good mobility, Tomic's play on the defensive end is disappointing. You understand why he guards post-ups poorly but no real excuse for why he can't be a factor as a help defender. Never been much of a shot-blocker.
Skeptical if Tomic (currently with Real Madrid) can handle the physical rigors of being a starter in the league. But his skills are so good he needs a chance to prove himself in the NBA.
- Croatia's ball movement was terrific throughout. Picked apart the porous Montenegro defense all game. 26 of Croatia's 32 made FGA were assisted. Shot 50% overall and 10-for-26 from 3pt. land.
- NJ Net draftee Bojan Bogdanovic did not stand out today, with only six points on 3-of-5 after averaging 19.0 ppg in the first two games. But really can't criticize Bojan as Popovic and Tomic were making efficient use of their touches.
- Marko Popovic, the Croatian Vinnie Johnson, did what he does best: provide a scoring jolt off the bench (23 pts). Pretty much did all his damage behind the 3pt. line either spotting-up or off ball screens--7-for-11 behind the arc.
- Croatia's move to naturalize PG Dontaye Draper this year looks quite prescient now. Croatia lost starting PG Roko Ukic during training camp and they would have been hurting for a distributor without Draper around. Draper shredded the porous Montenegrin defense all game, creating good shot opportunities for his teammates.
Draper was the impetus for Croatia's crisp ball movement. Draper and Tomic worked the two-man games to perfection all game and Draper finished the game with 12 dimes with no turnovers. Draper is now ranked second in the tournament with seven assists per game.
- Montenegro's Nikola Pekovic never could find a rhythm in this game and finished with nine points in 23 minutes. Usually Montenegro pounds the ball into Pek, where he tends to dominate the opposition. But he never got the ball down low with any consistency and was further sidetracked when he picked up his third foul halfway through the 2nd quarter.
FYR of MACEDONIA 72, GREECE 58
Bo McCalebb and Macedonia's strong frontline keyed the FYR of Macedonia to a mild upset of their rival neighbor, Greece.
- Bo McCalebb continues to be the best non-NBA player in the field by dropping 27 pts & 4 assts vs. Greece. Like every other team in Europe, Greece just could not contain him. Had multiple blow-bys without the use of a ball screen. One time where he froze Nick Calathes with a hesitation dribble, then accelerated to rim, spinning Calathes around in the process. Put pressure on the defense and constantly drew fouls because of his speed (12-for-14 on FTs).
He did hit one nice pull-up jumper, but he did not shoot well from outside (1-for-6 on 3pt.). His jumper is the main sticking point of his game, which likely gives some NBA GMs pause. Poor mechanics that lead to a flat arc. He did shoot the long ball well during the club season, but in general, he's erratic.
McCalebb is currently ranked sixth in tournament with 21.0 points per game. The only players ahead of him are established NBA names Gasol, Parker, Nowitzki, Bargnani and Deng.
With Serbia's Milos Teodosic, Bo is one of the most coveted point guards currently playing in Europe. McCalebb is currently under a multi-year contract with Montepaschi Siena (Italy) (not sure about his buyout stipulations).
- A strength of Macedonia is the ability of their bigs to float out ,and they flashed their perimeter shooting prowess today. Pero Antic, Todor Gechevski and Gjorgij Chekovski combined to shoot 6-for-9 behind the 3pt. arc.
- PF Pero Antic had a quality all-around outing with 12 pts & 8 rebs. Antic loves to float to the perimeter where he often lines up his man in an iso play. He hit a 3pt. over his man in isolation and hit a pick-n-pop 3pt. Antic's physical play on the defensive end, particularly on Antonis Fotsis, aided Macedonia's cause.
- The Macedonia defense was solid, especially up front. Made Greece's looks around the rim as difficult as possible. Greece had issues finishing all game, missing plenty of makeable shots. Gechevski did a nice job all-around plugging up the painted area and defending one-on-one on Bourousis.
- Greece continues to have issues shooting the ball from range. Only 21% on 3PA today and are currently shooting 24.5% through three games (4th worst). Also, turnovers seem to be another problem--Greece is currently averaging 16.3 TOpg, 3rd worst. Kind of strange since they kept their TOs low last year with V. Spanoulis and Sofo Schortsanitis, their two major TO machines.
- Next to McCalebb, 7-0 Greek center Giannis Bourousis is another highly-coveted NBA prospect. Bourousis struggled to finish off his looks around the rim (3-of-11). He did make a couple of nice hooks, and as always, cleaned the glass--10 rebounds.