FIBA Analysis (9/4): Spain-Lithuania, Serbia-Germany
SPAIN 91, LITHUANIA 79
In Spain's first true test of the tourney, they sent a message that they can make any team look foolish when they are locked in. In a possible gold-medal game preview, Spain took control of this game early and manhandled the previously unbeaten Lithuanians. The final score was not indicative of this one-sided affair.
This game was over early as Spain played some of their best ball ever in the first half by putting up 62 points on 57% shooting. And Team España did most of its damage behind the 3pt. arc: 10-of-16 from deep in the half. Spain came into the game only hitting a total of 11 3PA and was near the bottom the 3pt. pct. leaderboard (22%). They finished the game 13-of-26.
Spain forced turnovers--nine in the 1st half--with vintage Euro '09 type activity. Spain also kept its turnovers in check (7) after averaging 14 TOpg in the first three games.
The game had a heavy dose of NBA talent but that talent was concentrated mostly on one team.
Pau Gasol continued on his quest for another EuroBasket MVP award with 17 pts, 4 rebs & 3 assts. Pau did his scoring in transition as a trailer, as an alley-oop finisher and even tossed in two 3pt. makes. Pau is currently fifth in ppg (21.8) and third in FG pct. (65%). Marc Gasol (8 pts. 8 rebs, 4 assts) added a few nice scores around the rim and, like Pau, moved the ball well.
Jose Calderon (12 pts, 4 assts, 4 rebs, 2 stls) had a very nice game throughout and made positive things happen early. Controlled the tempo and made his jumper when needed (3-of-8 3PA).
Juan Navarro's overall shooting had been a little off before this game but the best pure scorer in Europe went off on Sunday. Juan got into patented La Bomba mode and banged home jumpers spotting up, pulling up in transition or stepping-back. Juan ripped 5-of-9 3-pointers to lead Spain with 22 pts.
Rudy Fernandez (8 pts, 5 rebs, 4 assts, 3 stls) pitched in with his usual frenetic brand of ball. Rudy was picking up steals, chasing down rebounds, throwing alley-oops off the dribble and knocking down his open looks (2-for-3 on 3PA). Rudy always plays well for Team España and is a noticeably different player when he's allow to fly around the court rather then being hemmed in like he was in Portland.
Serge Ibaka was highly efficient off the bench, adding 15 pts on 7-of-9, 9 rebs & 2 blks in. Serge hit a couple of foul-line jumpers, a few put-backs and a few dunks--one as the oop to Rudy's alley.
Ricky Rubio had 0 points and 0 assists in 15 minutes. Ricky currently has a total of nine points and six assists through four games. And I don't think TWolves (or NBA) fans should be that discouraged.
We addressed in our Euro preview it was likely Ricky would not impress in this tourney for a variety of reasons. First off, he has to share minutes with Calderon. Plus Spain has so many options to keep happy that Ricky is low in the pecking order. Ricky needs the ball in his hands a ton and to be allowed to improvise. On Spain, he's more of a caretaker.
La Bomba, the Gasols and Rudy all need their touches. And Rudy and Navarro handle the ball a fair amount, so Ricky's duties are to get out of the way. His low assist numbers are not surprising, though his shooting numbers (4-for-15, 0-for-7 3PA) give you pause.
Toronto Raps draftee Jonas Valanciunas was Lithuania's best player--(13 pts, 3 assts, 2 rebs) and made an immediate impact the moment he entered the game late in the 1st quarter. Maybe his most impressive play on the day was when he faced up Pau on the left block, gave him a ball-fake then drove middle for a running hook. Also made a nice block on the ball vs. Marc. He also tossed a few nice passes.
Love Jonas' willingness to mix it up with veterans considering his young age and lack of bulk. He showed this type of aggressiveness and activity at Lietuvos Rytas. However, that overaggressiveness leads to constant foul trouble, Jonas' biggest weakness. Four fouls limited him 16 minutes on Sunday. Jonas is averaging 3.3 fouls/game and 2.3 TOs/game in 12.7 mins/game.
Spain secured first place in Group A with win while Lithuania gets second.
SERBIA 75, GERMANY 64
Serbia's superior depth was too much for Dirk & the Germans. It's tough to rest against Serbia because they lose very little when they go to the bench.
Germany got the score within five points a few times in the 4th but Serbia responded quickly each time to keep Germany at bay.
Milos Teodosic (12 pts, 9 assts, 9 rebs) was a playmaking savant once again--put on a passing clinic. We mentioned this before, but he generates so many points for Serbia. The nine recorded assists don't tell the whole story. He set up at least 5-6 great scoring opportunities that were not converted. Then other passes led to a handful of drawn fouls.
Milos had a couple hit-ahead passes in transition, a few cross-court bullet passes and multiple precision bounce passes. Showcased his knack for waiting for better angles to develop on a well-timed alley-oop to Kosta Perovic. He great at holding up his dribble to do this. The best pure passer in the field (since Rubio is basically handcuffed) and leads Euro '11 with 7.8 apg.
He did force a few jumpers and has not been shooting the ball well at EuroBasket. But not concerned as Milos has proven he is a very dangerous shooter. Converted two runners/floaters, including a big make late in the 4th to stem Germany's rally.
Milos is only shooting 31% from the field and 23% behind the arc. He's much better than those numbers would suggest.
Initially I was not a huge fan of his game but he has won me over the last few years. Believe he could be a starter in the NBA. No doubt he will be a defensive liability. But he has good size (6-5), can move over to the 2-spot and has a quick release.
One of the best NBA prospects in Europe. The 24-year-old just signed a new contract with CSKA, though don't know the buyout stipulations.
Dusan Savanovic continued his strong EuroBasket play by banging down four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points. Nailed a crucial pick-n-pop 3pt. to push Serbia's lead to 69-61 with 2:00 left.
Dirk Nowitzki kept Germany in the game by doing Dirk stuff. Dirk hurt Serbia out of extended post-ups or isos all game, and was tough in the 4th. Dirk made a few of his patented right shoulder fall-aways and a few spin moves for scores. Also nailed two 3pts. at the top of the key off of down screens. Dirk finished with 25 pts & 6 rebs.
Chris Kaman's jumper was not falling but he was effective on the block. Kaman had success going to his countermoves to score in the post multiple times (11 pts). He also did his job on the boards--11 rebs--and currently leads Euro '11 in rebounding.
Serbia stays undefeated and meets undefeated France for the top spot in Group B. Germany is locked into 3rd place and will advance to the second round.