Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 FIBA Worlds: Group A Preview

• FIBA Worlds overview: Power Rankings, Players to Watch, More
• FIBA Worlds team previews: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D

The 2010 FIBA World Championships tip off in Turkey on Saturday, and run through the medal games at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul on Sunday, September 12. The Painted Area will provide analysis throughout the tournament.

Our preview of the four groups begins with Group A. The top 4 teams will advance to the 16-team knockout stage.

GROUP A (Predicted order of finish):





Forecasting Group A is a difficult task at the moment, due to the Greece-Serbia brawl from last week. As of right now, there's no confirmation from FIBA about whether Serbia's top two players, Nenad Krstic and Milos Teodosic, might face suspensions (with Krstic seeming to be more in jeopardy). Even if Serbia were at full-strength, I'd still pick Argentina as Group A champ because of their superior offensive execution. Serbia does have great depth, but Australia could jump them if Nenad and Milos are in street clothes for too many games. Australia is a solid team that can push Argentina and Serbia for the Group A title. Germany has nice size and good shooting which can keep them competitive and should secure them the final knockout stage berth from Group A. Jordan and Angola are no pushovers but ultimately don't have the talent pool of the other four teams.

(Teams listed in predicted order of finish)


- Notable Players: Luis Scola; Carlos Delfino; Andres Nocioni; Pablo Prigioni; Fabricio Oberto
- Notable Absences: Manu Ginobili; Juan Pablo Cantero

No Manu, and getting a little older, but the Argentines still have one of the top starting fives in the tourney (Prigioni-Delfino-Nocioni-Scola-Oberto). The core of this team has been playing together for many years--they are an extremely potent club because of their tremendous chemistry and raw talent.

Not sure there is a better passing team as a whole than Argentina. Have multiple options on each play, and seemingly counterplays for their counterplays. When their offense is *on*, there's not a prettier team to watch to FIBA ball.

Luis Scola is an uber-efficient monster in FIBA play. Scola will draw extra defenders, draw fouls and shoot a high pct. Loves working the pick/roll, where he will peel off to hit jumpers from the foul line area or work his way to the baseline for jumpers. He was the best player at the FIBA Americas last year.

ARG runs plenty of pick/rolls, and move Scola all over the floor 18 feet & in. He's a force near the basket scoring off righty hooks, up/under moves, drop-steps, spins and put-backs.

PG Pablo Prigioni rarely looks for his shot, as precision passing is his calling card--the best pure passer in the tourney not named Rubio. The Prigioni-Scola pick/roll combo is one of the deadliest in the Worlds. Always plays under control and makes sound decisions with the ball.

Carlos Delfino will be the secondary ball-handler and likely will be the PG with the second unit, with reserve PG JP Cantero recently scratched from the roster. Delfino should see increased minutes and responsibilities in Manu's abscence. Delfino thrived the last time he was tapped to be the second option behind Scola at the '07 FIBA Americas. Expect quality passing, defense, rebounding and finishing from @cabezadelfino.

Andres Nocioni is trying to work his way back from an ankle injury. Expect Noce to bring his usual spazzy brand of ball, strong rebounding and shooting.

Fab Oberto and Nocioni are great at getting lost on the offensive end. They are masters at finding open spaces while Prigioni, Scola or Delfino have the ball in their hands. Also, Oberto is an underrated passer and a decent post-up option in FIBA play. Oberto, Scola, & Nocioni are very crafty at using the flex screens to get quick seals.

Argentina might need extended minutes from forwards Hernan Jasen and Painted Area fave Federico Kammerichs. Both reserves provide Argentina with activity & rebounding at the SF. We just wish Feddie would bring back the '07 'stache.

Big man Roman Gonzalez can hit a face-up jumper and occasionally score with a lefty hook. Roman looks like a taller version of the center on your Over-30 beer league team. And moves about as well as a beer league center. Reserve PF Leo Gutierrez is strictly around to provide standstill shooting--he's too slow to offer anything more.

SG Paolo Quinteros can give some quality minutes and provides shooting off the bench. Quinteros will spot-up and be run off baseline screens. Sometimes Quinteros is used as playmaker in pick/roll.

Their depth is a tad worrisome, especially on frontline. Coach Sergio Hernandez kept a tight rotation in 2008 and might need to do the same in Turkey. Outside shooting could be a minor concern, as Delfino and Noce tend to be erratic.

Did get a favorable draw, as they can avoid Spain and Team USA until the finals (if they win their group). If Noce is healthy, expect them to reach the semis, where they should face Greece. That semi is a toss-up.


- Notable Players: Milos Teodosic; Nenad Krstic; Novica Velickovic; Nemanja Bjelica
- Notable Absences: Darko; Uros Tripkovic; Peja Stojakovic, Vlad Radmanovic; Sasha Pavlovic

As of right now, it's hard to judge what to expect from Serbia. FIBA has yet to rule on the status of players involved in the recent brawl with Greece. They could be without their top two players, Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic, for multiple games.

Serbia is coming off a surprising 2nd-place finish at the 2009 EuroBasket. They went with a youth movement last summer, which really paid off. Serbia got great effort from nearly the whole roster--10 guys played at least 13 mins./game last summer. Very deep team that does not lose much when they go to their bench.

Serbia can cause problems thanks to great size at every position. They have played very well in the prep stage and they look as formidable as last year. The main reason for their continued excellence is the commitment to sturdy team defense under Coach Ivkovic. Serbia's defense was superb last summer and the backline help is tight.

PG Milos Teodosic had a breakout tourney last summer and kept his great play going throughout his club season for Olympiacos--was named Euroleague MVP this season. Terrific at running pick/rolls, where he's a danger to drill pull-ups or thread passes. Best shooter on the team, with a very quick release. Milos is also run around some off-ball screens as well.

Multi-skilled forward Novica Velickovic is a player NBA fans need to pay attention to this tourney. Novica (6-9) does a little bit of everything for Serbia. Serbia likes to post Novica a lot and he's very effective down low. He can put the ball on the deck and get into mid-range shots. He shot his 3PT well last year, but in general, he's erratic from deep. Does a nice job on the defensive end as an active helper on the backline. One of the better free agents in targets in Europe.

6-7 combo guard Milenko Tepic will be a secondary ball-handler and might be the primary playmaker if Teodosic is suspended. Tepic has a savvy floor game and defends multiple positions. 6-5 Stefan Markovic gives Serbia another quality PG whose athleticism helps him shine on the defensive end. Neither Tepic nor Markovic is much of a shooting threat.

Nenad Krstic gave the Serbs solid leadership throughout EuroBasket. He's an effective anchor of their backline defense and can score down low in FIBA play.

A Krstic suspension would mean more minutes for Kosta Perovic and Miroslav Raduljica. Perovic gave Serbia nice minutes off the bench last year changing shots, grabbing off. boards and finishing at the rim. Raduljica has range out to 15 feet and has a surprisingly good handle. He's got some nifty moves down low and likes to finish with a righty hook.

6-8 Milan Macvan will back up Velickovic at the 4. Macvan makes up for his lack of athleticism with a high b-ball IQ and well-rounded game. Macvan can pass, face-up, drive the ball and draw fouls aplenty. Poor man's Kev McHale in the post, where he features a effective fadeaway turnaround jumper over his right shoulder.

Recent T-Wolves draftee Nemanja Bjelica will get the starting nod at SF. The 6-10 point-forward is absolutely terrific running the pick/roll (think Hedo). He hits pull-ups going left or right. But might not get to see the full range of his playmaking abilities as Serbia will likely keep the ball in hands of Teodosic/Tepic/Markovic. Bjelica will mostly be relegated to spot-shooting duty, and expect to him disappear for long stretches.

6-9 Marko Keselj will back up Bjelica and provides Serbia with its best shooter after Teodosic. Like Bjelica, Keselj's role is to spot-up and occasionally come off screens. SG Ivan Paunic helps out with decent shooting and quality defense.

The loss of sharpshooter Uros Tripkovic could be an underrated blow, since this Serbian team is not as proficient from the perimeter as classic Serb/Yugo teams. Another possible issue is that this team fouls a lot.

If this team is at full strength, they are a legit medal contender. But I'm getting a sense that Nenad could be banished for awhile, which would be too bad for a promising Serb team.


- Notable Players: Patty Mills; David Andersen; Aleks Maric; Joe Ingles; Brad Newley
- Missing Players: Andrew Bogut; Nathan Jawai

At the last Worlds in 2006, the Boomers made the Round of 16, where they were bounced by Team USA. Their talent is good enough to get back to the knockout stage, and possibly win a game in the elimination stage. Expect the defense to be stout with SA Spurs asst. coach Brett Brown at the helm.

Even without Andrew Bogut and Nathan Jawai, the Boomers have a good rotation of big bodies (four guys 6-10 or bigger). Coach Brown has the luxury of having three good back-to-basket 6-11 players in Matt Nielsen, David Andersen and Aleks Maric.

Matt Nielsen and Dave Andersen give the Boomers two multi-skilled bigs who can move inside & out. Dave Andersen has 3pt. range on his jumper but also works well in the post, where he can unleash his effective turnaround jumper over either shoulder.

Nielsen can float out like Andersen. Nielsen's handle is good enough that he's capable of hitting pull-ups. His best asset is terrific passing out of the post. He has an array of post moves and is great going over his left shoulder.

Aleks Maric is coming off a breakout year, in which he was one of the top players in the Euroleague in helping lead Partizan Belgrade to a surprise Final Four appearance. Aleks is a bull in the painted area who shoots a high pct. and commands the boards. Monster on the offensive glass and adept at put-backs. Uses his strong hind-quarters to establish position down low and has a knack for drawing fouls, particularly before he receives the ball. Also uses his body very well to be an effective post defender. His physical style also leads to Maric picking up fouls--averaged 3+ fouls a game in 25 mins in the Euroleague. Rarely turns the ball over.

6-7 Mark Worthington is a jack-of-all-trades veteran forward. Worthington can play the 3 or 4 and will post up a little. Ex-Wazzu Cougar Aron "Bad News" Baynes adds another banger on the frontline.

Portland Trail Blazer Patty Mills will run the point and made a quite a splash the last time he performed on the int'l stage, in Beijing. Mills can get into the lane at will, but does not always make the best choices when he's in there. Mills can get out of control and pile up turnovers.

Adam Gibson and Damian Martin are a pair of 6-2 guards that round out the backcourt rotation. Both are aggressive perimeter defenders and can knock down open jumpers. Gibson handles PG duties when Mills sits.

6-8 Joe Ingles is a lanky athlete who's a multi-skilled talent at the SF. Ingles' strong handle allows him to take over playmaking duties. Ingles will run some pick/rolls and create plays off of isos. Good passer but will force the action sometimes. Ingles' outside shot is decent and he seems more comfortable hitting off the dribble.

6-7 Brad Newley (Rockets own rights) is another good athlete on the wings, who can bury shots on the perimeter. Dave Barlow is another athletic option on the wings but his minutes could be limited.

The Boomers will push the ball when given the opportunity and Mills makes them effective in the open floor. Not out of the realm of possibility that Australia could win Group A. They're a fairly deep team with a deep frontcourt, which could play into Argentina's weaknesses.


- Notable Players: Jan Jagla; Demond Greene; Robin Benzing; Tibor Pleiss; Elias Harris; Tim Ohlbrecht
- Notable Absences: Dirk Nowitzki; Chris Kaman

Without Dirk Nowitzki for the first time in years, the Germans only won one game at the 2009 EuroBasket, but were competitive in every game with a young, undermanned unit.

Longtime coach Dirk Bauermann did a terrific job integrating a handful of newcomers into the German lineup. And the German team should be somewhat better on the offensive end this summer thanks to the experience gained.

Team Deustchland really struggled to score the ball with any consistentcy. Expect some improvement this year, but not sure this team has the makings of a great offensive team. But lucky for them, Bauermann usually squeezes out a quality defensive effort every year.

Germany likes to dump the ball into the post a ton and they often screen guys into their post-ups. Jan Jagla, Elias Harris, Robin Benzing and Tim Ohlbrecht get touches on the block. They also will run Demond Greene around screens.

The Germans space the floor well and most of their bigs can face-up--Jagla, Pleiss, Benzing and Ohlbrecht all have range out to at least 18 feet.

Germany at least projects to be a good rebounding team once again, even with Dirk & Kaman's absence. Germany needs to be concerned with its propensity to foul--led Eurobasket with 27 fouls a game.

Ex-Penn St. Nittany Lion Jan Jagla is one of their top options and Germany will move him all over the floor. The 6-11 Jagla likes to pick/pop and he can drive the ball. Jagla's an active guy who always crashes the glass.

Possible NBA prospect 6-10 Robin Benzing can cause matchup problems at the SF. Can put the ball on the deck with a quick first step. Possesses decent post-up skills and Germany will look to set Robin up the block quite a bit. Solid shooter but a poor rebounder for guy his size.

Elias Harris is clear-cut first round material who decided to skip the draft to stay at Gonzaga. An above-average rebounder for a SF. Great at driving the ball--might be one of the best slashers in the NCAA. Shot the ball fairly well at Gonzaga, but not ready to call him a good shooter. Gonzaga would post Harris with much success last season and Germany likes to run Harris in the post as well. Harris will have to share minutes with Benzing at SF, so I'm not sure you will get to see Harris show off his full arsenal of skills in Turkey.

Recent OKC Thunder draftee Tibor Pleiss should see more minutes this summer with Patrick Femerling retired. The 7-0 Pleiss will be called upon to finish off plays mostly in pick/rolls. He could be effective in pick/pop with his smooth stroke out to 18 feet.

Athletic PF/C Tim Ohlbrecht rebounds, floats out to the 3pt. arc and throws up righty hooks. 6-7 Konrad Wysocki is an active body who rebounds well for a SF and can defend well. Former Bucknell Bison Chris McNaughton (remember him, Jayhawk fans?) gives Germany another crafty post scorer.

SG Demond Greene has been a key cog on Team Germany for awhile and he can still knock down shots. Former Iowa St. Cyclone Lucca Steiger will back up Greene and provides more shooting in the second unit.

6-5 Steffan Hamann is a big point who can penetrate and finish well at the rim, but will sometimes force the action too much. Hamann uses his athleticism & size well on the defensive end.

6-0 PG Heiko Schaffartzik is a very dangerous shooter off the dribble who can go thru extended hot stretches. The athletic Schaffartzik will split time with Hamann at the PG, and sometimes play alongside Hamann.

Germany looks to be locked into the 4th-seed, which would likely earn them a Round of 16 date with Team USA. But if Teodosic and Krstic can't go vs. Germany, Germany could take the Serbs out. They also have good size to compete with Australia.


- Notable Players: Rasheim Wright; Zaid Abbaas; Sam Daghles

First-ever FIBA Worlds appearance. Were solid at last summer's Asian Championships, where they won the bronze and finished 7-2 overall. They only lost by six points to China, and by two points to Iran in the semis.

Strong rebounding club that led the Asian games in offensive boards. Also took care of the ball last summer--averaged the least amount of TOs per game. Though, their outside shooting is subpar.

Jordan is led by Philly native 6-4 SG Rasheim Wright. Wright was the top scorer at the Asian Championships last summer at 20.7 ppg. Can get to where he wants on the floor thanks to his combo of quickness and strong ball-handling. His deep shooting is subpar but he is dangerous pulling up.

6-6 PG Sam Daghles calmly runs the point by combining a terrific handle (crossovers) with great passing skills. Very patient sizing up his defender, but can get a little too flashy with passes sometimes. Sam is adept at scoring off the bounce as well.

6-8 Zaid Abbaas is a multi-skilled athlete, who is the second scoring option after Wright. Jordan will move Abbaas all over the court and post him as well. He led the '09 Asian tourney in FG% and was 4th in rebounding.

6-10 C Ayman Adais loves to set up behind the 3pt. arc. Reserve bigs Islam Abbaas & Zaid Al-Khas come off the bench to crash the boards.

Taking Jordan in a mild upset over Angola because I think they match up well vs the African champs. Jordan's players are more skilled, particularly on the perimeter, and should also control the boards against Angola. But the Jordanians should have little-to-no shot at a Round of 16 berth.


- Notable Players: Joaquim Gomes; Olimpio Cipriano; Carlos Morais
- Notable Absences: Armando Costa

Angola was the sleeper darling of the last Worlds, making it to the knockout stage, where they nearly upset France. Also, Angola had great chances to knock off Germany in their epic 3-OT battle at the '06 Worlds, and they stayed within 10 points of Spain in '06 when Spain was crushing other teams. Doubt Angola will take any team by surprise this time.

They are very small--no one over 6-8 sees serious minutes. The lack of size should once again make them vulnerable on the boards. Though, they dampen the effect by playing a balls-out style. Sorry to be cliche-y, but they're a scrappy bunch.

Generally not a good outside shooting team but really shot the long ball well last year: 40% at Afrobasket. Though, I'd still zone/pack-the-paint against them as much as possible, since slashing into their paint is their strength.

On offense, they are always looking to attack the basket off the dribble. SG/SF Olimpio Cipriano (6-4) is a top threat on the perimeter. Carlos Morais's shooting stroke is legit and he piles up most of his points behind the 3pt. arc.

Joaquim Gomes & Ed Mingus are the inside duo that is relentless going against bigger opponents. Former Valpo star Gomes is a very aggressive interior player who can score around the rim and battle for boards vs. bigger guys.

The absence of starting PG Armando Costa due to injury is an underrated blow. Costa's playmaking/penetration and on-ball defense will be missed. Domingos Bonifacio and Roberto Fortes will try to fill Costa's void. Both guards have speed and Fortes (former Illinois St. Redbird) has 3pt. range.

• FIBA Worlds overview: Power Rankings, Players to Watch, More
• FIBA Worlds team previews: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D


At 11:54 AM, Blogger ErikC said...

That's some amazing analysis on the int'l teams Jay!

Keep it up, I love tracking international players in the NBA.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Palomba said...

Hey, very profound analysis on Argentina at least, which I know well because I'm from there. (Something, perhaps, to tell us about Junior Cequeira, the back-up PG that went in for injured Cantero?) :)

Great to read someone in USA who is truly interested in world basketball. Thanks.

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great analysis, but some mistakes in the Germany part.

At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is incredible how well you are informed. I have seen 85% of every Germany match there was in the last two years and I could only nod when I read your analysis of our team.

I would only disagree in that I see our team a notch ahead Australia but the hardwood will tell

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got to say excellent job on your analysis of the teams and your prediction on Australia. The thing that concerns me with Australia is despite their good lead up record (9-1) in preperation for the worlds is it came playing against some weak nations/teams and they're still in a rebuilding phase. The team has also lacked some consistant outside shooting from our wings which is a worry.
In the end this team will only go as far as they're three bigs Anderson, Maric, Nielson along with Mills takes them.
I wouldn't be surprised if Australia managed to beat one of the top teams but gets man handled by a team they should have beaten convincingly. Come 2012 though and they will be placing somewhere 5-7 at the olympics.


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