ISTANBUL – Day 5 at the 2010 FIBA World Championship brought some key games, but USA-Iran was not one of them. As expected, the U.S. rolled to an easy win.
Did they accomplish anything other than clinching first place in Group B? I tried to answer that question in the postgame analysis.
Check out the quote near the bottom from Andre Iguodala about defensive communication. They’ll definitely need it against the teams that execute well offensively like Brazil did in the first half on Monday.
Jerry Colangelo mentioned after tonight’s game that the team had a great meeting in the morning. I don’t know the details, but here’s what Iguodala had to say about it…
“Coach K does a great job of motivating his teams. He showed us the difference between the games we played against Croatia and Slovenia versus the game we played against Brazil.”
And there’s little doubt that the staff made the players aware of the likelihood that they’ll face Greece or Spain in the quarterfinals, because both Iguodala and Rudy Gay admitted to knowing about the scenario that has been playing out in Groups C and D.
“Whether you play them in the first round or the gold medal round, you’ve still got to play your best basketball,” Iguodala said. “It just calls us to key in for the early rounds and hopefully, get wins. And it prepares us for the medal rounds.”
The big game at the Abdi Ipekci Arena today was the nightcap between Brazil and Slovenia. Brazil was clearly the tougher test for the U.S. and it also got Anderson Varejao back for this game, but it was Slovenia that captured second place in Group B with an impressive 80-77 win.
That puts Slovenia on the more wide-open half of the bracket, the one without the U.S. and likely without Spain or Greece. And now Brazil will play Croatia for third place in Group B on Thursday. If Brazil wins that one, they’ll be on the same half of the bracket as the U.S. and play the loser of tomorrow’s Argentina-Serbia game in the round of 16. No matter which of those two teams it is, that would be a must-watch matchup.
That Argentina-Serbia game could be the biggest of the day, and you can watch it on NBA TV at noon ET. The winner will finish first in Group A and be on the easier side of the bracket. The loser will finish second and likely have to play Brazil on Tuesday.
After their game was over tonight, the U.S. players caught the end of the Angola-Germany game in their locker room. Germany had a four-point lead with 30 seconds to go in regulation, but couldn’t hold on to it. They lost in overtime and were eliminated from qualifying for the round of 16.
Now, Angola will play Australia on Thursday, with the loser finishing fourth in Group A and facing the U.S. in the round of 16. The winner will finish third and face Slovenia.
I’ve written and tweeted plenty about the possibility of Spain (as D3) and Greece (as C2) facing each other in the round of 16, but it’s no guarantee. In fact, I think I was wrong when I wrote yesterday that Spain can finish no better than third in Group D.
Check out this scenario: If New Zealand beats France and Spain beats Canada on Thursday, then France, New Zealand and Spain would all be tied for second place at 3-2. The first tie-breaker is head-to-head, but all three teams would have one win and one loss against the other two.
The next tie-breaker would be what FIBA calls “goal average,” which is calculated by points scored / points allowed in the two head-to-head games. Here’s where the three teams stand before Thursday’s action.
France = 72/66 = 1.091 goal average (and would go down with a loss to New Zealand)
New Zealand = 84/101 = 0.832 GA (and would go up with a win over France)
Spain = 167/156 = 1.071 GA
So if New Zealand can upset France and take France’s GA below 1.071, Spain could finish second in the group and avoid that game against Greece.
Greece could also avoid it … if they lose to Russia on Thursday. That game is for second place in Group C.
Of course, if Spain finishes second in Group D and Greece finishes third in Group C, they’d still play each other … on the other half of the bracket.
That’s a lot to think about … and a lot of games to watch on Thursday.