Posts Tagged ‘FIBA 2011’

FIBA Power Rankings

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) — The EuroBasket and FIBA Americas tournaments are in the books, but there’s still some basketball to be played before the 12-team field for next year’s Olympics is set.

The FIBA Asia championship, which wraps up on Sunday, will determine the ninth team to qualify for the Olympics, as well as the final two teams to qualify for the 12-team, last-chance qualifying tournament that will take place next July in a location to be determined. The top three finishers in that tournament will complete the Olympic field.

So once FIBA Asia is complete, there will be 21 teams with a chance at Olympic gold. We rank them below, taking a guess at Asia’s three representatives…

1. USA
In Olympic field – 2010 World Champion
Having qualified for the Olympics by winning last year’s World Championship, the U.S. was happy to take this summer off with a 28-game FIBA winning streak intact. Mike Krzyzewski will be back next summer, leading a new group. And Jerry Colangelo will have the opportunity to select a squad from two groups that have won championships, the 2008 team that won gold in Beijing, and the 2010 team that won in Istanbul.

2. Spain
In Olympic field – 2011 EuroBasket Champion
Spain took the U.S. to the wire in the gold medal game of the last Olympics, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t be right there with them again in London next year. Without their best player, they finished a disappointing sixth at last year’s World Championship, but they were dominant at EuroBasket over the last few weeks. They lost a pool-play game to Turkey (again without their best player), but outscored their opponents by almost 19 points per 100 possessions overall.

3. Argentina
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Americas Champion
Argentina’s golden core showed some signs of age in Mar del Plata and will be one year older in London. But as long as they’re healthy, no group will be more experienced or more cohesive in next year’s Olympics.

4. France
In Olympic field – 2011 EuroBasket 2nd place
After finishing 13th at last year’s World Championship, France brought a bigger group of NBA players to Lithuania. They took them all the way to the final, where they lost to Spain for the second time. This was an offensive group, but they were able to get to the final with defensive wins over Greece and Russia.

5. Russia
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 EuroBasket third place
Russia gave the U.S. it’s toughest challenge in elimination play at last year’s World Championship. And at EuroBasket, they were the only team other than Spain to win 10 games, doing it with a stifling defense that only allowed 95 points per 100 possessions. David Blatt‘s squad doesn’t have an offensive star, but they share the ball as well as any team in the world.

6. Lithuania
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 EuroBasket fifth place
A year ago, a young group of Lithuanians surprised everyone by capturing bronze at the World Championship, with their only loss coming to the U.S. in the semifinal. This year, with EuroBasket in their home country, they were a disappointment, losing to Spain, France, and then FYR Macedonia in the quarterfinals.

7. Brazil
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Americas 2nd place
In the last five years, no team has come closer to beating the U.S. than Brazil did in pool play at last year’s World Championship, coming a contested lay-up away from taking the Americans to overtime. They’ve also played three great games against Argentina in the last two summers. Brazil could have a full complement of NBA players next year in London, but point guard Marcelo Huertas will still be their engine.

8. Greece
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 EuroBasket sixth place
With Theo Papaloukas and Dimitris Diamantidis retired from the National Team, Greece’s strength is now on the interior. They proved at EuroBasket that they’re still a strong squad, and they’ve certainly got a shot to capture one of the last three spots at the Olympics. But they just don’t have the firepower to compete with the world’s top teams anymore.

9. Dominican Republic
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Americas third place
It took several games for John Calipari‘s squad to find some consistency, but they looked pretty strong in their last few games at Mar del Plata. At next year’s qualifying tournament, they’ll be playing for their first ever Olympic berth in men’s basketball and lacking the international experience of the other contenders for the top three spots.

10. Puerto Rico
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Americas fourth place
Puerto Rico was the stronger team for most of the FIBA Americas tournament, but they fell to the Dominican Republic in the bronze medal game. More disappointing was their performance at last year’s World Championship, losing to the Ivory Coast in their final pool-play game and failing to qualify for the 16-team knockout round.

11. Australia
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Oceania Champion
Australia only had to beat New Zealand in a three-game series to qualify for the Olympics. But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a solid squad when healthy. They finished seventh at the ’08 Olympics and 10th at last year’s World Championship.

12. FYR Macedonia
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 Eurobasket fourth place
Behind a strong defense and the play of Bo McCalebb, FYR Macedonia was the Cinderella story of EuroBasket. They’re certainly a candidate for grabbing one of the last three Olympic berths at next year’s qualifying tournament, but you have to wonder if they can repeat what they did in Lithuania.

13. Great Britain
In Olympic field – Host
Great Britain lost its first three games at EuroBasket before recovering to beat Portugal and Poland. They should get a lift behind their home crowd next year, but they still might have a tough time making the quarterfinals.

14. Venezuela
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Americas fifth place
Venezuela took a step forward with their fifth-place finish in Mar del Plata, but it’s hard to imagine them fitting in the top three at next year’s qualifying tournament. Eric Musselman‘s offense was the most efficient (121 points scored per 100 possessions) at the FIBA Americas tournament, but his team’s defense was pretty awful.

15. New Zealand
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Oceania second place
New Zealand got swept by Australia, but this is a team that won three games at last year’s World Championship behind the scoring of Kirk Penney. That included a win over France.

16. Iran
Currently 4-0 at FIBA Asia
Iran won a game at last year’s World Championship and is now looking like the early favorite to capture Asia’s spot at the Olympics, having won its last two games by a total of 179 points.

17. China
Currently 4-0 at FIBA Asia
No longer is it clear that China is the best team in Asia. Wednesday’s game against Japan (also 4-0) will be an interesting test.

18. Tunisia
In Olympic field – 2011 FIBA Africa Champion
With a (relatively) strong defense, Tunisia is the best team in Africa. But this is still a team that went 0-5 at last year’s World Championship. That included a 13-point loss to Iran.

19. Angola
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Africa second place
Angola won two games (over Jordan and Germany) at last year’s World Championship before getting crushed by the U.S. in the round of 16. They lost by 11 to Tunisia in the FIBA Africa final.

20. Nigeria
In qualifying tournament field – 2011 FIBA Africa second place
Nigeria looked pretty strong until losing to Angola in the semifinals.

21. Korea
Currently 4-0 at FIBA Asia
With four easy wins, Korea is looking like the third best team in Asia. They’ll play Iran in their final pool-play game on Wednesday.

Field for 2012 Olympics
Team How
United States 2010 World Champion
Great Britain Host
Tunisia FIBA Africa Champion
Australia FIBA Oceania Champion
Argentina FIBA Americas Champion
Brazil FIBA Americas 2nd place
Spain EuroBasket Champion
France EuroBasket 2nd place
Team 9 FIBA Asia Champion
Team 10 2012 Qualifier
Team 11 2012 Qualifier
Team 12 2012 Qualifier
Field for 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Team How
Angola FIBA Africa 2nd place
Nigeria FIBA Africa 3rd place
New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
Dominican Republic FIBA Americas 3rd place
Puerto Rico FIBA Americas 4th place
Venezuela FIBA Americas 5th place
Russia EuroBasket 3rd place
FYR Macedonia EuroBasket 4th place
Lithuania EuroBasket 5th place
Greece EuroBasket 6th place
Team 11 FIBA Asia 2nd place
Team 12 FIBA Asia 3rd place

Spain Claims Repeat Gold

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — In a competition filled with exquisite guard play, Spain got the most consistently brilliant effort from one of the world’s best in Juan Carlos Navarro on its way to repeat gold at EuroBasket 2011.

Navarro’s 27 points lifted Spain past France Sunday in Lithuania, punctuating their tournament-long dominance with a 98-85 win over Tony Parker and his crew.

Navarro’s perimeter game was complemented perfectly by the inside presence of Pau Gasol and his younger brother Marc Gasol, who took turns carrying the load for Spain throughout the competition. But it was Navarro’s relentlessness that marked Spain’s run throughout this tournament and throughout Sunday’s title game.

In a matchup with another one of the world’s most dynamic scoring guards in Parker, Navarro proved up to the task, as did his stellar ensemble cast. Pau Gasol had 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Marc Gasol added 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two assists. Navarro’s backcourt mate Jose Calderon finished with 17 points of his own. Serge Ibaka blocked five shots in his 21 minutes, showing during a five-minute stretch of the second quarter as Spain built a 10-point advantage that would not be surrendered.


Spain, France Set To Battle In EuroBasket Finals

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The stage is set. Spain and France will battle it out for the crown of the best team in Europe at EuroBasket 2011, their invitations to next summer’s Olympic games in London are set now.

How’d they get here?

That’s what we (my main man and‘s John Schuhmann kicks things off today) are here for …

Spain 92, FYR Macedonia 80 (Boxscore)

From the start of this tournament, we all expected Spain to make the final and earn one of Europe’s two guaranteed spots in next year’s Olympics. But none of us expected FYR Macedonia to be the last team standing between the defending European champs and that Olympic berth.

Getting through this semifinal was no walk in the park for Spain. The defending champs didn’t take control of the game until late in the third quarter when Juan Carlos Navarro caught fire. Navarro scored 19 of his 35 points in the third, at one point hitting a ridiculous running three at the shot clock buzzer, to give Spain a nine-point edge heading into the fourth.

The Macedonia offense, which had struggled all tournament but scored 45 points in the first half, couldn’t keep up with Navarro’s onslaught. And with the Gasol brothers almost outrebounding Macedonia by themselves, Spain was just too much for the underdogs.


France, Russia Reach EuroBasket Semis

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Hometown and host-nation favorite Lithuania saved its Olympic qualifying bacon with a win over Slovenia in early action Thursday at EuroBasket 2011.

The crowd faves were just the warm up act, however, as France (as noted by my main man and’s John Schuhmann) and Russia played their way into the semifinals with wins …

Russia 77, Serbia 67 (Box Score)

There is only one team still playing in EuroBasket that hasn’t tasted defeat in this competition. Russia has won nine straight games and will take that unblemished mark into a semifinal showdown against France. When you have the most versatile player in the competition, do-it-all swingman Andrei Kirilenko, leading the charge every night, it makes sense that Russia continues to wear down the competition. Kirilenko finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks.

“Two years ago we played in the same phase against the same group of great players and the same great coach and we lost, as I said then, by a better team,” said Russia coach David Blatt. “We moved forward from there. We provided our players with the kind of teaching and culture it takes to build a successful national team. We got back two of our main players – Kirilenko and [Viktor] Khryapa, who didn’t play in 2009, and you saw tonight how important they are. But the story is the other players who matured and are now a higher level basketball players. It’s a sweet win, but the joy is short, because we play tomorrow in the semifinals. We’ve had a great run so far.”


Slovenia Snags Final Quarterfinal Spot

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Six teams put the finishing touches on second round play at EuroBasket 2011 Monday in Lithuania.

But there was only one quarterfinal spot remaining in Group F play …

Slovenia 67, Finland 60 (Box Score)

The directive was simple for the Slovenia, win or go home. They did exactly what had to be done against Finland, aesthetics be darned. Sure, it wasn’t one of the prettier games played in this competition. But it was a win. And those have been tough to come by for Slovenia lately. Uros Slokar turned in a near-flawless effort off the bench with 13 points, eight rebounds and no turnovers in 22 minutes to spark Slovenia. Erazem Lorbek (14 points and six rebounds) and Zoran Dragic (10 points and four rebounds) delivered as well.

“Before the game we just told ourselves to relax and think how we can enjoy the game again,” Slokar said. “Go on the floor and try to be more relaxed. I think that’s something we managed to do. Finland played good but we kept them on a low score and that’s the key for our wins. Spain is favorite against any team in this tournament, but our goals are different than theirs. We will try to win and give 100 percent to win. If that would be enough it’s great, and if not we’re still going to be happy with the result because we gave 100 percent.”

With the win Slovenia earned a date against defending champion Spain, winners of Group E. So the challenge for Slovenia remains. And they’ll have to stay focused the entire way to have a chance against Spain, something they struggled to do against Finland. It took six straight points from Lorbek to hold off a Finland rally in the fourth quarter.


Serbia In, Germany Out At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Spain claimed the top spot in Group E with an easy win over France in what should have been a clash of the titans on Day 11 at EuroBasket 2011.

(More on that shortly!)

The day belonged to the crew from Serbia, though, as they claimed something even more important; a spot in the quarterfinals …

Serbia 68, Turkey 67 (Box Score)

Serbia needed this win to secure their ticket to the quarterfinals and to keep their Olympic hopes alive. They also needed an Ersan Ilyasova miss in the final seconds to escape Turkey in a thriller that went down the final tense moments for both teams. It helped that Milos Tedosic finally returned to form, finishing with a game-high 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

This loss is a wicked blow for Turkey, the runner-up (to the U.S. team) at last summer’s World Championships on their home soil. “We are very sad,” said Turkey coach Orhun Ene. “We were second at the last World Championship and we had big expectations for this tournament. We didn’t show our potential throughout the tournament. We promised the Turkish people that we would try to qualify for the Olympics for the first time, but we lost too many games. This was our last chance and we lost the game in only one possession.”

They won’t have to search hard to find reasons why didn’t succeed. Making just 55 percent (16-for-29) of your free throws in a game decided by the thinnest of margins is certainly a recipe for disaster. Remember, they made a paltry 45 percent (10-for-22) of their free throws Friday in a six-point loss to Germany. Serbia shot an impressive 81 percent (13-for-16) from the free throw line and also grabbed three more rebounds (38-35) than Turkey.

“This was very tough. Everybody was under pressure as the winner would go to the quarterfinals,” said Serbia’s coach, Dusan Ivkovic. “We controlled the game in the first half but our concentration went down in the second half. We led the game for almost 40 minutes only to allow Turkey to have the last shot. We deserved this victory because we were better on the night.”

Spain 96, France 69 (Box Score)

The top spot in Group E belongs to the defending champions, courtesy of their win over a France team that played without both Tony Parker and Joakim Noah (both given a day of rest). Without two of their biggest stars, France struggled to keep the game close after halftime. Spain used a 27-4 run in the third quarter to blow the game open and then cruised to the finish. The loss ended France’s seven-game win streak.

The difference in approach to this game was interesting, with France easing up and Spain going all out. “It was a weird game but we wanted to respect our opponent as well as other teams who are playing in this tournament to define the final positions and especially for ourselves, we believe there is nothing better than a good game to improve and get better,” said Spain coach Sergio Scariolo. “This was our motivation. Everybody gave something. We get to the point with the do-or-die competition starts. We know we start from zero but it’s better to get there in the right way.”


Venezuela Earns Qualifying Spot

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) — The FIBA Americas Championship 2011 is now over for six of the 10 teams that played in Mar del Plata, Argentina. But there’s still much to be determined over the weekend.

There was much up in the air on Thursday, too, even though the top four teams clinched semifinal berths two days earlier. Each of Thursday’s four games had meaning at the time they were played. Now that they’re over, we know who will be playing whom in Saturday’s semifinals and that Venezuela is heading to the Olympic qualifying tournament next July.

Trending up: Brazil (7-1)
Trending down: Puerto Rico (6-2)

Panama 91, Canada 89 (Box Score)

Canada entered this game with a shot at fifth place and a spot in next year’s qualifying tournament. Given that Panama’s only win came in the final seconds against Paraguay, this looked like an easy win for Canada. But without the injured Joel Anthony, Canada’s defense took a step backward, Gary Forbes went off and the Canadians’ Olympic hopes were doused.

At times, Forbes was basically playing one-on-five, but he scored a tournament-high 39 points on 12-for-20 from the field. Eighteen of his 39 came in the fourth quarter, including a personal 5-0 run that decided the game after Canada tied it with a minute and a half left.

After the game, Leo Rautins stepped down as Canada’s coach. There’s a lot of talent in the Canadian pipeline, but they’ll need a good coach and system to make the most of it in the coming years.

Venezuela 92, Uruguay 80 (Box Score)

Canada’s loss kept Uruguay alive for fifth place. But Venezuela slowly took control of this one in the third quarter and held on to clinch a spot in next year’s qualifying tournament.

Greivis Vasquez scored 18 points for Venezuela and got plenty of help. Hector Romero led all scorers with 23 points, continuing his pattern of having a big game every other time out. Oscar Torres and David Cubillan combined for 34 points on 14-for-23 from the field.

The fifth-place finish and berth in next year’s tourney are a step forward for Venezuelan basketball. Coach Eric Musselman deserves a lot of credit for putting together a ridiculously efficient offense.

Argentina 84, Dominican Republic 58 (Box Score)

Argentina recovered from their off night against Brazil to wrap up a top-two seed in the semifinals (not that seeds matter). Their three NBA players — Luis Scola (25 points), Manu Ginobili (17) and Carlos Delfino (16) — led the way, combining for 58 points.

Al Horford and Francisco Garcia combined for 28 points on 13-for-23 shooting for the Dominican Republic, but they didn’t have any help.

Andres Nocioni, who sprained his ankle on the opening tip of Argentina’s loss on Wednesday, did not play. His status for Saturday’s semifinal is questionable, and he wrote in his ESPN Deportes blog, “Voy a hacer todo lo posible por jugar, pero solamente estaré a disposición si puedo ayudar.” Translated, that means “I’m going to do everything possible to play, but only if I feel I can help.”

Brazil 94, Puerto Rico 72 (Box Score)

Though their spots in the semifinals were plenty secure, each team had a reason to win this game. Puerto Rico should have had a bigger incentive, as a win would have allowed them to avoid Argentina in the semifinals.

But Brazil owned this game from the start and nearly doubled Puerto Rico up in the first quarter, outscoring them 29-15. They shot 58 percent from the fiel, including 15-for-25 from 3-point range. Marcus Vinicius led them with 18 points, hitting four of his six threes.

With the win, Brazil finished pool play with a 6-1 record against the teams that weren’t eliminated in the first round. Argentina also finished 6-1, but since Brazil won the head-to-head matchup on Wednesday, they take the top seed in the semifinals and will face the Dominican Republic (4-3, fourth seed) on Saturday.

With the loss, Puerto Rico is the third seed at 5-2 and will have to play Argentina on Saturday. The winners of the two semifinal games will be in the Olympics next summer and the losers will join Venezuela in the 12-team qualifying tournament, where the top three finishers will qualify for the Olympics.

Argentina and Brazil will be the clear favorites on Saturday, but both games are rematches of great first-round games that took place last Friday. The Dominican Republic beat Brazil last week and Puerto Rico had a five-point lead early in the second half against Argentina. So both semifinals, with Olympic berths on the line, will be well worth watching.