Posts Tagged ‘FIBA World Championship’

Notes from LTU 78, CHN 67

ISTANBUL — The round of 16 continues to go according to plan, with Lithuania being the seventh higher seed to advance to the quarterfinals, knocking out China with a 78-67 victory on Tuesday. Lithuania will play the winner of the Argentina-Brazil game on Thursday.

This one was a bit of a see-saw affair, and the argument could be made that China did itself in with missed opportunities and poor defense.

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Notes from RUS 78, NZL 56

ISTANBUL — As expected, Russia will be the team the U.S. faces in the quarterfinals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship. It wasn’t pretty, but they took care of business with a 78-56 win over New Zealand in Monday’s nightcap at the Sinan Erdem Dome.

Russia is now 5-1 with a very tough defense, and will be a much tougher test for the U.S. than Angola was.

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Notes from Turkey 95, France 77

Hedo appreciates the love from the home crowd. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — This one went pretty much as expected. France kept it close for most of the first quarter, but Turkey pulled away in the second and cruised to 95-77 victory that puts them in the quarterfinals against Slovenia on Wednesday.

Turkey was the No. 1 defense in pool play (allowing just 81.1 points per 100 possessions), but it was their offense that was far more dominant on Sunday. France had one of the better defenses in pool play as well (eighth, 97.4 per 100), and they just couldn’t stop Turkey in this game.

The Turkish offense really hit its stride in the second quarter, and at one point in the third, Turkey had scored on 13 of its last 14 possessions. That was a 30-10 run that made this one a laugher.

Hedo Turkoglu shot the ball well (prompting a “Hedo is on FIRE!” call from the PA announcer after back-to-back threes to start the third) and led Turkey with 20 points. Sinan Guler came off the bench and blew by the French defense to the tune of 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting.

Turkey had a +29.8 point differential per 100 possessions in pool play, which put them just slightly behind the U.S. (+30.9) as the most dominant team in the tournament. They’ve got their (very loud) home crowd behind them for every game and it is no stretch to believe they can win gold. If they beat Slovenia on Wednesday, they would face the Serbia-Spain winner in the semifinals on Saturday.

Here are a few more notes from this one…

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Notes from Slovenia 87, Australia 58

Nachbar didn't play a big role in this game, but he was ecstatic with the result. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — This should have been one of the better matchups in the round of 16, but it was a totally one-sided affair. Slovenia cruised to a 87-58 victory to reach the quarterfinals.

Australia had the sixth best defense in pool play, but they were just average offensively. And on Sunday, they were just awful. They failed to score on their first 10 possessions of the game and had just 21 points on 34 possessions in the first half.

Slovenia really opened up the game with a barrage of threes early in the second quarter. They were 6-for-10 from downtown in the period and had a 42-21 lead at halftime without Bostjan Nachbar scoring a single point.

Australia’s offense finally showed up in the third quarter (24 points on 19 possessions), but they just couldn’t get any stops. Slovenia hit five more threes in the third to put the game away.

Before pool play began, Nachbar told me that his team’s goal for this tournament was to make the top eight. Well, they’ve done that, and they won’t necessarily stop there. Slovenia is 5-1 at the World Championship with an impressive win over Brazil, and with their only loss coming at the hands of the U.S.

After Sunday’s game, Nachbar said that the goals and expectations haven’t changed, no matter how well his team has played. And the win over Australia gave the Slovenians somewhat of a championship feeling.

“We’re going to play more relaxed now,” he said. “We’ve achieved our goal. You have to realize this is our biggest success in our basketball history. To make the top eight in the world is amazing.”

Some more notes…

  • For the game, Slovenia was 16-for-33 from 3-point range. They shot just 33 percent (15th among the 24 teams) from downtown in pool play.
  • Slovenia’s Uros Slokar aggravated a sprained left ankle that he suffered in pool play. He limped off floor with 5:22 left in the third quarter and did not return.
  • Patty Mills had his usual burst of speed for Australia and got to the rim pretty easily on a couple of occasions, but he shot just 1-for-7 from 3-point range, finishing with 13 points and three assists.
  • Raptor center David Andersen shot poorly (2-for-7) as well.

Slovenia will play the winner of the France-Turkey game.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Notes from Spain 80, Greece 72

Rubio was the one in control. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — The most anticipated round-of-16 matchup at the FIBA World Championship lived up to its billing for the most part. It was a close game that Spain turned it around with a zone defense that Greece just couldn’t solve in the final 13 minutes of the game.

Except for a few too many turnovers, the first quarter was a thing of beauty, as the two teams combined to score 41 points on 33 possessions. Then Spain went to zone early in the second quarter and took control. Greece went scoreless on five straight possessions before closing to within one and getting Spain out of the zone with four straight scores. But they scored just 12 points on 16 possessions in the period and trailed by six at the half.

Greece took the lead with a 7-0 run to start the third quarter, and after a stretch where they scored 13 points on five possessions, they were up six, 51-45, with 2:49 let in the period. That’s when Spain went zone again, holding Greece to just six points on 13 possessions spanning the third and fourth quarters.

Missed shots and turnovers from Greece turned into a handful of fast-break points for Spain. Their half-court offense was also clicking, with Rudy Fernandez hitting a pair of threes and getting Dimitris Diamantidis to foul him on another.

It was a 22-6 run for Spain, giving them a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to go. Greece gave themselves some life with a Vassilis Spanoulis three, a Sofoklis Schortsanitis 3-point play, and another Schortsanitis and-one. But they missed four free throws in a 45-second span and chose to foul when they were only down four with 54 seconds left. Spain hit their free throws and moved on to the quarterfinals, where they’ll play Serbia on Wednesday.

Here are some more notes…

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Notes from Serbia 73, Croatia 72

Krstic came up big for Serbia. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — The elimination rounds at the 2010 FIBA World Championship got off to a wild start Saturday night, as Serbia (who won Group A with a 4-1 record) outlasted Croatia (who finished fourth in Group B with a 2-3 mark) and advanced to the quarterfinals with a 73-72 win. This one had some crazy plays and decisions in the final minute. Here’s how it all went down…

Croatia started out hot, shooting 9-for-14 in the first quarter, but they also earned their early lead on the glass. Five offensive boards in the opening 10 minutes turned into eight second-chance points for Croatia, who scored 27 points on 19 possessions in the first.

It should have been 29 points, but Marko Tomas blew an easy fast-break layup at the buzzer. Perhaps that was a harbinger of things to come, because Croatia went stone cold (4-for-17) in the second period. They scored on just one of their first 10 possessions of the second, as Serbia came back to tie the game at 29.

But Serbia wasn’t much more efficient (the two teams combined to score just 24 points on 34 possessions in the second), and Croatia went into the half with a two-point lead.

With Nenad Krstic carrying most of the load, Serbia took the lead in the third quarter, and they were up seven with three minutes to go in the fourth. But Marko Popovic kept Croatia in the game with a pair of threes.

It became a foul-shooting contest in the final minute with Serbia holding the edge until Marko Tomas stole Aleksandar Rasic‘s inbounds pass with 15 seconds to go. Tomas got the ball to Popovic, who was immediately fouled. He had a chance to give Croatia the lead, but missed the first of the two free throws.

So Serbia had the ball with a tie game and 11.6 seconds left. With Croatia failing to put a defender near the basket, Serbia ran a back-screen for Rasic, who put his team up two with an easy layup.

Up two, Serbia chose to foul (a common decision among European teams), thinking that they’d rather go to overtime than risk losing on a three. Popovic hit both free throws with 5.9 seconds left and Serbia inbounded the ball to Rasic, who raced down court.

Davor Kus lost his balance as he was defending Rasic and fouled the Serb in the paint with one second left. Rasic hit the first and intentionally missed the second to give Serbia a crazy win. He ended up the hero, but was almost the goat.

Here are some additional notes…

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The Evil Eye

Believe it or not, there’s more to this trip than just basketball. And while I’m here with the U.S. National Team, I hope to bring you some of the sights of Istanbul, along with a taste of Turkish culture.

ISTANBUL — The U.S. National Team has been here in Istanbul for eight days now. And with a day off here and there, they’ve begun to get a feel for this historic city.

Inside The Grand Bazaar.

Hopefully, they’ll also take some time to see the sights of Istanbul (and not just take taxis to McDonald’s). They don’t have to visit all 3,000 mosques in the city. Perhaps just the blue one.

One of the key sights to see in Istanbul, not too far from the Blue Mosque and the gorgeous Hagia Sophia, is The Grand Bazaar. It’s kind of like a mall, but the stores are a lot smaller than those you’d find at Newport Centre or Westside Pavilion. And since it’s situated in the middle of the old city here, some of the hallways are very narrow. It’s a very cool shopping experience (except it can get very hot in the summer).

They’ve got all kinds of stuff for sale at The Grand Bazaar: jewelry, fabrics, ceramics, rugs, leather jackets, etc. And the expectation is that if you want to buy something, you don’t accept the vendor’s initial price, but rather haggle it down a bit.

As you’re walking through, you’ll quickly notice the abundance of these blue disks that fit in your palm and that you can buy for a few Turkish lira (about $2). The Turkish term for these things is “nazar boncuk.” Translated literally, that means “evil bead,” but the common English name for it is “the Evil Eye.”

It’s a little confusing because the bead is meant to ward off evil, not promote it in any fashion. And these evil eyes are not just for tourists. Our guide here tells us that pretty much all Turkish people either carry one of these beads around with them and/or hang them in their house to ward off any evil that they may encounter during the course of the day or that visitors might bring into their home.

But the fascinating thing is in how many different forms you’ll find this evil eye design. I’m sure I didn’t come across them all, but here’s just a sample…

This is a box of standard evil eyes.

More after the jump…

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Big Shake-Ups on Day 4 in Turkey

ISTANBUL — Tuesday was a day off in Groups A and B at the 2010 FIBA World Championship. For the U.S., it was a true day off, as coach Mike Krzyzewski canceled practice after three straight days of games. So it was a day for sleeping late, relaxing by the pool and getting some laundry done.

In Ankara and Izmir, however, big things were going down as the two nightcaps in Groups C and D have truly shaken up the tournament.

In Group C, Turkey defeated Greece behind a huge game (26 points, 6-for-6 from 3-point range) from Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova. The win gives Turkey the inside track to finish first in the group, with Greece likely to finish second.

In Group D, Lithuania came back from 11 down at the end of the third quarter to shock Spain, with the Raptors’ Linas Kleiza getting the go-ahead bucket in the final minute and Marc Gasol missing two critical free throws on the next possession. Spain is now 1-2, and with both of the teams they lost to a 3-0, they can finish no better than third in Group D.

Check out the replay of Spain-Lithuania at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday on NBA TV.

Spain has Lebanon (Wednesday) and Canada (Thursday) left on their schedule, so they are very likely to finish third.

In the round of 16, the third-place team in Group D plays the second-place team in Group C, which is likely to be Greece. And who would the winner of that game play?

If the U.S. wins its first elimination game, it would be them.

So we are looking at the very distinct possibility of Greece, Spain and the United States — the three favorites to win this tournament before it began — all being in the same quarter of the bracket, with two of the three being eliminated before the semifinals.

Buckle your seat belts.

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Who would be on the other side of the bracket, with an easier road to a medal? Argentina (A1, unless they lose to Serbia on Thursday), Brazil (B2, unless they lose to Slovenia on Wednesday), Turkey (C1, unless they lose to both Puerto Rico and China) and the loser of Wednesday’s France-Lithuania game (D2).

But imagine that Serbia beats Argentina and Australia in the next two days, while Slovenia beats Brazil on Wednesday. Then Argentina and Brazil would be on the Greece/Spain/USA half of the bracket too.

Also on that half will be the winner of the France-Lithuania game.

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The U.S. takes on Iran on Wednesday at noon ET on ESPN. There is some political significance to this game, because the two countries have never faced each other in basketball court. But there won’t be much to it from a basketball standpoint. Iran will be completely overmatched in terms of both size and talent.

It is a chance to see Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi play something other than NBA garbage time. Haddadi is averaging 22.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks through Iran’s first three games. He’s even shooting 33 percent (4-for-12) from 3-point range.

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The big game in Group B will be Brazil-Slovenia, which you can watch live on NBA TV at 2:30 ET. That one’s essentially for second place in the group and the chance to play on the more open side of the bracket.

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Turkish lesson of the day: Doğum günün kutlu olsun = Happy birthday!

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More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.