Posts Tagged ‘Juan Carlos Navarro’

Spain Trying To Defend Title At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The top four spots at EuroBasket 2011 will be decided Sunday with defending champion Spain taking on France in Lithuania. They’ve both already clinched bids to the 2012 London Olympics, but there is still plenty to play for in a rivalry contest such as this one.

This is, after all, the battle for European basketball supremacy.

Russia and FYR Macedonia will battle it out in the bronze medal, having both already clinched spots in next summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

There were games played today, though. Consolation games (video above). Host-nation Lithuania edged Greece 73-69 in the fifth-place game. Both teams are headed for the qualifying tournament since the third through sixth-place teams in this competition earn automatic spots there.

Slovenia slipped by Serbia in the seventh-place game, finishing the competition on a winning note even though their Olympic dreams were already dashed.

The marquee matchup of the competition, of course, comes Sunday when global heavyweights Spain and France square off. Both of their rosters are stocked with NBA talent. Spain will be led by Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio. France counters with a loaded roster that includes Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw  and Mickael Gelabale.

These two teams have an extensive history of battling each other, having played against each other 18 times in EuroBaskets. Spain has won all but three of those matchups, including a 96-69 win in the second round to win Group E of this competition, a contest that Parker and Noah sat out so they could rest up for the quarterfinals.

“On Sunday, Spain will be clear favorites. They have dominated the EuroBaskets for several years,” Batum said. “It’s the best team in the world behind Team USA. They are strong but not unbeatable. Anything can happen.”

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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 NBA.com‘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.

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Macedonia Shocks Lithuania, Joins Spain In Semifinals At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The quarterfinal round got off to an explosive (and rousing, for one country) start Wednesday, thanks to our friends from Macedonia …

(NBA.com’s John Schuhmann recapped Wednesday’s first game, Spain’s 86-64 win over Slovenia, below.)

Macedonia 67, Lithuania 65 (Box Score)

Vlado Ilievski‘s 3-pointer (off an assist from Bo McCalebb) with 11 seconds left pushed Macedonia ahead and they held on to pull off one of the most shocking upsets in EuroBasket history, knocking off host nation Lithuania before a raucous crowd in a hostile environment. Ilievski (12 points) and McCalebb (23 points) had plenty of company in the heroes corner in the Macedonia locker room after the game. Vojdan Stojanovski who didn’t miss a single shot, he was 5-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line, finishing with 15 points.

“This is a huge win for us. We are very happy,” Stojanovksi said. “I think we played very well and we deserved this win. I have to thank our playmakers because they put me in a position to have open shots. I was confident of making them. Spain will be a tough team but we have proved that we can beat good teams in this tournament.”

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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.”

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France Rolls Without Parker On Day 5

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Even without the services of Tony Parker, France remained unblemished in preliminary action at EuroBasket 2011.

Parker’s teammates ruled the roost in Lithuania, knocking off Italy on Day 5 with a dramatic come-from-behind win without their catalyst and best player healthy enough to contribute in the fourth quarter.

But that was far from the only action worthy of our attention …

Great Britain 85, Portugal 73 (Box Score)

Seeing Luol Deng operate as the No. 1 option for a team is quite interesting considering we haven’t seen him do it since his days at Duke. That said, the Bulls’ forward has been more than up to the task for a Great Britain team that needs every ounce of what he brings. Deng dominated Portugal, scoring 21 of his 31 points before halftime. Deng also grabbed 10 rebounds, had four assists, a block and a steal in a complete performance.

This was Great Britain’s first win in an international competition of this stature. And the magnitude of the moment was not lost on Deng, who said, “I will always remember this win as it is my first at a EuroBasket. I think we showed today that we have a great future ahead of us.”

Israel 91, Latvia 88 (Box Score)

Israel saved some face with this win but they still won’t advance out of group play. Lior Eliyahu had a team-high 26 points and Israel pounded Latvia inside, outscoring them 52-36 in the paint. That near-upset of Serbia a couple of days ago seems like more than just a momentary blip now, though.

After never so much as hearing of Latvia’s captain, Janis Blumis, before this competition, he can count us among his biggest fans going forward. He’s absolutely fearless and can shoot it from all over the floor, he scored a game-high 27 points and stroked four of his six shots from beyond the 3-point line, a trait that most of the standouts in international play possess.

Macedonia 72, Finland 70 (Box Score)

Our main man Bo McCalebb and his crew from Macedonia won their third in a row and locked down a spot in the competition’s next phase with this gritty win over Finland. McCalebb led the way with 18 points but it was the physical work done by captain Pero Antic (14 points and 19 rebounds) that made the biggest difference. It was his defensive rebounds in the final seconds that secured the win.

When you get outrebounded 44-27 it’s usually hard to keep the game as close as Finland did. Tuuki Kotti was the only player to log minutes for Finland and grab five or more rebounds. They had a chance to steal this game late but Antic came up with two crucial defensive rebounds in the last few seconds to seal the win Macedonia’s win.

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Day 3: Spain Soars And French Perfection

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Day 3 of EuroBasket 2011 promised a few fireworks and did not disappoint when a few of the competition’s titans clashed in Lithuania.

Spain 86, Great Britain 69 (Box Score)

Pau Gasol‘s 21 points helped secure a third straight win for unbeaten and defending champion Spain, which had no problems disposing of Luol Deng and Great Britain. It’s a good thing great Britain has an automatic invite to the London Olympics (as the host nation representative), because that appears to be the only way they could make that field.

  • As good as Pau was, younger brother Marc Gasol was the driving force for Spain after halftime. He scored  eight points during a 10-0 run that blew the game open and scored 12 of his 18 points in the pivotal third quarter. His team-high 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and lone blocked shot showed off the tremendous skill-set that we Hang Time Grizzlies fans have been raving about the past two seasons.
  • Deng and Dan Clark managed to keep Britain in this one through three quarters. But 21 turnovers against a savvy team like Spain is an invitation for disaster. Spain scored a point for every turnover and eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter behind all of those miscues.
  • The Ricky Rubio cynics out there continue to build a case against the young wizard. After yet another ho-hum outing, it’s getting tougher and tougher to envision him as a difference maker in his first NBA season. But we will keep watching (and waiting) for that breakout performance.

France 76, Germany 65 (Box Score)

French point guard Tony Parker won this battle of NBA Finals MVPs with Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki, outscoring the Dirk 32-20 in what lived up to its advanced billing as the game of the day.

  • Parker had a magnificent shooting day, knocking down 11 of his 20 shots from the floor, including a perfect (2-for-2) showing from beyond the 3-point line. Nowitzki never did get into a good rhythm, finishing 5-for-13 from the floor.
  • French center Joakim Noah battled Chris Kaman to a stalemate in the middle, which is exactly what his team needed and most certainly the one thing Germany could not afford. Noah’s energy, length and really his presence alone changes things for France.
  • After two relatively quiet outings, Nicolas Batum scored 14 points to join Parker and Mickael Gelabale (10) as the only players on the French team to score in double figures.

Italy 71, Latvia 62 (Box Score)

Maybe someone in Italy’s locker room is reading HT these days. We called for more from Andrea Bargnani, if this team was going to get off the snide and put a mark in the win column. And that’s exactly what happened against Latvia. Bargnani got loose for 36 points, 18 in each half, to keep their hopes of advancing alive.

  • The 33-31 halftime lead didn’t sit well in the Italian locker room, or so says Daniel Hackett, the former USC point guard. “Coach came to the locker room and told us to let it all hang out if we wanted to win the game,” Hackett said of coach Simone Pianigiani‘s speech. “I think in the last quarter, our defense improved and we were able to stop them and also, our offense went through the post to Bargnani while (Stefano) Mancinelli gave me a chance to be a playmaker in the middle of the zone.”
  • The turning point of the game, however, didn’t come until the start of the fourth quarter. That’s when Bargnani and Marco Mordente nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to break the game open just enough to make this young (but talented) Latvia team nervous.
  • Italy made more free throws (25-of-28) than Latvia attempted (21 and made just 12). In this day and age of hoops analytics, that’s one good ol’ fashioned indicator of the winner and loser in almost any game (we’ve nicknamed it the “Duke Rule” around here).

Serbia 89, Israel 80 (Box Score)

Yet another one of the impressive unblemished teams in this competition, so far, Serbia was dominant when it mattered most (late) in this defeat of Israel. They had to battle to gain control of this game but did so behind a dominant rebounding effort. And their looming matchup with France will be yet another must-see game for fans from all sides.

  • As mentioned, Serbia’s domination on the boards (44-27) is what helped them grind their way back into this game. It was only a matter of time, what with Israel lacking the needed size to match up with Nenad Krstic and his buddies on that frontline rotation.
  • Yoatam Halperin looks like a guy that has extensive EuroBasket experience, of our math is correct this is his fourth straight appearance. He bothered Serbia on both ends and finished with a team-high 18 points and five steals.
  • Dusko Savanovic did his thing again, leading Serbia with 24 points. It was his 3-pointer with 1:03 to play that pushed the lead to 84-76 and basically put the game away for the winners.

Lithuania 75, Turkey 68 (Box Score)

We’re not used to spending this much time gushing about Darius Songaila, but so far that’s all we’ve been able to do with this NBA journeyman. He came up huge again as the host nation crew knocked Turkey from the ranks of the unbeaten. Songaila’s 12 points off the bench included two clutch free throws to give Lithuania a 71-68 lead with 40 seconds remaining.

  • Songaila’s effort off the bench was part of a 33-16 bench whitewash by Lithuania. That lift from one of the deepest and most versatile benches in the competition made all the difference, with a little help from that wicked crowd.
  • Songaila was almost the goat in this game. When he was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Emir Preldzic just 15 seconds before he sank those free throws, and the home team clinging to a 69-67 lead. But Preldzic split the free throws and then missed a layup.
  • When you live by the 3-pointer, sometimes you … Turkey shot a miserable 17 percent (3-for-18) from distance and watched their unbeaten streak vanish due in large part to their inability to be effective in that facet of their game.

Poland 81, Portugal 73 (Box Score)

An 8-2 run in the final 69 seconds proved to be the difference in this game for Poland, which got a huge effort from Lukasz Koszarek during crunch time. Koszarek scored seven of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter.

  • “This is a very important win for us,” said Koszarek. “We knew how important this game was for us and for them and it was a battle from start to finish. “Thankfully, we held on for victory.”
  • Portugal led 36-29 at halftime but went scoreless for the first six minutes of the third quarter. Poland used a 12-0  run during that stretch to not only get back in the game but wrestle away control of the action until Portugal tied the game up at 49-49 to start the fourth quarter.
  • Antonio Tavares and Jose Costa finished with 13 points each to lead Portugal. Both had huge 3-pointers down the stretch, making it a two-point game before Poland’s game-deciding run.

Donuts For Rubio In EuroBasket Opener

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Twelve games in one day is a bit much to chew on when you’ve been away from live game action for nearly two months.

We’re admittedly a little rusty around the hideout.

But we can’t thank the basketball gods enough for delivering us this smorgasbord of hoops when we needed it most. Day 1 of EuroBasket 2011 was filled with action and plenty of surprises, both good and bad.

In case you were worried, Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t lost a step since his triumphant playoff run and Finals MVP showing. Pau Gasol looked good and rested. And the host nation team, Lithuania, didn’t disappoint in their opener.

There was even a Ricky Rubio sighting this morning, although I’m still trying to figure out how he pulled off the performance he did. In fact, Rubio stole the show here at the hideout, posting donuts across the board (save for a couple of steals) in 16 uninspiring minutes in his international debut as a bona fide NBA player.

More on that later in the rundown of games we saw … (some more than others) …

Serbia 80, Italy 68 (Box Score)

You know it’s going to be a good competition when you tip off group play with a game like this one. Italy chewed into an 18-point deficit in time to make Serbia work for this one in the fourth quarter. Serbia made just nine of 26 shots from beyond the 3-point line to Italy’s 2-for-17, another advantage for a team that finished as the silver medalist in this competition in 2009. Having superior depth is what made the difference for Serbia as they got 30 points off the bench in the win.

  • Italy’s 18-10 lead early on didn’t hold up, not with center Andrea Bargnani contributing just two points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half (he came off the bench). He warmed up after halftime and finished with a game-high 22 and nine rebounds. Danilo Gallinari turned his right ankle midway through the third quarter and came out of the game a couple of minutes later. He did return in the fourth.
  • Milan Macvan came off of the bench for Serbia and dropped 10 second-quarter points as they erased that early deficit. He chipped in with four more during an 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter to help put the game away. He found all the holes in the Italy’s zone defense, making six of his seven shots from the floor. As we learned from the Dallas Mavericks during the playoffs, bench play is often the difference between winning and losing in a tournament setting.
  • Serbia’s starting guards, Milos Teodosic and Milenko Tepic, put on a show of their own. They combined for 30 points and 12 assists and combined to shoot a wicked 6-for-10 from beyond the 3-point line.

Spain 83, Poland 78 (Box Score)

One Gasol is enough to keep defending champion Spain in the hunt for a repeat title. Having two, however, is a luxury that no doubt every other team in the competition would love to have. Pau Gasol scored 12 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter as Spain had to hold on to squeeze past Poland in the final seconds to win their opener. Marc Gasol finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes of action.

  • Rubio was still the one guy we were most eager to look at in this game and something was clearly missing from his game. He missed a wide-open, second-half layup and was not a factor in his limited minutes on the floor. Piling up zeros across the board the way he did after all the hype that has accompanied him the past months (and years) was definitely a disappointment.
  • Seeing Serge Ibaka work as a role player behind the Gasols was interesting, especially after seeing him play such a huge role for a Thunder team that made its way to the Western Conference finals during the NBA playoffs. Ibaka was his usual workmanlike self, though, scoring seven points on 3-for-4 shooting in his 14 minutes.
  • HT-fave and former Hang Time Grizzlies point guard Juan Carlos Navarro is always a welcome sight on the court. We jokingly nicknamed him the “Stockbroker” a few years ago (the logic being that he’d look like a Wall Street-type in street clothes). It’s a term of endearment for a player that always shows up the way he did against Poland (23 points). His free throws and a crucial 3-pointer in the final seconds were the difference in what turned out to be a much tighter game than most expected.

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Notes from Serbia 92, Spain 89

ISTANBUL — Another classic at the Sinan Erdem Dome.

Milos Teodosic was the hero, pulling up for a loooong three with 3.1 seconds left to win the game for Serbia. Spain, the defending world champions, will not medal here in Istanbul. They will move to the consolation bracket now, with Serbia advancing to Saturday’s semifinals, where they will play the winner of tonight’s Slovenia-Turkey game.

Many will call this an upset, but I don’t really see it that way. Serbia had the most efficient offense in pool play, and through the round of 16, they were the third best team in the tournament statistically (behind the U.S. and Turkey), ranking second offensively and third defensively.

Spain, with as much talent and experience as they have, just hadn’t played that well.

Of course, this game was won by the narrowest of margins. It’s not like Serbia was far and away the better team on Wednesday.

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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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Childress To The Wizards?

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Joe Johnson isn’t the only free agent the Hawks have to deal with this summer.

Josh Childress is a restricted free agent and will also be a part of their summer plans, in one way or another, though he won’t have to mull over a $119 million offer like the one the Hawks made to Johnson Thursday.

After spending the last two seasons in Greece, it appears Childress is destined for a return to the NBA this season. The Washington Wizards have been rumored to be an interested party and Michael Lee of the Washington Post confirmed as much:

I can tell you that the Wizards’ interest in Childress in genuine. He was among the players the Wizards considered taking in 2004 before dealing the fifth pick to Dallas in a trade for Antawn Jamison. President Ernie Grunfeld was in Paris for the EuroLeague Final Four and watch Childress and former All-Met player Linas Kleiza lose to Ricky Rubio and Juan Carlos Navarro of Barcelona in the championship game. Once source said the presence of Grunfeld led to speculation that simply spun out of control.

But if the Hawks keep Johnson, they likely wouldn’t have any money to match a contract offer for Childress. The Wizards are among about eight NBA teams to reach out to his agent, Chris Emens of Octagon Sports. Childress will have leverage in any situation since he lives rather comfortably in Athens and isn’t desperate for a return to NBA. He averaged 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20 EuroLeague games last season. A Stanford alum, Childress has a reputation as a solid pro and would fall in line with the Wizards desire to add more character guys to the roster.

The Hawks could use Childress as much as anyone. They don’t have the sort of depth they’ve had in years past, when they had younger players that were still on rookie contracts or minimum deals.

But as Lee points out, the chances of them keeping Johnson and then matching an offer to Childress don’t look good.

And as high-profile free agents continue to stick with their current teams and leave more and more cash available for others, Childress will crash onto the radar of other teams in need of help at small forward.

His gamble to go to Greece was dismissed by many. But Childress will get the last laugh, potentially all the way to the bank.