Posts Tagged ‘Mike Fratello’

FIBA Update: Latvia, Lithuania Pick Up Big Wins At EuroBasket

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – EuroBasket’s second round tipped off with a couple of important games on Wednesday. We’ve got 12 teams playing for eight spots in the quarterfinals and then six or seven spots in next year’s World Cup of Basketball field.

Though this was the first day of the second round, each team brought two first-round results into the standings. That’s why the day’s first game between Latvia and Ukraine was critical. Mike Fratello’s Ukraine team came in at 1-2, in fourth place in Group E. Latvia was 0-2, in fifth place. And since four teams from each group make the quarterfinals, this game could be the one that ultimately makes the difference.

That’s good news for Latvia, who controlled the game from the tip, had a 42-22 lead by halftime, opened the game up even more in the third quarter, and cruised to a 34-point win. They shot less than 33 percent from 3-point range in the first round, but hit 15 of their 29 3s on Wednesday. Ukraine, meanwhile, couldn’t buy a bucket after finishing the first round with a top-five offense. To get back in the top four of Group E, they’ll have to upset either Serbia (Friday) or France (Sunday).

Though the second game was closer than it should have been, Serbia eventually took care of business against Belgium. Nenad Krstic led the way with 17 points and five assists and, at 3-0, Serbia is looking good for the quarterfinals.

So does Lithuania, who handed France its second loss of the tournament (and first in Group E) in Wednesday’s third game. Lithuania’s top-five defense bettered France’s top-five offense, as Tony Parker was held to just 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting and Nicolas Batum added just eight more.

Group F gets under way on Friday, with the Finland-Croatia game being another one that could ultimately determine who goes to the quarterfinals and who doesn’t.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Mexico FIBA Americas champion
12 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas second place
13 Argentina FIBA Americas third place
14 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas fourth place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

FIBA Update: Three More Earn Bids

Luis Scola, now with the Pacers, had a major impact on Argentina's win over Canada.

Luis Scola, now with the Pacers, had a major impact on Argentina’s win over Canada.

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Three more teams punched their tickets to next year’s World Cup of Basketball on Sunday. The Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico will be in Spain next summer, thanks to the results of the first two games at the FIBA Americas tournament in Caracas.

In the first game on Sunday, the Dominican used a 9-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to take control against Uruguay. They held on for their fifth straight win, earning the country its first berth in a major international hoops tournament since 1978. Al Horford didn’t play this summer, but he could join Francisco Garcia and company next summer in Spain. He certainly seems excited about the possibility…

In the second game, Argentina finished the third quarter on a 20-6 run to turn a nine-point deficit into a five-point lead. Behind a huge game (28 points and seven rebounds) from Luis Scola, they held on to beat Canada and get back to the world stage. And it will be interesting to see if veterans like Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino and Pablo Prigioni will join them for one more run next summer in Spain.

For Canada, this was a brutal end to the tournament. They won four of their first five games, but then lost their last three (by an average of six points) to get sent home. When Argentina made its third-quarter run, the Canadians simply couldn’t handle the pressure.

Cory Joseph (16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists), Andrew Nicholson (15.0 points on 53 percent shooting) and Tristan Thompson (11.6 points and 10.0 rebounds) all had their moments during the tournament, but consistency was an issue.

If they finished in the top four, the trio (along with Joel Anthony) could have been joined by Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk at the World Cup next summer. With four wild card invitations to be handed out later this year, that possibility still exists, but there’s already a strong list of wild card candidates — including Brazil, China and Nigeria — who will be joined by a few solid European teams.

The Argentina win also clinched a spot for Mexico, who owned the tiebreaker over Venezuela. Mexico went on to make things doubly official with a win over Puerto Rico, who rested Carlos Arroyo, Renaldo Balkman and J.J. Barea, having clinched a top-four spot on Saturday. So we should be seeing the the Hawks’ Gustavo Ayon (averaging 16.4 points and 8.0 rebounds) next summer in Spain.

The FIBA Americas semifinals, which will be largely ceremonial, take place Tuesday.

Eurobasket field thins out after Monday

After Day 5 of Eurobasket, only one team remains unbeaten and, surprise, it’s Italy. Led by 42 combined points from the Spurs’ Marco Belinelli (23) and the Pistons’ Luigi Datome (19), the Italians beat Greece in a matchup of 3-0 teams on Sunday. Both teams, along with Finland (3-1) are on their way to the second round as Group D’s three representatives.

The other unbeaten teams going into Sunday’s action were host Slovenia and Mike Fratello‘s Ukraine squad. Slovenia held a 13-point lead in the third quarter over Croatia. But Croatia came back and won in overtime to join Spain and Slovenia at 3-1 in Group C. The Czech Republic has a shot to crash the party if they can beat Croatia on Monday.

Ukraine was knocked off by France (Tony Parker had 28 points), leaving things still up in the air in Group A, where Ukraine-Great Britain will be Monday’s big game. Similarly, Bosnia-Lithuania could shake things up in Group B.

Eurobasket top offenses (points scored per 100 possessions) through Sunday (4 games):
1. Greece – 115.6
2. Italy – 114.2
3. Georgia – 112.2
4. France – 111.2
5. Germany – 105.4

Eurobasket top defenses (points allowed per 100 possessions) through Sunday (4 games):
1. Spain – 76.0
2. Finland – 86.3
3. Lithuania – 90.6
4. Czech Republic – 92.2
5. Italy – 95.2

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Argentina FIBA Americas top four
12 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas top four
13 Mexico FIBA Americas top four
14 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas top four
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

FIBA Update: Spain Upset, Puerto Rico Stays Unbeaten

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Thursday was a big day in FIBA qualifications, with the second round of FIBA Americas getting started and Day 2 at Eurobasket seeing a thrilling upset.

Down goes Spain

The story of the day was Slovenia coming back from 10 points down to beat Eurobasket favorite Spain. The Suns’ Goran Dragic led the way for the tournament’s hosts, registering 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

The game was more important for Slovenia, who now looks like a strong candidate to earn one of Europe’s six automatic berths to next year’s World Cup, than Spain. The two-time defending Euro champs have finished first (2011 Eurobasket, 2009 Eurobasket, 2006 World Championship) or second (2012 Olympics, 2008 Olympics, 2007 Eurobasket) in six of their last seven international competitions (the exception being the 2010 World Championship), despite losing preliminary-round games in almost all of them.

But there wasn’t any clear gamesmanship on Spain’s part. Marc Gasol played all but three minutes on Thursday.

Down to the wire

Slovenia-Spain was a great game, and it wasn’t the only thriller on Thursday. Latvia edged Montenegro on a jumper by Kristaps Janicenoks in the final seconds, Croatia beat Georgia on a Ante Tomic, pick-and-roll layup, and Belgium outlasted Germany in overtime.

The ends of these FIBA games can be really fun, because there are fewer timeouts in the final possessions. You’re not allowed to call a timeout on a live ball.

What happened to Turkey?

As someone who witnessed Turkey’s magical run to the 2010 World Championship gold medal game first-hand, it’s disappointing to see how much they’ve fallen off. They’ve been a mess offensively without long-time point guard Kerem Tunceri (whose absence on the roster was the coach’s decision, according to my Turkish friends on twitter) and with Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova combining to shoot 11-for-38 (29 percent).

More disappointing is the Turkish defense, which was dominant in 2010 and has allowed about 108 points per 100 possessions in their two games this week. With their size, they can extend their 2-3 zone out beyond the 3-point line, but they didn’t really go to it until the third quarter on Thursday. And when they did, Italy just picked it apart.

The good news for Turkey is that Hedo’s tan looks fabulous.

Greece back on top

The bad news for Turkey is that, after a day off, they next face Greece, who has the tournament’s best point differential after two games. Greece had a couple of down years (they didn’t qualify for last year’s Olympics), but has looked strong in wins over Sweden and Russia.

Greece is one of seven unbeaten teams. The most surprising of the seven has to be Finland, who has been led by former first-round pick Petteri Koponen. Also unbeaten is the Ukraine, coached by TNT’s Mike Fratello.

Big wins for Canada, Puerto Rico

While Spain can brush off Thursday’s loss, every game at the FIBA Americas tournament is critical right now, because the top four teams after this round of games will earn the automatic bids to next year’s World Cup of Basketball.

So Canada’s 89-67 win over Mexico, putting them in second place with three games to play, was huge. The Spurs’ Cory Joseph, now averaging 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists, has been one of the best players in the tournament.

Also big was Puerto Rico’s win over Argentina. Puerto Rico trailed by 16 midway through the second quarter, but came back and took control with a 13-0 run late in the third. They haven’t clinched a top-four spot just yet, but as the only undefeated team in the tournament, they’re in great shape.

Former Knick and Nugget Renaldo Balkman has been huge for P.R., averaging 20.6 points and 8.4 boards through five games.

Action in FIBA Americas and Eurobasket continues Friday.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 FIBA Americas champion
12 FIBA Americas 2nd place
13 FIBA Americas 3rd place
14 FIBA Americas 4th place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

Air Check: Where Bismack Biyombo Is Top 5

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

The national guys aren’t perfect either. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

We’ve got a Clippers and Nets theme this week, so let’s start with the Clippers and Nets…

1. They don’t call him the Czar of the Telestrator for nothin’

Game: Brooklyn @ L.A. Clippers, March 23
Broadcast: Brooklyn


This is a great use of the telestrator by … you guessed it … Mike Fratello.

Late in the game, the Clippers try to get Brook Lopez (and his slow feet) to defend Chris Paul in a pick and roll. But, as Fratello explains, the Nets switch assignments as Blake Griffin goes to set the pick, having the more mobile Reggie Evans hedge the screen.

It’s a pretty simple concept, but something that many viewers wouldn’t have picked up on when watching the play live. And all it takes is a quick explanation from Fratello to make us all a little smarter.

2. Another one-liner from JVG

Game: L.A. Lakers @ L.A. Clippers, April 7
Broadcast: ESPN


Jeff Van Gundy always bring the coach’s perspective…

Mike Breen on Jamal Crawford: “He’s had 16 head coaches in his career, 16 in his 13 years in the league.”

Van Gundy: “Are you saying he’s got a lot of people fired?”

Classic JVG.

3. Is Tommy Heinsohn calling Kings games now?

Game: L.A. Clippers @ Sacramento, March 19
Broadcast: Sacramento


Kings color man Jerry Reynolds doesn’t like this foul call, even though the replay shows that Pizza Guy Isaiah Thomas was all in Chris Paul‘s space and hit him on the arm as he rose for the shot.

“Are you kidding me?,” Reynolds says. “What a bail out.”

And then he hits us with the big one: “I guarantee you if that had of been Isaiah Thomas shooting the ball and Chris Paul defending, that would not have been called that way. That is my take on it and I’m tired of it.”

But good for play-by-play guy Grant Napear for calling Reynolds out for going a little to far: “Jerry Heinsohn working with us today.”

Reynolds: “I know. I get carried away every now and then. I can’t match up to my man Tommy Heinsohn, though. I can’t do it.”

Napear: “I don’t think anybody can.”

4. Rolls off the tongue

Game: Charlotte @ Brooklyn, April 6
Broadcast: Brooklyn


Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel have been working together for almost 20 years. So Spanarkel knows how much Eagle likes calling the game’s most unique names. (If you ever meet Eagle in person, just ask him about that forward who played for Stanford from 2002 to 2006.)

Bismack Biyombo is clearly among Eagle’s favorites.

Eagle: “High-low … Bi-YOM-bo!”

Spanarkel: “Top-5 name for you, possibly?”

Eagle: “I enjoy it. I can’t deny it.”

Foul called.

Spanarkel: “Who was that foul on?”

Eagle: “That’s Bi-YOM-bo.”

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 94) Featuring Mike Fratello

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Fourteen or fifteen games isn’t an ideal sample size, but in a season that moves strictly one day at a time, it’s all we have to go on right now in our evaluations of what’s going on in the NBA.

In an effort to separate the contenders from the pretenders, we enlisted the services of our old friend the Czar, Mike Fratello of TNT, on Episode 94 of the Hang Time Podcast.

He stops by for his first visit of the season and tries to clean up the mess that you see in the standings for both the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Heat, Knicks and Nets are legit, the rest of the teams you see hovering around the top of the standings in the East, however, are still a bit suspect in his eyes.

As an added bonus, he breaks down the whole Los Angeles Clippers/Vinny Del Negro controversy from a different perspective … most coach’s don’t take to Twitter to vent after a tough loss, as Chris Paul did after the Monday’s loss to the Hornets (“a team less talented” … “but well coached”).

You need to tune into Episode 94 of the Hang Time Podcast  featuring Mike Fratello, with your hosts Sekou Smith (who channels his inner Ric Flair during Bragging Rights this weekand Rick Fox. 

Our main man and third member Lang Whitaker has an excused absence, seeing as how he was busy welcoming the latest member of the Whitaker and Hang Time families into the world.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, Sekou Smith of NBA.com and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Ex-Hawk Roundfield, 59, Drowns

An idyllic vacation turned tragic when former NBA All-Star forward Dan Roundfield drowned while swimming off the coast of Aruba.

A police spokesman told the Associated Press that Roundfield and his wife swam beyond a protected reef area Monday on the southeastern tip of the Caribbean island. John Larmonie, the police spokesman, said Roundfield, 59, helped his wife to safety after they encountered strong currents but was swept away himself. His body was found underwater, trapped by rocks, about 90 minutes later by a search team.

Julia Roundfield of Detroit, the player’s sister-in-law, confirmed the report of his death to the AP.

Roundfield, a second-round pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1975, signed instead with the ABA Indiana Pacers, then entered the NBA with the Pacers the following year. In 12 pro seasons — three with Indiana, six with Atlanta, one with Detroit and two with Washington — the 6-foot-8 product of Central Michigan averaged 14.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He was even better in 40 playoff games (15.0 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and strung together six straight double-double seasons from 1977-78 through 1982-83. (more…)

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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Macedonia Upset Highlights Day 4

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – Day 4 of Eurobasket lacked both star power and marquee matchups, but it was still an eventful day in Lithuania, as teams from Group C and D got back to work after a day off.

Finland 92, Bosnia and Herzegovina 64 (Boxscore)

Fueled by an efficient and balanced offense, Finland picked up their first win of Eurobasket and gave themselves a fighting chance at advancing to the second round with a blowout victory. They shot 55 percent from the field and committed just eight turnovers in about 70 possessions.

Bosnia and Herzegovina entered the game with the fourth-best offense through the first three days of Eurobasket, didn’t get much beyond Henry Domercant‘s 25 points. And by getting crushed by 28 points, they put themselves in a tough position to win any kind of tie-breaker.

Ukraine 67, Bulgaria 56 (Boxscore)

Mike Fratello got his first win as the Ukraine’s coach thanks to a stifling defense that held Bulgaria to just 28 percent shooting from the field. On the other end of the floor, Stiven Bertt and Oleksandr Kolchenko combined for 35 points on 13-for-19 shooting.

The Ukraine took control with a 10-2 run early in the second quarter. The kept increasing their lead through the third quarter, but a 13-2 run got Bulgaria to within seven with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the fourth. That’s when Kolchenko stemmed the tide with a three.

The win moves the Ukraine into fourth place in Group D. And they can move up one more spot (and put themselves in position to advance to the second round) with a win over Georgia on Sunday.

Macedonia 72, Greece 58 (Boxscore)

This one was a bit of a shocker, and it made things very interesting in Group C. Greece shot just 31 percent from the field, including an atrocious 4-for-19 from 3-point range. And you have to wonder if this is a sign that their run as one of the best teams in Europe is coming to an end.

Despite the Greeks’ poor shooting, it was just a one-point game at halftime and again early in the fourth quarter. That’s when Macedonia went on a 11-1 run to take control. Bo McCalebb scored eight of the 11 points on the run and led all scorers with 27.

Antonios Fotsis was the only guy who could make a shot for Greece, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-13 from the field. Ioannis Bourousis recorded a double-double, but made just two of his 11 shots.

Slovenia 87, Georgia 75 (Boxscore)

Slovenia recovered from an ugly start (they trailed 28-15 early in the second quarter) and put Georgia away in the fourth quarter with some clutch 3-point shooting. Jaka Lakovic led the way with 22 points, all from the line or beyond the arc. With Goran Dragic (1-for-8) struggling, Saso Ozbolt gave Slovenia a big lift, scoring 21 points off the bench.

Georgia shot better from both inside the arc and beyond it, but 21 turnovers did them in. Zaza Pachulia led his team with 22 points, but grabbed just two rebounds in 31 minutes.

Despite the absence of Boki Nachbar and a few other contributors to last year’s World Championship squad, Slovenia stands at 3-0 in Group D, with games against Belgium (0-3) and Russia (3-0) remaining. Georgia still controls its own destiny. They’re now tied for third in Group D with the Ukraine and Bulgaria at 1-2, and will play them each in the next two days.

Croatia 87, Montenegro 81 (Boxscore)

It was a three-man show for Croatia, who got big performances from Ante Tomic (26 points and eight rebounds), Marko Popovic (23 points) and Dontaye Draper (12 assists) and held on for an important win.

Croatia took a 15-point lead with a 14-3 run to start the third quarter, but Montenegro climbed all the way back to within three in the closing minutes of the fourth. It looked liked they’d have a shot to tie it, but Draper rebounded his own miss and Tomic stopped the bleeding with a short jump-hook off a pick-and-roll with Popovic.

Matched up with Draper, Omar Cook dished out eight dimes for Montenegro, but shot just 1-for-5 from the field. Nikola Pekovic also had just one field goal. Montenegro was led by Goran Jeretin, who scored 18 points off the bench.

Russia 79, Belgium 58 (Boxscore)

Russia remained perfect at Eurobasket with a comfortable win over Belgium on Saturday. The Russian bench, led by Vitaliy Fridzon‘s 22 and Andrey Vorontsevich‘s 17, scored 53 of their team’s 79 points. Starters Andrei Kirilenko (nine points on 3-for-3 from the field), Timofey Mozgov (seven points on 3-for-6) and Victor Khryapa (six points on 3-for-5) weren’t terrible, just quiet. Kirilenko (seven) and Khryapa (10) did combine for 17 rebounds.

Belgium shot just 19-for-52 from the field and just 14-for-26 from the line. They’re now 0-3 and would need to beat Slovenia or the Ukraine to avoid going home without a win.

 

Turkey, Spain, France Roll on Day 2

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – They say styles make fights in boxing.

Same goes for basketball, in our opinion. And we can’t think of a better one than what we’ll see when Turkey and host team Lithuania lock up Friday. It’s certainly one of the most intriguing games, along with the Germany-France matchup, of the first phase of EuroBasket 2011.

But before we get a chance to enjoy that one, we have to catch up on all the Day 2 happenings. Our roundup …

Turkey 90, Great Britain 61 (Box Score)

It’s pretty obvious after just two games that Turkey has everything you need to make some serious noise in this competition. They have a strong inside presence, led by Omer Asik, Oguz Savas and bolstered by the likes of Enes Kanter. They have plenty of long-distance firepower, courtesy of Omer Onan and Emir Preldzic. And they have the sort of savvy veteran presence (that would be you, Hedo Turkoglu) necessary to survive a crisis. This one was over before it got started.

  • An early 3-point barrage (4-for-7) was the difference for Turkey as they rushed to a 17-3 lead and never looked back. Onan was 4-for-5 from deep and Preldzic 2-for-3. They led the winners in scoring.
  • Much like Dirk Nowitzki used to do in some of these competitions, Luol Deng will have to settle for being the most talented player on the court most nights. Great Britain isn’t quite deep enough or simply good enough to match a team of Turkey’s caliber.
  • Turkey went off on a 13-0 run in the second quarter, including nine from Kanter, and used a relentless 20-4 run to blow the game open. Kanter did his best work during that stretch, scoring nine of his 11 points. His offensive game is much more advanced than we realized. He was also one of four players to score in double figures for the winners.

France 85, Israel 68 (Box Score)

Watching Joakim Noah do his dirty work never gets old for us. The same fire he displays when playing for the Bulls was on display in France’s rout of Israel. Noah’s nine points and nine rebounds served as a nice tone-setter for a team that looked much better on Day 2 than it did in the opener. With Chris Kaman and Germany up next, followed by games against Italy and Serbia, France will need every bit of energy Noah can muster in the coming days.

  • Tony Parker is a cut above most any other point guard he will face in the competition and the first two days have done nothing to change our minds about that. Parker was knocking down shots from everywhere and his 21 points and eight assists led the way.
  • Mickael Gelabale, you might remember him from his NBA days in Seattle, looked good. He finished with 13 points and made all three of his shots from beyond the 3-point line.
  • France doesn’t have the most physically intimidating frontcourt rotation. That said, a combined 11 points and 16 rebounds from Boris Diaw and Kevin Seraphin is a luxury plenty of teams would love to have.

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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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