Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

Qualifying For ’14 World Cup Is Wide Open

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Eurobasket has just begun and we’ve already had plenty of surprises across FIBA’s regional tournaments, with teams looking to qualify for next year’s World Cup of Basketball.

In Asia, defending champion China was knocked out in the quarterfinals. In Africa, Nigeria and Tunisia — the two teams that repped the continent in last year’s Olympics — both failed to make the semis. And in the FIBA Americas tournament, Brazil lost all four of their first-round games and was sent home after blowing a 10-point, second-half lead to Jamaica on Tuesday.

Thus far, 10 teams have their tickets punched for Spain (see below). Another 10 (four from the Americas and six from Europe) will receive automatic bids in the next 17 days. Later this year, four wild-card berths will be awarded, giving teams like China and Brazil a shot.

And if Brazil is awarded a wild-card berth, they certainly have the potential to rebound from this year’s performance and make some noise at the World Cup. They have four big men in the NBA: Nene, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Vitor Faverani (signed by the Celtics this summer). But none of the four was in Caracas this week, leaving Marcelo Huertas without a competent big man to run the pick-and-roll with.

Their 0-4 performance was still a shock. Brazil gave the U.S. its toughest game at the 2010 World Championship and finished second to Argentina at the 2011 FIBA Americas tourney.

But give credit to Jamaica for it’s comeback, led by former Cav Samardo Samuels, who led all scorers with 21 points and who hit all nine of his fourth-quarter free throws. A pair of freebies by Akeem Scott won the game for Jamaica in the final seconds.

Brazil’s ouster gives Canada a better shot at one of the four automatic berths. The Canadians are without Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk, but went 3-1 in the first round. They still have some work to do, as the eight teams remaining in Caracas will play four games — Thursday through Sunday — against the teams they’ve yet to face, and after that, the top four teams in the standings will qualify for the semifinals and next year’s World Cup. Canada’s most important game could be Saturday against the Dominican Republic.

The lack of NBA players participating has made the FIBA Americas tournament wide open. And the same may hold true at Eurobasket, which tipped off Wednesday in Slovenia. With Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Rudy Fernandez on board, Spain is still the clear favorite. And France, with Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw, is a lock to get one of the other top six spots.

But after that, things will get interesting. And Exhibit A is Finland’s tourney-opening victory over Turkey, the team that made a fantastic run to the gold medal game in 2010 and has a frontline of Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik.

If you need a basketball fix with another month to go before training camp, there’s plenty of international hoops for you over the next three weeks. NBA TV will have some games, and the others can be seen on ESPN3.

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.

USA Rolling With New Super-Sub ‘Melo




LONDON Chris Paul was to the point in the huddle.

“During one of the timeouts, I told Coach K, ‘I’m not running any other plays except the one for ‘Melo,’ ” Paul said Friday morning, before the U.S. men’s Olympic team meeting at their cozy hotel downtown. It was a third-quarter huddle of Thursday’s game with Nigeria, when Carmelo Anthony was in the process of losing his mind (scoring-wise).

Anthony is paid to score by the Knicks, so getting 37 points in a game isn’t a big deal for him. But he’s rarely been as efficient as he was in Thursday’s 156-73 (156-73! it boggles the mind and fingers just to type that!) dismembering of Nigeria at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena, helping set all manner of U.S. individual and team Olympic records. And the U.S. team is showing signs that, just as in 2008, it’s rounding into shape at just the right time to win the gold medal.

There was some concern early in the training camp process for this team about how the cores of the 2008 Olympic team and the 2010 World Championship team would blend. The ’08 “Redeem Team” that won the gold medal in Beijing featured Anthony, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James; the ’10 team that won gold in Turkey was led by the new jacks: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. It’s not that anyone was going to be churlish about minutes; these are all mature guys. But any time a player is used to performing star turns, it’s sometimes hard to be “Guy Catching a Cab” in the closing credits.

But after Durant looked less like himself coming off the bench in the early exhibitions, Mike Krzyzewski made a switch in the starting lineup, bringing Anthony off the bench and starting Durant. Those small adjustments seem to have helped. Durant started out hot Thursday, hitting three 3-pointers in the first six minutes, and after Kobe Bryant scored 14 points early as well, they handed the baton to Anthony. He was white-hot from minute one.

“Carmelo would have like a 60-point game, I think … if we didn’t limit him,” Krzyzewski said late Thursday at the team hotel. “And the neat thing about that is that everybody on the team wanted him to shoot the ball.”

Anthony made 13 of 16 shots, including 10 of 12 from behind the arc. He’s gotten hot before, but it almost always involves some posting up or driving to the basket, where he uses his strength to get to the foul line. Thursday, though, almost all of his makes were from skeet-shooting distance. When you score 37 on 16 shots (in just 14 minutes), you’re doing it right.

“I was at a loss of words watching,” Love said. “I was telling Craig Sager, every time (Anthony) went up, I just stood up, held up three points in the air. I knew it was in. When a guy gets in a rhythm like that, everything seems to go in.” (more…)

Lithuania Thumps Nigeria 72-53

LONDON – Lithuania’s veterans helped them to their first win in Olympic competition this morning as Darius Songaila and Linas Kleiza combined for 23 points in a 72-53 win over Nigeria.

Rimantas Kaukenas added 10 points and Sarunas Jasikevicius nine points and nine assists for Lithuania, which built a 19-point lead before halftime only to see Nigeria close to within seven points, 34-27, by halftime. But they resumed the basketball clinic after halftime, outplaying Nigeria on both ends of the floor throughout second half.

Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu had double-doubles for Nigeria. Aminu had 12 points and 11 rebounds; Diogu finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. But Nigeria made just one of their 16 attempts from beyond the 3-point line and shot just 24 percent (16-for-66) for overall.

Nigeria plays the U.S. Thursday.

Brazil, Spain, Russia, Argentina And Nigeria Impress In Olympic Openers

LONDON – The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team wasn’t the only crew to walk away from the first day of Olympic competition with an impressive win, theirs coming in a 98-71 thumping of France in the third game of the day.

There were familiar faces (to NBA fans) on the court all day and night, as Brazil, Spain,Russia, Argentina and Nigeria all made good first impressions at the Olympic Basketball Stadium.

A quick round-up of the action …

NIGERIA 60, TUNISIA 56:

The Aminu brothers, Alade and Al-Farouq combined for 25 points and 18 rebounds as Nigeria, the last team to qualify for this 12-team field, held off a late rally from the African champions in the first game of the day. Ike Diogu added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Amine Rzig scored 15 of his 18 points in the second-half to lead Tunisia in what was the Olympic debut for both teams.

BRAZIL 75, AUSTRALIA 71:

Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points but it was his backcourt mate, Brazilian captain Marcelo Huertas, who played the hero as they held off a late push from Australia on two free throws from Huertas with five seconds to play. David Andersen scored all 14 of his points after halftime and Patty Mills led Australia with a game-high 20 points, but it wasn’t enough.

SPAIN 97, CHINA 81:

Pau Gasol was dominant, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points, as the silver medalists and two-time European champs whipped China. Yi Jianlian was impressive in defeat, scoring a game-high 30 points for China, which had no answer for Spain’s depth and quality backcourt duo of Juan Carlos Navarro (14 points) and Jose Calderon (12).

RUSSIA 95, GREAT BRITAIN 75:

The gracious hosts were no match for the Minnesota Timberwolves-bound duo of Andrei Kirilenko (35 points) and Alexey Shved (16 points and 13 assists, who sparked Russia’s dominating performance. Luol Deng scored the first basket of the game, the first for the British in the Olympics since 1948, and finished with 26 points. But he and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (22) couldn’t help the home team overcome Russia or an ugly 4-for-26 effort from beyond the 3-point line.

ARGENTINA 102, LITHUANIA 79:

Luis Scola scored 32 points, Manu Ginobili finished with 21, 10 rebounds and six assists and Carlos Delfino added 20 points for the 2004 gold medalists, who struggled in their exhibition run-up to this competition but celebrated Ginobili’s 35th birthday in style. Linas Kleiza scored 20 points to lead Lithuania, which defeated Argentina in the opener for both teams four years ago in Beijing.

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For a look at Tuesday’s schedule, click here!

Diogu Leads Nigeria To London, final spot

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Men’s Basketball Olympic field is set. Nigeria earned the 12th and final spot in London with a huge 88-73 victory over the Dominican Republic in the third place game of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday.

Ike Diogu, the former Warrior/Pacer/Blazer/King/Clipper/Spur, was the star for Nigeria, who qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever. Diogu scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and hit 10 of 14 shots.

Nigeria led 47-39 at the half, but the game was tied with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Diogu came up huge down the stretch though, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers as Nigeria scored 29 points in the final period to win going away. The Hornets’ Al-Farouq Aminu played the Scottie Pippen role, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and five blocks.

The Kings’ Francisco Garcia led the Dominican with 17 points. Al Horford dealt with foul trouble and had just 12 points in 29 minutes.

The London games begin July 29. Here is the 12-team field…

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
China 2011 FIBA Asia Champion
Lithuania 2012 Qualifier
Russia 2012 Qualifier
Nigeria 2012 Qualifier


The U.S. is in Group A with Argentina, France, Lithuania, Russia and Tunisia. They’ll play their first exhibition game against the Dominican Republic on Thursday in Las Vegas. You can watch that one (taped) at 12 a.m. ET on NBA TV.

Russia, Lithuania Heading To London





HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As the United States named its 12-man roster for London 2012 on Saturday, two teams earned trips to London with victories in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.

Russia and Lithuania, two of the favorites in the 12-team qualifying tourney, are teams Nos. 10 and 11 in the Olympic field.

In the first of Saturday’s games, point guard Alexey Shved (who looks to be NBA-bound this fall) led Russia to an 85-77 win over Nigeria, scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists. The game was tied at 26 early in the second quarter, but Russia outscored Nigeria 20-5 to close the period and led by as many as 21 in the second half.

Andrei Kirilenko added 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals for Russia, while Ike Diogu (who played two games for the Spurs last season) led Nigeria with 16 points and 14 boards. The Hornets’ Al-Farouq Aminu scored 13 points, but had seven turnovers.

Russia shot a scorching 14-for-27 from 3-point range. They were arguably the U.S. Team’s toughest competition in the medal rounds in the 2010 World Championship, losing 89-79 in the quarterfinals.

The team the U.S. beat in the ’10 semifinals was the second team to qualify for the Olympics on Saturday. Lithuania, who had a disappointing finish in last year’s Eurobasket (which they hosted), redeemed themselves with a 109-83 blowout of the Dominican Republic.

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