Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

China earns Olympic bid

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — China won its 16th FIBA Asia title and is heading to the Olympics for the ninth straight time, thanks to a 78-67 victory over the Philippines on Saturday. China is the ninth team to secure a trip to Rio next summer.


After a hot start from the Philippines, China took control in the second quarter, led by as many as 16 points, and held on for a 11-point victory to wrap up FIBA action for the summer. Yi Jianlian had 11 points and 15 rebounds for China, while Andray Blatche finished with 17 points and five boards for the Philippines.

The Philippines’ Olympic dream isn’t completely dead. They will play in one of the three qualifying tournaments next July, where the final three bids will be earned. But they would have a hard time beating any team from Europe or the Americas.


FIBA will determine which three teams host the three qualifying tournaments and which three get the wildcard spots. The Toronto Star reported earlier this week that Canada has decided not to make a bid to be a host.

Morning Shootaround — Sept. 6

VIDEO: Day 1 Wrap: EuroBasket 2015


Colangelo looks ahead to 2016 | Nowitzki, Schröder lead German win on Day One of EuroBasket 2015 | Bonner looking beyond basketball | Philippines still working to add Clarkson

No. 1: Colangelo looks ahead to 2016 The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are about a year away, but USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo understands that it’s never too early to look ahead. Speaking with the Boston Globe‘s Gary Washburn, Colangelo looked forward to some of the USA’s most likely competition for a gold medal in Rio…

“Well, first of all, there’s a wave — just like the NBA — there’s a continual wave of new young players. Generally speaking, that’s true internationally also,” Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “I think without question, you’d have to say Spain, if they get their players to perform and are healthy, despite the fact they are aging, they’re very formidable.

“Serbia is considered a very strong international team coming into this Olympic year. I think France is another team, age aside, there’s a lot of talent, and a big sleeper in the whole mix is Canada. Canada has some extraordinary, very good, fine young players and they’re going to be heard from. If it’s not ’16, it will be ’20.”

The Serbian team is led by Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica and Fenerbahce Ulker’s Bojan Bogdanovic. Depending on the status of Spurs guard Tony Parker for next year’s Games, France could be the stiffest competition with Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert, and Joffrey Lauvergne.

Team Canada is loaded with young prospects such as Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Nik Stauskas, Andrew Nicholson, and Cory Joseph. The Canadians are currently vying to qualify for their first Olympic Games since 2000.

“If you’ve competed your whole life, you certainly understand that the wins yesterday are yesterday’s news,” Colangelo said. “All that matters is now. That’s a driver for all of us who are involved in USA Basketball. The culture that we’ve tried to build is very unique. We’re all very proud to represent our country.”

Colangelo, 75, has been the GM and owner of the Phoenix Suns, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and was critical in bringing the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix in the 1990s.

“As Americans we’re taking a lot of heat around the world and when you have a chance to represent your country on the international stage we take that very seriously,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with a long career in sports and a lot of success, but at this stage of my life, to be able to lead an organization that is doing all of what I just said, makes it special for me.

“Back in ’04 as I watched where we were, USA Basketball, some of the other countries really had togetherness, like Argentina, like Spain. That was something I thought we needed to develop. So developing a national team concept, stating that we had to change our culture and to see where we are, it makes you feel very good. There was a plan. Right now we’re on a roll.”


No. 2: Nowitzki, Schröder lead German win on Day One of EuroBasket 2015 EuroBasket 2015 tipped off yesterday in several cities across Europe, and in early action Germany froze Iceland behind 15-point games from both Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki and Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schröder. The Netherlands also made headlines as they knocked off Georgia on day one

Iceland outscored Germany 22-12 in the final quarter as Jon Steffansson topped all scorers with 23 points for the team considered an outsider in the tough Group B.

Nowitzki needed time to get into the game but also contributed seven rebounds. Schroder had six rebounds and four assists.

The group stage of the tournament is being played in four cities across the continent.

Poland beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 68-64 in Group A in Montpellier, France, the Netherlands stunned Georgia 73-72 in Group C in Zagreb, Croatia, and the Czech Republic routed Estonia 80-57 in Group D in Riga, Latvia.

Robin Smeulders sank a jumper with 18 seconds remaining to lift the Dutch to victory as they returned to the competition for the first time since 1989. Charlon Kloof led all scorers with 22 points. Georgia got 16 points from the Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia and Tomike Shengelia also added 16.

Jan Vesely led the Czech Republic with 16 points and eight rebounds.

Marcin Gortat, the Washington Wizards center, had 10 points and seven rebounds for Poland, while Adam Waczinski had 15 points. Andrija Stepanovic led Bosnia with 20.


No. 3: Bonner looking beyond basketball Matt Bonner may not rate extensive playing time with the San Antonio Spurs, but the role player understands his job and has won a couple of rings during his tenure in Texas. Now, as he enters his twelfth season, the always-interesting Bonner is showing he understands what’s required to continue a career in basketball beyond just playing the game, as our own Ian Thomsen writes

“I don’t have a set number of years that I’m going to play,” said Bonner, looking ahead to his upcoming 10th season with the Spurs — which will be his 12th in the NBA overall. “I’m going to play as long as I can play. With my skill set, as long as I’m healthy, I think I can keep playing. And I’m fortunate to play for an organization that values recovery and keeping guys healthy and extending careers.”

Bonner is 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds with three-point range (41.4 percent for his career, which ranks No. 15 in the NBA all-time), enabling him to stand up to big men defensively and create mismatches at the other end of the floor — the same formula that has enabled Robert Horry and others like him to play into their late-30s. But Bonner also has recognized that long-term plans evolve quickly, and that the future arrives with the furious speed of these young players who were stampeding back and forth across the Summer League court in July.

When the Spurs’ season ended with a loss to the Clippers in the opening round — the first time in four years that San Antonio hadn’t played into June — Bonner tried to take advantage of the silver lining. At age 35, he signed on for two of the several hands-on courses in the NBPA’s career development program.

Bonner was in Las Vegas to investigate a potential career in an NBA front office. Even as he studied these young players who were dreaming of the same kind of playing career that he had made for himself, Bonner found himself looking beyond. He wasn’t going to be able to play basketball for another 30 years, and at the same time he was too young to retire.


No. 4: Philippines still working to add Clarkson There are just a few weeks before FIBA Asia tips off, meaning time is running short for the Philippines to add Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson to their official roster, which would also require Clarkson missing some of Lakers training camp. But after meeting yesterday with Lakers execs Jeannie Buss and Mitch Kupchak, the Philippines officials feel like they have a better grasp on what’s needed to make it happen, writes Nelson Beltran in the Philippine Star

“It’s still a work in progress but with better clarity,” said SBP vice chairman Ricky Vargas after a meeting with Los Angeles Lakers team president Jeanie Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak in LA.

Vargas said the Lakers officials have no objection for Clarkson to play for the national team on a long-term program.

But a stint by Clarkson in the forthcoming Asian meet is subject to the approval of “the Lakers coaches” since it will run in conflict with the Lakers’ media day on Sept. 28 and the Lakers’ training camp in Hawaii on Sept. 29-Oct. 7.

In the Asian meet, Oct. 1-3 is set for the quarterfinals, semifinals and final.

“They requested some time to talk to the Lakers coaches,” said Vargas.

Accompanied by PBA board member Patrick Gregorio in a six-day whirlwind trip to Taipei, Hong Kong and the US, Vargas also announced a positive dinner meeting with the father of Jordan.

“(He’s) appreciative of reception his son received from the Filipino basketball fans and from Gilas Pilipinas team,” said Vargas of his talk with Mike Clarkson.

“They asked to review the arrangement and wanted assurance that we secure Lakers permission to allow him to skip three days of training camp,” Vargas also said.

“We go home tomorrow bringing with us a more positive feeling and a commitment from the Lakers and parents that Jordan will be part of Gilas program for the long term,” Vargas added.


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Josh Powell is leaving his gig as an assistant with the Rockets to try and play for the Bucks next season … Nate Robinson is reportedly considering an offer from a team in ChinaSteph Curry says Riley Curry taught him how to dance

Philippines Ready For Its NBA Close-Up

For the many NBA players and coaches who have participated in the league’s outreach programs through the years, there’s a familiar feel to many of their global stops. The players are recognizable to the locals, exotic in some ways, but mostly they’re simply famous. There’s little to distinguish the oohs and aahs a Kevin Durant might hear from those triggered by a Kardashian.

Except, it seems, in the Philippines.

“When we bring players or legends or coaches over to the Philippines, we often prep them that they’re not going to get ‘What did you eat for breakfast?’ questions,” said Scott Levy, senior vice president and managing director of NBA Asia. “They’re going to get ‘Why did you take out LeBron James in the third quarter with an eight-point lead when momentum was shifting against your team?’ It’s incredibly detailed, incredibly knowledgeable, and people there follow the entire league.”

The rabid interest in basketball and the NBA in particular spilled over earlier this week with the news that the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers will play a preseason game Oct. 10 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. Announced by commissioner David Stern on the arena’s Jumbotron, the event will be one of eight October games staged in six different countries, none with a more intense NBA following than this nation of 92 million in the western Pacific Ocean.

The Rockets-Pacers visit will be the first sanctioned NBA game in the Philippines since 1979, when the Washington Bullets traveled there to face a team of national All-Stars. But the Philippines Basketball Association predated that event by several years and the sport, Levy said, has roots there dating to the late 19th Century.

The NBA’s popularity rivals that of native boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. More Facebook “likes “and Twitter “follows” of the league and its participants come from the Philippines than from any other nation outside the U.S. Thirty games are available on free and cable TV each week there, with League Pass and an Web site specific to that country both available. Billboards and buses tout the game.

“You really get a feel for it when you go into the country,” said Levy, who has worked with the NBA’s international division since 1996 and been based in Hong Kong since 2009. “I mean, there’s a basketball hoop in every corner,  everywhere throughout the country. And often those hoops are made of plywood and wire rims.

“There are some great photos of kids playing during the floods and they’re waist-deep in water. They’re playing in flip-flops, they’re playing on dirt courts. There’s no community that I’ve seen — and I’ve traveled extensively around the country — that doesn’t have a court. And I’ve never seen a court unused.”

Through its Basketball Without Borders program and other outreach efforts, the NBA is familiar with the sort of poverty and deprivation that make attendance at one of its games — including the upcoming one — strictly a dream for many Filipinos. The league hadn’t returned to stage a game in 34 years because, until the MOA Arena opened in May, the facilities were inadequate.

But Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who is half-Filipino (his mother is frpom San Pablo, Laguna), has traveled to his homeland in each of the past four offseasons. Last summer, he brough the Larry O’Brien trophy with him, celebrating Miami’s championship with the fans, many of whom now are fans of the Heat.

“It staggers our players how popular the NBA is here, 10,000 miles away,” Spoelstra said during his 2012 visit.

And last week, of the October exhibition, the Heat coach said: “It’s awesome. The country will probably celebrate every single month until that game. The two teams that will be going there I think will have a great experience because the fans are incredible.”

Numerous NBA players past and present have visited the country and, Levy said, been stunned by the reception. Among them: Brook Lopez, Gary Payton, Chris Webber, Mitch Richmond, Robert Horry, Glen Rice, Dominique Wilkins and Luc Longley. “They all have the same reaction,” Levy said. “They never understood the awareness. They come over and expect they’ll be known, but they never anticipated how well they’d be known, how they’d be recognized on the street, how long the lines would be to get an autograph or take a photo.”

The best-known NBA export to play in the PBA probably was Billy Ray Bates, a 6-foot-4 guard best remembered for his three seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers in the early 1980s. “He’s an incredible hero there,” Levy said. “There are guys like Donnell Harvey, guys who had a cup of coffee in the NBA and are there now. They [allow] imports in the PBA, so there are guys who played in the D League.”

As far as players there coming to play in the NBA? No one yet. But Japeth Aguilar, a 6-foot-9 forward, attracted the attention of some NBA scouts and got a training camp invite for the Santa Cruz Warriors. And even without getting into the basketball analytics of Filipino basketball, Levy said the math looks favorable.

“With the number of people who play the game in the country,” he said, “in a country of nearly 100 million people, you would think there would be some talent coming out of there that would be NBA-ready.”