Sunday, August 10, 2008

Men's Olympic Basketball -- Day 1 + 2

USA 101 - China 70

Let's see Chris Paul do this!

Pretty much everyone saw this coming, you know, the redeem team coming out and winning despite showing some flaws. All that really needs to be said is that the final score was USA 101 - China 70. The United States had 54 bench points, and if it wasn't for an early three point barrage by the Chinese, this game would have been over much before halftime. The Americans shot 54.3% from the field, had a +3 rebounding margin, +5 on assists, made the Chinese turn it over 18 times and won steals 14 to 2. Yi, particularly, played like ass when it counted. Yao Ming can't do it all by himself.

LeBron had 18/6/3/1/3, and was pretty much a beast. Dwyane Wade (off the bench) "was unstoppable" (KOGOD, via Deadspin), and had 19,0,2,2,0 off of perfect shooting (5-5 fg, 7-7 ft). Both bench point guards (Chris Paul and Deron Williams) clearly outplayed Jason Kidd. Kidd played only 13 minutes, but managed to have zero assists and 3 turn overs. He also added 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. He did not take a shot and did not score. Deron had 9 points (3-7, 1-3, 2-2), 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. Chris had 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Photographed by unknown,  

Boozer (or Betrayal Skull Dude, according to the Cleveland Plan Dealer's interpretation of Chinese  nicknames for NBA players) played 8 mins (2nd least of all Americans to Tayshaun Prince) and managed to get 5 points, 3 boards, 1 assist and 1 steal in that time (shooting 1-2, and 3-4 from the ft line). Michael Redd was great off the bench and hit a lot of threes -- something the Americans will need a lot of, as the rest of the teams are going to zone against the USA.

USA faces Angola on next, and China fights for their lives against Spain -- both on Tuesday.

Russia 71 - Iran 49

Ehadadi, how does my @ss taste? The Russian team (that won the FIBA Europe tournament, even beating Spain on their homecourt in the finals) is a good team. They are a good team because they control the tempo of the game and really slow it down and play super defense. After the 1st quarter it was Russia 24 - Iran 5. They only won by 22 points, but they (like the Americans) shot 50% while holding the other team in the 30% range. Russia had a +12 turn over mark, had +9 more steals and did it on defense. We've seen this Iranian team before, and know that they aren't at full strength. They are fast and can catch fire from deep (like the Golden State Warriors, in that regard), they did manage to hurt the Russian zone by shooting 43.8% from deep. (Something the Americans would not be able to do, methinks) That Hamed Ehadadi guy had 9/8/2/1/2 in 34 minutes of action. Mohammad Samad Nikkhah Bahrami did his Iverson impersonation and had 16 points off of 16 shots. This is the Russian defense displaying their ability to play other teams' tendencies against themselves. Andrei Kirilenko did his all around point forward thing by getting 15 (5-7, 1-2, 4-5), 5, 0 assists (surprising!), 1 steal and 3 blocks. Viktor Khryapa and Sergei Monya had bad games, but American born point guard John Robert Holden (or as ESPN thinks, "Kholden") had 19 points, 3 boards, 3 assists and 5 steals.
Photographed by unknown,  

Russia faces off Croatia next, while Iran faces the Lithuanian team -- both on Monday

Lithuania 79 - Argentina 75

No NBA refs = if it's not a foul, it's not called as one, Manu Manu goes down! Linas Kleiza hit the game winner in this game, making a shot but leaving the Argentines enough time to respond -- but they botched the play while Ginobli (totally out of character) complained to the refs. "It was not a difficult shot . . . I was able to knock it down," (Linas Kleiza,via webpage) said after the game. The NBA players for the losing team all had solid games: Luis Scola had 10 and 6, Andres Nocioni had 15 and 9, Fabricio Oberto had 9 and 11, and Manu had 19 (but he and Noce went a combined 2-14 from downtown). Recently departed Carlos Delfino had 13, 6, 2 and 3 off the bench.

Yet they still lost as Ramunas Siskauskas, Robertas Javtokas, Sarunas Jasikevicius (also 8 dimes), Kleiza and Marijonas Petravicius all had 10 or more points in a balanced attack. The Lithuanians (as some Americans have not completely blocked out) are a great outside shooting team and almost shot better from three than they did overall: 40% 3pt to 43.1% fg !!!
Photographed by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images  

Lithuania looks to go 2-0 when they play Iran (on Monday), while Argentina faces Australia on Tuesday

Spain 81 - Greece 66

Spain's Rudy Fernandez and Jose Manuel Calderon display their worldclass athlethcism whenver they play Beatdown city, Beijing, China. This game was supposed to be as entertaining as the Lithuania vs. Argentina game, though this was quite one-sided as Spain exploded in the 3rd quarter to solidify a 16 point lead heading into the 4th. Hardwood Paroxysm took the time to LiveBlog this game, and you can read it here. Spain is just too talented for the Gestalt approach that Greece brings (maybe they need Kosta Koufos after all?), as Pau Gasol, Jose Manuel Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and alternate stars Raul Lopez, Marc Gasol and Jorge Garbajosa are all capable of playing excellent ball. Spain is both big (Marc Gasol), talented (Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro), fast (Jose Manuel Calderon, Ricky Rubio) or really athletic (Rudy Fernandez). In fact, Spain may be the 2nd best team (on paper) in the entire Olympics. The game would have been much closer had Greece not shot 11-24 from the Free Throw line, or alternatively, if Spain didn't shoot 22-25 from the stripe.

I don't even need to go over the stats for this one. Needless to say, Vasileios Spanoulis, Dimitrious Diamantidis, Konstantinos Tsartsaris, and Antonios Fotsis need to regroup and play their style of ball -- ball that has been very successful in previous years.
Photographed by unknown,  

 Spain faces China, while Greece will have their hands full with Germany, both on Tuesday

Croatia 97 - Australia 82

Bogut needs to be more of an intimidating force if he wants to stop guys like Nikola Prkacin from waltzing in shooting 5-5 every game Some may suggest that the Boomers awful start (down 14 - 21 after one) killed them, in an otherwise really close game. I, rather, point to the fact that their 2nd quarter showing (down 17 to 26) was much worse. It's going to be hard for Australia to beat any team -- let alone teams that are better than they are, like Croatia -- when their best player (Andrew Bogut) only shoots the ball three times, and finishes with 10 points, 1 rebound and no blocks. The Aussie's still shot 50.8 fg% for the game, but need to learn to play defense -- Croatia worked the ball for good shots and ended up shooting 66.7 fg% for the game, and even shot 12-16 (75.0%) from three. That's never going to get it done.

Croatia is a strong squad -- and didn't even bring all of their best players to this tournament. In fact, there are no NBA guys on this team (as Gordan Giricek isn't even asked to play for them, and Zoran Planinic is no longer playing for the shitty US dollar). There will be enough time to say good things about the play of Zoran, Roko-Leni Ukic and Marko Banic during the rest of the games -- lets focus on the bench. Nikola Prkacin (16 points, 5-5 and 6-7), Marko Tomasovic (12 points, 4-6, 4-4 from three) (aka. Marko Tomas) and Kresimir Loncar (10 points, 10 rebounds, 1 three) really brought it for Croatia, and arguably, played better than the three best Aussie starters.
Photographed by unknown,  

Croatia faces Russia on Monday, Australia will tip off against the Argentines on Tuesday

Germany 95 - Angola 66

Laufwerk Die Driven! While Angola held tough in the first quarter, Germany exploded for 29 points in the 2nd, and the rout was on. The German twin towers had 24 (Chris Kaman) and 23 (Dirk Nowitzki) respectively. The Rhinelanders were just too big for the quick, but smaller Angolans -- Jan-Hendrik Jagla came of Germany's bench to have collect half as many rebounds (11) as the Angola had all game (22) ... and he did so in only 18 minutes. Germany displayed a very efficient attack (58.6 fg%, 55.0 3pt%), but one wonders just how well they would perform against a larger club (like China or Russia), or a more talented one (like Spain, Argentina or the United States).

For Angola, only Eduardo Mingas (think Gilbert Arenas, but shorter) shot above 50%, as he finished with 24 points. The rest of the starters for the FIBA Africa champions shot 5 for 25 combined. That's not going to get it done. I fully expect Olimpio Cipriano, Milton Barros, Joaquim Gomes, Armando Costa and Carlos Morais to play better in the next game. Well, I actually don't. They will play the United States in the next game. Poor poor Angola still hasn't recovered from the abuse Barkley gave them.
Photographed by unknown,  

Germany faces off against a hungry Greek squad, while Angola gets to tangle with the USA on Tuesday


Group A   Wins Losses Points   Group B   Wins Losses Points
Croatia Croatia 1 0 2   Germany Germany 1 0 2
Lithuania Lithuania 1 0 2   Spain Spain 1 0 2
Russia Russia 1 0 2   United States of America USA 1 0 2
Iran Iran 0 1 1   Angola Angola 0 1 1
Argentina Argentina 0 1 1   Greece Greece 0 1 1
Australia Australia 0 1 1   China China 0 1 1