Forget Dirk, forget Kobe, forget Yao, forget Parker. Forget LeBron, forget Manu, forget Bogut, forget Pau. Forget the superstars and forget the egos. Forget the names on the backs of jerseys and recognize the colors on the front. Forget everything you thought you knew about international ball. Forget about all the preconceptions you had about what makes a team great. These are the most elite players from the most advanced hoop nations in the universe. This is where talent takes a backseat to attitude. This is basketball at its finest. This is FIBA. Come get some.
Serbia’s suspensions might end up helping in the end, as Krstic’s three games and Teodosic’s two come before the two biggest tests of Australia and Argentina. If FIBA were serious about this they would’ve flipped the schedules then laid the wood. Gangster status.
Either way, this group’s big three takes turns whipping up on each other. Serbia beats Australia, Aussie takes Argentina who then beats Serbia. Germany beats who they should beat and nobody else, Angola takes down the Jumpman and Jordan goes home empty. Such is life.
Scoring: Carlos Delfino, Argentina
Rebounding: Luis Scola, Argentina
Assists: Pablo Prigioni, Argentina (when you’re this good and lack depth like Argentina does, stats tend to pile high)
Brazil was America’s biggest threat but their one clear advantage—interior play—has been compromised with the loss of Nene. Now they’re a team with a great top four in Huertas, Barbosa, Varejao and Splitter. Slovenia’s great but they’ll need to defend if they want to finish 4-1 in this group. Somebody’s only loss will be to the US, but I’m not sure who. It stacks up like this (teams in bold advance):
Scoring: Kevin Durant, USA (Dragic a close 2nd, but consistency/forcing has been an issue in the past.)
Rebounding: Anderson Varejao, Brazil
Assists: Marcelo Huertas, Brazil
Here’s how it plays out: Turkey beats Greece in a thriller on August 31st but comes into that game with a loss to Russia. Russia can’t acpitalize and loses to Puerto Rico as well as Greece—who’s perfect save that Turkish contest. As with the first two groups, the bottom of the group isn’t capable of an upset against any of the qualifiers and the Chinese take it to Les Elefants.
Puerto Rico: 3-2
Côte d’Ivoire: 0-5
Scoring: Hedo Turkoglu, Turkey
Rebounding: Peter John Ramos, Puerto Rico
Assists: Carlos Arroyo, Puerto Rico
This is without question—excepting Spain—the most evenly matched of the groups. The five teams below the Spaniards all hover just north of mediocrity at the moment and Lithuania’s pretty good-ness is enough to qualify them for Group D elite. Luckily, this sort of mix leads to some great games, crazy finishes and an advancement picture which may not be halfway painted by the final day of competition. We can only hope.
New Zealand: 1-4
Scoring: Kirk Penney, New Zealand (we’ve finally found more of a volume scorer than Kleiza.)
Rebounding: Joel Anthony, Canada
Assists: Ricky Rubio, Spain (Now with Calderon’s injury, I don’t think it will be close. He’s the only true point guard in this group.)
From there it looks like this (All-Tournament team and overall leaders at the bottom). I know this chart ain’t the prettiest thing in Turkey, but it gets the job done:
|1/8 Finals||Quarterfinals||Semifinals||Medal Games|
And now, for the individual hardware:
Overall Statistical Leaders (Average)
Scoring: Kevin Durant, USA
Rebounding: Anderson Varejao, Brazil
Assists: Ricky Rubio, Spain
Juan Carlos Navarro
Tournament MVP: Kevin Durant
*Politics keep Milos Teodosic out of the running. FIBA can’t reward the brawlers
Well that’s it and that’s all. Think you can do better? You know where the comments section is.