After last week’s verbal beating at the hands (mouths) of my commenters, I’ve scraped up whatever ego I could find and collected myself for a re-do. Yes I listened to all of your complaints regarding last week’s power rankings and though occasionally valid, I’ve decided the only thing worse than a moron is a moron with no backbone, so I’m sticking to my guns this week and rating these teams based on talent, make-up, and a heaping dose of relentless subjectivity. The number in (parentheses) is where they were ranked last time around. If you’d like to sound off, I think you’re all familiar with the location of the ‘Comments’ section by now. Lights, camera, reaction:
1. United States (1): They’ll pick you up fullcourt. They’ll play four guards and outrebound you. Derrick Rose will make you forget about Chris Paul, and Andre Iguodala will make you remember Vince Carter. “Rudy Gay?” will become “Rudy Gay!”. And Kevin Durant? He’ll lift the MVP Trophy. Right after he kisses his Gold Medal.
2. Spain (2): Sergio Scariolo sees Carlos Suarez as an integral component in Spain’s future; I just see a coach who’s holding onto the past. Garbajosa and Mumbru should’ve rock-paper-scissored for the rights to stay on as Spain’s token oldie.
3. Serbia (4): I put them in the four spot last week, and I’ve felt dirty ever since. After a season that lacked definition with Messina’s Real Madrid team, Novica Velickovic will be called upon to be be a killer, a role he thrives in. Of the 288 ballers in this tourney, Novica might be the most critical to his team’s medal chances. If he amps it up, the Serbs go home with new necklaces. And now that Marko Keselj signed on to play three seasons with Dusan Ivkovic’s Olympiacos (also head coach of the Serbian NT), FIBA will be about earning some Euroleague burn as well. Extra incentive for a team that needs it the least.
4. Brazil (3): Remember when Sarunas Jasikevicius dropped 28 points on Team USA in the 2004 Olympics and NBA teams all scrambled to pronounce his name correctly and sign him to a deal? Say it with me Donnie Walsh: Mar-cel-o Huer-tas.
5. Turkey (5): Engin Atsur’s ruptured achilles has severely ruptured my mood for about two days. It was his turn to bust out with some much-needed point guard play. I love Kerem Tunceri but he doesn’t make plays like Engin. Time for ELA blogger Sinan Guler—aka “Turkish Chocolate”—to get busy. He’ll get up for the hometown crowd, best believe. Because remember: Guler Goes Hard.
6. Greece (7): All that fuss. And for what? One spot in the power rankings. Hooray for ELA’s version of democracy. If I sour on Turkey in the next week then they might crack the top five, but it’s not like that would satisfy everyone who thinks I’m incredibly f***ing stupid and should have my FIBA credentials revoked. I love you too.
7. Argentina (6): This roster’s more fit to win a shuffleboard tournament. They’re old and Manu-less, but they just might have one more collective run in them. Sometimes the old white guys at the YMCA whip up on the youngsters. Hard fouls, heavy picks and set shots. The Age Bowl against Serbia should be a telling battle.
8. Slovenia (9): All of the attention will be focused on Goran Dragic, and rightfully so. But it won’t take more than a quarter or two for the world to realize Sani Becirovic is as deadly as any Slovenian. If they let the shooters and cutters orbit around Uros Slokar, Primoz Brezec and Mirza Begic inside they’ll knock off one of the big dogs in the group. Don’t be shocked to see Goran drop 30 on Team USA in an extremely close game.
9. Australia (10): Australia should’ve been near the top of everyone’s “I hope we don’t have to face ______” list a month ago. If they weren’t, Aleks Maric thinks you should make the appropriate changes. Otherwise, he’s going to make your big man his bitch for forty minutes.
10. Puerto Rico (14): Renaldo Balkman’s been a joke nearly his entire NBA career, but we shouldn’t let the New York Knicks’ trademark stupidity get in the way of our perception as Renaldo’s skills. He never should’ve gone in the first round but I’ll be damned if this dude can’t guard all five positions in international ball. He sucks at performing basketball’s most fundamental objective—putting the leather through the nylon—but Arroyo, Jose Juan Barea and ELA All-Turkish Breakout Team favorite A.D. Vassallo have that aspect of the game down to a science.
11. Russia (8): If you’re here it means you’ve made it through one and a half of my power rankings, and you might’ve noticed that I don’t put too much emphasis on pre-tournament warm-ups, so everyone’s panic regarding Russia’s early troubles is premature. Slovenia, Puerto Rico and Australia all had weeks full of good news and healthy additions.
12. Lithuania (11): Just texted Kestutis Kemzura. Dragging his feet on naming the final roster. Killin’ me over here.
13. Croatia (15): In ESPN’s broadcast of Team USA’s Radio City scrimmage, Fran Fraschilla called Ante Tomic “the next Pau Gasol.” Well, then.
14. Canada (13): I am about to be a hypocrite, but I can’t ignore Canada’s dismantling of China in Vancouver and then France in Toronto—twice—the second in the form of an 85-63 shellacking. Yeah, I know what I said about not taking stock in exhibitions but I’m making an exception because this is my website.
15. France (12): Watching the game between USA and France as I write this and Boris Diaw looks like he ate a Volkswagen.
16. Germany (16): It looks like ELA has lined up a podcast with a German überblogger from Grubelei.de, so we’ll have plenty more to report after air date. Interested to see if he’s intrigued with his own team as I am.
17. New Zealand (18): Trying to think of something to say other than “Kirk Penney.” Drawing blanks.
18. China (17): A gazillion people and this is the best 12 you can find?
19. Lebanon (23): I had them at 23 based on nothing. I’ve now moved them up after looking more deeply into their sprinklings of past basketball competence.
20. Iran (19): The real shocker of this list here is Iran’s tumble. The internet community will surely let me have it for this one.
21. Angola (21): Does anyone in Africa ever beat these guys?
22. Cote d’Ivoire (20): I’ve been staring at a blank screen for about six minutes trying to come up with something witty to write about the Coasters. Make it seven.
23. Jordan (22): They’ve only been in the FIBA Worlds once before, and the second will not be the charm.
24. Tunisia (24): Snubbed again.