Blog Entry

2008 Olympic Men's Basketball

Posted on: July 9, 2008 1:28 am
Edited on: July 20, 2008 9:22 pm

Tracking 2008 Olympic Men's Basketball


Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2008 10:33 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

July 19, 2008 FIBA/OLYMPIC Semifinals - 2 Olympic Berths on the Line

Croatia    &nbs
p;   76
Germany     70
UPSET SPECIAL OF THE DAY!!  Croatia wins an Olympic berth by finally beating the German team that has stopped them the last several years!  A hard fought, well played game.  Croatia remains undefeated throughout this tournament play.

Croatia fouled Dirk Nowitzki almost every time he got the ball to prevent his outside shooting.  Both teams played strong defense.  There were hard fouls, technical fouls, and unsportsmanlike fouls called throughout the game, mostly against Croatia.  Croatia was up by 12 points by the end of the half, but Germany kept coming back, exchanging small leads in the late third and early fourth quarters.  But the Croatian team kept pulling away by anywhere from 4 to 7 points, forcing Germany to play catch-up late in the game.  Germany’s efforts fell short with 58 seconds left in the game and Croatia pulled away for the win.  Germany now faces a game against the loser of Puerto Rico/Greece for their last shot at qualifying for an Olympic berth.

Post Game Interviews:  Germany got 30 points and 13 rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki but Croatia overcame his heroic performance and won the semi-final at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Saturday in Athens to reach the Beijing Games.   Looking to return to the glory days that once saw greats like Toni Kukoc and the late Drazen Petrovic make Croatia one of the best basketball countries in the world, Jasmin Repesa’s team won 76-70 to secure a place in China. 

"It's a dream come true,” said Croatia guard Marko Popovic.  “This is a great success, a great gift for us, but we are not going to go to Beijing as tourists.  We are going to go out and play.  But first, we will celebrate.  I am probably the happiest guy in the world right now.” 

Croatia watched Germany come back from 12 points down to lead 49-47 at the end of the third quarter.  Repesa’s men kept their poise, though.  A three-pointer from Davor Kus followed a pair of Nikola Prkacin baskets, the second of which was a three-point play, to give the Croatians a 55-50 lead and they stayed in front the rest of the way.  Germany pushed Croatia until the end, however.  Dirk Bauermann’s team had a chance after fouling Kus with 34 seconds to go.  He made the first for a 70-67 lead, but missed the second.  Germany failed to get the rebound and they had to foul to stop the clock.  Marko Tomas, who had a team-high 21 points for Croatia, made one of two for a four-point lead and they held on. 

"Germany is a great team with a special player, probably one of the best in the world and we are just happy that we beat them,” Popovic said.  

;     &nbs
p; 88
Puerto Rico    63
Greece secures an Olympic berth and remains undefeated throughout this tournament.  The two undefeated teams - Greece and Croatia - play tomorrow for this tournament's championship; both teams are secure for the Olympics, so Sunday's game does not effect that standing.

Greece pressured Puerto Rico from end to end, forcing them to use most of the clock, or make turnovers, or they foul them so Puerto Rico has to replace their 3-point attempts with free throws.  Puerto Rico got off to a poor shooting start, shooting just 25% compared to Greece’s 75% to start the game.  Greece forced turnovers and capitalized on them.    Puerto Rico’s shooting percent improved to 44% in the second quarter while Greece’s declined to 67%; however, Greece was still outscoring Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico’s turnovers and Greece’s steals cost Puerto Rico points in the first half.  Orlando Magic guard Carlos Arroyo, PR, unfortunately left the game early with a calf injury and was not available for the rest of the game; he will not likely be available on Sunday when Puerto Rico plays Germany for the last available Olympic berth.

Daniel Santiago (PR) played a good game in the paint by blocking shots and scoring on Puerto Rico’s end, but still Puerto Rico trailed by the end of the half 48-35.  Puerto Rico’s 9 turnovers and Greece’s 5 steals made a difference, even as shooting percentages began to even out.  Puerto Rico never caught up in the first half of the game. 

Turnovers and steals continued to plague Puerto Rico in the third quarter as the team also saw their 3-point shooting percentage drop again to 29% and their 2-point shooting was 50% compared to 64% for Greece.  The score was 68-50 going into the final quarter of play.  In the fourth quarter, Greece broke the game open with more consistent scoring.  Technical fouls were called against both teams.  Greece finished by shooting 59% from 2-point range and 42% from 3-point range as opposed to Puerto Rico’s 38% and 26%, respectively.  Greece wins, 88-63.

Post Game Interviews:
Greece reconfirmed their standing as one of the leading sides in international basketball with an 88-63 blowout win over Puerto Rico on Saturday to clinch a place in the Beijing Games.  Dimitris Diamantidis led six players in double figures with 15 points in their semi-final triumph over Manolo Cintron’s team at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.  Puerto Rico, who lost Carlos Arroyo to a torn muscle in the second quarter, will now face Germany in the final game of the qualifying event on Sunday with the winner claiming the last place on offer for the Olympics.  Arroyo, Cintron said, is doubtful for the game. 

Greece, gold medalists at EuroBasket 2005 and silver medal winners at the FIBA World Championship one year later after upsetting Team USA in the semi-finals, looked as good as they’ve ever been in Athens this week.   "We have a very good team but whenever you play at home, you have to be concentrated and take energy from the fans’ power," said star guard Theo Papaloukas, who had 10 assists to go with his nine points for Greece.   "Everybody considered us favorites, but it's very hard to show it on the court. We were very well prepared and we did the best on the court   I think we deserved to take this ticket for the Olympic Games in Beijing." 

Puerto Rico battled until the very end but after falling behind 15-4 midway through the first quarter, they had to play catch-up and it’s never easy to play from behind against Panagiotis Yannakis’ Greece.  Cintron’s men managed to claw the deficit back to 29-23, but Greece then outscored the visitors 19-12 over the next five minutes to lead 48-35 at half-time.  With Arroyo leaving the court at the break with ice wrapped around his calf, having missed all three of his shots in nine minutes of action, it was always going to be difficult for Cintron’s team to come back.   Puerto Rico's Jose Barea (Dallas Mavericks) scored eight quick points after the restart to take his tally to 16, but every time Puerto Rico tried to seize the momentum, the Greeks always had an answer.

What has to encourage Yannakis is the continued development of players like the versatile Panagiotis Vasilopoulos and guard Vassilis Spanoulis, and the return to form of center Sofoklis Schortsianitis, the player who helped them so much in Japan two summers ago.  Vasilopoulos can defend against any player on the floor while Spanoulis is lightning quick on defense and lethal shooting the ball.  Schortsianitis, meanwhile, is as good a big man that exists in the game once he gets into the flow of the game.  The big man finished with 13 points and five rebounds in less than 13 minutes, while Vasilopoulos had seven rebounds to go with his 10 points.  Spanoulis finished with 14 points and six rebounds.  There have been concerns that Diamantidis is tired, but even he looked to be at best. 

"I think the players showed a lot of discipline and respect for each other," Yannakis said.  "I think if we keep on working and stay on the floor, we can have better results in the future."

So Greece and Croatia are in the Olympics with one more slot to be filled Sunday by either Germany or Puerto Rico.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2008 10:03 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball


Pregame Hype - Croatia v Germany:
ATHENS (2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - Those who think that the biggest challenge for the Croats is to participate in the Olympic tournament are wrong.  What excites them most is to beat Dirk Nowitzki. Besides, they know that only with a win against the team led by the Dallas Mavericks superstar they can be back in the Olympic Games for the first time after 1992 in Barcelona.  So the real challenge for Jasmin Repesa and his players is to beat Nowitzki, as the 30-year-old forward seems to be their eternal Nemesis.  Croatia's five consecutive defeats to Germany have taken place under the empire of King Dirk, and Croatia's coach does not mumble his words when saying that his great opponent is a player "out of this world" and "unbelievable".  However, the game is not just between Croatia and Nowitzki.  The German team scores 90.3 points per game, shooting 44% for three and 61% for two points and being almost perfect from the free-throw line (89%).  Besides Nowitzki, scoring 23 ppg, guards Pascal Roller and Demond Greene  look quite impressive, shooting 56 and 66 percent respectively from three-point land.  This is what the Croatian coach seems to fear the most, bearing in mind at the same time the second half of Germany's game against Brazil, when the "Cariocas" pressured their opponents without mercy in the perimeter, creating many turnovers. The Germans have good shooters, but their weakest point is the organization of their game.  Repesa talked also about the presence of Chris Kaman, with the L.A. Clippers center averaging 14 points (on 60% shooting for two) and 9.3 rebounds, filling the paint at both ends with his size and strength.  What about Croatia, then? For the first time, the Balkan team seems to get out of the shadows of recent years.  German coach Dirk Bauermann considers it "a well-trained team, with a clever coach, who knows very well what his players can do.  Their strengths are perimeter shooting and driving, and we must stop exactly these if we are to beat them and participate in the Olympic Games for the first time since 1992".  The most impressive feature in this year's Croatian squad is their team spirit. They seem to have left selfishness behind for good.  They score exactly the same points as Germany (90.3) and have similar shooting percentages from mid- and long-range, the difference lying in the free-throw line, where the Croats are 75% accurate.  They are also worse in rebounding (87 boards to 98), but better in steals (19 to 11), simply because they have improved in defense. Marko Tomas and Marko Popovic are Croatia's scoring leaders, with 16 and 15 ppg respectively, while Marko Banic has grabbed the opportunity of playing in injured Damir Markota's place (the Croatian forward has undergone surgery on his left knee after being injured during this tournament; Banic, already on the roster, got Markota’s playing time), shooting 12-of-12 from the field.  Head-to-head: The two teams have met each other nine times in FIBA major tournaments, with Germany holding the edge, 5-4. They have even beaten Croatia five straight times since their last defeat, in the 1997 European Championship in Spain. 

Pregame Hype -  Puerto Rico v Greece:
ATHENS (2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - On Saturday, Greece and Puerto Rico are vying for one of the two tickets that lead directly to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Basketball Tournament.  The winner automatically qualifies, whereas the defeated team will have a second chance in the qualification game Sunday.  The Greek team has the home advantage, the defense armament and the recognized skills of its players, whereas Puerto Rico will be lining up the experience of its basic players and of course its own "passionate flame."  Furthermore, the hosts of the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament count four successive victories over their opponents of the day, the coach of whom - Manuel Cintrón- admits: "we love playing with our back against the wall", to go on adding: "Respect to the Greek team is a given fact, but we will do everything in our power to win."  Puerto Rico averages 81 points, their strong point being their ease in scoring 3-point shots (with percentages amounting to 50%), while Carlos Arroyo has a 55% success rate from the 3-point line (11/20).  Three-pointers constitute the main way Puerto Rico attacks, since Arroyo is followed by Larry Ayuso (16.4 points) and Ricky Sanchez (10 points, 5 rebounds), being an extremely fast forward given his height. It is worth noting that in the game versus Slovenia, giants Ramos and Santiago put out some great efforts; in the first two games these two players had gone almost unnoticed.  What does Greece have to juxtapose to the sporting virtues and traditional toughness Puerto Rico has to show? Defense from one side of the court to the next, while the question remains whether NBAers Barrea (Dallas Mavericks) and Arroyo (Orlando Magic) will fall right into the trap.  It is also a foregone conclusion that the Greek team will try to play fast; besides, it usually plays with shorter players.  If Sophocles Schortsianitis is not ready, then Andreas Glyniadakis will get more participation time than in any other game.  Dimitris Diamantidis is called to prove in the head-to-head with Arroyo why he has been nicknamed 3D, while Antonis Fotsis and Vassilis Spanoulis will spearhead the offense.  Previous history:  So far, the two teams have gone up against each other five times in official FIBA competitions, with Greece leading by 4-1 victories.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2008 9:52 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

Hey Bengal, good to see you!  I was getting an echo in here, but an obsessive/compulsive basketball addict has to do what must be done!!  Besides, how would I know which NBA teams were signing good players or making dumb trades if I didn't follow the international game?  lol  I can say that Team USA better not be taking this for granted.  Slovenia did and got sent home.  Then Germany did and they are playing for their lives, even with 'star power!'  I love this game!! (I should get that phrase copyrighted! lol)  Gotta do today's summary!  C'mon back, bring a friend, plenty of empty seats!!  Coach K better be watching these games!

Since: Sep 24, 2006
Posted on: July 18, 2008 10:40 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

You must be looking forward to the games Ter! Incredible info. Funny how the longer the post and the better the info, the lower the score. I haven't stayed too much in touch with the Olympics for years. Many moons ago I would watch it all night every night!

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 18, 2008 9:25 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

Tracking NBA players/draft picks for FIBA games July 18:

Roko Ukic, Croatia (Raptors): 20 minutes, 3 pts, 5 rebs, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 1 foul
Joel Anderson, Canada (Heat): 30 mins, 8 pts, 11 rebs, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 0 steals, 1 block, 1 foul
Rasho Nesterovic, Slovenia (Pacers):  36 mins (of 40), 10 pts, 11 rebs, 1 assist, 5 turnovers, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 2 fouls
Goran Dragic, Slovenia (Suns): 19 mins, 5 pts, 1 rebh, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 2 fouls
Jose Barea, Puerto Rico (Mavs): 22 mins, 8 pts, 3 rebs, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 1 foul
Carlos Arroyo, Puerto Rico (Magic): 29 mins, 17 pts, 3 rebs, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 0 steals, 0 blocks,  2 fouls
Dirk Nowitzki, Germany (Mavs):  30 mins, 20 pts, 7 rebs, 5 assists, 4 fouls (stats not reported:  turnovers, steals, blocks)
Chris Kamen, Germany (Clippers): 28 mins, 12 pts, 14 rebs, 2 assists, 3 fouls (blocked several shots and played great defense)

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 18, 2008 9:02 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

Day 4, July 18, 2008 FIBA/Olympic Quarterfinals

Croatia    83
Canada  62
Canada did not qualify for the Olympics.  Croatia moves to the Semifinals tomorrow.

Puerto Rico   81
Slovenia    &nb
sp;    70
Slovenia did not qualify for the Olympics.  Puerto Rico moves on to the Semifinals tomorrow.  Note:  Slovenia lost two players to injury.  They had been considered contenders for the Olympics and led in the beginning of the game, but Puerto Rico made up the difference and outplayed Slovenia to win what could be considered a surprising upset; however, Puerto Rico has an excellent, competitive team.

Germany   78
;     65
Brazil did not qualify for the Olympics.  Germany moves on to the Semifinals tomorrow.  Note:  This was a highly contentious game that was close most of the way.  Brazil's Tiago Splitter and Germany's Chris Kamen did a lot of banging, and Splitter picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct foul in addition to four personals, which fouled him out of the game.  Leandro Barbosa (Suns), Nene Hilario (Nuggets), and Anderson Verajo (Caveliers) did not play for the Brazil national team in this competition.  Reasons unknown.  Also, the normal post game stats and roster were not posted by FIBA for this game.

;     &nbs
p;  75
New Zealand  48
New Zealand did not qualify for the Olympics.  Greece moves on to the Semifinals tomorrow.

Semifinal pairings:

Croatia v Germany
Puerto Rico v Greece

The winner of each of the above games qualifies for the Olympics.  The losers of the above games have a playoff and the winner of that game is that last team to qualify for this Olympics.


Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 17, 2008 1:39 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

Now that the brackets are set, the winners of the semifinals advance to play each other, but  both become Olympic qualified.  The losers of the semifinals advance to play each other, and the winner of that game becomes the third and final team to qualify for the Olympics.  Games resume tomorrow, 7/18/08.  Semifinals are 7/19, and finals (determine first, second, and third teams) is 7/20.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 16, 2008 10:11 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

The Quarter Finals are set.  They will be played on July 18.  Remember only three teams advance to the Olympics:

Croatia v Canada
Slovenia v Puerto Rico
Germany v Brazil
Greece v  New Zealand

For the semifinals on July 19:

Winner of  Croatia v Canada plays
Winner of  Germany v Brazil

Winner of  Slovenia v Puerto Rico plays
Winner of  Greece v New Zealand

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 16, 2008 10:06 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

Tracking NBA players/draftees in the FIBA games:

Joel Anthony, Canada (Miami Heat): 21 minutes, 7 pts, 7 rebs, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 2 fouls, 50% shooting
Jose Barea, Puerto Rico (Dallas Mavs): 17 minutes, 7 pts, 2 rebs, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 1 foul, 33% shooting
Carlos Arroyo, Puerto Rico (Orlando Magic): 33 minutes, 20 pts, 2 rebs, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 2 fouls, 50% shooting
Roko Ukic Croatia (signed today by Raptors, drafted by them in 2005): 24 minutes, 12 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts, 1 TO, 1 stl, 0 blk, 1 fl, 75% shtg
Chris Kamen, Germany (LA Clippers): 21 min, 20 pts, 4 rebs, 0 asts, 1 TO, 0 stl, 2 blks, 2 fouls, 67% shooting
Dirk Nowitzki, Germany (Dallas Mavs): 31 mins, 35 pts, 7 rebs, 3 asts, 2 TO, 1 stl, 2 blks, 0 fouls, 70% shooting

NEWS!!!  Samuel Dalembert (Philly 76ers) was "released" from the Canadian team today.  Coach Leo Rautins would not give specifics, but the following statements were part of the post game interview:  "I could say that it was a well coached game, but what I am saying is that my players talked to each other and we decided to move on with the players that want to be here. This is the whole thing with Dalembert. We have to talk with him, because we need some explanations."  Shortly after that, a press release from Canadian press stated:  "With star centre Samuel Dalembert off the team, Canada rallied from a 18-point third=quarter deficit to beat South Korea 79-77, earning a coveted berth in the quarter-final against Croatia.  The Canadians need a top-three finish in the last-chance qualifier to reach next mnonth's Olympic tournament - and they'll have to do it without Dalembert, the Philadelphia 76ers big man who was expected to give Canada some much needed depth up front.  Head coach Leo Rautins declined to reveal specifics about the incident, though his comments implied that Dalembert wasn't as committed to the team as the rest of the players.  'Everybody that's here now wants to be here, and wants to be a part of this team, and that's it,' said Rautins.  'Everybody here is playing for each other, and playing for Canada, and if that's not your agenda, you're not here.'  Rautins said Dalembert's relations with the team have been strained for some time.  'Something like this doesn't just happen in one game, or overnight,' said Rautins, who wouldn't say whether Dalembert left on his own or was kicked off the team.  'It's kind of something that's been brewing a little bit.  At this point, our focus is not that.  Our focus is the guys that are here, the guys that are sacrificing and giving up everything for each other, and that's the way it is.' "

In an interview before the games that counted toward Olympic qualification, Sam, when asked about Canada's first oponent Slovenia, replied, "I don't have a clue about Slovenia."  He also expressed difficulty with the international game and said he thought he'd be playing with Steve Nash (who hasn't played basketball for Canada in years; Nash spends his off season doing philanthropic work around the world and holding basketball and soccer camps for groups).  Other players said they didn't think Sam was prepared for the FIBA style of play.  Rowan Barrett questioned whether Dalembert, who was born in Haiti but became a Canadian citizen last summer, understood what he was getting into when he agreed to wear the red and white jersey.  "This is not the CIS, the NCAA or the NBA," said Barret.  "This is FIBA basketball.  It's a different animal.  I'm not sure that everyone who comes in necessarily has the background to fully understand what this is, and the type of a grind this is . . . the four games in five days, the eight games in nine days.  As taxing as it is physically, mentally it's even more taxing.  The bottom line is, you're thinking about the flag.  We're out here represenbting our country."

If Canada qualifies for the Olympics, they will be able to select a player to replace Dalembert.  This raises a question for me:  since all teams are allowed 5 reserves (6 for the Olympics), why can't a reserve be put into Canada's roster now as they continue to qualify?  The same kind of issue faces Croatia, who lost D. Markota to a miniscus injury today.  They will finish the qualifying games with only 11 players.  I have to check the rule books to see why the rosters don't allow reserves to enter once the games start.

It also raises an issue for Team USA.  Dwight Howard has been medically cleared to play after fracturing his sternum.  However, Tyson Chandler (New Orleans Hornets, also played on the USA team that won gold last summer in the FIBA Americas tournament, which qualified USA for the Olympics) has been named as one of six  Team USA reserves, but he is the ONLY reserve invited to practice with the team.

Other News:

In the Greece/Brazil game, things were very close and exciting for the first quarter and most of the second until an incident occurred.  The Brazilians kept it close and they trailed 22-20 early in the second quarter.  Things began to unravel midway through the period, though.  Marcelo Huertas, the Brazil playmaker, picked up three fouls and before he was taken out of the game, a confrontation with his Greece counterpart Vasilis Spanoulis led to the South American star being slapped with a technical and a fourth personal (totaling 5 fouls, the limit for international play).  Forced to exit the contest, Greece took advantage by building a 40-30 lead and they held a comfortable advantage the rest of the way.


Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: July 16, 2008 8:20 pm

2008 FIBA/Olympic Basketball

Day 3, July 16, 2008, Olympic Basketball qualifiers in Athens

Group A
Greece  89
Brazil     69
(some interesting news on this game coming in the next post!)

Group B
Germany    &nbs
p;      89
New Zealand   71

Group C
Canada 79
Korea     77
(some interesting news from this game to follow!)

Group D
Croatia    &nbs
p;      95
Puerto Rico   81

The Quarter Finals are set.  They will be played on July 18.  Remember only three teams advance to the Olympics:

Croatia v Canada
Slovenia v Puerto Rico
Germany v Brazil
Greece v  New Zealand

This is single elimination and then the four winning teams move to the Semifinals on July 19.

The Finals are July 20 and will determine the three teams that advance to the Olympics.  FIBA uses a point system for games played and games won to rank the teams in this tournament so the winner (and loser) of the finals advances and then point rankings determine the final spot.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or