Cracking nightcap (at least in Japan, not sure what you call it here -- a sunrise special? a two-bagger in honour of my eyes?) as Spain edges Argentina 75-74 and Jorge Garbajosa, now a Raptor, is right in the middle of it.
|Get that Garbage out of here, Manu!|
Garbajosa stepped out to take what might have been a charge on Manu Ginobili's last-possession drive, typical of a very bruising and hard-fought encounter. Ginobili pitched out to an open Andres Nocioni -- if Bubbles would ever take off the glasses, he could well be Andres Nocioni -- but he missed a 3 from the corner and so Spain goes to Sunday's world basketball championship game against Greece. That may be a difficult assignment, with big horse Pau Gasol spending the last minute and a half on the bench, his left ankle wrapped in ice after turning it.
But back to Garbajosa, after frankly not being all that enthused about him off the earlier evidence of this tournament. I'd heard all this about his grittiness, but all I saw was the usual Euro big man who stands out by that short porch of a 3-point line looking to shoot.
There was more to like here. A crunching backcourt pick of Argentina's Luis Scola (one of three SA Spurs-owned players from the country), some solid down screens and as usual, some (international) 3-point shooting. He won his matchup with Scola, outscoring him 19-8 and drawing a 3-shot foul with a heady up-fake, then making a runner to end a productive offensive run just before the end of the third quarter that finally had me saying -- now I see what the more experienced scouts see. I'm still not sure how his game translates to the NBA, and there were some warts -- a too-quick 3 to start the fourth period, followed by a missed box-out that led to an Argentine basket; no surprise he went to bench for a blow shortly after -- but there's plenty enough to chew on until training camp.
As for Jose Calderon, he was -- all right. Just that. Seemed skittish and out of sorts to start, picking up two anxiety-induced fouls and a seat on the bench in a first quarter that had Argentina jumping out to a 13-2 lead. When Calderon left the deficit was a more manageable six points, but it was the backup guards, including Portland property Sergio Rodriguez, who brought Spain back into it. Calderon did look much more assured back at the controls in the second half, although he only took but three shots -- perhaps a good thing, that.
So here's the long weekend: Bosh and the U.S. against Argentina Saturday morning (6:30 a.m.) for the bronze and on Sunday (also 6:30 a.m.), Gasol willing, a gold-medal game that looks like it might be pretty good, including a couple of Raptors to watch.
Here's how the trio did today by the numbers:
Chris Bosh. Went in late in first quarter, had an offensive foul, jumped out to make a block, made a free throw. Back in with 2:49 left in second quarter, made a jam then was at the wrong end of an 8-0 Greece run and was taken out with 47 seconds left in the half, inspected for floor burns and never seen again. Line: Five minutes, 3 points, a block, a foul. Not a good night.
Jorge Garbajosa. Like I said above, did a lot of things beyond the scoring, and he did enough of that. Line: 34 minutes, 19 points, four rebounds, a steal, a couple fouls. Got to the line nine times and made eight shots. Good night.
Jose Calderon. Got it done when it counted after a mediocre opening. Line: 22 minutes, 7 points, no assists (! -- I coulda swore he had a couple, but FIBA's monitors didn't see 'em), couple steals, couple turnovers. Took eight free throws, part of a 33-19 Spanish edge at line that was critical, and shared primary ballhandling duties with backcourt partner Navarro. Okay night, but nothing special.