Hardly a brilliant debut, was it?
Yeah, that’s what it was over in Athens today.
Now we find out what kind of mental makeup the national men’s basketball team has because if it wants any shot at qualifying for Beijing, they have to beat Korea on Wednesday morning.
But you have to wonder how shaken their confidence is and if all the talk about being a team will hold up under adversity.
I still see ‘em beating Korea and getting to the quarter-finals but if they don’t play better than they did this morning, it doesn’t matter who they get in that game on Friday.
A key moment:
If they had a chance, it was to build a lead and when Jermaine Anderson got two fouls in the first quarter, any flow to the offence was lost. Backup point guard was always a problem with this team, we saw today why.
No disrespect to Andy Rautins and Carl English and whoever else had to initiate the offence but that’s not a role any of them play well.
|Canada got burned in the paint.|
A key problem:
Halfcourt offence. Non-existent, really.
Another issue that’s been burning for a while, they need to do something more than dump the ball into the post and have four guys standing around waiting for it to come out, or not.
That may work against teams with no inside presence – like Korea, I presume – but not against the, you know, good teams.
How’d you like the start of the game with no play-by-play? No offence to whoever that guy was that ended up doing it, but just watching the game devoid of commentary was all right.
Pretty cool to see those little Rasho floaters and up-and-unders again, wasn’t it?
And Slokey looks way more polished than he did when he was here, didn’t he?
And, no, I don’t think they should bring Uros back, as much as we’d like that ‘cause he’s a good guy and all.
Jaka Lakovic and Sani Becirovic are two prime examples of guys you’ve never heard of who are excellent basketball players.
I would surmise that the overwhelming majority of early-morning viewers were a bit taken aback by the Slovenian guards, who scorched Canada for the first half of the game.
But the world is littered with good players you haven’t heard much about. That’s why the game internationally is so cool, you get solid performances from guys you don’t know and then next year, when they do it again, you go, ‘damn, I forgot about him. He’s good.’
Becirovic’s 27, been with the national team for a decade and played for Panathinaikos last year.
Denver liked him enough to take him in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft but a knee injury really ruined any chance he had of coming over here.
He’s 30 and might have been the best player on Barcelona last year.
These dudes are no slouches.
And now, when you watch Euroleague games next year, you’ve got two guys to look for.
The one over is Athens is not the only Canadian men’s team in action this week.
Down in Argentina, the under-18 team is trying to qualify for next year’s world championships and there are a couple of kids you should keep your eye on.
Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 14 rebounds and Mangisto Arop had 17 and 12 on Monday when Canada beat Mexico 78-65 in its first game.
Had a chance to see Canada against some college kids in an exhibition game before the Canada-Lebanon tilt a couple of weeks ago at Ricoh and came away impressed with those two.
Canada gets Uruguay today and Argentina tomorrow. Four of the eight teams in the tournament qualify for the worlds next summer in New Zealand.
And besides the kids getting key international experience, head coach Greg Francis is building a resume that I imagine will some day land him the same gig with the senior national team.
Have been hearing for a couple of years how good a coach he is and watching him work his team that night at Ricoh, I saw why.
Just seems to have a calmness and a presence.
Here’s one from the mail:
Q: Just wondering if those new uniforms that I heard about earlier in the season are finally going to be unveiled for the 08-09 season. If so, have you seen or heard about what they're going to look like?
Sam C, Kingston
A: Oh yeah, they’ll be out for the start of the season. It’s a third jersey, all black with red trim, and I think I heard that they’ll wear them somewhere around a dozen times in the regular season.
Early report on Nathan Jawai at the summer league: Smooth, energetic.
Raw. Very raw.
But more promise than disappointment in his first game, according to people who saw it out in Vegas last night.
One thing to remember, though: Jawai is behind two all-stars, a former No. 1 overall draft pick and the Hump as the Raptors head into the summer. Expecting him to get more than garbage minutes is asking a lot.
Joel Anthony got a nice little gift just before the qualification tournament began.
The Miami Heat picked up the option on his contract for next season, guaranteeing him $711,000 or so next season.
Miami had until July 25 to exercise the option.
Notice that Roko Ukic was a DNP-CD in Croatia’s first game in Athens yesterday. All I can think of is that his contract status kept him out of the game because I haven’t heard that he’s banged up or all.
Was told the other day there’s no real glitch in the process, it’s just taking time to finalize the buyout, get the FIBA clearance letter (all players need one when they move from Europe over here) and get him signed to his Raptor deal.
That should get done this week, I’m sure his country wants it cleared up so he can play when the Olympic qualification tournament gets serious on the weekend.
Here’s some more mail:
Q: Just a question for someone reasonably old enough to remember: You and ESPN's Stein seem to remember the Buffalo Braves years with fondness, based on where you guys grew up I suppose.
What was the deal that the team got moved? Was Toronto ever in consideration for picking up that team, or was the city deemed too empty of basketball fans at that time?
Tim F, Monterrey
A: I’m not sure about My Man Stein (who I know has a fondness for all things Canadian) but my age and Niagara Falls roots made the Braves the team to watch.
The team got moved because the owner saw greener pastures out west and Toronto was never in the running.