And the winners are ...
All right, we’ve got it all set up for what some people are seeing a dream world championships final and we may as well break down the semis right away.
I have to admit, I’ve kind of come around on the Americans a bit, they seem to be able to just enough of whatever it takes to win and while I’ve still got Luis Scola as my tournament MVP, Kevin Durant has been quite unbelievable. That said, I still wonder if they shoot the ball well enough frequently enough to withstand a really good team, which is what Lithuania is. The key may be their guard play and that’s where I think Chauncey Billups has been invaluable; he just has a certain calm about him. There is that whole thing about size, too.
As you may recall, I saw an awful lot of Lithuania in my week in Izmir and they were awfully impressive. It is, of course, the Linas Kleiza Show most of all and what you should watch for as a Raptor fan is his somewhat surprising ball-handling skills, much better than I recall. And Lithuania made, I think, it’s first eight three-pointers against Argentina and if they shoot like that, well, I don’t know that the Americans can survive. Lithuania also has some size in centre Robertas Javtokas, who really could have a big game.
This one’s almost too close to call.
So I won’t.
Okay, I will.
Lithuania by two.
There just seems to be a sense of inevitability to this Turkey team, some kind of destiny. They are unbeaten, backed by that rabid crowd you’ve heard so much about and they are, according to people who have seen them more than I did and whose opinions I respect, the best defensive team in the tournament. They seldom give up big runs or many open looks and once they start running, the crowd gets into it and they’re almost unstoppable. For the most part, Your Favourite Hedo has been quite average (20 points in the round-of-16 game was his best by far) but there’s a sneaking suspicion that he’s got a good game in him still.
Serbia? Well, they’re young and unproven and quite the surprise semifinalists in a lot of ways. You have to like guard Milos Teodosic, thought, he’s got big-game written all over him and that huge three to beat Spain was a clutch, clutch shot. Nenad Krstic has been really good but Turkey’s big and young and strong up front, I don’t seem him having that huge an impact.
As I said, there is just a sense that the Turkish team is going to do something special.
I’d say playing for a gold medal is pretty special.
Turkey by eight.
So I had a little chinwag with some Raptors people yesterday and I’m quite sorry to report there is nothing going on.
Actually, am trying to coast a bit through work so I’m not that sorry but I imagine some of you are.
Know what’s silly?
Making quarter-final losers at the world championships play games.
Yes, Spain and Slovenia and Russia and Argentina play today with the losers playing tomorrow and the winners playing Sunday, all so they can have some kind of “ranking” of the last eight teams.
Trust me, as a guy who sat through far, far, far too many relegation games following Canada in Toronto, Athens and Indianapolis, the last thing a team that’s been eliminated wants to do is play two more games.
The intensity level is practically non-existent.
Mail? Yes, please.
I’m thinking mailbag tomorrow and maybe a worlds thing Sunday morning or a mailbag tomorrow and blissful sleep Sunday morning.
Speaking of mail, let’s get this one up and out of the bag now.
Q: It's been fun (as available) watching the World Championship games. A combination of TV and internet streaming for me so far, so I feel I've been able to see a somewhat decent cross-section of games.
There have been two things I've enjoyed recently that are different from the NBA game.
First... the officials seem to "let them play". I know the NBA rules and FIBA rules are somewhat different, so it's hard for me (relatively new to FIBA watching) to tell if it's different rules or just different interpretation. Regardless - I've enjoyed it.
And I'm also really enjoying the FIBA ability to knock the ball off the rim. It seems to get everybody more involved._
Kate C, Toronto
A: The whole refereeing thing has been one that’s been a topic of conversation for the entirety of the tournament. I didn’t think it was too bad in Izmir but a couple of people in other cities said it was atrocious.
Yes, they do seem to “let them play” a bit more, lots and lots of moving screens, which I really don’t like because it’s something akin to blocking in football and watch when a guy has screen set on him, he always – ALWAYS – holds the guy rolling to the basket, which is never called and takes away some of the movement that makes the game so good.
As for the goaltending? I kind of like it, too but wonder how it’d translate to the NBA game, where the sheer overall athleticism of the players might make it almost too hard to score inside.
Remember way back in the day when Super Son dragged his cranky old man to the grappling? Well, it’s back again and so are we. Whoop-dee-damn-doo!
I wonder if Lord Athol Layton will be there?
Yeah, we’re down a pint or two here today, it’s one of those slow, slow mornings and there’s still a wee bit of jetlag hanging around.