Early Olympic favourites and a TV-movie conundrum
No big surprise that they won the European championship for the second successive time – they were silver medalists four years ago at home, too – and now the question arises:
Think they can beat the USA at the London Gams.
Sure, we’re just under a year out and no one knows for sure who’ll end up playing for either country but the prospects of a Spain-USA gold medal Olympic game – reprising the brilliant game in Beijing in 2008 – is truly enticing.
Spain has become – without doubt – the second most powerful basketball nation on Earth, surpassing Argentina and, in the distant past, Yugoslavia.
Every time I ask Jose Calderon why that’s happened, why a soccer-playing nation has become so adept at basketball, he tells me the same thing.
It’s a confluence of timing – who saw a group so spectacular arriving in its prime at the same time? – and an interest in the game among young Spaniards that grew out of the original Dream Team’s dominance at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
At that stage, kids in Spain were truly turned on to the game, it had been part of the sporting landscape but it got a huge boost in popularity among youngsters in the early- to mid-1990s, a boost that helped create the talent pool that led the formation of this current dominant, deep team.
(Yes, it is truly too bad that, say, Canada didn’t capitalize on that same phenomenon, I blame the Tall Foreheads at Canada Basketball at the time).
Anyway, if Spain returns the same team, and there’s no indication they won’t, I can absolutely see them being a legitimate challenger to whatever group the Americans come up with.
Remember Beijing? The gold medal game was in doubt until the final minute and remains, to me, one of the top seven or eight game I’ve ever seen.
With four more years of experience and playing together, and with so many of this year’s team still in their primes, to overlook Spain in London is folly.
The Americans, if they can get their best players, would have to be favourites today; but the gap is much smaller than many think.
Not sure how many of you saw this but stopped out to see the women before they took off for Puerto Rico (exhibition games) and Colombia (Olympic qualifier) and here was the end product.
I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now but the women stand a better chance of (a) being in the Olympics and (b) doing something when they’re there than the men. They have a better team, in comparison to their competition, and the reason is simple:
There are more Canadian women playing at the highest level of European basketball than there are men and that competition stands them in far better spread.
Spain, Russia, Turkey, all good leagues, all with Canadians in prominent roles and what it’s done is deepen the talent pool at, comparatively, the highest level.
I’m not sure if the women can get the one Olympic berth available at this tournament – Brazil can be formidable – but I have no doubt they’ll be in the final tournament next summer.
And with another year of top-notch competition, who knows how that’ll turn out.
If you need to get up to speed on what they’ve been doing, or what they are doing, Kim Smith reminds that she keeps a pretty impressive blog going at the Canada Basketball site.
If you click here, you can read it and, yes, I can handle the competition.
Okay, so Super Brother and a crony and I are standing around the saloon the other night and, because we’re us, all of a sudden the conversation goes off on a tangent.
And it left me trying to figure this out:
Is this better?
Or is this?
You can imagine the affinity I felt for Oscar Madison – there was a point in time when I was, you know, him – and it’s hard for me to pick one.
Me? I take the movie, with the admission I’ve never seen Neil Simon’s play on the stage.
And is this the best TV-show-to-come-from-a-movie ever?
I’d have to say so.
So, ran into the former head coach of the HOTH while visiting the peninsula the other day – that Starbucks on the Lane is like the meeting place for all the cool kids – and it seems the NBA’s keeping him kind of busy.
There’s this camp in Australia that includes the top 17-year-olds from Australia, New Zealand, China and Korea and apparently Jay and Alex English are serving as part of the coaching staff.
Not a bad gig, eh? Not only keeps their hand in on-court coaching, it’s kind of cool travel and the networking with other coaches can’t be a bad thing, either.
Man, did the Emmy’s suck, or what?
Sure, it was nice to see some clips and wins for Modern Family – a great, great show – and there were some wacky clothes (although nothing really out there, it seemed to me) but other than that?
And hands up everyone who felt cheated when Charlie Sheen took the high road?
Kind of cool that we know almost three-quarters of the field for the Olympics, at least for the men.
We’ve got Great Britain and the USA as automatic qualifiers and Tunisia, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Spain and France have earned berths.
All that’s left to do is determine the Asian representative – I think the smart money is on China – and then sit back and see what three countries come out of next year’s final qualification event.
For that one, Nigeria, Angola, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Russia, Macedonia, Lithuania and Greece already in with another two to come from Asia.
The interesting thing is going to be where that tournament is played. FIBA is likely to simply open bids with the biggest cheque winning the day and if I had to guess right now, I’d say we’re in Russia.
Most likely will be in Europe to lead into the London Games, and since Lithuania just hosted EuroBasket and Greece had the final qualifier four years ago, looks like Russia by default.
What I’d like to see, though, is Macedonia host it; that’d be a nice road trip for someone.