Posts Tagged ‘FIBA World Championships 2010’


The last day of the quarterfinals was played yesterday with a rematch of the controversial 1972 Olympics Gold Medal game between Team USA and Russia, with the day to be capped by the clash of the giants of Lithuania and Argentina.

Although USA and Russia played at 6 PM local time, the building up for the game started a few days before that, after Russia defeated New Zealand on Monday. American/Israeli coach David Blatt, who coaches the Russians, said that Russia deserved to win the 1972 Olympics in basketball despite the controversial call that gave the Russians three replays to get a shot to win the game. Things didn’t stop here, as Team USA’s coach Mike Krzyzewski responded back by saying that Coach Blatt is Russian. The game started off with six 3 point plays by each side, and the lead going back and forth until the first quarter ended with both teams tied at 25. Russia stared the second quarter strong and grabbed a 35-30 lead until Team USA started behind Andre Igoudala a 12-0 run and ended the first half leading 44-39 with Kevin Durant’s 19 points. Team USA started to increase the lead slowly, then after 2.15 m Russian star Timofey Mozgov committed his fourth foul, things changed with Russell Westbrook coming off the bench to score 7 straight points and increase the lead by the end of 3 quarters to 14 points. The 4th quarter saw failed attempts from the Russians to come back into the game, with Durant increasing his scoring total to 33 points, leading the Team USA to its seventh straight win, 89-79.

The night went on with a classical match between perfect Lithuania and Argentina. The game started equal between the two teams until Lithuania jumped on an 8-0 run in the first quarter to lead 17-10 and from there it was all Lithuania, who knocked 9 of their first 11 3-pointers and managed to keep World Cup scoring leader Luis Scola in check, limiting him to 13 points after averaging a bit more than 30 a game. The Lithuanians increased their lead to as much as 32 points in the second half, to win the game 104-85 behind strong performances by Linas Kleiza (17 points), Tomas Delininkaitis (16 points) and Matrynus Pocius (17 points) while Carlos Delfino tried to make up for Scola’s miserable performance with 25 points. Lithuania will play Team USA in the semifinals, while hosts Turkey will play Serbia on the other hand. Both games take place on Saturday, with the former game being played at 7:00 PM while the latter at 9:30 PM


After 11 days of competition, the World Cup should be getting tougher, and the great should be known from the good. Blowouts shouldn’t be expected, but underdogs overcoming the odds can happen anytime as we saw in Day 12.

In the first game of the quarterfinals, defending champs Spain played Serbia in a hard fought game that was decided on a near buzzer beater. Serbia came out strong early in the game, riding the hot hands of Nemanja Bjelica and Novica Velickovic – 21 points combined in the first quarter – to take a 27-23 lead at the end of the first. The second quarter played out as the first as Serbia increased its lead to 8 by halftime with the help of Marko Keselj off the bench. Spain started coming back slowly into the game with the help Juan Carlos Navarro (27 points) in the second half, and cut the lead to a mere three points by the end of 3 quarters. Yet the final quarter was the craziest, with Serbia jumping to an 8 point lead with four minutes remaining. Yet Spain wouldn’t die that easily, tying the game with 25 seconds behind Marc Gasol’s basket. Yet the Serbians, leading throughout the game, wanted to take revenge from the Spainards after losing to them in the Euro Basket final last year, and with 3.1 seconds left on the clock, Milos Teodosic knocked down a far straightaway three pointer, to win the game for Serbia 92-89 and shock the world with the win by knocking out the world champs and returning to the semis for the first time since 2002.  Velickovic and Keselj led a balanced effort for Serbia with 17 points apiece as Teodosic had 12.

Not as exciting as the earlier game, Turkey punched Slovenia hard in the stomach as the hosts ran over everywhere from trailing early in the first to take a 13 point lead by the end of the first quarter. It was a cruise from there, with Turkey never letting its foot off the gas, to win the game by 27 points, 95-68 to advance to the semi finals to play Serbia. This is Turkey’s third time in the basketball World Cup, and this will be its first time playing in the medal games, and what better way to have a first other than playing in front of your own crowd. Ersan Ilyasova had 19 points for the Turks while Bostjan Nachbar had 16 for the Slovenians.


The last day of the Round of 16 was as exciting as it could get. China gave Lithuania all it could handle, and the winner of the South American clash wasn’t known until the final seconds.

The day started with Lithuania, Group D winners, playing China, who won one game in their group play and still qualified. China came out strong in the beginning and managed to lead Lithuania most of the first half until Lithuanian star Linas Kleiza stepped up once again and had Lithuania on top by 5 at halftime. The third quarter was all Lithuania, yet as the fourth started, the Chinese slowly started getting back into the game, yet Kleiza, 30 points and 9 rebounds, scored 13 of Lithuania’s 14 points in the last quarter, keeping Lithuania on top comfortably everytime China got closer, and won the game 78-67. Liu Wei had 21 points for China.

The nightcap for the day was a South American classic rival match between Argentina and Brazil. After giving the American team a fit in group play, it was assumed that Brazil would make things hard if not win as well this game and play Lithuania. The game was even by the end of the first quarter, with Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino doing the job for Argentina while Brazil’s Marcos Huertas and Leando Barbosa scoring 20 of their team’s 25 points in the first quarter. The game continued to be as equal, with no team able to lead by a lot and by the third quarter the game was tied again. Insert Hernan Jasen for Argentina, who tied the score again after Barbosa knocking down 2 straight 3 pointers. Yet Scola’s 37 points overcame Huertas’ 32 points and his desperation three pointer to cut the lead to 2 points with 2 seconds left, to give Argentina a 93-89 win and a berth in the quarters to face Lithuania. Delfino had 20 points (3 for 3 on 3 pointers) and Jasen had 15 for Argentina, while Barbosa had 20 points for Brazil


As the Round of 16 begins, so do the importance of games. Every game now is a do-or-die for every team, and the best is expected to be brought out from every team.

The first day of the knockout stage was as exciting and tempting as it could get, with Sebia and Croatia tipping it off in a classic rival match. It is the first time both teams play each other in a basketball competition, as the Balkan neighbours fought a war in the early 1990s, and it was one of the best played games so far in the World Cup. Croatia came out strong, leading by 8 points at the end of the first quarter despite the Serbians making 8 of their first 11 shots. Serbia managed to cut the lead to 2 by halftime, and traded the lead 11 times with their neighbours, and eventually came on top by 4 by the end of three quarters. The last quarter started all Serbia, and the Serbians had an 8 point lead, 65-57, with 3 minutes to go, then Croatian guard Marko Popovic attempted to pull a Michael Jordan, impressively bringing the Croatians back into the game, scoring 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and managed to tie the score at 72. Aleksander Rasic was fouled and made 1 free throw and missed the second, making it difficult for Popovic and Croatia to win. Nenad Krstic led Serbia with 16 points, and Rasic had 5 points in the last 21 seconds as well.

In another rematch of the last World Cup final, Spain and Greece played the main event for the night, in an attempt to make it as great as its predecessor earlier in the day. Spain have beaten Greece in several occasions, including recently  last year in the EuroBasket semis. Spain and Greece kept on exchanging leads at certain points of the game, until the Spanish, with the help of Juan Carlos Navarro, 22 points, and Rudy Fernandez, 14 points (12 in the second half), broke away in the 4th quarter, winning 80-72 to set up a clash with Serbia in the quarters. Dmitrios Dimantidis, who retired internationally after the game, had 16 points and crucial blocks and steals, and Nikolaos Zisis had 16 points as well.


It’s this time of the FIBA World Cup, where 16 of the 24 teams advance to the Round of 16 to play knockouts, while the other 8 teams return back to their respective countries, wondering where did they go wrong, why didn’t they advance, and what do they need to do to make it to the next level.

This has been the same story for the Lebanese national team over the past 8 years. In three participations in basketball’s version of the World Cup, Lebanon has always been knocked out early from the tournament, always finishing in the bottom two of its group. You can always understand their performance in the 2002 World Cup in Indianapolis, where they lost all three games to Puerto Rico, Brazil and Turkey. Back then, it was their first performance ever on the world stage and there was a lack of experience in addition to that the other three teams were better than them. In Japan 2006, the Lebanese team made a huge improvement, despite how bad its basketball league was getting, and beat Venezuela in its first game of the tourney, giving the Lebanese hope of climbing the ladder to the Round of 16 as it needed one more win, preferably Nigeria to take its place. It lost to Argentina and Serbia, and then played France, a national team that has 4 players in the NBA (and I’m not counting Tony Parker since he was absent for the game). Lebanon beat France by a point, easily being the upset of the tournament, and suddenly making our national team looking one of the best after that historical performance. Yet that win in a way was useless, since Lebanon still needed to beat Nigeria in order to qualify, and if it wins, it will not only advance, but take a surprisingly second position in the group. Yet the lack of energy showed in the Lebanese team as they played the Nigerians, where Lebanon was trailing throughout the game by 10 points and could have always came back into the game, yet didn’t have the focus to do so, and since they lost their games in bunches of points, their point differential didn’t help and got them out of the first round again. Despite all that, Team Lebanon gave an impression that its next time would be memorable one and will finally get us to play knockouts for once with the big guys.

Well, 2010 in Turkey came, and for the third straight time, yes, Lebanon got KO’d from the first round AGAIN.

Why?

The Lebanese team was frustrated by the way it performed, and it showed clearly on their faces

Lebanon started off this edition of the World Cup in style by beating Canada. The game went well for the Lebanese team, who managed to turn a mid-3rd quarter deficit of 9 points into a 10 point win behind Fadi El Khatib’s magical performance, 31 points and 8 rebounds. After I watched that game, I personally thought Lebanon was going to defeat anyone it’d play, since  El Khatib and Rony Fahed were shooting the lights out of the ball, they looked so unstoppable, although the rest of the team didn’t perform as well, something that should have been taken into consideration because in its next game vs. France, it was obvious how bad things were. When El Khatib and Fahed struggled, no one was there to pick up for them. OK, Jackson Vroman had 19 points, but who else was there to score the points? Everyone saw how ex-NBA player Matt Freije knocked down three 3 pointers in the first 5 minutes, but no one cared to see that Freije shot 36% vs. Canada and 33% vs. France. Eventually, Lebanon were unable to repeat the upset, and lost by 27 points. Lebanon got a bye day after that, and prepared for the big game vs. New Zealand, a game that all Lebanese fans expected to win and would be more than enough to get Lebanon through (Finally!) to the second round. Well, think again. New Zealand were firing on all cylinders, jumping to a 32-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and only to improve after that to win by as much as 32 points. Things only went downhill for Lebanon, including a loss to world champs Spain. Funny to mention, Lebanon were actually UP when Jackson Vroman blocked Marc Gasol’s shot, only to get a foul and a technical to give him 4 fouls after that in the second quarter, giving Lebanon another loss, this time by 34 points. Now I am not saying Lebanon was going to win, but seriously, when Marc Gasol scores 21 more points after Vroman is out in less than 10 minutes, you got to give Vroman credit. The last game vs. Lithuanua was a game for Lebanon to save face, and try not lose by 27+ points this time. Guess what, Lebanon were very close again, and another dubious call on, yes, Vroman that pulled him out of the game gave the Lithuanians a break. Yet the game didn’t end in a twenty something deficit, and the Lebanese at a point could have came back into the game, but were unable to score, and eventually broke down in the end and lost by 18 points, putting them out AGAIN early in the tournament.

Let me tell you a few things:

1. When you are supposed to have “star” players, they should perform at a “star” level. This is Matt Freije’s stats in the World Cup:

vs. Canada: 12 points on 4 for 11 shooting (4 for 7 on 3-pointers)

vs. France: 11 points on 4 for12 shooting (3 for 8 on 3-pointers)

vs. New Zealand: 4 points on 1 for 7 shooting (0 for 3 on 3-pointers)

vs. Spain: 0 points on 0 for 3 shooting (0 for 1 on 3-pointers)

vs. Lithuania: DNP (Surprise!)

Seriously, were you expecting him to play vs. Lithuania? The best shooting game he had was  36% and in that game he failed to make a basket inside the 3 point line? Are you kidding me? This is your “star” player?

2. Ever heard of an assist-turnover ratio? Well, when your assists are double or triple your turnovers, that means your team is in good shape. Take a look at this:

vs. Canada: 10 assists to 10 TOs

vs. France: 11 assists to 17 TOs

vs. New Zealand: 10 assists to 21 TOs

vs. Spain: 5 assists to 20 TOs

vs. Lithuania: 17 assists to 16 TOs

That is just STINKING bad, especially that Spain game. FIVE ASSISTS? No one told them about passing the ball? The Lithuania game was good, which explained why they were hanging in till almost the end.

3. Bench production:

vs. Canada: 7 points

vs. France: 9 points

vs. New Zealand: 24 points

vs. Spain: 11 points

vs. Lithuania: 24 points

Usually, the bench should have AT LEAST 30-35 points so you can say that you have an effective bench. Basically there was Jean Abdel Nour, Ali Mahmoud and Ali Fakhreddine who were efficient off the bench, but that was about it. I mean, Eric Gordon was scoring these numbers ALONE off the bench for the US every night.

Players to praise: Fadi El Khatib, Jackson Vroman (despite temper issues that screwed him in three of four losses), Rony Fahed, Jean Abdel Nour, Ali Fakhreddine

Players that disappointed: Matt Freije

The rest should have played more, especially Ghaleb Reda, where I’ll never understand him only playing in trash time where he can be much better.

Overall, Lebanon’s national team for basketball had a tough draw, playing three of the top teams in the world and two mediocre teams. Yet after seeing those Spain and France suffer in group play while Lithuania proved to be a top tier, one would think Lebanon actually had a chance to beat those teams and New Zealand and make it to the second round. Yet these issues should be looked into before making plans to make the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2014 FIBA World Championships.

Despite all that, we are proud of our Lebanese national team. Go Lebanon!

No matter what, the Lebanese fans are always behind their team


The final day of the group play in the FIBA World Cup took place in style, with only three teams, Lithuania, hosts Turkey, and USA, advancing undefeated to the Round of 16. Argentina, perfect in its first 4 games, shockingly lost to Serbia 84-82, yet earned an extra day of rest in the process. Luis Scola led the way with 32 points, becoming the all-time leader in scoring for Argentina, who led by 13 early in the game but couldn’t hold onto it. Serbia wins Group A and will face Croatia in the Eighth Finals, while Argentina is set to play Brazil, who beat Croatia later in the day 92-74.

Lebanon had slight hopes in qualifying to the second round by defeating Lithuania big and having New Zealand lose big as well. As usual, Lebanon started tough with Fadi El Khatib knocking down his shots and managing to keep the score tied at 16 by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter began with Lithuania managing to break out, until a point where Lithuania was up 30-25, that the Lebanon-Spain scenario came back into play, with a questionable foul being called on Lebanon, that led to Jackson Vroman picking an unsportsman lite foul, leading to a six point play for Lithuania that sort of made the game difficult for the Lebanese to come back. Yet despite it all, Rony Fahed scored 13 of 19 points in the first half to keep Lebanon trailing by 7 by the end of the first half. The third quarter was something similar to the second quarter, with Lebanon being unable to contain the Lithuanians scoring, giving Lithuania a 13 point lead. Yet the 4th quarter started, and by 3 minutes of play, the score was 4-0 for Lebanon, who had in one play six chances, but were only able to score one point of them, giving in to Lithuania’s Gecevicuis’s 16 points and eventually winning the game 84-66 to take a perfect record to the Round of 16 and play China, while Lebanon, despite Jackson Vroman’s 15 points, will once again head back to Beirut wondering how can they improve themselves to advance past the first round after three unsuccessful tries. It is to be noted that starter Matt Freije, Ghaleb Reda, Elie Stephan and Rodrigue Akl did not play this game. On the other hand, New Zealand beat France 82-70 to face Russia, while France will play Group C winners Turkey.

Team USA had a relatively easy game and beat Tunisia 92-57 behind Eric Gordon’s 21 points off the bench, despite having it tough in the first half where the Americans were unable to hold a good lead more than a minute or 2. The Americans will play Angola in the second round.

Other Results:

Angola 55 – 76 Australia,  Jordan 73 – 91 Germany,  Slovenia 65 – 60 Iran,  

Puerto Rico 79 – Ivory Coast,  Greece 69 – 73 Russia,  Turkey 87 – China 40

 Spain 89 – Canada 67

Round of 16 Schedule

Saturday September 4:

6:00 PM:  Serbia vs. Croatia

9:00 PM:  Spain vs. Greece

Sunday September 5

6:00 PM:  Slovenia vs. Australia

9:00 PM: Turkey vs. France

Monday September 6

6:00 PM: USA vs. Angola

9:00 PM: Russia vs. New Zealand

Tuesday September 7:

6:00 PM: Lithuana vs. China

9:00 PM: Argentina vs. Brazil

 


4 days on the competition have past, and teams are starting to brighten up while other teams performances are being 180 degrees different from other games. After having a terrfic opener vs Canada, the Cedar Trees suddenly aren’t the same team, as New Zealand was another team to having a shooting perfection night against the Lebanese, handing them their biggest loss so far, diminishing Lebanese hopes of making the second round.

The game took a rough start for the Lebanese, as they were unable to get a shot off while the Tall Blacks came out firing three pointers from everywhere, not looking like the team that lost its first two games earlier in the competition. The Lebanese could never find their groove back in the game, especially with Jackson Vroman catching foul trouble (3 fouls in the first half) and eventually fouling out. Trailing 32 to 16 after the first quarter, the Cedar Trees play never improved, with players such as Matt Freije, who had two great games earlier against Canada and France, had finished with a miserable 4 points on 1 for 7 shooting.  At a point in the game, Elie Rustom commited a double dribble, a fault unacceptable in basketball and only commited by beginners. The game turned out so horrible for the Lebanese, losing 108-76, as it was just the complete opposite for New Zealand, who shot 57% from the floor, mainly due to their star Kirk Penney, who scored 26 points, including 6 3 pointers and Thomas Abercombie had 23 points as well, leading 4 other players in double figures for the Tall Blacks. Fadi El Khatib tried his best for Lebanon, scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, but didn’t have the help expected from both Freije and Vroman. Rony Fahed and Jean Abdel Nour had 12 points apiece. Lebanon’s hopes of qualifying depend on them winning one more game, while Canada must beat New Zealand to give the Lebanese one more win than the  former two countries mentioned.

Another disappointing performance came from the defending world champs Spain, who were leading by as much as 18 points through the third quarter. That 18 point lead wouldn’t last for long against the Lithuanians, who stormed back into the game behind Linas Kleiza’s 17 points and was helped by his teammates Martynas Pocius and Jonas Maciulis, who had 13 points apiece to win 76-73. After a great start for Marc Gasol (18 points and 8 rebounds), Lithuania double teamed him, yet his Spanish teammates were unable to take advantage of that, making things easer for Lithuanians to get back into the game. Spain might face Greece in the Round of 16.

Another important clash took place, this time in Group C between the undefeated teams hosts Turkey and Greece for the top spot (most probably). The hosts came up on top from the beginning, riding Ersan Ilyasova’s hot hand to take a lead that would never be relinquished. The Greeks tried bringing the deficit down, but they weren’t able to grasp a lead, giving them their first loss in the tournament 76-65. Ilyasova had a game-high 26  points for Turkey while Bourousis was the only Greek in double figures (15 points).

Other Results:

Russia 72 – 66 Ivory Coast

Puerto Rico 84 – 76 China

France 68 – 63 Canada