I really didn’t think I’d get into the FIBA championship this year, but surprisingly I’ve caught at least a little bit of each game. Either when they decided televise them 12 hours after they happened on NBATV, or on ESPN3 when I’m at work, and not so busy. As much as I was unimpressed with the names on the squad we put together, I was very impressed with how well they’ve come together over the past month. If you watched their first game and last game, you’d see a dramatic improvement. They finally looked comfortable together against Angola, and sent them back to their country. I was surprised to find that the U.S. was not the favorite to win the title. I guess not winning the tourney since 1994 is a good reason for them to be ranked lower, but still, shouldn’t the country that invented the game be the favorite even with the rules being much different than the NBA? I’d think so, and even with the B squad they should beat down the competition.
I’m sure some of my interest was piqued with Steph Curry being on the team. I don’t want him to get hurt, which I’m sure every Warriors fan echoes, but then again at least if he did get hurt, he would be playing basketball opposed to riding a scooter. One really cool thing I’ve seen from Curry so far is that he’s playing some solid defense, something the Warriors and him aren’t really known for. I’m not sure if it’s because the players he’s defending aren’t as good as NBA players or if he really IS playing that much better defense under Coach K. Either way it’s been a nice surprise, and I’m still holding out hope that he can make a few friends there and try to get them to come to the bay area.
Not surprisingly, Durant has been the go to guy. I didn’t think I could like him more than I already do, but his leadership abilities at 21 years young are undeniable. He’s beginning to be one of those guys that simply doesn’t have an off night. It’s getting a lot harder to not like the Zombie Sonics. The biggest surprises to me have been the two Timberwolves, Rudy Gay and Kevin Love. I guess I never really watched them play very much, so seeing them play this well has been somewhat of a shock to me. I thought Gay was a lot more one dimensional (there to chuck up shots), but he might actually be worth all that money he got this off season, bwhahaha, couldn’t finish that thought with out laughing. Honestly though, if you’re Minnesota you probably have to ridiculously overpay to keep a guy there. Kevin Love has been Mr. Everything. He does exactly what you need a big man to do without designing touches for him. I guess there’s a lot of upside with him since the T-Wolves sent Al Jefferson packing, and I’m starting to believe they might have made the right move for once… A cool thing I read about Odom on his reasoning for being on the US National team was that he wanted to own two championships in one year, something Kobe has never done!
A guy that’s disappointed me so far is Danny Granger. I’ve talked this kid up quite a bit over the last couple of years, but haven’t really seen much out of him in the FIBA action I’ve watched so far. Maybe putting him in as the power forward at times is a big reason he’s struggled being outsized, but then on the offensive end, you’d think he’d be able to take advantage of that. That hasn’t been the case, which is why he is my disappointment so far for the U.S.
Their game against a weak Angola team yesterday was an important win, and a statement that this team isn’t a pushover that it looked like at the beginning. Chauncey even said that they were like a team coasting after they already knew they made the playoffs. Yesterday they looked like a team that was ready, and in playoff form. Now they are three wins away from the goal they set out for themselves, and they do have an easy bracket.
I always found the FIBA format weird. I mean, it makes sense, but I’m not sure why they keep so many teams around. If you win your first game, and get into the elite 8, you are guaranteed to play three more games even if you lose!?! What’s even stranger is that, they have a game for the 5th, and the 7th place winner. It’s not a fantasy league vying for draft picks, so why does FIBA award 8 places? Giving out a gold, silver, bronze, steel, wood, paper mache, quartz, and since it’s in Istanbul they hand out baklava to the 8th place team. The baklava medal is really just something for that last place team to snack on while the other teams receive their medals. C’mon FIBA, how can you really recognize anything outside of third!?! Get rid of those extra meaningless games!
September 7th, 2010 at 2:44 pm
Team USA has been kickin’ ass and taking names along the way. In doing so they’ve been rather impressive. Now as they enter the knockout phase of the competition absolutely nothing now can be taken for granted .
What In The Wide World Of Sports … ?
tophatal ………….. 🙂
September 7th, 2010 at 2:57 pm
Shockingly impressive! I hope they keep it up, and bring home that title!
September 7th, 2010 at 8:52 pm
I hope they keep up they’re superb performance. They still have a long road ahead.
September 8th, 2010 at 8:04 am
My only worry is that they don’t become overly complacent as they’re now in the knockout phase of the competition. They’re rather inexperienced given the fact that only Odom and Billups have international experience at any level of play for the national team .
tophatal ………. 🙂
September 8th, 2010 at 5:02 pm
Yeah, that is a concern. Now that Spain is out of the way though, I think they should be good! I think they’ve looked a lot better as a unit since they started their friendly games, so hopefully that translates to success! If they lose, I think it will be because Durant has a bad game 🙂
September 9th, 2010 at 9:21 am
They’re going to have their work cut out for them against Russia — the team’s frontline is way bigger than that of anyone on the US team . Russia can throw two guys close who are 7′ ( 7 ft) and one who’s 6′ 11″. And that says nothing about the guys that they”ve got on defense.
The game between the two could go a long way in telling who could now end up being the presumptive favorites to win it all.
tophatal .. …………….. 🙂
September 10th, 2010 at 12:29 pm
And Kevin Love is on this team why?
I guess it’s too much to ask that the commitment to USA basketball didn’t end with an Olympic Gold Medal but I guess LeBron, Wade and Bosh had more important things to do this summer.
September 11th, 2010 at 10:54 am
Because all the other centers possible that was available to the US were injured or chose not to make themselves available for the team . Hence the reason why Love is there . That being said come 2012 an Olympic year then look to see all the usual names making themselves available.
tophatal ………… 🙂