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DeRozan at Media Day

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Says World Cup Helped Him

The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan did not have a big role on the FIBA World Cup Gold medal winning Team USA, however, he says his experience will help him grow as a player according to Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe.

“It felt great,” DeRozan said. “Especially to play at this level with these great players that you can learn so much from and just to take this same energy and the same experience back. It can’t do nothing but help you.”

VIDEO: DeRozan says World Cup win will help him as a Raptor

 

 

 
 

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

No Contest, USA Wins FIBA World Cup Gold, Kyrie Irving MVP

Serbia was not expected to be in the Gold Medal game against the United States and after a high energy start that saw the underdogs go up 15-7 early in the first quarter, the game became a shooting and rebounding display by the USA and turned into a blowout early in the second quarter.

  It quickly became obvious Serbia was just happy to be here once the game turned. They had already “won” this tournament by going home with the Silver. USA cruised to a 129-92 victory and never trailed after DeMarcus Cousins tied the game at 15-all on a pair of made free throws with 4:51 left in the first quarter.  

 

USA vs. Serbia boxscore

Kyrie Irving shot 6-6 from three-point range and led all scorers with 26 points. He was named the tournament MVP. Team USA captain James Harden scored 23 points and Cousins helped swing the momentum in his team’s favor after Anthony Davis picked up two quick fouls. Cousins finished with 11 points and 9 boards.

“DeMarcus Cousins had about five plays right in the middle of the first half that really turned positive – 8 points, 10 points – for us and then our whole team gelled,” USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said during the post game press conference.

“This is by far the biggest accomplishment of my life so far,” Irving said. “This feels amazing. This is one of the greatest feelings that I’ve ever felt.”

22-year-old forward Nikola Kalinic led Serbia with 18 points on 8-9 shooting from the field.

The well-deserving tournament All-Star Five were Kenneth Faried, Pau Gasol, Nicolas Batum, Kyrie Irving and Milos Teodosic.


USA – Serbia post game press conference

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Valanciunas and Batum

Valanciunas And Batum Battled For Bronze At FIBA World Cup

In a game that came down to a free throw contest in the final minute after the Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas and the Portland Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum had traded baskets all game, it was France finally winning the Bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup in Spain 95-93.
 


 

Both Valanciunas and Batum played over 34 minutes and kept their respective teams in this contest. Batum led all scorers with 27 points on 8-12 shooting and 9-11 from the free throw line. Valanciunas led Lithuania with 25 points and 9 rebounds on 8-12 shooting and 9-10 from the charity stripe. However, it was the savvy veteran play of the Spurs Boris Diaw hitting improbable shots around the basket in the fourth quarter that swung the game in France’s favor. Diaw played over 33 minutes and scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting.

Valanciunas spoke with Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe after the game.

VIDEO: Valanciunas says FIBA World Cup has been a learning experience

“I have grown every time I’ve stepped on the court,” Valanciunas said. “So I feel I’ve got something.”
 

 
NBA training camps open in about two weeks.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Rudy Gay Kings by Paul Saini (Fylmm.com)

Kings Rudy Gay Got A Fractured Jaw Vs. Lithuania

The Sacramento Kings Rudy Gay will be sidelined for Team USA’s Gold Medal game versus Serbia after receiving a fractured jaw in Thursday’s semifinal game against Lithuania according to USA TODAY Sport Sam Amick.
 

“I’ve got a fracture in my jaw, a broken tooth and am going to probably need a root canal,” Gay told USA TODAY Sports. “The top is where I got hit. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable, and it still bleeds, so I’ve got to continuously gargle. It is what it is, man.”

 

Gay was hit in the mouth by one of the Lavrinovic twin brothers who have played a very physical FIBA brand of basketball for a long time.

“I don’t even remember,” Gay said. “I couldn’t tell them apart.”

The incident happened in the third quarter and was the likely cause of the typical basketball ‘scuffle’ between the two teams broken up by USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“I just wanted to get in the middle and I figured they wouldn’t hit an old man,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m Polish, I knew the Lithuanians were friends. I could be somebody who – those two things – Polish and being old, I figure that’s a good separator.”

 

 

 

Note: Sportando reports Gay will play against Serbia in the Gold Medal game, but it seems unnecessary and very unlikely his club team would support such a decision.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Display photo credit Paul Saini, Fylmm.com

 

 

DeMar DeRozan interview by Paul Saini (Fylmm.com) cropped

Raptors DeRozan Says USA Won’t Take Teams Lightly

The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and virtually everyone on Team USA knows they can’t take other teams lightly if they want to win Gold at the FIBA World Cup in Spain.

“I am not surprised about anything in international competition,” USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “All these teams are good. That is why we haven’t mentioned anybody that we might play because we don’t know if we might play. We can lose. If we feel we can lose, then anybody else can lose because there are so many good teams.”

Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe talked to DeRozan after Team USA’s win over Lithuania that put Team USA in the Gold medal game on Sunday.

“We understand that there are still a lot of things at stake,” DeRozan said. “We can’t take nobody lightly.”

DeMar DeRozan “We can’t take nobody lightly”

 

The lesson of Spain’s elimination by France is not lost on the American team.

 

Team USA knocked off Lithuania 96-68 on Thursday to advance and with so many players who know each other well as in the case of DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas who are from the same club team, but representing different countries, there is a significant amount of goodwill at these international competitions.

 

 

On Sunday, the USA goes for Gold against winner of the semifinal game on Friday between Serbia and France.

Lithuania plays in the Bronze Medal game on Saturday.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Irving and Thompson

USA Advances To Gold Medal Game At FIBA World Cup

For three of the four quarters Lithuania managed to hang with Team USA, but a third quarter scoring explosion by the Americans proved to be too much for the Lithuanians to handle and the US won by a wide margin.  The 96-68 score wasn’t indicative of how hard Team USA had to fight.

As expected, Lithuania played a tough physical game, however, it was the Americans that got into the early foul trouble and both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins fouled out. Kenneth Faried, who has been tearing up defenses all tournament, was held to just 9 points and 6 rebounds.

At half, USA was fortunate to be leading 43-35, primarily on the strong play of Klay Thompson’s 6-11 shooting for 14 points. Lithuania’s small forward Mandaugas Kuzminskas was able to take advantage of James Harden and the US smaller lineup for 12 points and 7 boards in the first half.

“Klay’s play in the first half was the biggest reason we were ahead at half time,” USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said during the post game press conference.

The USA opened the second half at a new pace and started converting opportunities into points. Kyrie Irving turned it up a notch and Harden got mad, finally taking advantage of his mismatch at the offensive end. The third quarter quickly turned into a 33-14 blowout for a plus 20 point lead that the US never gave back.

“Kyrie was special in this game,” Krzyzewski said. “In the third quarter, he got us moving.”

Irving led all scorers with 18 points on 8-15 shooting. Thompson and Harden finished with 16 points each.

Kuzminskas was held to just 3 second half points to finish with 15 points and 9 rebounds.

Without their starting point guard Mantas Kalnietis, Lithuania has turnover problems and the US was able to take advantage of the 21 Lithuanian turnovers to score 24 points. Adas Juskevicius stepped in to play big minutes at the point against the Americans and scored 12 points despite going 1-8 from the field as he was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line.

Inside, Jonas Valanciunas contributed 15 points on 11-13 free throws and 7 boards and was the primary reason why the American big men were in foul trouble.

 

USA v Lithuania – Post Game Press Conference – FIBA 2014 Basketball World Cup

 

USA vs. Lithuania Boxscore

 

Lithuania moves on to the Bronze Medal game against the loser of the other semifinal between Serbia and France on Saturday.

The USA goes for Gold against the other semifinal winner on Sunday.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 
 

Diaw and Gobert

Spain Stunned By France 65-52 At FIBA World Cup

A hometown crowd of 13,673 in Madrid were stunned into near silence as Spain was upset 65-52 with a 12-2 run over the final 2.5 minutes by Les Bleus. The powerhouse combination of veterans Pau and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka were outworked and outhustled by France’s pair of 22-year-olds Rudy Gobert and Joffrey Lauvergne and the veteran Boris Diaw.

Spain had cruised through pool play and the first elimination contest averaging over 88 points per game and never facing a real threat to their supremacy. Even France had bowed down without a fight 88-64 earlier to Spain. However, in the quarterfinals match, France controlled the pace, slowed the game down to a crawl and Spain found themselves in the uncomfortable position of playing from behind for nearly the entire contest.

It didn’t help that Spain shot 2-22 from behind the arc, but France wasn’t doing much better from deep at 6-25, however, the real reason for Spain’s problems came on the glass where France hammered them 50-28 thanks to an unexpected 13 rebounds from Gobert and 10 from Lauvergne.

France’s defense was on target all game and held Spain to just 32 percent shooting from the field and the soon-to-be Jazz sophomore Gobert was a big reason for Spain’s inability to dominate in the paint like they had all tournament. Gobert was only credited with one blocked shot, but he changed many others and was key to keeping the Spanish big men from taking over this game.

At the other end of the court, the Spurs Diaw had an effective 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists to lead France in scoring and point guard Thomas Heurtel had 13 points on 4-7 shooting.

The Bulls Pau Gasol led all scorers with 17 points on 7-12 shooting, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, but the Grizzlies Marc Gasol, Thunder Ibaka and Timberwolves Ricky Rubio each shot 1-7 from the field to seal Spain’s fate.

An unexpected and devastating loss for Spain on their home turf to their biggest European rival who was without their best player is a shock to the fans, tournament organizers and to Team USA. The Americans were game planning for a gold medal match against Spain and now will not have to face the only team expected to threaten them.

Boxscore: Spain vs. France

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

TOR DeRozan Valanciunas

Raptors DeRozan And Valanciunas To Meet At FIBA World Cup

Raptors teammates DeMar DeRozan with Team USA and Jonas Valanciunas representing Lithuania are poised to meet in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup in Spain and Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe has the two NBA stars talking about the game on Thursday.

DeMar DeRozan looking forward to facing Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas looking forward to possible DeMar DeRozan clash

“They are a really, really good team,” Valanciunas said.

Valanciunas and Asik

Valanciunas And Asik Battle As Lithuania Eliminates Turkey

It was a battle of the big men as the Raptors Jonas Valanciunas and the Pelicans Omer Asik went head-to-head in a quarterfinal match that saw Lithuania advance to the semifinals and Turkey get eliminated at the FIBA World Cup in Spain.

With the seven-foot shot blockers patrolling the paint and the referees following the no-blood-no-foul rule, this game became a three point shooting contest and Turkey just couldn’t match Lithuania’s wealth of jump shooters. Lithuania shot 10-19 from three point range while Turkey bricked their way to 3-18 from deep and the result was a 73-61 win for Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas.

Lithuania v Turkey – Post Game Press Conference – 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (Lithuania starts at 16:00)

“Today when Asik was playing inside he concentrate under the basket and we have a lot of space on the perimeter and we did a great job on this,” Kazlauskas said at the post game press conference. “We are playing without a point guard. We are playing the whole time with shooting guards. That’s why we are making good three-point shots.”

Just before the start of the World Cup, Lithuania lost starting point guard Mantas Kalnietis in a friendly with Croatia and it looked like their tournament hopes for a medal were going to go with him.

“We lost Kalnietis, I was thinking that there was a huge problem,” Kazlauskas said. “Last season he was among the five best players in the European championships. He is everything for this team and I am very happy how we are playing without him.”

Turkey’s Head Coach Ergin Ataman was more than a little upset at the loss and laid much of the blame at the feet of the referees. He couldn’t understand how Asik only got the free throw line twice in the game.

“Asik played 28 minutes,” Ataman said. “We tried to give many balls inside. He got only one time on the free throw line (pause) only one time (pause). Terrible referees.”

Lithuania had 20 personal fouls in this game to 21 for Turkey and it could be argued the referees swallowed their whistles at times, however, they were pretty consistent.

Where Asik shot 5-10 from the field for 10 points, 11 rebounds and 1-2 from the free throw line, Valanciunas was 5-9 shooting for 12 points, 13 rebounds and 2-2 from the free throw line and Valanciunas picked up a technical foul for arguing a foul call after feeling he was stopped the same way at the other end on the previous play. There was no sympathy for the big guys inside from the referees in this game and Valanciunas had the ugly red welts running down his arms to prove it.

Turkey somewhat wasted the free throw opportunities they did get going 12-17 from the free throw line while Lithuania was an efficient 9-11.

Lithuania’s Renaldas Seibutis led all scorers with 19 points going 3-3 from three point range and he was supported from deep by Martynas Pocius (3-5) 13 points and Darjus Lavrinovic (3-4) 11 points.

While Lithuania relied on three-point shooting to win this game, they used Valanciunas to occupy Turkey’s defenders to create space and the veteran Lavrinovic twins Darjus and Ksistof could be seen encouraging their young star.

“(We said) nothing special,” Ksistof Lavrinovic said. “We are just trying to convince (Valanciunas) that he is having a great game and he has to push us to the victory. He is improving everyday with each game and we just hope that he will continue this way.”

On Thursday Lithuania will play the winner between the USA and Slovenia for the right to advance to the Gold Medal game.

“I think Spain and the US are the two best teams in the tournament” Kazlauskas said. “They are the favorites and it will be very difficult for us, but every game is a different game, we will see.”

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Jonas Valanciunas interview by Paul Saini (Fylmm.com) cropped

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Talks After Beating New Zealand

The Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas led Lithuania to the win over New Zealand in the round of 16 at the FIBA World Cup in Spain with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, however, for some unknown reason, he wasn’t on the podium for the post game press conference.

Fortunately, Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe managed to get some comments in engish from Valanciunas about his role in Lithuania’s big win after the game.

 

 

Check out the post game story and Lithuania Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas comments:

Raptors Valanciunas Carries Lithuania Past NZ Tall Blacks 76-71

 

 

Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (1)

Raptors Valanciunas Carries Lithuania Past NZ Tall Blacks 76-71

The Toronto Raptors young center Jonas Valanciunas was a man-on-a-mission on Sunday as he carried Lithuania past the New Zealand Tall Blacks 76-71 with a breakout international performance.  

Valanciunas led Lithuania in scoring with 22 points on 8-11 shooting from the field and 6-6 from the free throw line and dominated in the paint at both ends of the court grabbing 13 rebounds, blocking 3 shots and generally deterring the Tall Blacks from even trying to score in the paint.

 

 

After the game, Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas told reporters in the live post game press conference that they expect this kind of game from Valanciunas and his young center has improved a lot since he first joined the National team.

“(Valanciunas) played today a really good game and we expect from him this game that our opponent doesn’t have the same level of players in sight, so he helped a lot and we expect from him much more, we know him.

He became stronger, much more experienced. There was a time he was playing like a young kid. Now he respects everyone, every opponent and he knows the price of those (big) games.”

Jonas Maciulis, sporting a big bandage over his stitched up right eye, confirmed, “It was a tough game.”

Lithuania raced out to a big 23-9 first quarter lead that the Tall Blacks could only put a small dent in for most of the rest of the way and then only to watch Valanciunas push back their progress.

A 12-0 run by the Tall Blacks briefly put them in the lead 59-58 early in the fourth quarter, but Lithuania retook control with Valanciunas scoring 8 of his team’s 18 fourth quarter points. New Zealand had no answer for Valanciunas in this game.

This was the second time this summer Valanciunas has taken it to the Tall Blacks. Earlier in August, the Tall Blacks were overwhelmed by Valanciunas with the game on the line as the big man scored 15 points fourth quarter points to secure the 85-79 victory.

Tall Blacks guard Cory Webster put on an impressive show leading all scorers with 26 points on 10-21 from the field.

Boxscore

Lithuania moves on to a quarter finals match on Tuesday against the winner of Turkey vs. Australia.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 
 

CHI Rose and Thibodeau

Is Bulls Derrick Rose On Team USA For The Wrong Reasons?

All the kind and positive words from Team USA assistant coach and Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo can’t hide the fact the Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose is having a terrible FIBA World Cup in Spain and just maybe these basketball gurus knew it was going to happen.

After six games Rose is shooting 21.6 percent from the field and 9.1 percent from three point range and those statistics are worse than they seem. As a team, USA is shooting 52.7 percent from the field and everyone is looking to feed Rose wide open jump shots and easy straight line opportunities for layups and dunks – it’s not working.

USA Today Sports says Rose told reporters:

“I’m loving the way that I’m playing,” Rose told reporters. “Of course missing shots, that’s part of the game. But just conditioning-wise and how I’ve been playing defense and low turnovers the last couple of games, I’m loving it. I feel like me picking up fullcourt, really getting into people, running the team (helps) me knock this rust off along the way for the regular season. I’ve exceeded my expectations. I’m not sore. My knees are good. I know a lot of people are concerned about that, but I think I’m playing well.”

Rose’s defense with both feet planted on the floor has been good. He does move well without the ball and looks like he is playing without pain, but his skills fail him time-and-time-again at the offensive end of the court and the Chicago Bulls weren’t looking to add a star defensive point guard to next season’s roster, they need scoring.

What should be raising eyebrows are the comments from the guys who decided to keep Rose on the Team USA roster over other healthy players that were available.

“The thought is that if he were to have a game where he had some real success, then that would get him over the hump,” Colangelo said. “Not just for us, but for him in terms of the upcoming season.

Well he hasn’t played in a long time,” Thibodeau said. “I think that was to be expected. I think the more he plays, the more his timing will come around. Right now he has missed some layups that are usually automatic. That will come.”

If you take these comments at face value, then why is Rose on Team USA? The FIBA World Cup isn’t supposed to be an opportunity for Rose to shake off the rust before the Bulls season starts. They are supposed to be in Spain to win a Gold Medal and when they play Spain (and they will play Spain) the USA can’t afford to be a man short so the Bulls point guard can get some playing time ahead of the upcoming NBA season against weaker teams.

Everyone wants Rose to make a comeback. He’s young and far too many NBA players have seen promising careers cut back or down because of knee injuries. One only has to think of Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Penny Hardaway, Michael Redd or any number of other NBA stars that never got back to their old form. However, while watching Rose try to regain his old offensive rhythm in Spain, one has to wonder why he is doing it on this stage?

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

GSW Curry and Thompson

Splash Brothers Curry And Thompson Lead USA to Win Over Mexico

It wasn’t the usual diet of Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried that carried Team USA past Mexico as the Golden State Warriors Splash Brothers Stephen Curry  and Klay Thompson filled the nets from long range to secure the 86-63 win.

The US thwarted everyone on Mexico from scoring except the Hawks free agent big man Gustavo Ayon.  Ayon led all scorers in this game with 25 points on 11-19 shooting to go with 8 boards, 2 steals and a block, but Mexico only scored 38 points through three-quarters and never had a chance in this contest.

Curry, on the other hand, had his first big game of the tournament going 6-9 from deep for 20 points and his Golden State teammate Thompson scored 15 points on 3-9 three-point attempts.  The USA knew they would need the scoring and the chemistry from this pairing as the paint often gets a lot more congested against the better teams at this world championship tournament.  Overall, team USA shot 13-29 from the three-point line against Mexico to secure this victory.

Team USA advances to face the winner of Slovenia vs. Dominican Republic in a quarter-final match on Tuesday.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Pau Gasol and Faried

NBA Studs And Duds At The 2014 FIBA World Cup

Group play has ended at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain and most of the easy games are in the rearview mirror. If an NBA player didn’t pad his stats during this stage of the contest, it is only going to get harder from here on out.

Five games is a decent enough sample size to see who’s got it on the international stage and the studs and duds of these championships are becoming obvious. No one should be arguing about what Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and Pau Gasol have accomplished so far.

Spain 5-0

Stud – Bulls newest star Pau Gasol has been dominate on demand averaging 21.2 points on 61.9 percent shooting to go with 5.6 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Dud – Almost invisible, Knicks new point guard Jose Calderon is shooting 30 percent from the field to average 3.6 points and dish less than an assist per game.

USA 5-0

Stud – Pelicans Anthony Davis leads the US with 15.8 points on a tournament second best 62.7 percent shooting and has 6.4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1.8 blocks.

Stud – Nuggets Kenneth Faried leads the tournament with 79.1 percent shooting from the field to average 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds

Dud – It seems like everyone on Team USA is trying to get the Bulls point guard Derrick Rose going offensively by feeding him open shots and easy routes to the basket, but it isn’t working. On a team averaging 54 percent from the field, Rose is shooting 25 percent and has missed 90 percent of his three-point attempts.

Slovenia 4-1

Stud – Suns point guard Goran Dragic does it all for Slovenia. He has shot 60.7 percent from the field and is averaging 17.4 points and 4 assists.

Brazil 4-1

This team shares the wealth, however.

Dud – Wizards Nene has disappointed with 6.8 points on 44 percent from the field and 4.2 rebounds in 18.4 minutes. Brazil needs a lot more from Nene in the elimination rounds.

Argentina 3-2

Stud – The long time FIBA star and reliable Pacers veteran Luis Scola has averaged a tournament second best 21.6 points, 52 percent shooting and 8.8 rebounds.

Australia 3-2

Stud – Spurs free agent Aron Baynes has averaged 17.2 points and 7 boards. What’s holding the Spurs back from re-signing this kid?

Duds – Jazz rookie Dante Exum has 3.2 points in 13 minutes on 35.7 percent shooting and Cavaliers Matthew Dellavedova has 6.4 points in 21.2 minutes on 35.7 percent shooting and that’s not helping the cause.

Croatia 3-2

Stud – Nets Bojan Bogdanovic has averaged 20 points and 3.8 rebounds.

Dominican Republic 2-3

Stud – Rockets veteran Francisco Garcia has put up 20.2 points on 61.2 percent shooting from the field.

Senegal 2-3

Stud – Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng has three double-doubles in five games and has put up an impressive 18 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.8 blocks.

Iran 1-4

Stud – Suns 7’2 free agent center Hamed Haddadi has averaged 18.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks and has three double-doubles. Someone in the NBA must need a big backup center?

Philippines 1-4

Stud – Nets free agent forward Andray Blatche had five double-doubles in five games averaging a tournament third best 21.2 points, a tournament best 13.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals. His field goal percentage was reduced to 44.2 because he took 4.4 three-point shots per game but made only 1.2 of them. Blatche was auditioning for a contract. Who wants him?

Puerto Rico 1-4

Stud – Proving you just can’t keep a good little man down, the Timberwolves J.J. Barea leads the tournament in scoring with 22 points per game.

This isn’t an easy tournament to put up impressive numbers in. Through the group stage teams play five games in six days and even the main guys on each team usually only average a little more than 20 minutes per game. It can be especially tough on NBA players that haven’t played internationally before. The rules are different and they often don’t know anything about the player opposite them. No excuses though, these games are played for National pride and everyone participating is expected to bring their “A” game.

The Win or Go home portion of the tournament starts on Saturday.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Blatche and Barea

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 5 J.J. Barea And Andray Blatche

As Team USA and Spain rolled to their fourth consecutive wins, Wednesday’s biggest studs were found in a battle between Puerto Rico and the Philippines as J.J. Barea and Andray Blatche fought to keep their team’s slim hopes of advancing beyond group play alive for another day.

Team USA found themselves in garbage time early, so Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski spread the minutes around during the 35 point blowout win over the Dominican Republic. Spain’s three-headed monster of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka were far too much for France to deal with, but they shared the wealth and no one stood out on the stats sheet in the 88-64 win even if all of France’s big men looked overmatched.

Puerto Rico defeated the Philippines 77-73 on hot hand of the Timberwolves Barea who went on a personal 10-3 run that put his team up by five points late in the fourth quarter. Barea’s 30 point game was tops among all players on Day 5. As has been the case throughout group play, the Nets free agent power forward Blatche led the Philippines with his fourth consecutive double-double as the big man scored 25 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked 2 shots and had a steal, however, as usual, it wasn’t enough and the Philippines fell to 0-4 and out of contention for the next round.

The Suns free agent Hamed Haddadi is looking for a contract and he has been showing his value at the World Cup. On Wednesday he led Iran past Egypt 88-73 with a 23 point 15 rebound 1 steal 2 block effort that kept his team’s very slim hopes of advancing to the next round alive. It was Haddadi’s second double-double and second plus 20 point game as he has averaged 18 points and 10.5 rebounds on a team that doesn’t offer him much support.

The Pelicans new center Omer Asik put up 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and a block to help propel Turkey past Finland 77-73.

Pacers veteran forward Luis Scola led Argentina in scoring for the fourth consecutive time with 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 81-46 dismantling of upstart Senegal who had just won two games in a row for the first time ever at this tournament.

The Spurs free agent Aron Baynes keeps showing flashes of why this young big man should be able to land an NBA contract again this season as he led Australia past Mexico 70-62 with a game-high 21 points to go with 5 boards and 3 blocked shots.

Other Notables:

Angola’s Roberto Forte 21 points
Brazil’s Marquinhos Vieira 21 points
Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic (Nets) 20 points
Lithuania’s Adas Juskevicius 20 points

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

CHI Rose and Gasol

Bulls Get Good News Pau Gasol Bad News Derrick Rose

The preliminary round of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain is three-fifths done and the Chicago Bulls have received some good news and some bad news about their best players heading into the upcoming NBA season. Pau Gasol has been great and leads the tournament in scoring, but Derrick Rose has struggled mightily on offense.

Gasol has been nothing short of dominant for Spain shooting 65.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range and looking a lot like the four-time All-Star that’s won two NBA Championships. Averaging 23.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists 2.3 blocks and 26 minutes, the only thing holding Gasol back from better numbers is Spain hasn’t needed anything more from him. As of now, the Bulls have to be very excited about their big upgrade at power forward.

Rose, on the other hand, hasn’t looked anything like the pre-injury All-Star of a couple of seasons ago. Team USA assistant coach and Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is waiting and hoping for a breakout game from his point guard, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Going back to the 10 NBA games Rose played last season there were strong signals that finding his old offensive rhythm wasn’t going to be easy as Rose shot 35.4 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range. Coming into Team USA training camp Rose looked good physically and his mobility generated a lot of excitement, however, his former offensive prowess was still missing and he hasn’t found it yet.

Ross played in three of the four exhibition games before the World Cup and in just over 19 minutes per game he averaged 5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2 turnovers while shooting 36.4 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep. There were concerns about his knees or maybe it was just game conditioning, but he wasn’t the best point guard on Team USA before Spain and seemed to get the spot on the team because Thibodeau wanted him to have it.

The first three games in the FIBA World Cup group play only confirmed what the friendlies beforehand were showing, Rose still struggles with his offense. The 5.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.3 turnovers and 19 minutes are eerily similar to his exhibition games. The 22.2 percent shooting from the field and 14.3 percent from three-point range are worse. If one ignores Rose’s 3-8 performance during Finland’s collapse, he has shot 1-10 from the field and 0-5 from three in his last two games.

The good news for Rose is he still moves well on the court and there doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him. He just doesn’t have anything going on offense. Fortunately in the group stage and probably right through until the semi-finals, Team USA isn’t likely to win a game by less than 20 points even if Rose and several other players don’t have their best games. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Thibodeau can keep throwing Rose out there in the hope he’ll find his offensive rhythm before they have to play Spain.

It appears the Team USA coaching staff can see something with Rose that hasn’t become obvious on the court just yet.

Thibodeau’s Chicago Bulls have a lot riding on Gasol and Rose. If both players can find their former All-Star form, Chicago will contend to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The bad news is if Rose continues to struggle offensively those expectations will have to be severely tempered.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_inside
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

NOP Davis and Asik

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 4 Omer Asik And Anthony Davis

Tuesday’s action at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain continues to provide a platform for NBA and international players to strut their stuff and a pair of Pelicans stood out. Omer Asik had a massive game but failed to propel Turkey to the win. Anthony Davis had another big outing for the unbeaten USA.

Mexico 79-55 over Angola

Mexico:
Hector Hernandez, Cancun 24 points
Hawks free agent Gustavo Ayon 17 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks

Ukraine 64-58 over Turkey

Ukraine:
Olexandra Mishula, DC Dnipro 19 points

Turkey:
Pelicans Omer Asik 16 points, 20 rebounds

USA 98-71 over New Zealand

USA:
Pelicans Anthony Davis 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block
Nuggets Kenneth Faried 15 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block

Australia 82-75 over Lithuania

Australia:
Joe Ingles, Maccabi Tel Aviv 18 points

Lithuania:
Renaldas Seibutis, Darussafaka 21 points

Slovenia 89-72 over Korea

Slovenia:
Suns Goran Dragic 22 points

Dominican Republic 74-68 over Finland

Dominican:
Eloy Vargas, Fuenlabrada 18 points, 13 rebounds, 1 steal and 4 blocks

Finland:
Petteri Koponen, Khimki 23 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists

The big disappointments of the day:

No Show By Jonas Valanciunas Costs Lithuania Vs. Australia

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas 4 points, 6 rebounds, 5 turnovers
Rockets Donatas Motiejunas 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers

After three games, the top three scorers in the tournament are Pau Gasol (23.7), Luis Scola (23) and Gorgui Dieng (22). Anthony Davis leads the USA averaging 19 points and tied for 8th place overall.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Valanciunas and Baynes

No Show By Jonas Valanciunas Costs Lithuania Vs. Australia

Lithuania lost their first game at the 2014 FIBA World Cup to Australia 82-75 as their star center Jonas Valanciunas was a no show in the first half and barely impacted the game after that. Australia ran up a nine point lead in Valanciunas’ first four minutes before Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas sat him down and it only made things worse when he brought him back in later in the half.

It was the Spurs free agent big man Aron Baynes that dominated early on with 10 first quarter points as the Aussies ran up a 30-20 advantage. With the Raptors Valanciunas on the bench in the second quarter, the bleeding stopped for Lithuania, but they weren’t able to score either. However, after Valanciunas was subbed back in midway through, Australia went on a 10-2 run to close out the half up 47-28. Valanciunas had 0 points, 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers at half, Baynes had 14 points and Joe Ingles found the range to net 14 points as well. The Rockets Donatas Motiejunas was equally ineffective for Lithuania and they were in trouble.

Kazlauskas went to the veteran twin brothers Darjus and Ksistof Lavrinovic to start the second half at power forward and center with great effect. Lithuania came out with a previously unseen intensity and went on a 10-0 run before Australia responded. The older big men showed the young guys how it’s done, stifling Baynes and proving hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work as hard. Cutting the 19-point deficit to 8 before Kazlauskas went back to Valanciunas after 6.7 minutes and Lithuania maintained the momentum to close the gap to 62-56 after three quarters.

Lithuania had their chances to tie the game, getting to within three points twice in the fourth quarter, however, Martynas Pocius missed two layups in the final minute for Lithuania and a game they never deserved to win went to the Aussies. Appropriately, Valanciunas was watching from the bench when Darjus Lavrinovic hit the three-pointer that closed the gap to 69-66 with 4.5 minutes left.

Veteran guard Renaldas Seibutis led Lithuania with 21 points. The Lavrinovic brothers had 22 points between them. Valanciunas finished with 4 points, 6 rebounds and 5 turnovers.

Ingles led Australia with 18 points as they improved their record to 2-1 and moved into a tie with Lithuania in Group D.

Boxscore

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Pau Gasol and Dieng

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 3 Pau Gasol And Gorgui Dieng

It was a short schedule of games at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain on the Labor Day holiday Monday, however, Bulls Pau Gasol and Timberwolves Gorgui Dieng put up some huge numbers in big wins for Spain and Senegal.

The Bulls Pau Gasol used his second dominate performance of the tournament to help Spain lay an 82-63 beating on Brazil. Gasol had 26 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Spain has won their first three games by an average of 28.7 points.

Senegal knocked off previously unbeaten Croatia 77-75 using a monster 27 point, 8 rebound, 3 assist, 1 steal and 2 block effort from the Timberwolves 24-year-old center Gorgui Dieng. In three games, Dieng has averaged 22 points and 11.7 rebounds. Behind the efforts of their young star, Senegal has their first two wins at this event since 1998. Croatia was led by the 76ers first round draft pick Dario Saric with 15 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds and the Nets Bojan Bogdanovic with 15 points and 3 rebounds.

The Phoenix Suns free agent center Hamed Haddadi scored a tournament high for the day of 29 points in Iran’s 83-70 loss to Serbia. Haddadi has interest from the Knicks and the Pelicans in the NBA for the upcoming season. Nemanja Bjelica of Fenerbehce Ulker had an 18 point 10 rebound double-double for Serbia.

Pacers forward Luis Scola scored 19 points to lead Argentina in scoring for the third day in a row as his team knocked off the Philippines 85-81. The Nets free agent Andray Blatche recorded his third double-double in 3 days with 14 points, 15 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in the loss.

Nikos Zisis got hot from outside hitting on 4-5 three-point attempts to score 19 points and lead unbeaten Greece past Puerto Rico 90-79. The former New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets forward Renaldo Balkman had 23 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals and Timberwolves Jose Juan Barea had 21 points in the loss.

France beat up on Egypt 94-55. Egypt is 0-3 and has lost by an average of 32.3 points per game. No studs here.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Faried and Ibaka

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 2 Faried And Ibaka

Both Spain and the USA have begun to open a wide lead over the field as they have won their first 2 games by big margins and the Nuggets Kenneth Faried and Thunder Serge Ibaka were the studs that led those teams to FIBA World Cup victories on Sunday.

The 2-0 unbeaten teams are as follows:

USA           +80 points
Spain        +67 points
Greece      +35 points
Brazil        +31 points
Slovenia   +31 points
Lithuania +26 points
Croatia     +8 points

Team USA was saved by Kenneth Faried vs. Turkey as his energy and 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots turned the tide in the 98-77 come from behind win.

Spain crushed Egypt 91-54 as everyone on the roster except the 0-4 Jose Calderon scored, but it Serge Ibaka’s turn for a big game as he put up a game-high 18 points and 8 rebounds.

The high score of the day belonged to Luis Scola who once again led Argentina, his 30 points gives him a 25 point average and is tops among all players. However, Argentina lost to Croatia 90-85 as the 76ers first round draft pick Dario Saric had 16 points and 9 rebounds while the Nets Bojan Bogdanovic had 16 points and 7 rebounds.

Houston Rockets veteran Francisco Garcia put up 29 points for the Dominican Republic in a big 76-63 win over the New Zealand Tall Blacks. Thomas Abercrombie who plays for the NZ Breakers had 22 points.

Georgios Printezis had 25 points and 8 rebounds in Greece’s 82-70 win over the Philippines. Printezis turned down an offer to play for the Knicks in 2012 and his NBA rights have been held by the Spurs, Raptors, Mavericks, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Thunder and presently by the Hawks. The Nets free agent Andray Blatche recorded his second double-double in 2 days with 21 points on 6-18 shooting and 14 rebounds for the Philippines. Blatche is currently second in scoring at 24.5 points per game and second in rebounds at 13 per game.

Eugene “Pooh” Jeter scored 24 points for the Ukraine in an 81-76 loss to Finland. Jeter, a one-time King, played in Spain last season and has signed with the Shandong Bulls in China. Shawn Huff, who plays in Germany, scored 23 points for Finland.

Atlanta Hawks unrestricted free agent Gustavo Ayon scored 23 points for Mexico in an 89-68 loss to Slovenia where the Suns Goran Dragic had 18 points and 6 assists and his very noticeable brother Zoran Dragic scored 22 points.

Notes:

The Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng is averaging 19.5 points and a tournament best 13.5 rebounds for Senegal.

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas finally missed a shot in the second quarter of his second game and had 11 points and 13 rebounds in Lithuania’s 75-62 win over Angola to become just one of ten players to record a double-double thus far.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.