FIBA Americas opens Tuesday, watch out for Argentina

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Argentina is one stacked squad. And they are playing at home.

Which is why everyone expects them to exit with one of the two Olympic berths to be handed out at the FIBA Americas Tournament, which starts Tuesday in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.

The top two finishers in the 10-team Americas tournament get an automatic berth in the 2012 London Olympics. Finishers three through five get a ticket to the pre-Olympics Qualifying Tournament next year where they can face off against a number of good teams trying to back door into the Olympics.

Argentina, as we said, is loaded. They have the man who should be the single best player in this tournament in Manu Ginobili. After that they have Luis Scola, who was one of the standout players at last year’s World Championships. Up front with Scola can be Andres Nocioni. The point guard is Carlos Delfino, and they have Fabricio Oberto. And that’s just the NBA guys, the rest of the team is season international players.

They should walk away with the gold.

The second Olympic berth will likely to one of three teams:

The Dominican Republic: They have an impressive front line with Al Horford and Charlie Villanueva. Horford will be a steady scoring presence in the paint and, if his NBA career is any indication, Villanueva will be awesome one out of every for games or so. Francisco Garcia will hold down the backcourt.

Puerto Rico: They rival Argentina for the best backcourt in this tournament, starting Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea. Not the tallest or best defensive backcourt, but one that can make plays in international ball. Up front they have Renaldo Balkman, who will bring energy and defense.

Brazil: If they had their full compliment of players, we’d say they would rival Argentina, but Nene, Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa all are sitting this one out. That leaves Tiago Splitter to carry the load. That may well not be enough

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. It was a $72 million gamble that has not worked, and left New York with an anchor o a

Tomorrow it will be official he is done for the season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. But that is interesting.

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)