The 2013 FIBA Americas Championship tournament will wrap up this week, but the important part was concluded on Sunday when the semifinalists were finalized. The top four teams of the tournament automatically earn berths to next year’s FIBA World Cup (an Olympic qualifier) meaning Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico are one step closer to appearing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The first three teams were all expected to be in this position, but Mexico’s bid comes as a surprise considering they weren’t even going to play in the tournament until Panama was ruled ineligible. North America’s neighbors to the south earned their surprising bid, though, with back-to-back victories over Jamaica and Puerto Rico over the weekend.
For USA fans wondering about recognizable names on the rosters of the qualifying teams, Puerto Rico has J.J. Barea, Carlos Arroyo and Renaldo Balkman; Mexico features Gustavo Ayon, Jorge Gutierrez, Orlando Mendez-Valdez and Lorenzo Mata-Real; the Dominican Republic had internet sensation Jack Michael Martinez and Francisco Garcia; and Argentina was dragged to the semifinals on the back of Indiana Pacers big Luis Scola.
Two teams eliminated at the FIBA Americas tournament could be in the running for a wild card bid for next year’s world cup, but their early-round losses at the FIBA Americas tournament have hurt their chances of having an easy path in the 2016 Olympics. Team Canada featured four NBA players, but were missing Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Olynyk due to injury — and eventually were eliminated with a loss to the Dominican Republic squad. Brazil is the one of the best teams in international competition, but they went 0-4 with a roster decimated with the absence of Nene, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Leandro Barbosa.
The two semifinals are for bragging rights, mostly, but will tip-off Tuesday with Mexico taking on Argentina and Dominican Republic facing Puerto Rico for a berth in Wednesday’s championship game.
Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.
He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:
In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”
“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.
The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.
Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.
Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.
General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.
McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.