Author: Dan Feldman

Greece, Italy advance to Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

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EuroBasket’s main event today – France vs. Spain for a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics – comes later in the afternoon. Serbia and Lithuania will meet tomorrow with the same prize on the line.

In the meantime, Greece and Italy continued their pursuit of Olympic bids with victories today.

Greece beat Latvia, 97-90. Italy beat Czech Republic, 85-70.

The wins guarantee Greece and Italy will be among 18 teams vying for three Olympic spots at next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. The France-Spain and Serbia-Lithuania losers will also reach the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

Latvia and Czech Republic will play tomorrow for the fifth and final guaranteed berth in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament from EuroBasket.

Italy (Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli) definitely has the talent to win a Qualifying Tournament and reach the Olympics. So does Greece, especially if Giannis Antetokounmpo makes major strides this season.

Really, both teams were good enough to finish top two in EuroBasket this year and secure a 2016 Olympic appearance. They might be kicking themselves about the missed opportunity, but at least they’ll have another chance next summer.

Report: Nets signing Yanick Moreira

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Yanick Moreira averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in the 2014 World Cup, each mark higher than any Team USA player – including Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and DeMarcus Cousins – posted.

Of course, the driving factor was Angola’s need for Moreira to carry the team. The Americans were more balanced. Three other players – Andray Blatche, Hamed Haddadi and Luis Scola – bested both Moreira’s scoring and rebounding numbers in the tournament.

But Moreira handling so much responsibility in the premier international basketball event outside the Olympics says something about his ability. All three of those other players (Blatche, Haddadi and Scola) have played in the NBA.

Will Moreira follow them?

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Moreira becomes the seventh Net without a fully guaranteed salary – joining Quincy Miller, Dahntay Jones, Willie Reed, Donald Sloan, Markel Brown and Ryan Boatright. That’ll be one heck of a training-camp competition for Brooklyn’s final three regular-season roster spots.

And I think Moreira has a chance, though we know more about him than his spectacular World Cup.

He also represented Angola in this year’s AfroBasket, spent a couple seasons at Southern Methodist and went undrafted in June. The 6-foot-11 center is a good athlete for his size, but at age 24, he’s not quite as polished as you’d hope. He can finish around the basket, though his rim protection – especially for his height – is questionable.

But there are flaws in the other six Nets vying to make the team. It might come down to Moreira vs. Reed to become the third center behind Brook Lopez and Andrea Bargnani.

Report: Kobe Bryant fully cleared medically

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The Lakers expected to Kobe Bryant to be ready for training camp.

They won’t have to wait that long.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Bryant has been medically cleared for all basketball activities, according to league sources.

Kobe was initially expected to be out nine months. He beat that by a couple weeks, surely a point of pride.

It’s remarkable Kobe has made it this far, and he deserves credit for his remarkable devotion to training.

But health remains an unavoidable concern for the 37-year-old. Few players who’ve missed so many games at Kobe’s age make it back, let alone successfully.