Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova – two guys who went hard just a couple of months back on opposite sides of the NBA Finals — stood arm-in-arm with Patty Mills and the rest of their Australian teammates and were unimpressed with the native Haka dance the All Blacks did before their match Saturday.
Australia and New Zealand are playing a two-game series for the championship of FIBA’s Oceana region — the winner qualifies for the 2016 Olympics (joining the USA and Brazil as locked in the 12-team tournament).
Dellavedova helped settle a nervous home Australian team down in the second quarter on his way to 15 points on the night. Mills was making plays late and had 17 for the game. Australia won 71-59.
Game 2 of the series is Tuesday in New Zealand and it is scored in aggregate — if Australia wins or loses by 11 points or fewer they will advance to the Olympics.
EuroBasket tips off in a couple of weeks, and for NBA teams that can be a double-edged sword. On one side, there is the risk of injury (different international event, but think Dante Exum).
On the other side, for guys that could use more development, it’s a chance to get on the court and play at a relatively high level of competition, with good coaching.
The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is trying to take advantage of the latter. In a friendly against Bosnia, the Greek dropped 13 points in just 14 minutes of action. He had three rebounds and three blocks as well. Since I’m guessing you didn’t stream this live, above are some highlights.
From the first moments after the Los Angeles Lakers took him with the No. 2 pick, D’Angelo Russell has been singing the praises of Kobe Bryant. But Kobe is not his only idol, and Russell tweeted out this:
Last season, the Timberwolves were the worst defensive team in the NBA. By far. They allowed 109.6 points per 100 possessions, which was more than six per 100 worse than the league average. If Minnesota is going to take a step forward next season, that is the obvious area for improvement (although their 26th ranked offense could use some help, too). Minnesota has a long ways to go.
More than just talent, coach Flip Saunders is counting on a veteran presence to change the Timberwolves defense around.
He tweeted as much Friday.
kG. Andre and Tay not only experience but Kg and Tay All League Defense. Defensive Culture for Pups to see.