Kurt Helin

Spain beats Lithuania 80-63 to take Eurobasket title

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LILLE, France (AP) — Pau Gasol had a double-double and Spain cruised past Lithuania 80-63 Sunday to regain the European basketball championship title.

Spain earned its third title in the last four tournaments, having also won in 2009 and 2011. Spain had to settle for bronze two years ago, when Lithuania lost the final against France.

Earlier, France pulled away in the third quarter to beat Serbia 81-68 for the bronze medal.

Spain opened a 13-point lead in the first quarter and was never really threatened. Lithuania never led in the one-sided final.

Gasol finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots, one steal and no turnovers.

NBA great Moses Malone’s kindness remembered at funeral

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks
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HOUSTON (AP) Moses Malone has been remembered not only for his rebounds and three MVP trophies, but for making people smile.

In a service marked by laughter from many of his NBA peers and hundreds of others at Houston’s Lakewood Church, the Hall of Famer on Saturday was lauded as a kind and helpful man.

The 60-year-old Malone died a week ago. In 1974 he became the first player to jump from high school to the pros and wound up a 12-time All-Star.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley delivered the eulogy. He referred to Malone as “Dad” and recalled that when he asked Malone for advice as he struggled in his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Malone told him he was fat and lazy.

Malone is the NBA’s career leader in offensive rebounds. He led the 76ers to the 1983 NBA championship. In 1979 and 1982, he was the MVP while with the Houston Rockets.

Rudy Gobert was blocking, dunking on Serbia Sunday

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Rudy Gobert had a solid EuroBasket for France, controlling the paint (except against Pau Gasol), grabbing rebounds and getting his points by staying in his lane and playing hard around the rim.

That continued Sunday when France won the bronze medal at EuroBasket beating Serbia 81-68. The Utah Jazz big man had 15 points and 14 rebounds, to go with three blocked shots.

And his blocks tend to be impressive.

 

51Q: How long will 76ers owner stay patient rebuilding?

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

How much longer will Philadelphia 76ers ownership be okay with this rebuilding process?

Trust the process.

That’s been the mantra in Philadelphia as they have taken the “get bad to get good” rebuilding method to an extreme no other team has attempted. The Sixers won 19 games two seasons ago, 18 last season, and they are widely expected to be once again one of the worst teams in the NBA in 2015-16.

Don’t get me wrong, the Sixers should be better this season — Jahlil Okafor is the kind of franchise cornerstone player that GM Sam Hinkie has been looking for, but he is still a rookie and showed in Summer League he has some work to do. Last season coach Brett Brown built a good defensive mindset around Nerlens Noel in the paint and the Sixers were 12th in the NBA in defensive rating and that should continue. Other young players for the Sixers — such as Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas — should show some improvement and progression.

Still, this is going to be a bad team. The playoffs are about as likely as building a colony on Mars by next April. Even something like the 30-win barrier seems impossible to clear.

Trust the process.

The Sixers will head into the 2016 NBA draft with as many as four first-round picks: Theirs, the Lakers (top three protected), the Heat’s (top 10 protected), and the Thunder’s (lottery protected). They still have Dario Saric stashed overseas — he showed a little promise but looked a bit raw at EuroBasket — and he is expected to come over next summer. Plus they have Joel Embiid, who was a top three pick and highly rated, but who is about to miss his second full season due to a second foot surgery (never a good sign with big men).

How Sam Hinkie and the Sixers have gone about building this roster rubs a lot of people in a competitive NBA the wrong way, but no doubt they have the potential if they draft well — or use those draft assets well in trades — to build a quality roster. It’s just going to take more time.

The real question for the Sixers is this:

How much longer will owner Joshua Harris trust the process?

Owners are notoriously impatient — in no other aspect of their business life do they sit on the sidelines and suffer short-term losses for long-term profits for very long (if at all). To his credit Harris has been patient. He bought in from the start on the Hinkie plan and has stayed out of his way. But it’s fair to ask after a third straight ugly season ends next April for the Sixers, will he continue to be that patient?

A lot of it likely comes down to progress shown — this season do we see a step forward for the Sixers? With Okafor in the paint (despite a lack of good point guards to feed him the rock), does their offense improve from an abomination in the eyes of the Lord to just plain bad? Does Brown’s defensive culture continue to take root?

Can Harris and the rest of us see the foundation for future success starting to solidify?

If so, and if the Sixers can draft well in 2016 (or at least appear to, it’s always hard to judge a class until a few years out), then there is good reason to stick with the plan. But starting now there needs to be some tangible annual improvement — by 2017-18 this needs to be a team over .500 that makes the playoffs (or is at least close, if the East improves). That’s still a couple years away, but it would be the fifth year of this rebuilding effort and a reasonable target considering how far the Sixers have to go.

Hinkie can’t use a perpetual rebuild for perpetual job security forever — at some point there needs to be real, tangible progress. That needs to start this season, even if it only slightly registers in the win column.

If not, he could find himself dealing with an impatient owner.

Parker, Batum say they will play for France in 2016

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There is still a bitter taste in the mouths of the French players after their overtime loss to Spain in the EuroBasket semifinals. Especially since the French were hosting the final rounds of the event in Lille. France was up by 11 and seemingly in control of the game at one point, but could not stop Pau Gasol who scored 40 — French players said publicly they thought the referees handled Gasol with kid gloves — and Spain came back and won in overtime.

After the French beat Serbia 81-68 Sunday to take the EuroBasket bronze medal, Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum took the mike in the arena to thank the French fans — and they both said they would play next summer to help France qualify for the Rio Olympics. Via Sportando:

“We are sorry that we did not win the gold medal. You have been amazing” the two NBA stars said. “We will be stronger in Rio 2016. We will not leave French National Team.”

Because they fell to Spain (who earned an automatic ticket to Rio with the win), France has to go through the pre-Olympic qualifying tournaments. In that 18 teams — including France, Greece, Canada, Mexico, Italy Angola — will be randomly drawn into three different groups of six. Those six will play in a mini-tournament with the winner getting a pass to the Rio Olympics.

What that means is a lot of it comes down to the draw. Put France, Italy and Canada in one group and you may have a group of death with the three best teams not already qualified beating each other up. It would be a very FIBA thing to do. Or, maybe the ball bounces France’s way and it’s a much easier draw. Who knows? But wherever France lands, so long as Parker, Batum, and Rudy Gobert all play (and maybe Boris Diaw, too) the French will be the favorite to win their group.

As a side note, Parker and Batum were not terribly impressive against Serbia. Batum was 3-of-9 from the floor, Parker had 13 points but on 3-of-12 shooting.