Kurt Helin

Watch Pau Gasol drop 30, help Spain advance

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Before the game, the Spanish coach was told of a Pau Gasol injury — which is not what Bulls’ fans want to hear — and not to play him for more than five minutes at a time. But when it came time for him to sit, Gasol demanded to stay in.

Gasol ended up dropping 30, including hitting six of seven from three, as Spain topped Poland 80-66 to advance to the final eight teams at EuroBasket. Net up for Spain is a strong Greek squad and Gasol said he was good to go for it.

Poland was actually up three late in the third before Spain went on a 17-2 run that gave them a comfortable margin of victory.

Venezuela wins FIBA America, upsetting Argentina

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Heissler Guillent scored 15 points and Venezuela pulled off another upset, beating Argentina 71-67 on Saturday night to win the FIBA Americas championship for the first time.

Guillent scored 19 points in the semifinals against heavy favorite Canada on Friday night to give the Venezuelans their first Olympic berth since Barcelona in 1992. Argentina also qualified for Rio by making to the Finals

Also Saturday, Canada beat Mexico 84-83 in the third-place game.

John Cox added 12 points and Windi Graterol had 11 for Venezuela, the runner-up in the 1992 FIBA Americas championship with a generation that was known in their country as the “Portland heroes”.

Venezuela won the title despite the absence of their best player, Greivis Vazquez, a point-guard for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Andres Nocioni scored 21 points and Luis Scola added 14 for Argentina.

In the other game, Cory Joseph nailed a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer to give Canada a dramatic win over the host nation.

Joseph finished with 11 points.

Andrew Nicholson had 20 points and Andrew Wiggins 18 for the Canadian team that wasted a nine-point lead in the last 3:21 of the game and needed Joseph’s heroics to win it. Marco Ramos led Mexico with 19 points.

Both Canada and Mexico will have another chance to qualify for Rio 2016 in the world qualifier tournament set to be played next summer.

Coach: Defense, rebounding keys for Sixers’ Okafor

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Jahlil Okafor is not going to be the next Tim Duncan. Mostly because there is never going to be another Tim Duncan — he is for my money the greatest power forward ever to play the game. Sorry Karl.

That doesn’t mean Okafor can’t be great in his own right. Sixers coach Brett Brown — a former Spurs’ assistant who worked with Duncan — was asked on Comcast Sportsnet Philly if Okafor could be the next Duncan (you can see the video above).

“I think if we can help him with his rebounding and help him with his defense. Offensively, there are similarities. We’ve got to help grow him in those other areas.”

There were Okafor and Duncan comparisons around the draft, but those were more about the level of polish on the offensive game than anything else. Okafor should have an excellent NBA career, but to throw Duncan out as a benchmark wouldn’t be fair for anyone.

Another question thrown at Brown: Did he think Philly fans see Dario Saric — who has looked good at EuroBasket — anytime soon?

“I do. I think the city is going to see something extraordinarily competitive, very, very skilled and I think his personality, his style of play fits perfectly in this city.”

Saric has said he will come over for the 2016-17 season. However, there are financial motives for him to spend one more season beyond that overseas — if he comes over in 2016 he’s locked into a rookie scale NBA contract, if he comes over three years after he is drafted he can negotiate any deal he can get with the Sixers. It’s what Tiago Splitter and others have done; we’ll see what Saric ultimately chooses.


Doc Rivers: Don’t expect me to trade Jamal Crawford

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven

Jamal Crawford‘s name has come up in a lot of trade rumors this summer: to Cleveland, to Miami, and to New York, just to name a few. The idea was that he’s not always happy, and if the Clippers were going to add depth this summer he was their most tradable asset.

Except GM Doc Rivers added depth — Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Wesley Johnson, Cole Aldrich — without having to give up Crawford. Rivers told venerable Los Angeles sports talk radio personality Fred Roggin (on the Clippers’ flagship The Beast 980) don’t expect him to trade Rivers’ now (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“I’ve heard all the rumors about Jamal going other places,” Rivers said. “Jamal’s a Clipper and I would be very surprised if he’s not a Clipper by the season’s end.”

To be clear, Roggin asked him again: “You’re planning on keeping him right now?”

“Yeah,” Rivers responded. “Yeah. Absolutely.”

Consider this the “if you want Crawford you’re going to have to give me something I want in return” message to all the teams calling him.

The Clippers have no strong motive to trade Crawford now — he’s a valuable point-scoring machine, a former Sixth Man of the Year, who can come in for J.J. Redick and keep the offense humming. He can even serve as a backup point guard, or at least be the guy who handles the ball with the second unit. So if Rivers is going to consider a trade for him, he has to see an upgrade in what is coming back. He’s not just moving him to move him.

And while Crawford hasn’t always been happy hearing his name in these rumors, winning has a way of curing those kinds of ills.

Argentina beats Mexico, qualifies for Rio Olympics

Luis Scola,Selem Safar, Andres Nocioni

Maybe Argentina’s golden generation has one more run in them.

Forty-eight hours before, Mexico had beaten Argentina by a dozen points to round out group play at FIBA Americas. But Friday night, with a trip to the Rio Olympics on the line, it was Luis Scola and Argentina that made the plays in Mexico City. Argentina won 78-70 to lock up a trip to Brazil next summer. (Mexico, like Canada, can still qualify via a play-in tournament next summer.)

Scola had 18 points on 11 shots, plus pulled down 10 boards in the game. Andreas Nocioni added 10 points and 13 boards.

Mexico struggled to get any consistent offense going, in part because of Argentina’s defense but more just poor execution under pressure. Jorge Gutierrez led the way with 17 points, while Gustavo Ayon added 13 rebounds.

Argentina played this tournament without Manu Ginobili, but he may suit up for Rio next summer if healthy.