Kurt Helin

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Serbia beats Italy 101-82 to win EuroBasket group

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BERLIN (AP) — Serbia finished the toughest group undefeated at the European basketball championship by beating Italy 101-82 and blasted organizers on Thursday.

Guard Milos Teodosic had 26 points and eight assists as Serbia made sure of winning Group A with a perfect 5-0 record, with both teams heading to the knockout stage in Lille, France.

Spain (3-2) edged Germany 77-76 to also advance from the group. Germany (1-4) was eliminated and gave a rousing standing ovation to Dirk Nowitzki, who may have played his last match for his homeland.

Nemanja Bjelica had 19 points and eight rebounds for Serbia, which shut down Italy’s powerful front line for most of the match.

Andrea Bargnani and Danilo Galinari scored a combined 21 points throughout the first three quarters. Bargnani finished with 17 points and Galinari 14, while Alessandro Gentile led Italy with 19.

Italy (3-2) rested high-scoring guard Marco Belinelli, who has a sore groin muscle.

“Defense is our greatest strength and we used our greatest strength,” Serbia coach Sasa Obradovic said.

Obradovic also criticized the schedule – five group games in six days – with teams often getting less than 24 hours to rest.

“It’s incredibly difficult, it’s not human,” he said.

Sergio Llull made four free throws late against Germany to secure Spain’s victory. Dennis Schroeder could have sent the game into overtime but he made only two of three free throws with three seconds remaining.

Spain had what seemed a safe 10-point lead until Germany rallied late.

Nowitzki and Maodo Lo hit consecutive 3s to bring Germany within one with 23 seconds remaining.

Llull then made two free throws, so did Schroeder, and Llull hit two again. Schroeder went for a 3-pointer and got the call, but missed the last shot from the foul line.

Schroeder finished with a game-high 26 points, and had seven assists and six rebounds. Nowitzki finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Tibor Pleiss had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Pau Gasol contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds for Spain, and Sergio Rodriguez added 19 points. Llull had 14.

Serbia will take on Finland in the first knockout game on Sunday. Finland (2-3) finished fourth in Group A after losing 78-65 to Poland (3-2).

Belgium (3-2) made sure of advancing from Group D by beating Ukraine 79-71. Latvia (3-2) also went through after beating Estonia 75-64.

In Group C, Slovenia (3-2) defeated Macedonia 62-51 to make the Round of 16. Georgia (2-3) stunned Croatia 71-58, but host Croatia (3-2) will finish second to Greece, which played the Netherlands in the late match. Six Georgia players scored in double digits.

In a Group A game between two already eliminated teams, Russia salvaged some pride by defeating Bosnia-Herzegovina 81-61.

Draymond Green donates $3.1 million to alma mater

Draymond Green
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Golden State Warriors standout Draymond Green is donating $3.1 million to Michigan State in support of its men’s basketball program.

Green played for the Spartans and graduated in 2012. His donation, which is pending approval from the Board of Trustees, is the largest single gift to Michigan State athletics from a former Spartans athlete.

A strength and conditioning facility at the Breslin Center will be named in Green’s honor, part of a renovation to Michigan State’s home arena.

Green helped the Warriors to the NBA championship last season and then signed an $82 million, five-year contract to stay with Golden State.

In a statement sent to NBC, Green said:

“Michigan State means everything to me. I grew up in Saginaw and was lucky enough to attend Michigan State University where Coach Izzo believed in me and gave me the chance to succeed. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my Spartan experience and this donation reflects my deep appreciation to the University. This donation isn’t just about me. I want more kids to have the opportunities I had thanks to Michigan State and want to use this to stimulate all Spartans to give back to the best university in the world.”

Duncan says he plans to ride Aldridge’s coattails

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers
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San Antonio landing LaMarcus Aldridge was the best move of the summer. It took brilliant cap machinations, but the Spurs not only made themselves one of the favorites to win it all next season, but they also secured the team’s future into the post Tim Duncan era.

There were some questions out there — how would Duncan and Aldridge work together? Both prefer to operate from the left block, and at last check there is only one of those on the court. They have some similarities of game. How would the two blend?

Duncan, speaking to the fantastic Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report, said not to worry (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“I’m not worried about him benefiting my game; I’m going to worry about me benefiting his. I’m going to let him do his thing and just see where I can fit in and help. I’m going to ride his coattails and I’m going to push him.”

Aldridge has said he’s not worried about meshing with Duncan, so they started off agreeing on something. For me, there are two key reasons Spurs fans should not be concerned (and the rest of the NBA should be):

1) That Gregg Popovich guy is a pretty good coach. I think he’ll be able to put players in positions where they can succeed.

2) Duncan’s leadership style has always been unselfish and bending toward the practical — let’s do what works and what wins, not what’s best for my numbers. Aldridge will need to adapt to that some, but Duncan isn’t going to freak out about his numbers if Aldridge is getting more touches.

The only question anyone should have about the Spurs is health — they have the depth to keep guys fresh, but you never know. Of course, the same is true of every other contender.

Rookie Bogut had to wear diaper, sing Australian anthem

Golden State Warriors Travel Home
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NBA rookie hazing rituals tend to border on the embarrassing — guys having to use My Little Ponies backpacks all season — and a little physical labor, like getting donuts or carrying bags for the vets.

However, Golden State’s Andrew Bogut, speaking to GQ Australia, recounted a pretty embarrassing one.

Bogut: Once I had to dance in a nappy – a diaper – and I had to sing one song of my choice in front of the whole team.

Q: A 7-foot tall center in a diaper? Oof. What song did you choose?

Bogut: I did the Australian national anthem.  It was an easy one. I could pretty much make up words, they had no idea what I was saying.

I am glad I didn’t see this, because I could never have unseen it.

 

German fans’ standing O for Nowitzki after final game

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Dirk Nowitzki was in tears.

His German team was playing in Munich in what was a win-or-go-home game against Spain — and the Germans fell 77-76.

After the game had ended, the German crowd gave Nowitzki a standing ovation, which you can see above.

It was a rough game for Nowitzki — five games in six days is a lot to ask of the 37-year-old. He had 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting.

Nowitzki is, for my money, the best European player ever in the NBA, and he has as unguardable a shot as the league has ever seen. He carried the German national team for years. The pictures and video of when he took the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Germany in 2011 showed just how much that nation worshiped him.

Now the national team leader role falls more to Dennis Schroder (who missed a free throw with three seconds left that could have tied the game).

With the win, Spain advances to the knockout round, having finished second in Group B, the “group of death.”