Tag: Angola

international basketball FIBA

Tunisia earns Olympic berth with upset of Angola

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There are now three teams qualified for the Olympics next year in London — Tunisia will represent Africa after a stunning upset to win AfroBasket.

We say stunning upset because Tunisia was taking on Angola, a team that had not lost a game to another African team in a decade, the country that had won every AfroBasket tournament since 1997. Everyone went into this tournament expecting another Angola win.

But first Senegal beat Angola in group play, then Cameroon took Angola to double elimination in elimination play. Angola seemed vulnerable.

Then came Tunisia, which got a game-high 21 points from Marouan Kechrid on its way to a 67-56 win. Angola shot just 32.4 percent in the championship game and hit just 7 of 33 from three. This was Tunisia’s first win of the African championship since 1965.

Tunisia joins the United States and Great Britain in next year’s Olympic tournament. The USA is in for winning the World Championships last summer, Great Britain is in as the host.

Angola and Nigeria — which beat Cote d’Ivoire earlier in the day in the bronze medal game — advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. That is a play-in tournament in the weeks before next summer’s Olympics featuring teams from around the globe that just missed out in their regional qualifying. Only three teams from that 12-team tournament qualify for the Olympics, and no team from Africa has made that cut before.

One Olympics hoops berth being decided in Africa now

Ime Udoka
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From now through the middle of September, the field for next summer’s London Olympics will come into sharp focus. The United States is already in by virtue of winning the World Championships last summer. Great Britain is in because it is there party next July.

The first qualifying tournament on the calendar is FIBA Africa, where they are down to 16 teams in a single-elimination tournament (which starts today). Your four undefeated top seeds from group play being Tunisia, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon. The winner of the tournament gets into the 12-team field in the London Olympics. Come in second or third and you can go to the pre-Olympics qualifying tournament early next July (most likely, time and place officially TBD). Nobody is giving any team in this tournament a real shot at medals, but getting the Olympic experience is something.

If you are looking for NBA names playing in this event, we give you Ime Udoka of Nigeria (most recently of the Spurs, but the Lakers, Knicks and Trail Blazers have been stops). And that’s it. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is not playing and Hasheem Thabeet’s (Rockets) native Tunisia did not qualify.

Who do we take to win? Heck if I know. I know Angola has lost just one game in Africa in 10 years, but that was to Senegal just this week. I know Nigeria has Udoka and won each of its three group stage games by 15 points or more, so why not take them? But probably Angola anyway.

The other Olympics qualifying tournaments this summer are EuroBasket, FIBA Americas, FIBA Asia (which just started, Korea is defending champ), and the FIBA Oceania tournament (just pencil in Australia as the winner there).

USA v. Angola preview: Charles Barkley was right about Angola, it is in trouble


teamusa.jpgThe USA has not had to be an impressive team to win in the group play portion of the FIBA World Championships. They have been so much more skilled and athletic than the teams they faced (save Brazil) that they could basically coast.

But entering the 16-team knockout stage of the World Championships Monday things….

Will remain the same. I mean it’s Angola.

To quote Charles Barkley from the 1992 Dream Team: “I don’t know anything about Angola, but I know they’re in trouble.” (He then proceeded to throw a hard elbow at an Angolan player during a 38-7 USA run, then explained it afterward saying the guy might have thrown a spear at him. Classy.)

Okay, we know a little more about Angola now. We know that they are the six time defending African champions. They beat Germany (sans Dirk) and Jordan to get out of Group A. However Argentina, Serbia and Australia dispatched them with ease.

Angola comes in with one of the worst offenses to advance out of group play, averaging just 68 points on 45 percent shooting and 30 percent from three. The USA defense should be able to shut them down by and large. Also, this is the one team the USA will be taller than, with no Angolan starter over 6’8″.

The USA will win. Kevin Durant will look good. What matters is how things have changed from the somewhat lackluster USA team we saw in its last couple games. They can get away with another of those performances against Angola, but starting the following three games it could cost them dearly (by the finals they will have to be playing well). Did the days off and some practices help? Are they crisp; is there motion in the offense?

Mike Krzyzewski told ESPN’s Chris Sheridan we need to judge this USA team differently than we did the star-studded Beijing Olympic team.

“I would like for them to be youthfully enthusiastic in trying to accomplish something, instead of trying to be perfect. Being perfect is about those other guys,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, comparing this year’s version of Team USA to the superstar-laden Redeem Team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.

“I think you should always look at the team. If we had all the main guys here, then you should nitpick anything because that’s the world they live in. They always have to perform great, but we have a young group,” Krzyzewski said. “I think our guys have done great, and part of it is this is their first experience. We still have five guys who are 21 years old, and I think they’ve been terrific, and now they get a chance to do something that will be a momentous thing for them in their careers if they can get it done.

“Wanting to win, being enthusiastic, loose balls, getting out in passing lanes, that’s how we have to be with them.

That kind of energy will certainly be part of showing they are ready to take big steps in future rounds. But execution will matter as much or more. That is what we need to see.

World Championship knockout rounds set, USA has a tough road ahead


Thumbnail image for Kryzewski_USA.jpgThere are supposed to be rewards for winning your group-play bracket at the FIBA World Championships. And there are for the USA — it’s first round game is against Angola on Monday. Very winnable.

Then the sledding gets tough. It could have been worse. But tough.

Here’s the lineup. Saturday we get the two best games of the first round: first Serbia vs. Croatia, followed by the war that should be Spain vs. Greece. It would not shock to see the winner of that game in the gold medal game. The winners of those two games will go on to face each other in the round of 8 (look for the Spain/Greece winner to advance).

Sunday it is host and dancerless Turkey vs. France — Portland’s Nicolas Batum had a buzzer-beater three at the end of France’s game Thursday and if he hits it they (based on point differential) would have faced Russia in the first round, not undefeated Turkey. The other Sunday game is Slovenia vs. Australia, and the winners of those two games meet in the next round (look for Turkey out of this bracket).

Monday the USA gets Angola while Russia will take on (and likely defeat) New Zealand. Then it is USA/Russia on Thursday, with a Russian squad led by 6’11” Sasha Kaun and newly-signed Knick center Timofey Mozgov — two skilled big men. Against an undersized USA squad. This will be a first test.

Tuesday we see the other teams on the USA’s side of the bracket: Lithuania vs. China and Argentina vs. Brazil (that will be another entertaining game). Look for Argentina to advance out of this bracket, although with an off game Brazil or Lithuania could get them.

So your likely USA road to the gold medal: Angola, the tall Russian squad, Luis Scola and Argentina, then probably Spain in a repeat of the Barcelona gold medal game. But maybe Greece makes it all the way.

Either way, no easy road for the USA. Play like they did in the first half against Angola and they get no shiny metal objects to take home.

FIBA World Championships Day 5: The knockout phase picture is coming into focus


Brazil_Slovenia.jpgThe USA’s easy yet uninspired victory over Iran gave them the top seed in Group B at the FIBA World Championships. Lots of other teams were starting to lock up spots in the next round. Such as….

Slovenia 80, Brazil 75: Brazil gave the USA their toughest game so far, but they could not beat Slovenia on Wednesday. And that means Brazil likely will finish third in Group B, meaning they move to the side of the knock-out bracket with the USA and Spain (and may get Argentina or Serbia in the round of 16). Not good news for the Americans, either.

Slovenia was in control of this one from early on and led by 17 at one point, but a fourth quarter run by Brazil cut the lead to two. Then Jaka Lakovic stepped up and drained back-to-back threes for Slovenia and they held on

Angola 92, Germany 88 (OT): Germany was up four with :30 seconds to go and ended losing this one. Olimpio Cipriano had 30 for Angola, including 6 in the OT. Angola has never beaten Germany, they have never advanced to the knockout round of the World Championships. Congratulations on this huge accomplishment. You’re reward — the USA in the round of 16. Still, big win for the African nation.

New Zealand 71, Canada 61: This win sends New Zealand on to the next round and keeps Canada winless and going home early. No Samuel Dalembert, no Steve Nash, no wins for Canada.

Spain 91, Lebanon 57: The win means Spain, now 2-2 in group play will advance to the next round, but they will likely get Greece in the first round, then the Americans if they win that. Tough road, but Spain is paying the prince for some sloppy play in the group stage. By the way, Marc Gasol led all scorers with 22 in this one.

Serbia 94, Australia 79: Nenad Krstic was back from his chair-throwing suspension and that opened up the Serbian attack. Australia made this one interesting with a fourth quarter run that cut the lead to three, but Serbia got serious again and this was over.

In other action, Greece 97, Ivory Coast 60; Croatia 84, Tunisia 64; Russia 89, China 80; Turkey 79, Puerto Rico 77; Lithuania 69, France 55; Argentina 88, Jordan 7