Tag: EuroBasket 2011

Spain's basketball players Navarro, Gasol, Calderon and Rubio attend the presentation of their team for the Eurobasket at Madrid's Arena

EuroBasket underway, continent’s Olympic qualifying event

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In less than a year, the Olympic basketball tournament will be taking place on European soil. Even if there are times the rest of Europe doesn’t really want to claim England.

Starting Wednesday, the Olympic qualifying tournament for Europe got underway – also known as EuroBasket, or the European Championships. In that part of the world a title in this is as big or bigger than an Olympic title, but this time around the top two finishers in this event get an automatic berth in the London Olympics. Finishers three through six go to the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament next summer to fight with teams from around the globe for one of the final spots in the games.

EuroBasket is filled with NBA players and some of the best teams in the world. We’re going to be writing quite a bit about this tournament over the next fortnight, so here is a little primer of the teams to watch (for more in depth stuff, check out The Painted Area, and follow them through the tournament).

Spain: They are the clear favorites and they are loaded with NBA talent: Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez. The guys who don’t play in the NBA are experienced stars on Europe’s biggest stages. So they came out in their opener and sleepwalked to an 83-78 win over Poland — lethargic play in the early rounds by Spain is a sign that it’s a big tournament. They can be their own worst enemy. In that game against Poland, Pau Gasol had 29 points on 12 shots, while Rubio posted a line of 0-0-0. For Spain, anything short of a gold and qualifying for the Olympics is a let down.

After that, things are pretty wide open with a number of teams who could get that second Olympics spot.

France: They have NBA players Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum and Ronny Turiaf. They will be one of the best defensive teams in the tournament and if they can score they will be a threat in any game. But look for the offense to be streaky.

Lithuania: They played well at the World Championships last year and they are the host of this event — home teams do very well in international competitions (see Turkey in the World Championship finals last year). The guy to watch here is Toronto’s recent draft pick (No. 5 overall) Jonas Valanciunas, who looked dominant at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships and looked good against Russia in a recent game. The team is loaded with experienced, good European players such as Darius Songaila.

Germany: They have the best front line in this tournament with Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman. Like the Mavericks, they surround a good front line with a lot of shooters. One key to watch is Group B with Germany, Italy, France and Serbia — four good teams but only three advance out of group play to the knockout round. There is no room for error (Italy should lose out, but they will not go quietly).

Serbia: The player you know is Nenad Krstic (formerly with the Thunder), but what they bring is some of the best teamwork in a tournament often known for good teamwork. They have had the same team playing together for three straight summers. That matters.

Turkey: They boast almost as much NBA talent as Spain with Hedo Turkoglu, Omer Asik, Semih Erden, Ersan Ilyasova, and Enes Kanter (not as high a level of talent as Spain, but this is a good lineup). They played very well at home in Istanbul for the World Championships (losing only to the eventual champion USA) but how will they do away from home? This is not considered a mentally strong team, but if they put it together watch out.

You can stream all the EuroBasket action on ESPN3.

Ricky Rubio rolls ankle during EuroBasket tune-ups

Spain's basketball player Ricky Rubio talks to the media after the presentation of the Spanish basketball team for the upcoming Eurobasket 2011 championships at Madrid's Arena
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For NBA owners — even during a lockout — this remains a frightening proposition: Their best players getting injured representing their country in international competitions.

So far through this summer of Olympic qualifying there have been some injuries but fortunately nothing major.

Now you can add the Timberwolves new No. 1 import Ricky Rubio to the list of guys who have been injured. He sprained his ankle Saturday in a game against Slovenia and sat out Sunday’s rematch, according to FIBA.com. He will be evaluated again in a few days, according to the report. Which means he should be fine when EuroBasket starts on Aug. 31, where Spain will be a favorite to win it all (the top two get spots in the 2012 Olympics tournament).

Also, Rudy Fernandez injured his right arm in the first half and sat out the second half of Sunday’s game for Spain. Fernandez is now part of the Mavericks, where owner Mark Cuban has long expressed concern about these international competitions and what they do to his players. And yes, Dirk Nowitzki is playing for Germany in EuroBasket.

The overseas game allows more contact and physical play than the NBA, so you can expect to see a few more.

The biggest injury of the tune-ups so far remains Omri Casspi, who tweaked his knee and likely will miss EuroBasket all together for Israel.

These injuries are especially big for NBA players during the lockout, as they have to get their own insurance. It’s also a concern for the countries’ basketball programs, which had to take out insurance against the contracts of those players in case they get injured and then cut by their NBA teams.

Of course, with an extended lockout everyone will have plenty of time to heal.

Video: Nicolas Batum throws it down, Turiaf likes it

New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets
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All over Europe right now there are a bunch of tune-up games taking place as teams get ready for EuroBasket at the end of the month — the tournament that determines who from the continent is headed to the 2012 Olympics in London and who is watching on television.

From that, we bring you this monster throw down from France’s Nicolas Batum. We don’t bring it to you to show you the nice drive and dish, the terrible defensive rotations or even the dunk itself.

We bring it to you so you can see the Ronny Turiaf celebration dance. Watch and understand. Watching Ronny Turiaf watch great basketball is almost as fun as watching great basketball. Actually, it may be equally as fun. (Hat tip to The Basketball Jones)

Nowitzki, Kaman to suit up for Germany at EuroBasket

Dirk Nowtizki Germany
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We’ll see how good Germany is as a team, but they have one formidable front line.

Dirk Nowitzki has made it official and will play for Germany this summer as the team tries to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. He will be joined on the front line by Clippers center Chris Kaman, according to the official FIBA site (via Hoopshype).

“The rest was short but I would like to help the young German national team to gain success in Eurobasket,” Nowitzki said. “I will do everything to keep fit and I’m looking forward to spending time with the guys.”

Kaman is a naturalized German citizen due to his ancestry and he played for Germany in 2008 in Beijing (where the team went 1-4 in group play).

EuroBasket starts Aug. 31 in Lithuania and will feature 22 teams trying to earn one of two automatic berths to the London Olympics. Teams that finish third through sixth will take part in the pre-Olympics qualifying tournament next year for a second shot to get in. To follow the summer tournaments keep on reading PBT and also check out FIBA’s road to London site.

To add to Bulls woes, Omer Asik done for season

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Two

Omer Asik barely made it out on the court as it was.

The Bulls Turkish backup center had a lower leg strain that would have had him sitting during the regular season but he went through warm-ups and gave it a go Tuesday night.

He was on the court for less than a minute when LeBron James fell into his leg. Asik left the court never to return.

Now he is done for the rest of this series, according to a tweet from Turkish journalist Ismail Senol (via SB Nation):

Bulls’ center Ömer Aşık is out for season. Ankle injury will keep him out for six to eight weeks.

CSN Chicago has confirmed this.

That’s going to mean more minutes for Joakim Noah if he can stay out of foul trouble, plus a little burn for old man Kurt Thomas. Both of which hurt the Bulls depth, Asik has been good in the playoffs in the limited role given him.

It’s not known how this would impact Asik playing in EuroBasket for his native Turkey this summer, the tournament where bids for the 2012 Olympics will be decided. The lockout and insurance for players will play a big role in that as well.