Saturday, August 9, 2008

NAsh Challenge Building Momentum & Beijing Hoops

All systems go for Men's Basketball.

While the world was talking about and celebrating the start of the Beijing Olympics, I had my own party as I celebrated my rookie appearance on's - Ball Don't Lie.

I think the correct way of saying this is a huge hat tip to JE Skeets and his The 10-Man Rotation article.

Makes me start thinking of creating my own movement, Rod Benson style.

While I'm tipping my hat, I must include A Stern Warning. He is teaching me and looking out for me in this dangerous world of blogging. He pumps up my tyres via Ball Hype as well. Thanks.

I don't wish to keep harping on it but the free throw challenge started by Steve Nash is gaining momentum.

US hoop mag, Dime, has jumped on board as well.

World Hoops Blog is all over the contest as well. Cheers knackers.

Unbelievable what knocking down free throws can do!

Lets move on, shall we.

Today saw the women hit the hardwood (all scores here) at the Olympic Games and tomorrow will bring the first day of the men.

I take a look at all six games that will take place tomorrow.
Russia vs Iran (9am China)

Russia has slid under the radar leading into these Games. They won the European Championship last year but everyone seems to have forgotten this when they discuss medal possibilities.

This is a great warm up game for Russia.

Flag bearing Russian Andrei Kirilenko and Co will have too much for Iran's 7'2 Hamed Ehadadi and his teammates.

If there is heavy smog the Russians may break a sweat.

Germany vs Angola (11.15am China)

Germany's NBA pair of Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) and Chris Kaman (Clippers) should control the boards which will limit Angola's scoring opportunities.

If the Germans start out sloppy, look for Angola's trio of Olimpio Cipriano, Joaquim Gomez and Eduardo Mingas to cause some problems.

I'm predicting Angola to upset someone at these Games. If Germany takes them lightly, they could be the first victim.

In the end the Germans will be too big, too strong for the African Champs.

Spain vs Greece (2.30pm China)

Game of the round. Both teams would be thinking they will be around the mark when the medals are being decided. Neither team will want to start their Olympic campaign with a loss.

Spain is star studded with NBAers Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon and NBA castoffs Juan-Carlos "Nissan" Navarro and Jorge Garbajosa. Also they have talented youth on the roster (Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez) to give them depth.

Greece on the otherhand rely on great team play to get them the "W".

Sure Antonis Fotsis and Vassilis Spanoulis can light it up in a heart beat but it is the unselfish play of Dimitris Diamantidis and Theo Papaloukas that sets the tone for this team.

Greek centre Ionnis Bouroussis needs to stay out of foul trouble against the Gasols. Bouroussis is a player that can have an effect on the game at both the offensive and defensive ends, but foul trouble will hinder his ability to have an impact on the game.

In the end I feel the Spaniards have too much firepower for the Greek's sticky team defense.
Lithuania vs Argentina (4.45pm China)

If the previous game is not the game of the day, then this one is.

Lithuania is not as talented as they have been over the previous three Olympics, but while Saunas Jasikevkius is controlling the point guard position, the Lithos will be in any game.

Argentina on the other hand have all their studs in uniform. Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, Luis Scola, Andreas Nocioni and Carlos Delfino are one hand but I feel the pressure to perform is on Pablo Prigioni.

The point guard spot has usually been controlled by Pepe Sanchez but he is no longer with the team. Sanchez was a great PG at the international level. He had the ability to control a game without scoring a point.

Now it is Prigioni's turn. They are the defending gold medallists so he needs to perform well if the South Americans are to repeat Athens effort.

Argentina to win this game because of their superior depth everywhere.

Australia vs Croatia (8.00pm China)

This could be the game that sees the winner advance through to the quarter final round.

The Boomers (Aussies) have been building nicely during their warm up games and look ready for a strong Olympic campaign.

Over the past month these two teams have met three times. Croatia won two games while Australia managed a solo win.

Should we read into these results? I don't think so. The health of Andrew Bogut's ankle should be more of an issue.

If Bogut is healthy we have a strong front line to compete with anyone, let alone Croatia.

I'll say it again though, CJ Bruton needs to control the situation for the Boomers to be at their best.

Croatia is another team that is not as strong as they once were but they still have enough to scare most.

NBAer Roko Ukic (Raptors) and former Net Zoran Planinic are talented enough to cause Aussie coach Brian Goorjian some headaches.

If the Boomers are to make some noise in Beijing they need to win this game.

Aussies to win for me.
USA vs China (10.15pm)
This game is going to be filled with emotion. For the host nation China, they have sat around all day waiting for their game to arrive.
Yao and Co have an expectation to live up to in their homeland. There is some pressure there for them to succeed. Don't forget, Dell Harris got this team to the quarter final in Athens. They are at home now.
The USA or should I say "redeem team" have made it know they are in Beijing to get back what they feel they deserve. The gold medal. They want to get the first game out of the way.
Yao will pose some problems for the USA as the red, blue and white lack size inside.
The trouble for the Chinese is point guard Liu Wei will struggle against the USA's pressure defense which will limit Yao's impact on this game.
I'll be keeping an eye on newly acquired New Jersey Net Yi Jianlian to see if him and the coach are getting along a little better than during their warm up games.
USA to win this very easily. Will China be able to bounce back though?

Quote of the Day

"At the 1996 worlds, I got into it with Alonzo Mourning and Shawn Kemp, and I told them: 'If either of you want to fight me, one of you will never walk again." Words from former Australian Olympian Andrew Vlahov, courtesy of ESPN.

Group A Olympic team breakdown by ESPN's Chris Sheridan and here's Group B.

Five flag bearers are basketballers.

Boomers press conference before first game. (video footage)

Patrick Mills gets a wrap from NBA players.

Aussie players get mentioned in ESPN's Chad Ford article.

Josh Smith re-signed by the Hawks. He was a Grizz for a minute.

LeBron to test Europe waters as well.

Click here to see Pat Mills and Joe Ingles during the Opening Ceremony.

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