Ogo ready to go

Hours remain until Eurobasket 2011 tips off here in Lithuania. As a warmup this morning, BallinEurope brings a roundup of some chatter from around the world regarding the big tournament; in ESPN TrueHoop tradition, we’ll bring it bullet-style.

• Poor Israel, one of the more unheralded teams in the tournament … not only are they placed in what BiE considers to be the true “Group of Death,” but they’ll be tipping off tonight against Dirk Nowitzki (called “the greatest player in the world” by more than one tout) and his Team Germany. And poor Guy Pnini, tasked with stopping the Dastardly Maverick. “If he senses fear,” muses the Israeli in Haaretz, “he’ll take advantage of it, like a shark smells blood.”

• Britain head coach Chris Finch reckons it’s time for his team to grow up fast against the EuroBasket hosts tonight: “Our younger players don’t grasp how big this is – but they will when the ball goes up.”

• But hey, Joel Freeland is confident. And Ogo Adeboye is “raring to go.”

• The ever-quotable Joakim Noah on the chances of Les Bleus, “a team in progress.”

• And here’s Noah’s Team France teammate Tony Parker, who states that Olympic glory is the only thing his career has lacked thus far.

• A Spanish sports outlet proclaims the EuroBasket field the “toughest ever” for this tournament and sees lots of possibilities for the defending champions to be upset: Lithuania, Russia, Turkey, Germany, Serbia, France, Italy, Greece…

• In this tournament, not only will Enes Kanter be battling underneath against the likes of Spain’s Gasol Brothers and Lithuania’s Ksistof Lavrinovic, he’s also shaking off two years’ worth of rust. “I am not in game shape,” says the prospective Utah Jazz man, “I am trying to get [into] game shape.”

Matjaz Smodis seeks redemption for Team Slovenia.

• Greek media takes time to appreciate what the NBA lockout has brought: Namely, lots of superstars to the Eurobasket tournament.

• In FIBA Europe’s (not to mention BiE’s) game of the night tonight, Team Italia faces off against Serbia in Group B. Italy-based Gazzetta dello Sport’s description of their side: “Stellar.” Of Serbia: “Scary.”

• The Toronto Sun wonders if incoming Raptor Jonas Valanciunas can “carry Lithuania to victory,” but BiE maintains Lithuania will go a heckuva lot further with a tricky, multi-faceted attack that exploits their deep bench instead.

• Finally, even though EuroBasket games aren’t going down in Vilnius until next week, the Lithuanian capital nevertheless celebrated with fireworks and such on Monday night.


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