Whoa … anyone who thinks these “friendly” games in the runup to the 2010 FIBA World Championship don’t matter to the teams involved certainly wasn’t paying attention the literal battle that ensued during last night’s final game of the Acropolis Basketball Tournament between Greece and Serbia.
With the Acropolis tourney now in the books and a handful of other interesting friendlies having played out this week, BallinEurope gets ready for more international matches this weekend with another round of power rankings. Enjoy!
1. (↔) Spain. BiE has been warned that Team Spain’s 84-68 over Brazil in Logroño on Wednesday was well assisted by referees and Brazil without Tiago Splitter and Nene is hardly Brazil at all. On the other hand, Spain handled Argentina, Mike Krzyzewski’s got love for the Pau-less team, and Espana shows no serious signs of weakness.
2. (↔) USA. Mike Krzyzewski has announced his starting lineup for the game against Team Spain on Sunday; you know, a quintet of Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, Andre Iguodala and Tyson Chandler doesn’t seem quite as shaky as it might have two months ago, but still. Team USA faces its first true test tonight against Lithuania in Madrid.
3. (↔) Greece. BiE mulled and mulled over the placement of teams 2 and 3 for some time. While Team USA spent the week mulling over the last spot of the roster and probably making secret plans to unite Durant, Rondo and Chandler in Boston for 2013-14, Greece made mincemeat out of Canada and short work of short-handed Slovenia in the Acropolis Tournament. As some commenters here at BallinEurope have suggested, Greece (like Team USA) hadn’t exactly faced top-level competition until Serbia came to town last night and this happened:
Hey, no win, no move up.
4. (↑) Argentina. When last seen, patchwork Argentina was taking out patchwork Brazil in Logroño and losing to Spain. That’s about right as Argentina molds itself into shape. Serbia will be the challenge in Group A, but these guys are indicating right now that they’ll be going far into this tournament.
5. (↓) Okay, so Team Serbia generally looks good and were playing well enough against mighty Hellas before all hell broke loose, but they barely snuck past Slovenia thanks to a foul call and *did* lose to Canada, eh?
6. (↑) Enjoy this position while it lasts, Lithuania fans. You get Team USA next.
7. (↓) Brazil. Right, so Anderson Varejao went down in the Spain game – nothing serious as it turns out – while Nene and Splitter haven’t been playing lately either. Will this team actually be coming together any time soon? And if so, won’t it be too late to find a rhythm in time? Maybe on Sunday, as the team joins Australia, Virgin Islands and France in Lyon as the “Internacional Tournament” begins…
8. (↔) Croatia. No news is perhaps the best news for the injury-ravaged Croatians.
9. (↑) Canada. The folks back home were certainly buzzing about their team’s chances in this thing after opening up a 24-point lead against Serbia and then holding on for the win. (No wonder the Serbs flipped out so badly against Greece.) Team Canada may have lost to Slovenia a day later, but who’d’a thought this team could beat anyone sans Steve Nash?
10. (↓) Puerto Rico. While many will surely be saying simply “good riddance” to the petulant Larry Ayuso and Christian Dalmau, who walked off the team “after having differences with the technical staff about their roles in the 2010 FIBA World Championship” and “welcome aboard” to Guillermo Diaz and David Huertas, the controversy can’t be good for the team, can it? We’ll see in two contests versus Germany in the next three days.
11. (↑) Slovenia loses to Serbia, 82-81; loses to Greece, 96-72; beats Canada, 86-71. In other words, Team Slovenia bests the teams it should (well, except New Zealand), and falls to the better teams as expected. It’s those middle-range teams that make things interesting, and suddenly it seems like Slovenia could give Croatia and Brazil a run for second place in Group B.
12. (↓) Turkey. A low ranking, to be sure, but Team Turkey gets one more shot at redemption this weekend in the Efes Pilsen World Cup 9, a potentially fascinating four-team tournament bringing Argentina, Canada and Lebanon to town.
13. (↓) Germany. Head coach Dirk Bauermann gave his squad two days off this week in preparation for meeting Carlos Arroyo, Renaldo Balkman, Jose Barea and Team Puerto Rico in what he reckons will be “a real endurance test for our young team.”
14. (↓) Lebanon. Loveable underdogs travel to Turkey to meet some non-Asian competition. World, meet Fadi El Khatib.
15. (↔) France. Another benefit-of-the-doubt pick, and since when did Group D become the “group of death”…?
16. (↑) Australia. If only because they’ll be the last team to advance to the knockout stage, it seems.