Kris Santiago, a FIBA.com blogger, is in Athens right now, following every game of the pre-Olympic tournament. Here are his notes from today:
- Slovenia is getting better from game to game and could be facing Puerto Rico or Croatia (but I would go with Puerto Rico, as they are looking quite good on the perimeter) in the quarters. Lakovic is solid while Nesterovic feels comfortable attacking the boards. Slokar showed a good all-around game, hitting shots and doing the little things right (Finally some positive news about Uros). Becirovic completes the team that received some help from Miha Zupan in the first game.
- Canada played weaker than expected. Former Skyliner Dave Thomas stepped up during the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough as Carl English and Samuel Dalembert could not repeat their performances from the test games against Germany. Veteran Rowan Barrett is a steady scorer, but the team looked bad on the defensive end.
- Cape Verde is the first team to fly home. The “Trindade” got pounded again, this time by Germany. Young talent Jeff Xavier certainly has some upside (a solid shot and good ball-handling) but is a shoot-first point guard and had some problems adjusting to the game. If his dreams of playing in the NBA don’t come true, he may play in Europe. In order to be effective, Xavier really needs to work on his passing game.
The same goes for most of the players that never played at such a high level in FIBA-organised competitions and struggled against bigger guys like Femerling or Kaman.
- Germany used the game as another test, and had no trouble finishing from the three-point line or under the boards. Kaman is not looking fluid in his actions, as he is still trying to find his niche in the German game. Demond Greene hit some 3s in the beginning, making it crystal clear which team was supposed to win. Young gun Philip Zwiener was the surprise of the day, as he made the starting five and showed off a solid performance, which could lead to a permanent starting job. I personally like Konrad Wysocki; he should be getting more time on the court, getting six points in ten minutes and was ready for more. Oh, I forgot to mention Dirk Nowitzki, who was not flashy but left his mark, was able to rest a lot due to the big lead and should be more tested more against New Zealand tomorrow.
- Puerto Rrrrrico is getting the best out of Carlos Arroyo (Flashy as ever … behind the back, no look, you name it) and … (A real surprise to me) Ricky Sanchez, who was left open at the three-point line and scored at will. Daniel Santiago got some minutes but was not nearly effective as in Malaga, and P.J. Ramos looked better (Well, not his look but his game) against Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje. J.J. Barea is having some trouble displaying his scoring qualities but does his job which includes passing and defending.
- Cameroon is here with a bad karma. They were angry and disappointed regarding their government which failed to support them in a professional manner. Now Harding Nana had a good first game but struggles to find his shot against Puerto Rico. Boumtje-Boumtje is fighting like a bull on both defense and offense, but Cameroon really sometimes lacks the IQ on the court, as they repeatedly left Sanchez alone instead of guarding him closer and made mistakes when switching the player in the wrong moments. Parfait Bitee looks ready for Europe, as he is really doing a great job here, scoring mostly from outside and keeping Barea and Arroyo constantly under pressure. Brice Vounang is a short-sized center with a wide body and knows how to bang but may need to lose some weight in order to perform faster around the basket.
That’s all for now. I’ll keep you posted…
UPDATE: Kris just sent us some more thoughts:
- Cameroon’s Harding Nana got his shot back in the second half and Parfait Bitte, who may land a contract in Europe soon (The D-League is not an option, and his agent Keith Glass is already receiving offers), did his part to bring Cameroon back into the game, but it was Larry Ayuso’s three-pointer that killed Cameroon’s hopes of advancing.
- Cameroon’s coach Lazare Adingono was certainly disappointed with the way things ended for his team, and hopes that the government has seen the positive outing of his team in Athens and tries now to support the team financially so they may bounce back with another strong outcome at the 2009 African Championship in Libya.
- George Felton, director of player personnel, scouted Alexis Wangmene (Texas University) closely these days to see if he is capable of playing against bigger competition. Wangmene was not a big factor offensively while helping out well in limited minutes on the floor on the defensive end, but has a long road to go if he wants to make it to the NBA.
- Brazil is currently destroying Lebanon, and they look quite confident on the floor with Marcelinho Huertas and Murilo Becker da Rosa having already reached double digits in scoring. Now all the players are set to score, and even NBA bust Baby Araujo is doing well on the floor, having no trouble scoring in the paint at all.