Since we live in the cyberworld of the sound bite, instant history and, most importantly for the sports world, hyperbole, Ball in Europe officially unveils its first-round all-stars; hey, for some of these guys, the Eurobasket tournament is *the* moment in the international spotlight, so let’s help ‘em live it up!
Ladies and gentlemen, yourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Eurobasket All First-Round Team!
• PF Lior Eliyahu. Though Israel went out without much of a fight, Eliyahu for himself with 64 points in his three games, including a nice near one-man show against Croatia in which he notched 31 points based on 13-of-17 shooting. In addition to accounting for more than one-quarter of his team’s points, Eliyahu also contributed 20 rebounds in the tournament.
• PG Tony Parker. A line of 19.7 ppg/an incredible 4.3 rpg/3.7 apg for Tony *and* Les Bleus are just starting to heat up? Can you spell M-V-P?
• C Maciej Lampe/Marcin Gortat. Naturally, the (positive) surprise of Eurobasket 2009 would produce at least one major surprise individual performance of the tournament, but two? It’s fairly easy to watch Team Poland on TV in any language (the Ball in Europe home office has had games on in Turkish, German and Hungarian), because the commentary consists of a lot of “Lampe!” and “Gortat!” Seriously, these guys contribute 17-plus points each and 18-plus boards combined per game? Who’d’ve figured Poland to have two natural centers outplaying Spain’s Señor Laker at this point? Take your pick here.
• SF Ersan Ilyasova. Why has Turkey been so good this week? Aside from generally slick teamwork, how about Hedo Turkoglu more often than not deferring to red-hot Ilyasova, who put in an even 17 points and seven boards per game in the first three?
• SG Zoran Planinic. Though not finding his three-point stroke (going just 2-of-7 beyond the arc in the first round), Planinic has contributed a nice all-around game for Team Croatia, with 8.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 5.0 apg. If he starts hitting from downtown, Croatia becomes that much more powerful in round two.
• Rony Turiaf. Geez, who slipped Turiaf the angry pills? It’s done wonders for his game. As good as France looked in beating Russia last night, Turiaf looked even better; through three, Turiaf has gone for an even 11 ppg and 11 rpg to go along with five total blocks.
• Kelly McCarty. J.R. who? “Mak Karty” represents an incredible find for David Blatt and Team Russia, as the 34-year-old has been showing certain young whippersnappers how to play this game. McCarty has a first-round leading eight steals to go with nifty sharpshooting, at 6-of-11 from three-point land. And, yeah, he’s got stamina: McCarty has contributed 32.3 minutes per game to Team Russia, more than any of his teammates.
• Ioannis Bourousis. Yeah, BallinEurope will take heat for not including Bourousis on the first team; after all, the dude is shooting 75 percent from the floor (not a typo) for 15 ppg to go along with eight boards per game while Greece is exterminating the competition. But, hey, simply put, he only played two games. Don’t sweat it, Greece backers: Bourousis will get his due when he’s holding up the MVP trophy. (Unless Parker gets it, that is…)