Hello, everyone, and welcome to Three Points, the weekly column in which an expatriate takes his shot (or three) at international and American ball from a galaxy far far away, a galaxy called Europe…
What a difference a game (or two) makes. Thanks to a little IPTV technology, this writer rabidly kept up with the six-team Good Luck Beijing 2008 women’s basketball tournament and not merely to harbor a crush on Erin Phillips. No, really. Honest.
After the no. 2 (we try harder) Australia Opals upended the slack Team USA on opening day of the tourney and China’s full compliment looked slick upending the Aussies on day two, the tourney looked up for grabs.
Then Oz sadly lost Suzy “Batgirl” Batkovic in game three against Cuba. The Batkovic-free, Lauren Jackson-less Australia would be done for the tournament and on the final day of regular play, Team USA was reasserting dominance in crushing China and ending suspense, 86-61. This with half a team.
“It’s just our game,” said USA coach Anne Donovan in the post-game glow; truer words were rarely spoken, and this writer was ready to declare the 2008 Games would see no dark horse in women’s basketball to swipe the presumptive gold from the red, white and blue.
In the finals on Saturday, Good Luck and China showed us (and, for those of us who had blissfully forgotton the 2004 Pistons-Lakers NBA Finals) why there are no foregone conclusions in roundball – at least should neither team sport a player named Michael Jordan.
With a burgeoning reputation in this tournament will get her lots of attention come Olympics time, Miao Lijie was devastating again, hitting from everywhere on the way to 26 points. Additionally, Team China seemingly proved the non-necessity of out-boarding the Yanks, typically a fruitless task. Sure enough, the Americans “won” the rebound battle, 42-26; yet it mattered not.
Though the American attack was well-distributed with four in double figures, Lisa Leslie was godawful at 4-of-18 shooting. Hopefully for Team USA, having the full contingent on the bench in August will mean the rock can be taken out of Leslie’s hands should she go this arctic cold.
So kudos to the ladies of China and a thank you for returning suspense to the international women’s game.
Gallinari goes NBA. Italy’s got to be agog about Danilo Gallinari, who announced to ‘paper Gazzetta dello Sport that he’ll be taking his act to the Big League. Currently in the playoffs with Olimpia Milano, the 19-year-old draws inevitable comparison to Peja Stojakovic and figures to go in the top 15 or so.
In his statement, Gallinari stated he “felt ready” and that destiny had presented the opportunity to jump the Atlantic.
Time will tell how far Gallinari goes, but this kid shows great media savvy (at least in Italian; start exercising the Babel Fish). Check out his fancy-schmancy official site, replete with multimedia and his own logo (!) at – what else? – DaniloGallinari.it. Look: There’s even a picture of him signing his declaration of intent for the draft.
(By the way, here’s a nice interview with Gallinari at a DraftExpress.com…)
Go, Pau. Speaking of Europeans in the NBA, there oughta be an award for transactions over there this year. In a season involving mid-season trades of Shaquille O’Neal and Jason Kidd, right about now you gotta like the Lakers bagging Pau Gasol.
Not even on the American mass media’s radar since Kobe started complaining about his lack of support in L.A. – instead, more Showtime-minded folks like Kidd, KG and Agent Zero Arenas were thought in the mix – Pau was somehow the best move Mitch Kupchak and the Laker brain trust could have made to placate Kobe and truly look like a playoff contender.
Though the Celtics landing KG in the offseason is clearly the MVM (that’s Most Valuable Maneuver) of the year, Paul’s ridiculous Game 1 performance against the Denver Statues – I mean, the Denver Nuggets – served as notice that the Lakers are a genuine threat.
Now what Kupchak needs to do is get the rights to brother Marc, dealt in the deal that landed Pau – back from the Memphis Grizzlies. To hell with Agent Zero, Mitch! Or better yet, sign Arenas as a free agent and then trade ‘im to Tennessee. That’ll give him something to blog about. And furthermore … what’s that? Why, yes, Laker fan here; why do you ask? Cheers.
Next week: The Euroleague finals are here! The Euroleague finals are here!