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Thread: Some Random Thoughts On International Basketball

  1. #476
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    My picks:

    MEN

    Hosts: (1) Brazil
    FIBA World Champions: (1) USA
    Africa: (1) Nigeria
    Americas: (2) Venezuela & Argentina
    Asia: (1) China
    Europe: (2) Spain & Lithuania
    Oceania: (1) Australia
    OQT: (3) projecting Serbia, France and Greece (or Italy)

    WOMEN

    Hosts: (1) Brazil
    FIBA World Champions: (1) USA
    Africa: (1) Senegal
    Americas: (1) Canada
    Asia: (1) Japan
    Europe: (1) Serbia
    Oceania: (1) Australia
    OQT: (5) projecting France, Spain, Turkey, China & South Korea
    Last edited by 2sc945; 04-10-2015 at 10:20 PM.
    OMFG this is for Real!!!! * Shocked *

    Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

    TFRENBAA

  2. #477
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    Toronto's 2015 Pan American Games got the women's basketball final it happily wished for at the Ryerson University Mattany Athletic Centre at Maple Leaf Gardens. It will have hosts Team Canada versus Team USA for the Pan Am gold!

    Canada endured what's really the best game so far in the 2015 Pan American Games women's basketball competition when it faced solid Cuba for the right to claim the Pool B unbeaten--and to avoid the USA until the final. Right down to the wire it went with a sold out 3300-crowd packed that included Kentucky's prized Canadian recruit Jamal Murray, Sim Bhullar, and recently-retired Canadian women's basketball player Teresa Gabriel. In only her second game playing here Indiana Fever/Notre Dame star Natalie Achonwa from Guelph, Ontario is making her impact felt for Team Canada. And it was also the young guards Nurse, Fields, Langlois, and Tatham who took charge down the stretch, negating Cuba's speed with their own and their quickness. All part of that 71-68 Canada thriller:
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...emifinals.html
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...rst-in-their-g

    Well it turned out that it's Brazil that advanced to the semis (and eventually faced Canada) and not Puerto Rico as I predicted. The United States ends the Puerto Ricans' hope to advance with a 93-77 dismantling; PR needed this than the Americans obviously. USA outscored them in the fourth quarter's final 10 minutes. They got Cuba next:
    http://www.usab.com/news-events/news...erto-rico.aspx

    Brazil sends the Dominican Republic home winless 73-54

    In a meaningless game except to avoid last place in Group B, Argentina wins over weak Venezuela 87-68

    Given the political situation now with the USA-Cuba detente after over 50 years of the Cold War legacy and now that even the two nations are now opening each other's embassies, that detente obviously was going to be a subplot when the USA faced Cuba in the semifinal. Especially with the fact that it's taking place in Canada, which never broke diplomatic ties with Cuba and played an important role in this reconciliation negotiations. Cuba, with its veterans that are currently at their peak, played the young college-aged Americans tough too just like the Canadians. It was even closer, but the Americans came out on top 65-64. USA had to emerge from a 14-point deficit in the third. South Carolina's Alaina Coates had a double double (14 points, 10 rebounds):
    http://www.usab.com/news-events/news...semifinal.aspx

    Canada breaks up Brazil in another semifinal for them with a 91-63 dismantling to ensure the Canadian basketball women its best-ever Pan American Games finish for at least silver, its first Pan American Games medal since Winnipeg 1999. And the players are excited for tonight's gold medal game against the USA that's going to be packed. Can Team Canada win? Possible. Team USA isn't exactly beating up teams lately. Meanwhile, Brazil will face the Cubans for bronze today:
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...ball-gold.html
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...to-toronto-201

    Venezuela tops the Dominican Republic in the battle of the winless for 7th place 72-56. Puerto Rico falls to Argentina 77-56 as the Argentinians take 5th.

    The Canadian men will have it tougher in their competition as opposed to the women. Nevertheless, they're certainly up for the challenge, getting prepared for Mexico later this summer. Note the photo of Andrew Nicholson, legendary Atlanta 1996 double gold medalist sprinter Donovan Bailey, and Anthony Bennett with this article. All three are Toronto-area natives with Jamaican heritage. Actually, Bailey was born in Jamaica:
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...pan-games.html
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 22-07-2015 at 06:18 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  3. #478
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    Finally came down to the most anticipated Pan American games women's basketball game around with one established world power and a rapidly-rising one north of its border last night in another border battle between the two. Each has its stars on both teams, particularly two on the same championship college team. Yes, I'm talking Team Canada and Team USA for the women's gold. And it is a very talented but less heralded (at least to us here statesside) that was the show, much to the Americans' dismay. For the first time in Pan American Games women's basketball, Canada grabs its historic gold in its best finish ever there, men or women, to deny the Americans its record 8th Pan American gold 81-73 and become the last unbeaten women's team there. Kia Nurse, with the poise of a longtime vet at 19 years old and former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb's niece, had the game of her life, pouring it on with 33 points. Just attacking. Guess a new Canadian women's basketball star is born with a packed more pro-Canada crowd. Now the fruits of that Canadian basketball golden generation are starting to bear nicely. All those tuneup games paid off and got its breakout game in a rare home soil opportunity. Now the Canadian women's are brimming with tremendous confidence from their strong performance going into Edmonton for the FIBA Americas Women's Championship with much of the same roster to get to be champions for the lone automatic Americas spot in Rio for its second consecutive Olympic berth. Many on the Canadian roster actually hold at least some post-college pro basketball experience and approaching their peak, so that helped them to their advantage against Team USA's college roster despite its A-level talent. Achonwa added 13 for Canada.

    Keep in mind, the USOC uses the Pan American Games mostly as a platform to develop international experience for its younger athletes and deepen its talent pool come the Olympics and World Championships. The USA basketball teams here are no exception, so nothing's really at stake save for national pride. Thanks to Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson, the Americans led early in the first quarter 23-13, plotting for an expected blowout. But that's when Nurse ignited. And the problems flared up again. Maybe it was because of Nurse's UCONN teammates. US turnovers proved costly. Canada outrebounded them and went zone on the taller Americans. Stewart, who averaged 22 points per game, came up with 17 points (Jefferson had 14). We'll likely see her in Rio next year. Before last night's 33-point explosion, Nurse had 9 ppg by contrast:
    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/pana...ball-gold.html
    http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commen...da-women-final
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...5-pan-am-games
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...oric-gold.html
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/pan...kia-nurse.html
    http://www.sportsnet.ca/more/canada-...sketball-gold/
    http://www.usab.com/news-events/news...can-games.aspx

    Cuba edges Brazil 66-62 for bronze before this exhilarating game.

    Now it's the men's turn tonight. Can the Canadian men emulate what the women just did last night?

    Manny Pacquiao knows how big basketball is in the Philippines that's ubiquitous all over, and, with the next FIBA World Basketball Championship slated for Asia in 2019, will apparently stump for that nation going against China for that right. Comes at a good time for the nation when it's back among the upper echelon of Asian teams and is building more contemporary-standard (very large in a few cases) arenas:
    http://espn.go.com/olympics/basketba...fiba-world-cup
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 23-07-2015 at 04:05 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  4. #479
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    After the Kia Nurse Golden Girl Show Tuesday night at Maple Leaf Gardens, what can Canada Basketball do for an encore with the men taking over last night? As evidenced by what's happening right now, Canadian basketball seems to be starting something special. That continued last night when Canada handles the pourous Dominican Republic with little issues at all 105-88 to an enthusiastic crowd. Brady Heslip led Team Canada's balanced scoring with 24 points followed by four other Canadians scoring in double figures: Anthony Bennett paired 15 points with a game-high 10 rebounds, fellow NBA player Andrew Nicholson had 14, while Melvin Ejim and incoming University of Kentucky freshman (and NBA lottery hopeful) Jamal Murray added a dozen each:
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...e-1st-win.html

    Well, turns out Greivis Vasquez is not on the Venezuelan Pan Am roster as I thought he would be, which would be now ironic with him no longer in Toronto. I guess Milwaukee, his new team, told him wait until Mexico in August for the more important tournament before donning the "vinotinto". Nonethless, he would come very handy for them last night. Team USA outscores them 51-21 in the second half for the 85-62 victory, overcoming a 41-33 halftime deficit from its vets in the process:
    http://www.usab.com/news-events/news...ag-opener.aspx

    The United States haven't won Pan American gold in men's basketball since Caracas 1983 with North Carolina stars Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins on the team. So get to know them for this no superstar team that's not just several college players looking to improve their draft stock but has Sacramento player Ryan Hollins along with other relevant-hoping vets:
    http://heavy.com/sports/2015/07/usa-...zel-valentine/

    No mercy was shown to the Puerto Ricans from Time Brazil in a 92-59 rout.

    Mexico continues its newfound Americas momentum in what was the best game of Tuesday with a 86-84 OT escape from Golden Generation-less Argentina.

    Guinea, fielding a team of nothing but domestic players from the French-speaking West African nation, ends up getting the second-to-last open Group B spot for the upcoming FIBA Africa women's basketball championship with the wildcard remaining, despite of losing very lopsidedly in their two-game series to already qualified Mali who are also All-Africa Games-bound. Like to know who the African women wildcards candidates are:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/guinea-qual...-african-games

    Soumeya Regani is excited to wear Algeria's colo(u)rs for the upcoming 2015 African Women's Basketball championships for the first time with hopes to aim higher than Algeria's 11th place finish two years ago:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/algerias-re...robasket-women

    Just over 20 years ago believe it or not was the eventually-controversial Eurobasket 1995 in Athens, Greece, back there after 8 years from that magical Greek run that was its major international basketball breakthrough party that's still fondly remembered there. I discussed this off and on here, especially at the beginning of this thread. But with this being the 20th anniversary, seems like a good time to revisit this. As we know, Yugoslavia (then Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo), back in international competition after UN sanctions were lifted from its aggressor role in the civil war atrocities, was still among the best in Europe and the world with predominantly Serb stars Divac, Danilovic, Djordjevic, Bodiroga, Paspalj, Rebraca, Savic, and Obradovic wanting to take names. Also noted is Lithuania's successful return to Eurobasket as an independent nation since 1939, grabbing silver with its own stud team coming in as heavy favo(u)rites. Greece as hosts was on the verge of first-ever Olympic appearance then with many of its longtime vets and a few younger stars. But one of the former, New Jersey-born legend Nick Galas, decided to retire before this.

    When I first saw the highlights here from CBS Sports, the focus was understandably on the civil war tensions involving the former Yugoslavia's NBA stars. Even with the Dayton Accord signed, political and nationalistic tensions still ran extremely high and memories remain fresh among the former Yugoslav republics. Organizers in Athens made sure those national teams--especially Croatia and Yugoslavia--ate well separate from each other at the tables, so as not to raise tensions again. Greece, with its culture that's more aligned with Yugoslavian neighbor, interestingly turned on them from the Yugoslavia-Greece semifinal game.

    Now taking on an "us versus the world" mentality, Yugoslavia played the final against Lithuania in what I call a study in bad. Bad politics. Bad fouls. Bad tensions. Bad refereeing. Bad feelings. Bad persuasions. Surprised no fights happened. The final is remembered as one of the most intense ever with, before trading points in the first half with a couple of top guns for both teams, the Greeks, packing up the 20,000-seat OAKA Arena furious over their beloved Greeks relegated to the bronze medal game, began cheering the Lithuanians who were ahead a point 49-48. Vlade Divac got a technical foul early in first half. In second half, an American referee George Toliver signaled Lithuanian center Arvydas Sabonis for a technical foul, which led to Lithuanian protestations. After a few more fouls signaled by the referee, one offensive and one technical against Lithuania, the Lithuanian team refused to return to the court after timeout. After a few minutes, Aleksandar Đorđević, who was the leading scorer with 41 points (made 9 three-pointers out of 12 attempted), tried to convince Sarunas Marčiulionis to continue playing. The persuasions proved successful, and five Lithuanians returned to the court. Yugoslavia was leading 93?89 with 2 minutes remaining in the game. Players Arvydas Sabonis and Rimas Kurtinaitis could not return to the court, as they fouled out before the Lithuanian refusal to play. And although the Lithuanian team tried their hardest to catch up with the Yugoslavian team, they eventually lost 96?90. At the end Marciulionis looked liked he wanted to beat up somebody for a bit.

    Greek fans at the medal ceremony, entirely surrounded by police, further showed their disgust bitterly chanted "Lithuania is the champion!" and booing and whistled while players defiantly displayed the Serbian salute, as if it's a middle finger to them--and drowning out the anthem. even with strong small spatterings of Serbian fans. With coach Dusan Ivkovic assured to Sabas apologies and reconciliations. And, furthermore, right before Yugoslavia got its gold medals, the Croatians infamously walked off the podium. Yes, the move was obviously political and of the questionable referee's decisions. Imagine if Croatia and Yugoslavia played instead for the final. More intensity. And that's an understatement! Could witness a fight or more.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xddMTa_tC94 z (Greece's ERT broadcast--no Croatians walk off)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ8awxvey5s (Lithuania's LRT broadcast)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DomM2ZdWz4E (Yugoslavia/Serbia's RTS2 broadcast)

    Croatia vs. Greece bronze medal game--even the still-bitter Greeks whistled at the innocent Croatians:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfg8XhBNHSU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YJyOmBLx_M
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfTtaXGXUY4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acewvtQPdTQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRY-6TY13Ws
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5v-dMzRaSI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00WASmazAeI

    Croatia vs. Lithuania semifinal:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxyfZyImA98

    When the Greeks fans started to turn on Yugoslavia: Yugoslavia vs. Greece:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DomM2ZdWz4E

    Russia vs. Lithuania Eurobasket 1995 quarterfinal in a almost empty OAKA Hall:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUI2hQnyNd4

    Yugoslavia vs. Sweden Group A play (interesting looking Swedish cheerleaders)--one of the games that left Sweden winless in Athens:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GChw5IpM1dk

    Lithuania vs. Italy in Group A game--Italian sportscaster sounds angry or is it more like a call-in sports radio show:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvLB1h_6lMU

    Greece vs. Italy:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8XAZ0sAknI

    Germany vs. Yugoslavia:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Solg2MzwMzc

    Yugoslavia vs. France quarterfinal:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rqo3a2b9mg

    Now back more to the present with Mexico 2014 games with the first one against eventually winless in Group D South Korea that Mexico won 87-71 and them falling to the Boomers 70-62 both in Gran Canaria, Spain on Mexico's TV Azteca 7:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLaEm3-xxTM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny3-KT2NX2c
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  5. #480
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    Canada will emerge out of Group B in the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games men's basketball competition with sole possession of the group regardless of what happens tonight after both won their second games. Canada edges from a Luis Scola-less Argentina 88-83 with half combined from Andrew Nicholson and Jamal Murray. After Argentina's fall to Mexico in overtime, pressure was on the team to stay alive with a win. Canada has Mexico next tonight. Now it's going to be a fight for that second spot that can come on point differential with Mexico, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic:
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...asketball.html

    Brazil eliminates Venezeula 79-64. Dominican Republic wins against Mexico 95-70

    USA handles its business on Puerto Rico 104-70 in a rout. Not to mention that poor PR shooting it contained. The Americans and Brazil will advance out of Group A to the semifinals having eliminated both Venezuela and Puerto Rico:
    http://www.usab.com/news-events/news...erto-rico.aspx

    With Brazil beating the United States by 10, 93-83, in the final game of Group A play, Canada and the USA was going to have its matchup earlier than anticipated in the Pan American semifinals. The following game last night really should've been the final because of how thrilling that was. And again, it was Team Canada on top with its 111-108 win over Team USA, a team that has predominantly NCAA players and a handful of pros, all of whom tasted the NBA but only one who's active there countering Canada's three NBA pros that all from Toronto. Canada will go for gold for the first time ever in the men's game tonight against Brazil, who beat the Dominican Republic, who of course are without many of its DR stars like Al Horford, Villanueva, and Minnesota rookie Karl Anthony Townes, 68-62. You know the Mattany Athletic Centre at Maple Leaf Gardens will be rocking again for the final time.
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...asketball.html

    United States just defeated the Dominican Republic 87-82 for bronze. Argentina controls Rick Pitino's Puerto Rico for 5th place 105-85. Venezuela avoids 8th and last place by sending Mexico there in the 7th place game blasting them 83-59.
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 26-07-2015 at 07:28 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  6. #481
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    No Canada basketball golden double will be in the offering at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games: Brazil, with apparently its own patchwork B-team as their big guns are absent, defeats Team Canada for gold last night in Toronto 86-71, breaking their fans hearts' wish for gold. Canada had no energy by then and never recovered. Nonetheless, it remains its best ever Pan American Games finish. Kentucky-bound Jamal Murray from Kitchener is a revelation out of these games. So much so his name is certain for inclusion for the upcoming FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico City when the bigger Canadian names arrive and suit up to deepen the roster.
    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/pana...asketball.html
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...ilver-medal-at
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...me-brazil.html

    There is one official act Kia Nurse still has left before heading off to Edmonton: she'll carry the Canadian maple leaf flag at tonight's Pan American closing ceremony after being chosen this morning because of her incredible performance in the gold medal game:
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/kia...-ceremony.html
    http://panam.cbc.ca/news/article/can...me-brazil.html
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  7. #482
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    Would you believe there was another basketball competition from a lesser internationally known multisport games this summer? Well, it took place this year in one of the Channels islands known as Jersey and it's called the Island Games.

    Unlike the last one two years ago in Bermuda with only two teams playing at Bermuda College Gym--hosts Bermuda and the Finnish island of Saaremare played a 2-game series and then for gold only in men's play that saw Bermuda win all three with a 61-38 win to successfully defend their title--this edition saw 12 teams in four groups of three battling it out in men's play and two groups of four teams each in the women.

    Island Games 2015 men's basketball groups
    Group A: Saaremaa, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man
    Group C: Menorca, Guernsey, Faroe Islands
    Group B: Gibraltar, Jersey, Gotland
    Group D: Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Froya

    Women
    Group A: Menorca, Guernsey, Jersey, Gotland
    Group B: Gibraltar, Bermuda, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/basketball/31426775

    Guernsey, another one of those Channel Islands, pulled out of the 2013 basketball competition like so many others including Gibraltar due to the prohibitive organizational costs. It even entertained the idea of playing in Gibraltar at a basketball tournament during the same time as the 2013 Island Games:
    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/basketball/21440870

    Saaremara gets their revenge on Bermuda and stops its three Island Games golden streak. Gibraltar claims bronze in the men's.

    The Swedish island of Gotland wins gold in the women's Island Games basketball over Menorrca off Spain. Gibraltar here also gets bronze.

    With Greece undergoing this awful austerity measure even with those bailouts from these economic dire straits it will never happily recover from, I'm very concerned how it impact Greek pro basketball outside of the top clubs like Olympiacos and Panathinaikos. the smaller clubs are more vulnerable. Already Ilsiyakos BC, a club known for developing young Greek players and coaches, withdrew from the Greek A2 League last season after 26 games and losing all of them with 4 to go because of its economic debts. All their games became 20-0 losses
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  8. #483
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    Talking

    LOLz
    OMFG this is for Real!!!! * Shocked *

    Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

    TFRENBAA

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    Turns out that EuroChallenge Final thriller between champs JSF Nanterre and Trabzonspor Medical Medical Park on Trabzonspor's home arena this year will be the final one. FIBA has scrapped the EuroChallenge in favo(u)r of a new men's second-tier basketball competition called the FIBA Euro Cup that will compete against the Euroleague's Euro Cup. 56 teams are are confirmed for this with teams placed in two geographical conferences of seven groups each with four teams. These four teams will play against each other three times home and home with the top two teams in each group along with the best third place teams advancing to the Round of 32, where the top two teams in each group head on the Last 16 Playoffs. This new competition was supposed to open up to 100 teams entering. Might happen next year:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/56-clubs-co...ub-competition

    Russian Basketball Federation is suspended for government interference (Russian court forcing in June new presidential elections on August 25 after years of years of instability and doubts over election results under Yulia Anikeeva), something the likes of FIBA takes a very dim view towards. May seriously jeopardize the men's Rio prospects in defending their bronze or go better. Can't even compete in Eurobasket right now. Women's are already shot at Eurobasket:
    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.c...2016-olympics/

    Brazil still is not close to competing automatically regarding the dues payment deadline. And we're days away from the FIBA Congress in Tokyo coming up this weekend.

    Come August 8, all women's international basketball eyes will be at the Saville Community Sports Centre at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton, Alberta for the 2015 FIBA Americas Women's Tournament. One spot is only up for grabs for direct qualification to Rio De Janeiro--and that's obviously for the champs. Odds on that the hosts Canada, hot off their first-ever gold medal performance at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and still peaking, are the major favo(u)rites head and shoulders above many in the field, save for Brazil, who may or may not at this point get automatic entry. Cuba is reasonably close with many of its players at their peak but little in the way of several playing pro ball overseas. Argentina and Puerto Rico could both sneak in and shock, at least for next year's OQT. I'm thinking this will be more of an extension or carryover what we just saw in Toronto, even with a couple of different teams added since from that live the US Virgin Islands and Ecuador. Top two in each group make it to the semifinals:

    GROUP A: Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Chile
    GROUP B: Argentina, US Virgin Islands, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador

    Canada and Cuba will make it out of Group A, though I would like to see Puerto Rico surprisingly make it in Cuba's place. Brazil and Argentina will emerge out of Group B. Canada will beat Argentina with Brazil knocking off Cuba. Canada will come out victorious gaining automatic entry after that when it faces Brazil (this assuming Brazil gets no automatic entry from FIBA), much to the home nation's fans delight. When Canada last hosted this 20 years ago in Hamilton, Ontario, they won and automatically qualified for Atlanta.

    Chile coach Ricardo Rodriguez names his Chilean team roster for the Canada 2015 FIBA Americas bound for Edmonton:
    http://fibaamericas.com/can2015/en/n...BDA0FAD2E40FF9
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 12-08-2015 at 10:00 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    Late last week the Malian Basketball Federation accepted the resignation of French coach of Herve Coudray from that post of the women's national team in his third stint on the eve of the African Women's Basketball Championship in Yaounde, Cameroon. This was prompted over differing philosophies between Coudray and FMBB, namely on what to do with former WNBA player Hamchetout Maiga, be it either as a player or as a Coudray assistant. Amara Traore will take over with another revered coach from the junior ranks Oumarou Sibiye:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/coudray-ste...i-coaching-job

    With some injuries plaguing the Mozambique women like with Anabela Cossa, Catia Halar and Filomena Micato, a new crop of young players are hungry to fill up the voids and step up like Vania Sengo for coach Sale:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/cossa-ruled...for-mozambique

    Uju Ugoka looks forward to make an impact in her African Championship debut for Nigeria as a rising star:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/uju-ugoka-r...et-women-title

    The wildcard has to be countries that the highest in the FIBA Africa women's ranking but failed to qualify. Right now it's Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cape Verde. I'd pick it will be Tunisia since the highest-ranked not in it already and adds to the Arab contingency in the field with Algeria as the sole one at present. But Tunisian women's basketball is rising through the ranks for well over a decade.
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 07-08-2015 at 01:37 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  11. #486
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    NBA 2K16 has San Antonio's Tony Parker on the cover for the French market and just now announced Atlanta's young German star Dennis Schroder has the German cover. Also confirmed is the inclusion of 25 EuroLeague clubs in the game, 1 more than the 24 set to play this upcoming season for the Road To Berlin. The list of teams is not there yet, but if you see who will be there this season, that's a strong indicator of who will be there (more on it later).

    Once again, we'll take a look at the Team Canada men as they get ready for Mexico and very likely grab one of those two spots from the Americas directly to go to Rio De Janeiro. The time is now for Canada to take care of business with its tremendous and rising youth and depth to make serious inroads and make it international with its first Olympics appearance since Sydney 2000 with the potential to medal possibly next year. Andrew Wiggins and company will certainly lead them. Good thing Wiggins was ready to see the potential of Canadian basketball developing around him, especially in Toronto. All that building of the sport for years after and enduring the pitiful times of the national program has come to this bearing fruit. Let's not forget other nations will supply their big guns too. Jay Triano, Dave Smart, and the rest of Triano staff will have some serious decisions with roster chemistry to make the final 12. One thing that might impact them is the possibility of not having Tristan Thompson and Jamal Murray for different reasons. Not to mention the 6-7 players who were at Summer League, contracts, or lack of team permission, etc. Could Carl English, Levon Kendall, Jermaine Anderson, Andy Rautins, and Daniel Mullings make the final cut? No more scrapping for talent to make the roster like in years past; they got a good problem now yet challenging. We're about to enter truly and fully a Canadian basketball boom or golden age--all due apologies to the great Canada basketball teams from the late 1970s and early 1980s that were coached by Jack Donahue and even had Jay Triano. First Toronto Sun article projects possible roster:
    http://www.torontosun.com/2015/07/27...-fiba-americas
    http://www.torontosun.com/2015/08/04...ian-basketball

    Group A
    Real Madrid
    Fenerbah?e
    Khimki
    Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade)
    Bayern Munich
    Strasbourg

    Group B
    Olympiacos
    Anadolu Efes
    Laboral Kutxa
    EA7 Milano
    Cedevita
    Limoges

    Group C
    FC Barcelona Lassa
    Panathinaikos
    Lokomotiv Kuban
    ?algiris Kaunas
    Pınar Karşıyaka
    Stelmet Zielona G?ra

    Group D
    CSKA Moscow
    Maccabi Tel Aviv
    Unicaja Malaga
    Brose Baskets
    Dar?şşafaka Doğuş
    Dinamo Sassari

    Matchdays start October 15-16

    I'm thinking that extra team is going to be Alba Berlin, the host team in the 2016 EuroLeague Final Four but not in this season's EuroLeague. It's currently in the 2015-16 season of EuroCup, which features 44 teams and is in Group B. Hey 2K Sports, why not acquire the EuroCup license too since it's owned by Eurobasket, if you haven't done so already--and start working on getting national leagues too (hint hint).
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  12. #487
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    Brazil's basketball teams will get to compete down in Rio automatically next year as hosts, so it doesn't have to qualify out of Mexico or in the OQT:
    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.c...2016-olympics/

    And Russia has its FIBA suspension lifted:
    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.c...2016-olympics/

    34 mini-campers available for USA Basketball and required to attend next week but Derrick Rose won't be one of them:
    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.c...rick-rose-out/
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    It's so far, so very good for Team Canada as hosts at the 2015 FIBA Americas women's tournament in Edmonton, Alberta with back to back wins. Very soon the Canadian women will take on the Dominican Republic at the Saville Community Sports Centre at the University of Alberta's South Campus. A win tonight against them for Canada will surely assure them for the semifinals as one of the top two teams in each group--and definitely eliminates the winless Dominican Republic. Chile (93-36), Puerto Rico (94-57), and definitely the Dominican Republic to come are no contest to Canada, riding on a wave confidence after hosting the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto in blowout wins thanks to balanced scoring, team defense, passing, and making it rain. Save for the fact that Chile already has a win on the DR and is third in Group A. Cuba is right with them at 2-0 with wins against both still-winless Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (in a blowout in the latter). The Cubans with its players in their prime with their recent international experience will very likely join Canada into the semifinals. Never mind much of the teams from those Pan American Games very much stayed in Canada with the short time from Toronto to Edmonton.
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/...rico-1.3185076
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/...hile-1.3186529
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...-over-puerto-r
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...015-fiba-ameri

    With FIBA allowing Brazil gaining automatic entry as hosts, my pick Brazil emerging out of Group B can be amended and dropped in favo(u)r for a nation like Venezuela with Argentina already one of my picks to emerge out this group and one of the top two teams in it. The only blowout there was Argentina crushing Ecuador 70-35. But Argentina has been dominant in their two games it played. In this group, only the US Virgin Islands debutants remain winless and is already eliminated after 3 games while the others have played no more than 1 game each--but gaining real experience. Back to Brazil, they won't play again after an off day yesterday for tonight with a date against Ecuador after Canada disposes of the Dominican Republic following Brazil's 86-71 win on Venezuela on August 9. But Ecuador surprised me with a win under their belt so far.

    Andrew Wiggins is named for Team Canada men's training camp but not fellow Toronto resident and Cleveland Cav Tristan Thompson (insurable contract issues in the event of an injury and not be financially compensated) for the qualification roster that features 10 Canadian players in it. Could be missed:
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/...ster-1.3186346

    If you hadn't paid any attention regarding Team Canada, this summer is the most important one for Canadian basketball. And the CBC is following both teams every step of the way. There's an all-access multipart documentary series it has online called Canada Rising as we can follow both the men's and women's teams, each with talented young Canadian players, that no other Canadian media has during their qualification hopes to make it Rio De Janeiro 2016 Olympics next year.
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/canada-rising

    Oh yes, China gets awarded to host the 2019 FIBA World Basketball Championship (FIBA Basketball World Cup) over the Philippines with twice as many votes under a new qualification structure that will lead to 32 teams making it there. China's bid will 8 citites involved--Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan and Dongguan:
    http://www.fiba.com/pr-n30-peoples-r...ball-world-cup
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 12-08-2015 at 11:40 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    Canada's most dominant game yet and remain on a tear: Canada 111 Dominican Republic 36. Six Canadians were in double figures including Kia Nurse, Natalie Achonwa, Miranda Ayim, and Tamara Tatham. The Dominican Republic, ranked 11th in the Americas but 37th in the world, is now eliminated with Genesis Evangelista scoring 15 for them. Really only Cuba, which its win over Chile this afternoon could make it official for semifinal advancement, stands in Canada's way--and Team Canada faces them Friday for Group A supremacy. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (and very likely Chile) will just playing for pride henceforth. If Argentina defeats Venezuela as Brazil surely will knock off the US Virgin Islands, Venezuela will get eliminated too from advancing.

    Canada's just getting warmed up in this weak field. They never trailed in Edmonton and enjoy the loud, partisan, home field advantage this summer with Ryerson's Mattany Athletic Centre at Maple Leaf Gardens in downtown Toronto and now at the University of Alberta's Saville Community Sports Center, both intimate CIS facilities, especially when filled whenever Team Canada plays. Automatically gives them a lift. Especially in Edmonton, the team knows the Saville very well and trained there. The Canadian women's last international home loss? Try 2012 in Richmond, British Columbia (a Vancouver island suburb) against China.
    http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/08/11/canada-warming-up
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/...blic-1.3187622

    As we've witnessed since the Pan American Games in Toronto almost two weeks ago, the Americas women's basketball field is actually quite weak even without the USA. The US Virgin Islands, debutaunts as they are here in it, are rank outsiders. But that doesn't mean they haven't learned anything in Edmonton. Almost won against Venezuela in their best game in it. Their story in making here is a reward onto itself to upsetting Mexico in Centrobasket:
    http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/08/1...-fiba-americas

    Upstarts Ecuador, small and not strong but quick who also upset Mexico to qualify for the first time, earns their first ever FIBA Americas tournament win in their debut over fellow debutants the US Virgin Islands 72-48 that features a player who played at RSEQ's Bishop's Gaiters not long ago in guard Edith Noblecilla Varela. Bonus: the Canadian multiculturalism like Montreal suburb Beaconsfield's Lizanne Murphy's "un-deux-trois" chant that started in the late 1990s, maybe earlier, from Canada's Quebec-based players Claudia Brassard-Riebesehl and Isabelle Grenier. Murphy also plays for French club Angers:
    http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/08/1...-fiba-americas
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  15. #490
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    The Canadian women completed their group play with another dominant win. Against their biggest opponent Cuba, 93-42, to finish undefeated at 4-0 much to the delight of the pro-Canada Edmonton fans. Puerto Rico edges Chile to take third place at 2-2, leaving Chile having its lone win against the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic ends their campaign winless.

    Argentina finishes atop also undefeated in Group B after its showdown with Brazil. At this point now with automatic qualification assured for Brazil, doesn't really matter where they finish except to have a good showing and develop and evaluate its talent. Venezuela goes 2-2 to finish third and will battle against Puerto Rico for 5th place--and more importantly get one of the three spots for Olympic qualification. Ecuador winds up at 1-3, and newcomers the US Virgin Islands finish last and winless.

    Canada faces Brazil in another semifinal match on Canadian soil very soon after the Pan American Games in Toronto. Cuba takes on Argentina in the other. As I predicted, sure seems we're on another collision course between Canada and Cuba for the title and automatic Rio entry. If that final group game is an indicator, more domination is to come from Canada since Cuba, though it has some international experience, lacks depth, talent, and the abundant athleticism. Not to mention the home cooking surrounding them.

    So it'll go like this in the top 6 with me:
    1. Canada (automatic entry--FIBA Americas winner)
    2. Cuba (OQT)
    3. Brazil (automatic entry--hosts)
    4. Argentina (OQT)
    5. Puerto Rico (OQT)
    6. Venezuela

    Fuller placing will come after this weekend
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  16. #491
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    Yes, the Canadian women automatically qualified for the Olympics for the first time since hosting this thing 20 years ago in Hamilton! They took care of both Brazil and Cuba with nearly exactly identical scores up in Edmonton. 83-66 against Olympic hosts Brazil and 82-66 against the Cubans in a less dominating game from the final preliminary one with sellout pro-Canada crowd with dreams of Rio save for the Cuban drums brought over behind the Cuban bench with a taste of home while being away. Nonetheless, some different Canadian players stepped up in the latter stages. Former Simon Fraser star now playing in Germany Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe scored a game-high 18 points with Izi Castro-Marques led Brazil in points and assists in the semifinal.

    Then in the gold medal game, it was UCONN star Kia Nurse dishing up another golden girl performance to wrap up her brilliant summer before returning to Storrs with 20 points versus Cuba. Katherine Plouffe had 8 rebounds with Windsor Lancers legend Miah-Marie Langlois dished 8 assists. Cuba's Leidys Oquendo led all scorers with 25 points with Clenia Noblet grabbing 10 rebounds and Ineidis Cassanova serving 8 assists. So Canada thankfully join the USA, Australia, Serbia, and Brazil all directly bound for Rio De Janeiro. You know this Canadian basketball boom is living up to it internationally. All that's left in bearing delicious fruit and building onto what's going on up there is their male counterparts get one of the two Americas automatic spots starting later this month in Mexico City.
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...ba-americas-wo
    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Canad...830/story.html
    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sport...802/story.html

    Of further importance was the fifth place game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela because this determines who gets the third and final invite to next year's OQT. The Puerto Ricans, at least on paper, have prior experience at being in such OQTs. But it was the Venezuelans' day with Daniela Warren and Clayder Blanco being the star. They defeat Puerto Rico 65-56 to take that third and last spot to make it into the Olympic Qualification Tournament, site TBD. Cali-born Jennifer O'Neil tried when leading PR for 12 points but the rest of the team was contained by Venezuela:
    http://www.eluniversal.com/deportes/...-a-puerto-rico
    http://www.meridiano.com.ve/balonces...iguieron-.html
    http://www.metro.pr/metrosport/venez...!qky9E0bJwFsg/
    http://www.elnuevodia.com/deportes/b...mpico-2086976/
    http://www.primerahora.com/deportes/...enino-1102412/

    Cuba, Argentina, and Venezuela join New Zealand, France, Spain, Turkey, and Belarus for the upcoming 12-team OQT field next year with 2 each for Africa and Asia to go. Interesting take of who Team Canada could face in Rio with a couple of nations that will have to go through a circutious route. If there's one major thing about the Canadian basketball scene now is the lack of publicity and funding for the good and talented Canadian women who deserve just as much pub as the men do and get them into the mainstream Canadian national consciousness:
    http://www.thestar.com/sports/basket...ens-hoops.html
    http://www.thestar.com/sports/doug_s...asketball.html
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    African Basketball Championship is going on right now in Tunis and Rades, Tunisia. Will get to that tomorrow with a late preview. Now that I'm free from work...
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    Seems as though the grouping with this African Basketball Championship in Tunisia has very much an even balance among the teams. Things will be more competitive than ever. Coaching quality has improved too. But, based on the FIBA World Rankings of the African teams, Group A is considered the Group of Death, and Group D is the weakest one. I strongly believe that the perennial African powerhouse champions Angola will succeed again and directly return to the Olympics after having its Olympic streak starting with Barcelona since 1992 ended officially with the OQT and missing out of London (though their female counterparts did make it there). Makes sense it hopes to go the big Lusophone nation that's currently investing in a fellow one I don't believe we'll see two African teams in the Olympics again in Rio De Janeiro like we did with Seoul and London. But the quality overall in the African continent continues to get better. Like for example the debut appearance of Uganda here (more on them later), a sign of the growing prominence, passion, and attention towards East African basketball with a growing middle class there eager to have some recreation and attention to sports.

    GROUP A
    1. Nigeria
    2. Tunisia
    3. Central African Republic
    4. Uganda

    Nigeria's got oh so much depth worldwide and hopefully learned from their qualification for London in Venezuela to build upon what they have. There's talk of a professional domestic league in Africa's biggest economy with IMG's help. Always a contender, although it seems a bit younger than it usually is with Al-Farouq Aminu, Ben Uzoh, Ike Diogu, Shane Lawal, and Michael Gbinije--all Nigerian-Americans and finish far higher than their 7th place embarassment in 2013 in Abidjan. Then again, the Nigerians here are in their prime and can usher in a new chapter in Nigerian basketball. Plus, it's got former Vermost Frost Heaves, Bakersfield Jam, and Ulriken Eagles (Norway's BLNO) coach Will Voigt, who can relate to these players. Tunisia's great and proudly flies the flag of the African Arab basketball--and is an international power in team handball too. Can't underestimate being at home seeing the fruits of their investment of their basketball bearing with Mahkrome Ben Romane and former tournament MVP Salah Majeri carrying the weight of a nation over thier shoulders. Obviously, their previous big time international experience will help them in this instead of being deer caught in the headlights after stunning everyone back in 2011 beating a tired Angolan team for the title. Though the Central African Republic has a majority of players who play professionally in France (and Long Island Blackbird Freddie-Glenn Feidanga-Temodea) but are middle of the road. Uganda? A penny for its thoughts as they learn how to play as hopefully a consistent future participant as they vow not to fill up the numbers. They'll give a good showing, run, will pass the ball, defend, and rely on three-point shooting. Their performance in Tunis against the hosts and their partisan fans was commendable.

    GROUP B
    1. Angola
    2. Senegal
    3. Mozambique
    4. Morocco

    Angola? Need I say more. Moving on. Senegal, another African basketball powerhouse that hasn't won a title in a while with Angola's rise (1997 as hosts) is craving for one and will rely on Minnesota Timberwolves' Georgi Dieng, Theirno Niang, and Austin Spur Saer Sene along with a handful of France and Italy-based pro players. They have been the only other team outside of Tunisia that has beaten the Angolans. Senegal has height, of course, talent, athleticism, and confidence as their assets. Does have a couple of domestic players from UGB Saint Louis. Can they hold it together in critical situations and games as a legit title contender based on their history and current quality roster? Mozambique could surprise with its all-domestic teams--many come from Club Ferravaio de Maputo--and make it a Lusophone duo out of this group. Can Mozambique reach the quarterfinals, which will be their best ever finish? Remains to be seen with Inaki Garcia as coach. Morocco, another team with only domestic players on the rosters, is ambitious, even with a respected coach with experience in the Gulf Middle East and Europe in Toni Vujanic.

    GROUP C
    1. Egypt
    2. Gabon
    3. Cameroon
    4. Mali

    This group is evened out. Egypt has got to advance out of this group and are two years older from Abidjian with their experience. The Pharoahs has to be seen as contenders in the deeper stages. Don't let new head coach Ahmed Marei's proclamation of ruling them out for the title race fool you; the likes of his son Assem Marei along with Ibrahim El Gammal and Omar Oraby - who make up the core of the team - seem capable of competing against anyone in the tournament. Egypt since climbed five places in the FIBA World Rankings and never discount its brief and modest but encouraging appearance in the FIBA World Basketball Championships in Spain. I'm taking Gabon, despite its mystery, to advance out of this group because of the fact that I'm not sold on Cameroon, which has none of the notable names from that nation participating like Luc Mboh e Moute, Brice Vounang, and Yves Mekongo, and much less Joel Embiid, who just had foot surgery again, inexplicalby can't hold onto leads. Gaston Essengue will do his best, but he's not enough. The additions of Parfait Bitee and Kenny Kadji should give them a lot more energy though. Gabon's household basketball name in EuroLeague Stephane Lasme, Freddy Obame Obame, Jason Retero, and Larry Rostand. Mali, though, tall are weak and had a poor tournament last time in Abidjan. But it's a time for a bounce back.

    GROUP D
    1. Cape Verde
    2. Ivory Coast
    3. Algeria
    4. Zimbabwe

    Cape Verde's got players spread out in the US and in Europe with a handful of domestic players on the team and is arguably the second-best Portuguese team in Afrobasket behind Angola and ahead of Mozambique. This team is more than capable of a breakout this year like perhaps in 2007. Ivory Coast is a bit down with more emphasis on the domestic players and those playing their trade in Algeria and Morocco but still reliant on its French-based pro players that's in rebuilding mode. Its coach is French basketball legend Hughes Occansey. Souleyman Diabate, making his fifth appearance in African basketball's flagship event, will be the leader of this team as a number of key players have refused to take part in this summer's event due to administrative issues. The 1.80m point guard played a pivotal role in 2013 and was named to the All-Star Five on home soil. For this year's event, Diabate has Rio Olympic dreams for his country. Nonetheless Ivory Coast's Elephants can rely on their young talented rising players such as Jean Yves Zahoui and Hima Seydou. Algeria backslid from its brief time from over 15 years ago as the best North African team now that Tunisia has taken that distinction with traditional power Egypt now resurrecting itself in recent times. Still far better than Libya but these players now, although getting better, are clearly not of the same class yet as their counterparts were from that time. Not as many France Pro-A/B players this time. Algeria's participation in recent years in this has been more sporadic and has hurt them pedigree-wise. And Zimbabwe? Not being around since 1981 will show badly against the Southern Africans. But don't tell its best-known player Vitalis Chikoko, who has played professionally in Germany's Beko BBL's BG Gottinga and TTB Trier and Italy's Lega A's Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia and just signed in March with them with breakout seasons, about that. He aspires his team to punch above its weight with his left-handedness tough to defend and can ferociously attack the rim. Target for Team ZIM is the quarterfinals. But is his team capable of accomplishing this? They're admittedly small and woefully inexperienced in the African continent at the big time level with no Wilson Juma and Julian Mavunga. In this group, making it will take a lot of effort for them.

    No doubt Ugandan basketball lovers are pinching themselves at the sight of seeing their national men's and women's teams making it to Africa's biggest basketball stage right now. With the East African nation's growing middle class, basketball is rapidly becoming not just an increasing sport of choice but a social phenomenon like with the Friday Night Lights Basketball in Kampala. Soccer won't be threatened overnight. But it is the work of those who love and hold a passion for the sport that help make it what it is for the Uganda and continues to grow. They're definitely not in it for the money. All volunteer work. The Cranes still have ways to go in building itself as an African power and the players and administrators can certainly learn additional tricks from overseas. It's all great to see East African basketball rising! Neighbo(u)ring Kenya may have a solid national basketball league, and I'm sure there are some Ugandans playing in that, that gets televised on the South African-based Sub-Saharan African sports channels SuperSport and can use improvement too in a similar context:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AblbChAJq20
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHXBCQOQGFo

    WNBA star Ruth Riley is teaching what she learned over the years in Uganda to the women with clinics:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW82QMaoSG8
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    Surely the Canadian women's FIBA Americas success in its Edmonton, Alberta home has inspired their male counterparts ready for their Mexican journey and want direct qualification to Rio De Janeiro too in one of the two spots from the Americas. Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, 2013 leading team scorer Cory Joseph, and Kelly Olynyk will infuse youthful enthusiasm and talent for Team Canada, shoring up its defense and utilizing a San Antonio Spurs-inspired defense. Tristan Thompson is still under the middle of a difficult impasse over a new contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, so without an insured contract Thompson can't participate but lent support. Neither is Tyler Ennis, recovering from back surgery. Anthony Bennett and Andrew Nicholson provide versatility with Kelly Olynyk supplying length. Stauskas brings the outside shooting. Wiggins is so all around. They have to face Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Mexico to get there with their journey starting with the Argentinians on September 1. But not before Team Canada has a mini-tournament in Puerto Rico this weekend
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sport...ticle25997220/

    We're less than a month from Eurobasket 2015 right around the corner. So I think this will be a great time to look back at the previous Eurobasket two years ago that successfully took place in Slovenia in every aspect possible. It saw France's deeply talented Les Bleues finally live up to its promise to finally win its first Eurobasket championship after threatening for so many years in beating Lithuania 80-66 in Ljubljana's Arena Stozice in what capped off a nice French basketball summer with the Les Bleues women falling just short of the Eurobasket Women 2013 title as hosts a couple months earlier. Both France's and Lithuania fans still celebrated after the buzzer with the former celebrating with the players! We'll start out with the said Eurobasket 2013 Final in Ljubljana with France and Lithuania for now. There will be more stuff that I'll feature in a retrospective likely next week.

    First we have France TV Sport's live broadcast of the final from Ljubljana on France 2 that has Stade 2 host Celine Geraud, a former French national and European judo champion, hosting with French international and EuroLeague Women basketball star Celine Dumerc, fresh from that aforementioned campaign, and Patrick Montel at its Paris studio with a intimate and energetic group of young and multicultural French basketball fans on hand. I guess having a studio audience is a unique staple of several French TV programs. When it cuts back to the studio, the audience cheers. On hand there in Slovenia for France Televisions are French basketball legend Richard Dacoury and Jean-Philippe Guillin as commentators. There's a halftime profile on Tony Parker with this and postgame interviews and analysis. Like the FranceTV Sport theme:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TScbB9t2_g

    FIBA's worldwide feed version with its own English commentary of the Eurobasket 2013 France-Lithuania final with the Eurobasket 2013 Slovenia and FIBA official intros:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6coJjxQKIOU

    A 45-minute+ documentary from the Slovenian Basketball Federation (Košarkarska Zveza Slovenije) on Eurobasket Slovenia 2013, largely centering on the behind the scenes operations in many aspects of this event. Not so much on the competition though:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrLoM54P02Y

    UPDATE: Canada's coach Jay Triano reveals the 13 players on Team Canada, with 9 NBA players, bound for Mexico City with Carl English, Jamal Murray, and Sim Bhullar the last cuts. Phil Scrubb and Aaron Doornenkamp, ex-Carleton Ravens, made it on the roster. Are you excited even more Canadian basketball fans?!
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/...neup-1.3197811

    Canada's TSN1 is replaying the Canadian women's gold medal win against Cuba on Sunday from Edmonton right now as I write this.

    Plus Eurobasket 2015 has added a 7th-8th place classification game, which has something to do with the Olympic Qualification Tournament place at stake now that Brazil gets automatic entry for Europe's 5 places:
    http://www.eurobasket2015.org/en/com...leMode_on.html

    Seattle Storm's newcomer fan fave Ramu Tokashiki will suit up for reigning Asian champs Japan for the upcoming FIBA Asia Women's Tournament in Wuhan, China with Seattle consenting her release:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/reigning-as...-title-defence
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 21-08-2015 at 10:14 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    August 19
    Nigeria 88 Central African Republic 63
    Tunisia 77 Uganda 55
    Egypt 96 Gabon 49
    Cameroon 70 Mali 46

    20 August
    Angola 84 Mozambique 72
    Senegal 77 Morocco 71
    Cape Verde 75 Ivory Coast 56
    Algeria 87 Zimbabwe 67

    August 21
    Nigeria 98 Uganda 59
    Tunisia 68 Central African Republic 52
    Mali 78 Gabon 54
    Egypt 83 Cameroon 77

    Based on what we have so far we'll have Nigeria, Tunisia, Angola, Senegal, Egypt, Cape Verde, and Ivory Coast advancing with one stage in group play coming.
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 25-08-2015 at 06:38 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

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    Actually I must return to what I said sometime ago as opposed to what I last said here: to reiterate, ALL 16 African nations will advance and compete in the next (and single elimination) round. As I write this, Angola and Senegal will wrap up the group play, and I presume that the Angolans will this. Assuming this, this will be how the Round of 16 will shape up August 25-26 with much of the matches locked:

    August 25
    Tunisia vs. Morocco
    Ivory Coast vs. Mali
    Egypt vs. Zimbabwe
    Senegal vs. Central African Republic

    26 August
    Angola vs. Uganda
    Cameroon vs. Algeria
    Cape Verde vs. Gabon
    Nigeria vs. Mozambique

    22 August
    Senegal 86 Mozambique 76
    Angola 68 Morocco 67
    Ivory Coast 64 Zimbabwe 52
    Cape Verde 78 Algeria 69

    August 23
    Central African Republic 60 Uganda 56
    Tunisia 70 Nigeria 59
    Cameroon 93 Gabon 67
    Egypt 55 Mali 49

    August 24
    Mozambique 85 Morocco 82
    Cape Verde 76 Zimbabwe 65
    Ivory Coast 81 Algeria 74

    Was a bit surprised Tunisia beat the more talented Nigerians but they're the hosts, so the Tunisians can get inspired by that.

    Not everything has been festive in Tunisia: former Mozambique national team star Joao Chirindza died suddenly in Tunis on Friday while with the team as team coordinator during the African Basketball Championship before losing to Senegal:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/mozambique-...h-of-chirindza

    A correction is in order regarding Russia: Russian national basketball teams are allowed to compete in the upcoming Eurobasket 2015 and the subsequent tournaments and qualifications like the Olympics while the Russian Basketball Federation is STILL serving its FIBA-imposed temporary suspension over its bitter administration legal dispute:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/fiba-li...6444--nba.html

    To that end, Andrei Kirilenko is the only candidate for the RBF's Tuesday election. And he desparately wants to rejuvenate Russian basketball's national sports profile. Svetlana Abrosimova was involved in the previous controversial campaign but was denied entry into the headquarters with her team and now throws her support to AK-47. However, don't be shocked if the old guard threatens things:
    http://espn.go.com/olympics/basketba...ketball-russia

    No East Asian nation was interested in hosting the 4th East Asian Basketball Championship, so it was cancelled. If I recall correctly, Japan originally planned to host it. Outside of FIBA Asian Championship hosts China, the top 4 ranked East Asian nations directly qualified from the berths assigned to East Asia in this--Japan, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), South Korea, and Mongolia. Although Japan is still serving its own FIBA suspension and it isn't clear whether it will get lifted in time. Might likely pull a Russia.

    Nice little flashback that got unearthed or introduced onto YouTube very recently. Back at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the USA was on an expected tear even without the presence of the Soviet Union because of the boycott. They had a star-studded team led by enthusiastic USC All-American Cheryl Miller, as noted in the following video "played liked a man because that's how she learned it" on the basketball court, who is from the Greater Los Angeles Area and attended school at the time not far away from the Forum (aka the House of Evil). It was just outright domination going undefeated at 6-0: 83-55 over Yugoslavia, 81-41 over a pre-Opals Australia in its Olympic women's basketball debut, 84-47 over South Korea, and 92-61 against Canada. They were deep, can hustle, and defensively oriented on their path towards the United States' first of what continues to be several Olympic gold medals. Obviously, women's international basketball was in a different era back then with less nations capable of being truly competitive than today, though still there's an apparent international gap when pared against the USA. The one team that could give the USA a run for its money back in 1984 was the Soviet Union, what would be the defending Olympic gold medalists from Moscow and Montreal. But I, like with many and even Keith Jackson and Ann Meyers mention, seriously believe the Americans' depth and speed would overcome the Soviets for gold if they met there.

    Several players were actually grad students when they played with some who did turn pro for overseas teams, as per Olympic rules back then regarding amateurism. Along with the prototypical 20-year old Cheryl Miller, who help bring women's basketball into the mainstream, other notable legends names include Ann Donovan (Old Dominion, the great AIAW dynasty, a could've been 1980 Olympian), future Harlem Globetrotter Lynette Woodward (Kansas All-American who held the all-time NCAA scoring until Southwest Missouri St.'s Jackie Stiles broke it in 2001 and another 1980 Olympian), Miller's Southern California Trojans teammate Pam McGee (one half of the leggy and talented 6-3 McGee Twins, who had their own fan following), Kim Mulkey, 5x Olympian Teresa Edwards, 1980 Olympian Cindy Noble, Louisiana Tech star Janice Lawrence, Lea Henry (played for the WABA's Houston Shamrocks soon after Los Angeles only to see it go under as the league went defunct with it as the weakest franchise), and Cathy Boswell. Many of the players went on to coaching like future Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, Miller, Edwards, and Anne Donovan, imparting their wisdom they gained from playing onto that. Boy, did they dominate and enjoyed it. And the partisan Americans fans did too with their flag waving.

    Tennessee's Pat Summitt, the only women's coach in the 1984 field, had her Seoul 1988 successor the late Kay Yow as her assistant. South Korea managed to get in through the side door thanks to the Soviet boycott that saw the reigning world champs, Hungary, and Cuba become absent when Canada, Yugoslavia, and China qualified from Havana. China was the Asian champs, but the South Koreans took advantage of the boycott when they finished in a high enough placing in a 6-team FIBA tournament in Havana, Cuba months earlier (before the Cubans later boycotted too) that of course saw them to the gold medal game and take silver. They lacked size but they hustled and could shoot because that was all they needed to use to be competitive. Of course they were overpowered and knew it. At that point, South Korea was playing with house money. Australia also was a boycott replacement here from that said Cuban tournament, making its Olympic basketball debut

    ABC's presentation of the gold medal game between the USA and Soviet Union. Speaking of a different era, the broadcast of this harkens this as not only the last Summer Olympics ABC will broadcast when NBC here in the USA will up to this day and beyond to 2020 but it recalls a time when, like with the Seven Network and Network Ten in Australia used to do, would jump away from the live coverage to other events, news, and fluff pieces (Up Close and Personal). Definitely not like what it is now when the Olympic events are allowed to proceed through in its entirety thanks to cable TV network partners like if it's on the NBC Sports Channel/USA Network now or watch online/tablets/smartphones. Here the game became out of hand after halftime with the USA's talents broke away from South Korea but went back (not to mention some commercial breaks) for the final moments, affording ABC Sports to move away unless it got competitive, so it's not around the 2-hour length for an event like this. Another thing: doesn't happen now with the current Olympic scheduling but there was an overlapping of events with the gold medal women's volleyball game between the USA and China crosstown at Long Beach soon to start, which is referenced.

    There's a Julius Erving sighting with his then-wife Turquoise at the game munching on popcorn. Also included is one of those notorious Up Close and Personal profiles on Cheryl Miller immediately at halftime and a Dick Schaap (RIP) report on the McGee Twins. Pam made the team but Paula didn't. "Not strong enough," deemed Pat Summit and her coaching staff, and that left Paula devastated. At the medal ceremony, you'll notice Pam emotionally gave her gold medal to Paula and embracing her. Starting in Seoul 1988, we saw the 3-point line make its Olympic debut:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zvb...5FK5xD&index=2

    A montage highlights package of both US men's and women's 1984 Olympic gold medal basketball teams' success set to The Pointer Sisters' hit "I'm So Excited" that was played in the closing of ABC's Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympic broadcast:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TglaX5222M
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  22. #497
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    The FIBA Africa African Basketball Championship final four is now set with Angola, hosts Tunisia, Nigeria, and Senegal for the semifinals in Rades--all are now eligible for at least next year's OQT. More details to come. I actually was about to submit it this afternoon but I couldn't copy and paste.
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 30-08-2015 at 12:35 AM.
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    Due to the imminent arrival of Tropical Storm Erica touching onto Puerto Rico and the weather conditions related to it, the final day of the Tuto Merchand Cup that was yesterday has been cancelled. So with this, the Canadians, undefeated and leading at the standings at 3-0, take the Merchand Cup.
    http://www.fibaamericas.com/en/notic...3AEEEFD6995035
    http://www.fibaamericas.com/en/default.asp?lang=en

    A FIBA Americas 2015 men's preview will come on Monday with the African Basketball Championships finals review from Rades. That was supposed to be held in Nabeul and Hammamet but due to the Sousse attacks that killed 38 people (30 of whom were British) the venue was moved to Rades, just outside of Tunis.

    Semifinals with Angola vs. Tunisia and Senegal vs. Nigeria along with the 7th place (Mali vs. Gabon) and 5th place (Egypt vs. Algeria) games are tomorrow. I still pick Angola to win it all, but Angola's struggles lately against teams like the Central African Republic and Senegal leaves me some pause especially when they're going to face hosts Tunisia--and their fans who will pack it with some Angolans. Don't forget the Tunisians defeated them in 2011 to claim the African title and the automatic Olympic entry from Africa after the Angolans ran out of gas. An off day from the quarterfinals allows a calming down period before the roller coaster ride starts again. As for Nigeria-Senegal, I'm taking the Nigerians for its better depth. But both these semifinals, I strongly believe, will be very close encounters to the very end. I'll write a report on final group day, Round of 16, and quarterfinals tomorrow.

    Can India and Thailand, a long ago Asian women's champion, break the 3-decade East Asian stranglehold at the top of the Asian Women's Championship this year at Level 1? Seriously doubt it. Thailand finished 3rd in 1972 in Taipei when it wasn't entirely China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), though China hadn't yet made its debut and Japan didn't participate. The Philippines finished 4th in 1984 at Shanghai and never went that high again. Incidentally, The Philippines are now in Level 2 with Hong Kong, North Korea, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, and Sri Lanka. Indian basketball is just starting to rise in prominence in Asia but will have to do it without the just-retired longtime talisman Geethu Anna Jose. They have some young energetic players who haven't tested their mettle yet--and India has never defeated anyone in Level 1, not even Thailand. Thailand, meanwhile, only beat Chinese Taipei once in 2001 in a 107-69 win.

    Meanwhile, the the big Asian Top 4 monopoly continues to remain strong and replenish. That definitely won't change anytime soon. Look for example South Korean teenager Ji Su Park to further improve her game and further showing that she belongs at the international level on the road to be most highly-touted South Korean women's player since Park Chan Suk and be an Asian force for years to come. PS: Where are the Lebanese women now the FIBA lifted the suspension on Lebanon?
    http://www.fiba.com/news/does-east-a...gain-in-wuhan-
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 30-08-2015 at 12:35 AM.
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  24. #499
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    Actually the FIBA Asia women's championship is going on in Wuhan, China seemingly overlapping with the closing of the African men's championship and the start of the FIBA Americas men's version in Mexico City. It's going to be the same old East Asian monopoly--China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)--taking charge once more with the typical lopsidedness reflecting the talent gap among the Asian nations. Out of those four surely, assuming either India or Thailand don't pull the shockers of the tournament, the top three with the winners directly going to Rio De Janeiro and the silver medalists and bronze medalists going to the Olympic Qualification Tournament. First day of competition in Wuhan today in Level I saw the typical domination with:

    August 29
    Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) 91 India 61
    Japan 59 South Korea 53
    China 113 Thailand 34

    All the East Asian faves won today. Japan wins their 2013 Asian Final rematch slipping past over a newer and younger South Korean team and being too strong for them. A rude welcome was in store for undersized Thailand from hosts China in a game that was too easy for them. Chinese Taipei blowout India.

    Level II saw:
    August 29
    Kazakhstan 99 Hong Kong 46
    Malaysia 71 Philippines 64
    North Korea 82 Sri Lanka 34

    Bottom two of Level 1 (has to be the outclassed and internationally inexperienced India and Thailand) will play in a qualification round with the top two teams from Level 2 (likely going to be Kazakhstan and North Korea). If Lebanon was in Level 2 now, I'd give them my pick for promotion in the place of North Korea, who are back from the international basketball wilderness in a decade. Never mind they are learning and gaining experience with this tournament:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/favorites-triumph-on-day-one
    http://www.fiba.com/news/japan-edge-...-of-2013-final
    http://www.fiba.com/news/chinese-tai...indias-expense
    http://www.fiba.com/news/china-give-...a-rude-welcome
    http://www.fiba.com/news/prk-back-in...-fold-in-style

    Did you notice when Nike outfitts a national basketball federation, the jerseys are of the same style regardless of colo(u)ring?

    24 August
    Senegal 74 Angola 73

    Round of 16
    25 August
    Tunisia 69 Morocco 68
    Mali 76 Ivory Coast 57
    Egypt 102 Zimbabwe 62
    Angola 62 Central African Republic 61

    August 26
    Senegal 79 Uganda 48
    Algeria 73 Cameroon 71
    Gabon 77 Cape Verde 67
    Nigeria 83 Mozambique 47

    The Round of 16 in Rades that saw all 16 African teams in the 2015 African Basketball Championship largely reflected the improving and deepening continent-wide competition in Africa. All but three games there saw the margin of victory being no more than 10 points. The game of the this edition of the African Basketball Championships in this round and likely in this overall is undoubtably Tunisia defeating their North African and Arab Francophone neighbors Morocco in OT 69-68 thanks to Mourad El Mabrouk's 3-pointer at 0.4 seconds rescuing them from imminent early and heartbreaking elimination to give arguably the most important basket in Tunisian basketball history to send sellout pro-Tunisia Salle Omnisport de Rades into frenzy. Before that, Salah Mejri's block at regulation on Morocco to stave off elimination. Angola rebounded from its loss to Senegal that ended group play but had to struggle against the upset-minded and combative Central African Republic that was too reliant on Max Kouguere. Then the perrenial African champs advanced onto face a young and vengeful Egypt in a rematch from the 2013 Africa Final in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Took an Angola block to assure that Nigeria made it to its 11th consecutive quarterfinals beating Mozambique. Plus there were some of upset wins along the way like with Gabon stunning expected African title contenders Cape Verde with Stephane Lasme and George Mason star Gyll Therence Mayimba leading them. Mali makes it to its first quarterfinal in six years over the young and inexperienced Ivory Coast's Elephants in what has been a disappointing campaign for them, suffering from and missing several key experienced players due to administration issues. And Algeria shocks Cameroon's Lions in making it there too.
    http://www.fiba.com/news/angola-prev...ash-with-egypt
    http://www.fiba.com/news/gabon-stun-...t-upset-so-far

    Uganda's debut appearance in it ended when avoided 16th place in beating Zimbabwe 72-65 is something to build upon in this high note. Not only could this be the hope for better basketball development in Uganda but also in East Africa. All the Cranes need is better and more consistent support with clear-cut programs to further build national team development for future years and make future and consistent Africa championships:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/omwony-opti...ugandas-future

    Attendance, largely judging from the videos outside the Tunisia games, have been rather disappointing.

    27 August
    Nigeria 88 Gabon 64
    Angola 83 Egypt 63
    Senegal 75 Algeria 58
    Tunisia 67 Mali 60

    Pretty much what I expected in the quarterfinals, where the gap from the top African powers, those usual suspects, from the rest that advanced on the second level is there but not really by much with their depth. Though Nigeria is back at this stage since 2011--and has actually yet to win the whole thing in its history. The other three have:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/angola-nige...15-semi-finals
    http://www.fiba.com/news/last-four-d...ket-2015-final

    Can Tunisia handle Angola's aggressive defense in front of its fans tonight? How can Angola get its act together after not always being stellar this time around. This really is the championship here like it was back in 2011 in Antantarivo, Madagascar. More will make its way early next week.

    Gaston Essengue retires from Cameroon in this disappointing campaign after a decade to make way for younger players:
    http://www.fiba.com/news/essengue-re...-national-team
    Last edited by Durbansandshark; 30-08-2015 at 02:36 AM.
    Jusqui'ici tout va bien...

  25. #500
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    FIBA Americas 2015 at Mexico City's Palacio De Los Deportes is now underway with Cuba and Venezuela battling it out as I write this to start the tournament down there. It's going to be up for grabs for the two spots coming from the Americas for a direct trip to Rio. Brazil's there but doesn't need to qualify since FIBA granted them automatic entry, something it should've had already since Rio De Janeiro was chosen were it not for unpaid dues. There's going to be some star power in this, though not as much like in Eurobasket, and it will also come from the coaches with Rick Pitino coaching Puerto Rico, Brazil's gold medal winning coach from Argentina Ruben Magnano, and Kenny Atkinson running the Dominican Republic. Hosts Mexico aims to make it first Olympic appearance since 1976, and it's capable given that it made the World Basketball Championships in Spain last year since 1974. Canada, a nation that I write about extensively here with its star-studded young rising NBA players like Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph, and Kelly Olynyk, are a heavy favo(u)rite. Can the Argentinians make a successful transition from the Golden Generation for younger players hungry for Olympic success and inspired by them? Without further adieu, let's go to my picks:

    GROUP A
    1. Mexico--That recent FIBA World Championship experience in Spain in 2014 and being at home with their fans in that high altitude in Mexico City certainly will be used to their advantage. Mexico's actually a team that underrated with its big time professional experience with a couple of players like Milwaukee's Jose Gutierrez and Gustavo Ayon (formerly of Orlando, now with EuroLeague champs Real Madrid), Orlando Mendez, Francisco Cruz and newcomer Juan Toscano, along with stretch-four Hector Hernandez. Not to mention winning it last time. All pronouncing a national basketball boom in terms of interest, publicity, and inspiring more Mexican youth to dream about basketball. Got an inside-outside game but may not be as sharp as they were recently
    2. Brazil--will play with nothing to lose but certainly aims to be very competitive, especially with coach Ruben Magnano making sure it stays that way. The experienced 2015 Pan American basketball gold medalists have depth even with their C/D-level team put forth here, like with what they used in Toronto weeks ago. No NBA stars here like Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa, and Mayberner "Nene" Hilario. But its motion offense and aggressive defense can help them win important games in tournaments
    3. Dominican Republic--will suffer considerably without Al Horford, Karl Anthony Townes, Charlie Villaneuva, or Jack Michael Martinez. If they were present, the Dominican Republic will be higher. It's Francisco Garcia and James Feldeine handed the keys to DR's offense in their leadership and leading voices. Supporting cast featuring Eulis Baez, Gerardo Suero, Edgar Sosa and Victor Liz can provide some instant scoring on a run and gun offensive system led by new coach Kenny Atkinson. Still fiery and resillient that can compete.
    4. Panama--Got what we can call eternal faces with a 41-year old Ruben Garces, 39-year old Michael Hicks, 34-year old Jose Jaime Lloreda, and 35-year old point guard Joel Mu?oz as their core group and main players. But 10 games in 12 days will be too much for them despite their experience and maturity and their aims to steal a game.
    5. Uruguay--another one with no notable names. Lack of inside presence down low will hurt, making it hard for this tournament. Have top spirited veterans players here with effort from leaders such a Martin Osimani and Mauricio Aguiar. Hopes to minimize mistakes and transition games.

    GROUP B
    1. Canada--My pick to be the 2015 FIBA Americas winners or at least one of the two spots! Got 9 NBA players including Wiggins, Joseph, Olynyk, Andrew Nicholson, Anthony Bennett, Nik Stauskas, Robert Sacre, Melvin Ejim, and Dwight Powell that Jay Triano has with his international experience as both a player and coach for Canada (and as a Team USA assistant). Loaded, talented, and deep everywhere with a powerful inside presence and depth, fresh off winning the Jenaro "Tuto" Marchand Cup in Puerto Rico at 4-0. Add the freakishly athletic and twitchy Wiggins making his senior international debut, they're downright scary for opponents with a bright future not just in the Americas but outside continental basketball overall. Only concerns are how will they adapt to Mexico City's high altitude and getting the chemistry with plenty who didn't previously get the international experience. But that's quickly dismissed progressively with their resiliency, composure, and defense. There's lots of scouting material on many of the Canadians, and that's just on the individual NBA players!
    2. Argentina--Can the last remnants of the beloved legendary Golden Generation in Toronto's Luis Scola and Euroleague Final Four MVP Andreas Nocioni mix well with some young players like Nicolas Richotti, Nicolas Brussino, Gabriel Deck, Patricio Garino, and Tayavek Gallizzi who are looking to carry that torch and winning tradition Argentina has brought to the table in the last 15 years of the competition? There are no surprises in the system and the passion that Argentina will bring to the Palacio de los Deportes. Nicolas Laprovittola and Facundo Campazzo provide experience and leadership in the point guard position. All this will have them battling for at least a spot in the OQT for coach Segio Hernandez.
    3. Puerto Rico--Different team here now even with Rick Pitino coaching and will employ a pro-defense first mentality. It's Juan Jose Berrea, and not Carlos Arroyo, that's running the show on court. But it is playing in Mexico City with the bad news of not having Maurice Harkless for this tournament. The supporting cast of veteran Larry Ayuso, along with Angel Vassallo and Guillermo Diaz make them a real candidate to upset some teams in their way to a possible Olympic spot run in Mexico City. First game there in Mexico City against Argentina is key in determining the Puerto Ricans' Olympic basketball prospects fate and momentum that could result being near the top.
    4. Venezuela--Their women will go to the OQT but can the men do it too? Without Milwaukee's Greivis Vasquez, who wasn't available for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, that's more doubtful. But they are underdogs who relish this role. Venezuela indeed has their veterans in the experienced Jose and Gregory Vargas, Nestor Colmenares, David Cubillan and the addition of talented scorer John Cox. Never discount the fact that the team had an impressive preparation tour that included games against top global powerhouses Spain, Serbia, Russia and nabbed a win over Mexico four days before the championship's tip-off. Venezuela is a national team that's ready for anything that might be thrown at them in terms of competition. Coach Nestor "Che" Garcia loves the underdog spot and he relishes the opportunity to shock the world. He has a rugged, offensively energetic team that might just do it.
    5. Cuba--The Cubans may be experienced. But I pick them last because they haven't been deeply into a top-level international tournament in a generation. That lack of depth and recent basketball experience--outside of the 2014 Centrobasket and 2014 Central American Games--compared to other Americas nations in their group will be their undoing and will finish last. Gap will be pronounced. Even more of an underdog than Venezuela. Cuba does have a couple of anticipated young prospects in this tournament in in Jasiel Rivero, a wing player who loves being at the boards and can score, and Victor Justiz, a lefty with soft hands with a versatile scoring arsenal, that the NBA scouts will surely salivate over now that US-Cuba diplomatic ties are restored. The two will wow people but they definitely aren't enough.

    Top four nations in each group will advance to the 8-team second round that will see the top four head to the semifinals and beyond with the 5th place team making it to the OQT. A 6th team may make it too, assuming Brazil is among the top 5.

    TSN is going all out for Team Canada down in Mexico City with hopes for Olympic qualification by showing all of its games starting tomorrow and some select ones from other teams like Brazil-Cuba today (on TSN2 there) on TSN4 and TSN5. RDS, the French-Canadian version of TSN, will broadcast all Canada's games including second round, semifinal, and final games on RDS and RDS INFO. Many other games will be on TSN GO up there:
    http://www.basketball.ca/en/news-art...dcast-schedule
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