Friday, August 17, 2007

2007 FIBA Americas Preview - Part 1 (Introduction)

It’s hard to believe that it was three years ago that arguably one of the biggest landmarks in Argentina’s sporting history took place. Yes, winning the gold medal in football was something, but to do it in basketball was a bigger achievement all by itself. Never in my life I thought I will see the day when the mighty Dream Team USA will be brought down to earth, and the fact that the Tall Albicelestes have done it in more than one occasion really means something special.

Although I grew up in an era where the likes of JORDAN, MALONE, PIPPEN, and BARKLEY ruled the world, it wasn’t until I saw Manu GINOBILI & Co. that I fell in love with the game even more. Very much so, that I would put it second in my favourite's list. (The first is football obviously).

Come August 22nd, Las Vegas, Nevada will be the host for the 2007 FIBA Americas. The venue will be the 18,000 capacity Thomas & Mark Center. Part of the importance of the tournament is because the top-two teams will qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics automatically and those who finished from third to fifth will take part in a qualifying tournament sometime next year.

Regardless of their of their lack of credibility and success by their own standard in recent times, Team USA will always be the side to watch and the most certain to book a place in Beijing next year. The likes of LeBron JAMES, Kobe BRYANT, Carmelo ANTHONY and the rest will be there. Once again, at least on paper, it is unlikely that they will ever miss out the trip to Beijing next year. So which is the most likely team to follow them?
If someone was to ask me this question a year ago, without a doubt Argentina will definitely be the one to do so. But all that has changed during the last few months, as coach Sergio HERNANDEZ has been rocked by the news of the withdrawals of superstar Manu GINOBILI, Fabricio OBERTO, Andres NOCIONI, Walter HERRMANN, Pepe SANCHEZ & Ruben WOLKOWISKY due to the their physical conditions and club contract issues. Apart from USA, Brazil and Puerto Rico will also bring their biggest names; as a result of this the competition is there for anyone’s taking.

So now the quest to defend the gold that we won in Athens will begin right away in Sin City, as coach HERNANDEZ will need to bring the best out of the ones at his disposal to ensure that we will book one of the two automatic spot for Beijing 2008. This means that HERNANDEZ will need to make sure that every moment and decisions that he makes can be crucial if we were to get the right result.
For a start, the draw for the first round group stage has been favourable for us, as we are placed in Group A alongside Panama, Uruguay, Mexico and Puerto Rico. As such we have manage to avoid continental powerhouse such as USA, Brazil and Venezuela, so I do expect our tall heroes to topped the group and build plenty of confidence before we progress smoothly towards the next stage.

In Part II, we’ll take a closer look at the names and faces plus an overview on the whole team that HERNANDEZ has entrusted to participate in this difficult but not impossible mission


Seba said...

Top intro John! Thanks a lot!

Just to add a little info...

Argentina defeated Brazil (who played without their established NBA stars -NENE, Leandrinho BARBOSA, Anderson VAREJAO and Rafael ARAUJO-) 75-67 in a match valid for the Copa Tuto Marchand in Puerto Rico.

Our starting lineup for the FIBA Americas tournament will most likely be PRIGIONI (PG), DELFINO (SG), KAMMERICHS (SF), SCOLA (PF) and Román GONZALEZ (C). And with those 5 men, HERNANDEZ decided to start the game against Brazil.

Houston Rockets' new signing, Luis Fabián SCOLA, was the star of the game. He scored 23 points (top-scorer) and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Darío LoGRIPPO scored 17 (6 rebounds), Paolo QUINTEROS added 12 points, while Carlos DELFINO (2-8 from 3pt-range) had 8 points.

Tiago SPLITTER, SCOLA's old team-mate in Tau and Manu and OBERTO's new team-mate at San Antonio, scored 11 points and grabbed 8 rebounds for Brazil who had in MACHADO their top-scorer with 18.

Argentina will face Canada today (7 PM Buenos Aires) and will end this tournament on Saturday against Puerto Rico.

A Steve NASH-less Canada defeated Puerto Rico 65-63 with a double-double from Samuel DALEMBERT (who was born in Haiti but will start representing Canada at international level. He plays for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA).

Anonymous said...

Totally off topic but I just read that Basile has withdrawn the call up for Carrizo for the Norway friendly because he hasn't gotten any playing time at Lazio yet.


Seba said...

Updating info about the Copa Marchand:

Argentina lost 84-78 against Canada in their second match.

With this, the Canadian have two wins in as many matches while the Albicelests have won one and lost one.

Tomorrow Sergio HERNANDEZ's team will face Puerto Rico.

Brazil defeated Puerto Rico 79-67, leaving the home team without chances of winning this friendly cup.

If Canada defeats Brazil tomorrow, they'll win the tournament.

Argentina needs to beat Puerto Rico and hope Brazil defeat Canada to decide everything on points difference.

At the moment Canada has +8, Brazil +4 and Argentina +2.

John said...

Losing to Canada is not good news and certainly we still don't know what are the Brazil bringing in to the table.

We'll just have to wait and see

In the EPL, its Red (Man Ud & Liverpool) vs. Blue (Chelsea & Man City)

I do to see TEVEZ and MASCHERANO start for their respective team.

And of course, a double red victory will just be the icing on the cake.

Seba said...

Not quite a 100% with you there, John!

I would love to see Manchester City winning tomorrow (maybe 4-3 with a Carlitos hat-trick for United!).

I do want Liverpool to beat Chelsea (as always).