Friday, September 14, 2007

Big upset today in the quarter finals


So with one second left and a chance to tie the game, Croatia's Zoran Planinic goes to the free throw line needing both. And what happens? Remember kids to always practice your free throws. Lithuania avoided what i would classify a major upset and beat Croatia by 2. Washington Wizards Darius Songaila had a great 20 point, 7 board game. Golden State Warriors Sarunas Jasikevicius obviously figured out how to get assists in this tournament as he dropped 8 dimes. And it's like every day I find another NBA play that flew under my radar. Denver Nuggets own Linas Kleiza who has had an alright tournament so far brought the goods in today with 19 points and 9 boards.

As for this game, it really should not have been this close. I think it shows that once the quarter-finals start, all teams turn the intensity up a notch which generally leads to tight games regardless of who's playing. And if that is the case, you can really get the sense how important it is to these players to be representing their respective countries. Seriously, I think next years Olympics are going to be fantastic. Previous to 2008, it was always assumed the States would win, even though it's clear that the talent level world wide has improved drastically since 2000. And yes, for 2008 the States look really good. They might even still be the favorites. But the Olympics won't be the FIBA Americas. With a full roster for Argentina, as well as Spain, Lithuania, France, Russia, China, Greece and I am sure I am missing some other countries here, 2008 will be the toughest Olympics that we have seen. These teams have ability to turn the level of game all the way to 10 when playing for their countries. It's a type of passion that us in North America are not custom to seeing because of the attention towards the NBA as well as the lack of talent here in Canada. So you can say that these Euros have got me pumped for some Olympic action.

Croatia was a decent team who had some nice wins including beating Spain, but Lithuania was undefeated and at the very least should make it to the semi-finals based on the great performance up till this point. Now they get a Russian team who got the day off. Pick Lithuania tomorrow, but if Croatia lost today partly due to poor free throw shooting, then I would not put it past a solid Russian team to score the major victory tomorrow ether.

Raptor fans, please take a moment and give it up for Rasho Nesterovic. Sure, Bargnani will be getting the majority of the minutes at center next year, but it's not like Rasho is going from starter to garbage time. Rasho will still get around 15 minutes a game, and if he plays like he has during these Euro's, then that will be a solid 15 minute contribution from the big guy. Let's not forget that while Bargnani and Ford get a lot of praise for stepping up when Bosh went down with an injury, Rasho was just as much a part of the turnaround in December. Sometimes the match-ups and style of play (uptempo) does not work in his favor and he has an expensive contract, but the guy is a worker and that is something us Raptor fans appreciate. Rasho also has passion as we have seen from him as he is yelling at his teammates (in a postive way). And this guy is the one who is leading Slovenia in this years Euro's. Spain has Gasol, France has Parker, Russia has Kirilenko, Germany has Dirk. And Slovenia has Rasho Nesterovic.

Now that being said, Greece pulled off a hell of a come back and beat Slovenia 63-62. If I am Slovenia, I am devastated right now. Slovenia was up 10 with 2:22 to go. And then Greece just went nuts! Offensive boards, big time three pointers, actually hitting free throws. I am shocked to be honest. Slovenia had it in the bag. 10 point lead in this tournament is huge! Let's though give credit to Greece. They are the defending champs and that experience will always help. And they really showed a "never die" attitude. In fact, to be specific about who showed that attitude, Theodoros Papaloukas scored 7 points in the final 1:32 including the game winner. Just very shocking how Slovenia completely fell apart under the intense pressure.

Rasho's numbers by the way.. 8 for 13 for 16 points, 11 boards and 5 blocks.

So final four...
Spain vs. Greece
Russia vs Lithuania

Right off the bat I am giving it too Lithuania in that match-up as they are on an absolute roll right now and Russia won't stop it. As for Spain vs. Greece, well I want to say Spain easy, but defending champs who just showed what they can do when desperate makes this more iffy. One thing for sure, Spain saw what happened to Slovenia and will be better prepared for any late game onslaught that Greece has, therefore I am sticking with Spain.

Making is a nice Spain vs. Lithuania finals which would be very tough to call.

No comments: