As this article is being written we are mere hours away from one of the opening highlights of the 2010 South Africa World Cup. England are about to take on the USA in a football…excuse me, a soccer game. The anticipation is at a fever pitch.
Despite the strides that the USA has made in this sport over years England still appear the favorite to win this game. They have the talent, the history and the experience. England should not simply dismiss their opponent however as the US do have more than a decent chance. A couple years back however this would have been a different story. So these days’ clichés may not have completely worn off but there certainly getting old. Americans can play football and Englishman can ball.
Believe it or not but it’s true, neither country may be dominating these respective sports but they are definitely improving fast. The English basketball league is improving by the year and the recent champions the Everton Tigers (Under the same umbrella as the football team Everton) even made it into American basketball magazine ‘SLAM’.
The big focus in the UK however is the national side ‘Team GB’. Especially with the next Olympic Games being held in London in 2012. The team is looking very strong right now with a decent pool of talent. This team has come a long way from the days when their most famous player was John Amaechi, who over recent years has become more infamous for his ‘coming out’ book rather than the talents he had as a player. Thankfully these days the reason British basketball is getting exposure is due to what is happening on court.
The talent is leaving fans drooling at the mouth more than Beethoven (the dog from the movies, not the composer) and Glen Davis combined. The anticipation is so big that the team’s official webpage is named www.gameongb.com. The reason that this anticipation is so high could have something to do with the fact that the team features two prominent NBA stars who have declared that they will play for both club and country, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon.
These are two guys that are not only former teammates and players experienced in winning big games they are also real, developed talent. They are guys that Team GB doesn’t have to wait on; they are already big time contributors. Gone are the days where British fans would hang on to the little British ties stars had like Steve Nash’s family roots or the fact that Ray Allen spent time in Ipswich. British basketball finally has its cover stars.
Luol Deng, born in Wau, Sudan but of British nationality after emigrating to Brixton has been the ‘new’ poster boy of British basketball for some time now. He has climbed up the Chicago Bulls ranks past players who at first where seen as guys who would leave this dynamic forward languishing on the bench. He has spent year after year in the NBA whilst withstanding consuming injury and international duty to craft himself as one of the top tier talents in this league in scoring and all, round play. He even spearheaded last years NBA Europe Live exhibition game featuring his then victorious Chicago Bulls against the Utah Jazz in London. In this game he displayed his talents and leadership for not only his team but his country. He did this in front of his hometown fans from Brixton and other corners of London and the whole world watching on TV.
Ben Gordon, who was Born in Britain and has dual citizenship with the US may no longer be playing alongside Luol in Chicago but the experience he garnered doing this will pay off in dividends for him and his former running mate and more importantly his national side. Ben was a big time player in the Chi. He was and still is quick, clutch and savvy. Alongside Deng Gordon was one of the Bulls premier go to guys leading the stampede. His charges included making dangerously deep shots and forceful aggression at the basket. Even in his rookie year Gordon was so hot that Chicago was almost declaring that there was a new Benny the Bull in town. Ben’s college experience with the University of Connecticut’s NCAA Championship team gave him veteran confidence in his first year. We all remember his teardrop against the Knicks. These days Ben has been given the responsibility as one if the main Pistons motoring forward the new, rebuilt Detroit franchise. The location may have changed but the game hasn’t. Ben Gordon is still one of the freshest, developing talents in the league.
So in this Team GB set Luol will be the ‘franchise’ guy leading the way on the court and in the team’s heart. Ben will be more than ‘the other guy’ or ‘the co-pilot’. He’ll be the big time scorer and more importantly the clutch player, which in international competition against talented teams such as Spain and Argentina could be decisive.
Team GB’s talents don’t just begin and end with Deng and Gordon however. The talent derived from the national basketball organizations of England, Scotland and Wales is full of young, hungry talent. Ballers like Tottenham born; former Toronto Raptors versatile forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu and swingman Andrew Sullivan. Head Coach Chris Finch and his assistants Tony Garbelotto, Tim Lewis and Nick Nurse have there sights set on a new beginning for a team who only ever made the Olympics once in 1948. The interesting thing about this team is that even as the host nation for the 2012 Olympics their place isn’t guaranteed. They have to prove their competitiveness to FIBA, the international basketball federation. From the looks of things this team looks ready to prove themselves.
The Eurobasket 2011 qualifiers this August will prove a big enough stage for this British team to prove if they are worthy enough for the European stage let alone the world, Olympic stage. Lead by two NBA go to guys with renewed focus and motivation behind them this team looks ready to given it everything they have. Which, by the looks of it appears to be a lot more than most people think.
Canada draws tough group for 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Basketball (SMNT) faces a tough road to the 2020 Olympic tournament after drawing stiff competition at the official qualifying draw in Switzerland.
No. 21 Canada will play in tough group A in Victoria, British Columbia against No. 7 ranked Greece and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team Canada will also face rising No. 24 China. Group B features No. 43 Uruguay, No. 10 Czech Republic, No. 15 Turkey.
Canada will need to win the last minute Olympic qualifying tournament at home to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games.
The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-finals in a crossover game. The tournament runs from July 23-28. The top four teams from each tournament will advance to Tokyo and will join an already impressive field that includes hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, France, Spain, Iran, Nigeria and the United States.
The Czech Republic finished in sixth-place at the recently completed 32-team World Cup in China with a record of 4-4 — with losses coming to the USA 88-67, Greece (84-77), Australia (82-70) and Serbia (90-81). Greece missed out on a top 10 finish after a disappointing 3-2 showing. Turkey showed flashes of brilliance finishing a spot below Canada at 22 with a 2-3 record — losing a close 93-92 group game against the USA.
China also finished with a 2-3 record dropping close games to Poland (79-76), Venezuela (72-59) and Nigeria 86-73. Uruguay, the lowest ranked team of the six is the only team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup.
The six teams coming to Victoria this summer all feature proven NBA star-power, headlined by the Hellas’ Giannis Antekonmpo. The Czech Republic has crafty Chicago Bulls point guard Tomas Satoranksy and Turkey also boasts power forward Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, point guard Ceidi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Despite the growing global NBA player presence – it is Canada that features the most international players in the world’s best league. After a disappointing 2-3 showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Team Canada is expected to put together it’s best roster in years’ — already garnering early official social media commitments from two of Canada’s rising stars. Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have officially announced their intentions. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Khem Birch of the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker have also made it clearly evident that they will be on hand to help Canada end it’s 20-year summer Olympics drought that dates back to 2000.
Canada will kick-off the tournament against Greece on June 23rd and will play China the next day with a rest day in-between — before the semi-finals on June 27.
One thing to keep in consideration is the proximity of the qualifying tournament to the NBA Finals. Game 1 on the 2020 NBA Finals is set for Thursday June 4th 2020 and if stretched the distance it will run until Sunday June 21st leaving only two days before the start of the crucial tournament. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors are amongst the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and should they reach the NBA finals it will be interesting to see how it will affect player turnout and other last minute decisions.
Canada’s coaching staff is led by Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse, Greece recently appointed former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Rick Pitino.
Canada failed to reach the 2016 Rio Olympics via the FIBA qualification tournament, falling to eventual fourth-place finisher France in a hard-fought 83-74 battle in Manila, Philippines.
Lance Stephenson Makin’ ‘Em Dance In China
Remade in China.
From playing with LeBron and the Lakers last season. To getting an early start in the Far East for this one. Getting in opponents faces like he used to do when he went up against the King. Blow in his face all you want…but its just hot air.
Lance Stephenson is back baby!
Like you’ve never seen him before. Running his town in China for the Liaoning Flying Leopards.
To quote Charlie Murphy talking about Prince in an infamous Hollywood stories episode of Dave’s ‘Chappelle Show’, “this cat can (still) ball man”!
To those who think a couple of strings have popped off Stephenson’s guitar then just watch him play and strum along. Lance is still makin’ ’em dance with the NBA’s most famous celebration…except the league just lost it and one of their premier performers and fondly favourite, cult celebrities in the amazing association of epic entertainment.
Turns out the Lakers should have held on to their veteran big name meme team a little longer. Although they did re-up with pure point Rondo running the show and the centre who should start in JaVale McGee. But in not keeping one of their biggest bench presence spark plugs of camaraderie and chemistry since the days of Rony Turiaf or even Mad Dog, Mark Madsen, this is almost as heart-breaking as losing all the kids in the Hollywood divorce for Anthony Davis. But we love reunions almost as much as we love redemption in this league and with BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson inking a deal with Detroit that is going to see the Motor City Pistons assembly line cut former Laker Michael Beasley. We may just see this fellow wild card, big contributing star head back to the Chinese league he finished out the season with like he hasn’t just flown home already. We know one Leopard who would welcome him with back open paws and any other player with a name beyond a meme, not caring if he never changes his spots.
Just when you thought Ice Cube’s inspired BIG3 was the only prescribed route for former NBA players to EA get back in the game like museum exits via the gift shop then check out this exhibit. You only have to check a FIBA feed and see how France French kissed the United States out said tournament a year before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan to see that this game is truly global. It’s far more than just the United States. It’s the whole wide, watching and welcoming world. And one of the biggest hubs like everything in this world from business, to commerce and innovation is in China. Now that’s some development even the G-League can’t give you old man.
Coney Island’s own legend Stephon Marbury became an icon here, remaining after he retired…and this guy was a superstar under the Times Square, World’s Most Famous Arena lights of being a New York Knick in the Madison Square Garden of hallowed hoops Eden.
Are you listening Carmelo?
You too Dwight…give it a couple of months.
With 35 and 10, double decadence in the playoffs, Lance just put an end to San Miguel like last orders at the bar and now next rounds on him as he mime guitars until the fat lady falsettos in her stilettos to everyone raising a glass in toast.
The all dunking and big shot scoring player looks like he’s stepped into a rejuvenation machine…until you see just how much he afforded with his spare chance minutes last year on the biggest stage in Hollywood. He looks like he’s having a Swayze. And Chinese Basketball in turn the time of its life.
All Stephenson needed was another chance. And boy is he taking it right now. At this point Lance will be back in the league before you can say “it’s opening night at the STAPLES Center.” But at this point would he even want back, causing big trouble in a not so little China?
(As a matter of fact after press Lance Stephenson lead his Leopards over Seoul to win both the Terrific 12 and the tournament MVP…like Jay what more can we say?)
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