Since the 2004 debacle in Athens, Greece, the United States men’s basketball team has looked better than the Monstars in Space Jam.
However, it looks as if their 12-year run of invincibility in Olympic play will come to an end, based on recent history, and the many problems this team is facing.
Recent history shows that the knockout stage is far more difficult than the group stage because the competition is left with the eight best teams. The pressure mounts, and each time a game ends, a nation is going home while the other continues on its quest for gold.
In 2008, the USA won group stage games by an average of 32.2 points, and in 2012, they won by an average of 38.2. However, once the knockout stage began, the US average margin of victory dropped to 20.7 in 2008, and 22 in 2012.
So, if the Redeem Team and the “second” Dream Team had this much trouble once the competition got stiffer, we can only imagine what will happen with this bunch.
The 2016 squad is obviously loaded with talent, but they, still, have not gel together. They look more like 12 supremely talented players waiting for their turn to shine on the wooden floor, as oppose to one dominant team stomping on everyone on their quest to Olympic supremacy.
In tight games, the United States don’t have a point guard who can deliver with smart play. Kyrie Irving is a great player, but he tends to be a bit reckless in close contests while Kyle Lowry has not shown yet, he can consistently be a clutch performer on both ends of the floor.
Kevin Durant is facing the same criticism he faced in recent years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is that he tends to shy away from his responsibility as the clear cut best player on the team. Carmelo Anthony is the leader, but at this stage in their careers, this is Kevin Durant’s team, and he needs to fulfill his role as the man in command.
Klay Thompson struggled, mightily, in the first four games, shooting an abysmal 4 for 26, but against France, he made it rain. Thompson poured in 30 points, including seven threes to guide the United States to a 100-97 win. The Splash Brother has redeemed himself, a little bit, but how long will it last? If he has another poor outing, it will be time for Coach Krzyzewski to bench him in favor of Jimmy Butler.
Another problem facing the United States’ men’s team is their poor defense. Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kyrie Irving are known for their offensive brilliance, and their lack of defense, and it is beginning to show.
The 2008, and 2012 Olympic teams were stacked with great defenders, which hid one-way players like Carmelo Anthony. When you can have Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard together on the court, it will be difficult to score for anybody.
Coach Krzyzewski has some defensive specialists on the squad such as Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, and DeAndre Jordan. But, they have not played a lot since the beginning of the tournament. It is difficult to imagine Coach Krzyzewski changing his philosophy on the fly, but it might be his best option.
The big men are having a lot of difficulty making their presence felt on these Games. DeAdre Jordan, still, can’t shoot free throws to save his life, DeMarcus Cousins is having a hard time adjusting to international referees, and playing style, therefore Draymond Green is Coach Krzyzewski’s last option, but thus far, he has not played much.
Could Coach Krzyzewski’s change his starting five for a more defensive minded team, and, even, shake up his shooters? Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green is, still, an impressive starting five. But, at this point in the tournament, the majority of these players have not played a lot of minutes.
The United States are still the team to beat, and should be the favorites to win it all. But, for the first time in over a decade, the United States are not otherworldly. A sign that proves talent is not sufficient to win anymore.
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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