Sunday, 15 July 2007

The Latest View Direct from Serbia

Thanks again to Canada Basketball's Andrew Cook for putting together this report for us:

"We fell to Australia yesterday 81-70 in the final game of play in Group C. Australia's combination of Andrew Ogilvy and Patrick Mills were simply too much for us over the course of 40 minutes. Ogilvy played a virtually perfect game with 26 points on 11-11 from the field, 18 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Ogilvy is a ferocious competitor, scoring all of his points within 6 feet of the basket. His future will be very bright in the NCAA and then likely in the NBA.

Devoe Joseph kept us in the game in the first half, carrying our offense with 23 difficult points, making tough contested shots. In the second half we played very well with a great effort from Joseph (31 pts, 5 reb) and Jon House (12 pts, 4 reb). Again, a positive sign for the future with youngsters Cory Joseph and Maurice Walker playing a combined 37 minutes for a combined double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Joseph and Walker are two of the three youngest players in the tournament. Boris Bakovic again gave us solid minutes.

In the other early game of the day, Brazil's 6'10 Paulao was his usual dominate self (26 pts, 19 reb) leading his team to an 81-75 upset over Europe's 2nd place qualifier Lithuania. Paulao is one of the many impressive big's in the tournament who should move on to an NBA future.

The game everyone was waiting for turned out to be the best game of the first round of play. The USA and Serbia battled for 40 minutes right down to the stretch before a Stephen Curry three pointer and Patrick Beverley leaner, both with under two minutes remaining, helped the USA hang on to a four point win. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephen Curry, son of former NBA great and Raptor Dell Curry, led Davidson to the NCAA tournament last season after being shunned by ACC teams who are now apparently kicking themselves Spurned by ACC, Curry dances with Davidson and Beverley will join Arkansas Razorbacks this coming fall). Serbia gave the USA everything they could handle with their tenacious perimeter defense (Serbia starts three big guards, all of whom have great length and lateral movement) and consistent post attack (Serbia has four excellent big's all 6'10 or bigger - their two starting posts from 2006 both came off the bench yesterday with 15 points each - Serbia is now starting the 7'3 giant Marjanovic). The USA should again face tough games against Lithuania, France and Brazil in their three crossover games in round two.

Argentina then finished the day by destroying their rival Puerto Rico 112-72 to eliminate Puerto Rico from the tournament. Puerto Rico was right in the game until midway in the third quarter when Argentina caught fire from three point range and Puerto Rico lost their composure. Through their disciplined continuity offense Argentina picks their spots, making the right read and then attacking. Anyone who believes that the 24 second shot clock eliminates traditional continuity offense with ball reversals needs to watch the Argentian's play. They had a rare combination of 31 three point attempts (making 17) and 38 free throw attempts. Their individual talent level is nothing spectacular, but they are a very good team.

Now we use the day of rest, recovery, preparation and practice to ready ourselves for Spain (July 16), Korea (July 17) and Argentina (July 18). This round has 6 teams on each half of the draw competing for 4 spots on each side of the quarter-final draw. The records carrried forward on our half are:

Spain 3-0
Australia 3-0
Argentina 2-1
Turkey 2-1
Canada 1-2
Korea 1-2

Unlike tournaments in the FIBA Americas Zone, all results from the first round carry through.

Spain features the tournament's leading overall scorer in Victor Claver with 73 points (Devoe a close second with 72). Claver is a very athletic 6'9 forward with great mobility. Spain plays the game at a high speed with a great feel.

The only way to describe Korea is by the fact that they have taken 106 three pointers in 3 games. The are quick, spread the floor and shoot on every catch. Argentina as already described is a discplined but agressive offensive machine.

For us to advance to the quarter-finals we will need to win at least two of these three games.

We are proud to have earned our way into the rankings of the top 12 teams in the world and now will be focused on moving to the top eight.

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