FIBA World Championship 2006 - Unofficial Blog

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Spain claim World Title

It was an unforgettable day. It seemed only fitting that when the public-address announcer called out the names of the players before Sunday's FIBA World Championship final the first person mentioned was Pau Gasol.

The big fellow was the biggest reason Spain had a chance to get their first world title. And even without him, they did win. Spain is the best team in the basketball world.

Indeed, the red team won it without Gasol on Sunday night, pulling away in the first quarter of a 70-47 victory over Greece before a packed house of 18,500 at Saitama Super Arena.

It's important to say that Gasol, who suffered a fractured metatarsal in his left foot in the closing minutes of his team's 75-74 semifinal victory on Friday over Argentina, watched the game from the bench.

Jorge Garbajosa replaced him as the starting pivotman. Felipe Reyes got the nod at power forward, Garbajosa's customary position.

When the match finished, Spanish fans rejoiced in unison: Campeones, campeones, ole, ole, ole! (Champions, champions . . .).

Garbajosa and Juan Carlos "La Bomba" Navarro scored 20 points apiece. Reyes had 10.

Greece's Mihalis Kakiouzis had a team-high 17 points and Theodoros Papaloukas had 10.

The James Naismith Trophy was presented to Gasol, the 212-cm center, during the awards ceremony. Generally, the captain is handed the trophy, but teammate/captain Carlos Jimenez deferred the honor to Gasol, who limped as he walked with the trophy held high above his head.

A nation celebrated together as the giant's long arms lifted the hardware.

Gasol also earned the World Championship's MVP trophy. He finished the tournament with 21.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Jimenez and Garbajosa led Spain's effort inside, grabbing 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively. Spain held a 42-34 edge on the glass.

An injured Gasol, watching from the bench in jeans, also burst into tears at the final buzzer as the Spain players hugged each other and danced with joy.

"I'm super-proud of the team," Gasol said with great emotion. He suffered a broken metatarsal in Friday's semi-final victory over Argentina.

"I just couldn't contain myself from crying. We played the match with so much hunger and passion. Not being able to play really hurt me but today I couldn't be happier."

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero praised the players on their achievement.

"I congratulate the squad," he expressed to reporters in Spain. "They have shown great sportsmanship and proven that above all they are a team." It's just the most important moment of their lives.
Saturday, September 02, 2006

USA got the bronze medal over Argentina

Dwyane Wade netted 18 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter as the United States bounced back from a tough semi-final loss to edge a very good Argentina 96-81 on Saturday. The bronze medal of the 2006 basketball World Championships goes for the Americans.

The Team USA were hoping to return to the top of international basketball after finishing sixth at the 2002 competition and taking bronze at the 2004 Olympics. The popular "Dream Team" however once again had to settle for third place in Japan.

We must remember that still in Argentina, the United States beat the team which eliminated them from the Athens Games in the semi-finals.

"It feels really good. We put a lot of hard work into this. We're happy with the progress we've made," American small forward Carmelo Anthony admitted.

"Unfortunately we couldn't do what we came here to do, which was win the gold. But at least we all won a medal. We still have next year and we still have the Olympic Games in 2008."

It's important to remember that the United States were picked apart by European champions Greece 101-95 while Argentina lost to Spain 75-74 after Argentina forward Andres Nocioni missed an open jumper for the lead with less than five seconds remaining.

And on Saturday, Argentina led the entire first half until Anthony's three-pointer just before the half-time buzzer. In fact, the Americans never trailed the rest of the way.

Mike Krzyzewski's men were ahead 69-62 going into the fourth quarter when Wade took over, scoring from every where on the field - three-pointers, dunks, acrobatic lay-ups.

"On our team any one can take over. Tonight it was Dwyane Wade's night. He came out on fire and took over that fourth quarter. And that's something we were looking for throughout the whole match, somebody to get hot," Anthony added.

We have to mention Dwayne Wade, who nearly out-scored the Argentineans alone in the fourth quarter as the 2002 finalists could only muster 19 points in the period.

Cavaliers player LeBron James collected 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Anthony added 15 points.

Luis Scola scored 19 points in just 21 minutes before fouling out in a losing cause. Nocioni added 18 points and Carlos Delfino chipped in with 13.

Now lets talk about the other encounters. In the game for fifth place, France beat Turkey 64-56, thanks in large part to a five-point possession with four minutes remaining.

Turkey, who were playing without injured veterans Serkan Erdogan and Ibrahim Kutluay, suffered through a dismal shooting performance, hitting 24 percent from the field - 15 of 62.

In fact, Turkey finished a best ever sixth place with a young squad and have plenty to build on for the 2010 World Championships, which will be played in Turkey.

Finally, the 2006 tournament ends Sunday with European champions Greece facing a strong Spanish squad which will be missing center Pau Gasol, who may need surgery after a serious injury to his left foot.

The first match on Sunday has Germany playing Lithuania for seventh place of the tournament.
Friday, September 01, 2006

Greece in the Final after surprising victory over the United States

The United States are out of the competition and this is a really tough moment for the American basketball. Indeed, the Americans fell short of its goal to win the title at the World Basketball Championships. The hot-shooting Greeks pulled off a 101-95 victory over Team USA in the semifinals.

IT's important to mention that Vasileios Spanoulis scored 22 points and Michail Kakiouzis added 15 for Greece, which shot a sizzling 62.5 percent from the floor to pull off the upset. In fact, the Greeks are not a basketball lightweight, having won the European championship in 2005.

Sure, Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points for the United States, while Dwyane Wade chipped in 19. The Americans shot 50 percent from the field overall, but struggled from three-point range and from the free throw line. That was the bad part.

We can say that the U.S. made only 9-of-28 shots from beyond the arc and hit just 20-of-34 foul shots for a dismal 58.8 percentage.

In one of their most important achievements, Greece will now play for the gold medal Sunday against Spain, which posted a 75-74 triumph over Argentina in Friday's other semifinal. The Americans will face Argentina for the bronze medal on Saturday.

It's also important to mention that the United States will have to qualify for the 2008 Olympics next summer in Venezuela at the FIBA Americas Tournament.

Both squads were unbeaten entering the semifinals and the Americans appeared headed toward the title game after taking a 20-14 lead following the first quarter.

Greece, though, heated up over the next three quarters.

The United States held a 33-21 edge midway through the second period. However, the Greeks answered with nine straight points as part of a 22-5 run. Sofoklis Schortsanitis had eight points during the surge, which gave Greece a 43-38 lead.

According to the reports, the Greeks went into the break with a 45-41 lead, then turned it up a notch in the third quarter. Greece drained 14-of-18 field goal attempts in the period and led by as many as 14 before taking a 77-65 cushion into the fourth.

The United States basketball team chipped away in the final stanza and clawed within 95-91 with 36 seconds to play on a three-pointer by Kirk Hinrich, but the Greeks were able to hold on.

Hinrich made 4-of-7 shots from behind the arc and finished with 12 points. Cleveland player LeBron James contributed 17 points, five rebounds and five assists in defeat.

We must mention that the Americans have not won a world championship since 1994. They will have to wait until the Olympics.

Spain beat Argentina in epic semifinal

It was for sure the best game in the tournament so far. Jose Calderon's free throw with 19 seconds to play lifted Spain over Olympic champion Argentina 75-74 in a semi-final at the FIBA World Basketball Championship.

In fact, the Toronto Raptors player put through the second of two free throws after being fouled for the winning point, which earned for Spain their first medal in global competition since the 1984 Olympics.

It's good to know that Spain and Greece will meet in Sunday's final.

Andres Nocioni, who played for the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls, had a final opportunity to win for Argentina but his 3-point attempt with two seconds to go bounced off the rim.

The talented Pau Gasol, a 213cm centre with the NBA Memphis Grizzlies, and forward Jorge Garbajosa led Spain's scoring with 19 points each while Emauel Ginobili, a guard with the NBA San Antonio Spurs, hit 21 to lead the southamerican team.

Manu Ginobili sparked Argentina to a 21-15 lead in the first period.

However, Gasol sank a lay-up on the break, his third basket of the night, and netted a free throw on foul to put Spain up 32-30 halfway through the second quarter.

Amazingly, Argentina caught up twice with Spain, which won the 1984 silver and the 1980 bronze from the Olympics but no world championship medal.

But two free-throws by Barcelona player Juan Carlos Navarro on foul left the Iberians with a slight 40-38 lead at half-time.

Down 65-56, Argentina battled back to 69-67 with a three-pointer by Ginobili with three minutes to go.

Navarro made it 71-67 with a jumper in the paint. Gasol added two free-throws but Pepe Sanchez hit back with a three-pointer to narrow the gap to 73-70 at 1:17.

It's fair to say that Calderon sank a free throw but Ginolini hit an inside shot to make it 74-72 with 28 seconds to go.

Argentina forward Luis Scola tied the score 74-74 with two free throws on Fernandez's foul with 22 seconds to go before Calderon's winning throw from the line. It was one of the most emotional moments of Japan 2006
Thursday, August 31, 2006

USA reach the semis, Germany is out

It was an important victory for the United States. Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points and LeBron James added 13, as the United States advanced to the semifinals of the World Basketball Championships with an 85-65 triumph over Germany.

In fact, the United States used a big third quarter to turn a one-point edge into a 15- point lead and cruised from there to remain one of four undefeated teams in the tournament. The U.S. will now face Greece on Friday.

The Greeks also stayed unbeaten and advanced earlier Wednesday with a 73-56 win over France. Friday's other semifinal game will pit two more perfect teams, as Spain faces Argentina. The Spaniards and Argentines moved on with quarterfinal triumphs on Tuesday.

It's important to mention that the winners of Friday's games will meet for the gold medal on Sunday. The losers will play for bronze.

The German star, Dirk Nowitzki, scored 15 points for Germany. He entered the contest averaging 24.5 points in the tournament, but was just 3-for-12 from the field. Ademola Okulaja, a former star at North Carolina, also had 15 in defeat.

"I think he commands so much attention. We put a lot of different guys on him," United States head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Nowitzki. "Shane (Battier), Chris Bosh did a really good job...LeBron, Carmelo. He's the center of attention for everything we were doing in defensive part."

The American squad held a slim 40-39 edge at the intermission and maintained that one-point margin early in the third quarter, but Anthony heated up.

The Denver Nuggets star drained a three-pointer and followed with a dunk off a steal and an assist by James to ignite a 16-2 run for the Americans. Anthony added another shot from beyond the arc during the burst and finished the period with 10 points.

Chris Bosh capped the big spurt with a three-point play off a near half-court, alley-oop feed from Chris Paul, giving the Americans a 60-45 cushion.

In fact, the Germans pulled as close as 10, but the Americans scored the last five points of the period and a buzzer-beating, three-pointer by Paul gave the U.S. a 67-52 advantage heading to the fourth.

"We came out in the second half with the defensive mind-set that we really needed to get some stops and get out and run," LeBron James admitted. "We were able to take control of the game in the third quarter."

A 7-0 run pulled Germany within 72-61 midway through the final period. However, Joe Johnson followed with a three-pointer to start a string of seven straight for the Americans and the Germans never recovered.

"I believe that they did a good job of packing in the zone and making us shoot," James expressed. "We missed some early shots, but we never got down on ourselves. The same shots we missed in the first half, we made in the second half. We made the adjustment."

The Americans opened a 23-21 lead after one quarter, then struggled early in the second. They managed just two points in the first five minutes of the period, but Germany could not take full advantage.

Nowitzki picked up his third foul with just over three minutes left in the half, but Germany forged in front, 39-37, on a tip-in by Okulaja with 1:04 left.

Anthony answered with a three-pointer on the next U.S. possession and the Americans went into the break with the one-point lead.

Indeed, the Team USA made just 14-of-44 shots in the first half and connected on only 5-of-20 from three-point range.

'We're going to have nights like that when shots don't fall,' Anthony believes. 'Our shots didn't fall tonight. However, we did it on the defensive end. We figured out that we weren't making our shots in the first half, so we picked it up on the defensive end" he finished.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Argentina and Spain reach the semifinals

Two favorite teams made it to the semifinals. One of them is Argentina, whose second straight semifinal appearance in the FIBA World Championship will mean its toughest test in this important competition.

We must mention that Andres Nocioni of the Chicago Bulls scored 21 points and Argentina dominated Turkey, 83-58, in a quarterfinal match yesterday in Saitama, Japan.

As we know, Argentina (7-0) lost to Yugoslavia in the final game in 2002, and followed that by winning the gold medal at the Athens Olympics.

With most of the players back from those sides, Argentina will face Spain (7-0) on Friday in the semifinals. It's alos important to say that Spain beat Lithuania, 89-67, in yesterday's other quarterfinal.

"These are two of the best teams in the world and they play similar games with smart basketball players," Argentina Coach Sergio Hernandez said of the final four matchup. "It will be a great, great encounter and fans will enjoy it and nobody can say before the game who will win."

According to reports, iin Spain's victory over Lithuania, Memphis Grizzlies star Pau Gasol had 25 points and nine rebounds and Juan Carlos Navarro scored 22 points.

Team USA crushed Australia to face Germany

In a very powerful demonstration, the United States Basketball team defeated Australia 113-73 Sunday, sending an unmistakable message to the FIBA world championships. This isn't the squad that proved an embarrassment in recent international competitions.

"We wanted to make a statement coming into the round of 16," forward Chris Bosh announced, who grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

In fact, this was a day that every American scored. Carmelo Anthony led the U.S. with 20 points while Joe Johnson added 18 and Dwyane Wade 15.

Granted, the Australian team wasn't much of a test. They went 2-3 in group play and have few weapons beside Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut, who scored 20 points.

However, the Americans made it look almost too easy, turning a tight game into a laugher by outscoring the Australians 32-6 in the second quarter.

Now the U.S. can look forward to its quarterfinal -up Wednesday night against Germany, another team with a star NBA center and a mostly anonymous supporting cast. Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas is third in tournament scoring, averaging 24.5 points.'

Given the way the Team US is playing, it might be more fair to make them face Bogut and Nowitzki together.

"I think our biggest opponent is ourselves right now," Johnson admitted. "We've just got to keep our intensity up."

Asked if the U.S. is unbeatable when its shots are falling, Johnson said, "No doubt. When our shots are falling and when they're not falling."

Powerful Nowitzki ready to face Team USA

German star Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points and made a key defensive play in the closing seconds to lead his country to a 78-77 triumph over Nigeria on Sunday in the second round of the FIBA world championship.

It's important to remember that Germany will face the United States, who beat Australia in the quarterfinals.

Spain 87, Serbia & Montenegro 75: Pau Gasol had 19 points and 15 rebounds to help Spain win. The 7-foot Gasol, who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, won the matchup of NBA big men, outplaying 6-11 Darko Milicic of the Orlando Magic, who had 18 points and 15 rebounds.

Turkey 90, Slovenia 84: Turkey went 5 for 5 from three-point range over the final 4:22 after missing nine of its first 11 shots from beyond the arc.

Lithuania 71, Italy 68: The squads combined to miss all nine free throws they attempted in the final seven seconds. Lithuania missed the first four but managed to twice get offensive rebounds, the second converted for a 71-68 lead. Italy then went 0-for-5 from the line in the final 2.1 seconds.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

USA had a hard time against Italy

For the American team, the game against Italy was really scary. The United States come-from-behind 94-85 victory over the Italians was nearly a repeat of the embarrassment in Athens and the humiliation in Indianapolis.

The most importnat conclusion of the 94-85 win is that for the first time since coach Mike Krzyzewski's team began its international schedule, it showed no appreciable growth. The players didn't improve upon their solid showing against Slovenia, and though they've won their bracket of the World Championship, positive steps were not taken.

Maybe Carmelo Anthony was superb, notching a Team USA-record 35 points (29 in the second half). While he managed to ply his scoring trade all over the court, you shouldn't bank on a professional player getting hot from long distance to bring home the gold.

And Dwyane Wade was equally impressive, in the second half at least, easily penetrating the lane and finishing with 26 points. Two players scoring two thirds of their squad's points may work in the NBA, where the caste system is in place and all roles are defined by the end of training camp, but not in international play, where new heroes have to step up in every single quarter. Consider Wednesday's win an exception to the rule.

Even more telling was the way Team USA handled its first bit of adversity in non-exhibition play.

Team USA got the victory this time, but they must get better if they want to win the title, especially with Spain and Argentina making such good campaigns.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Spain and Argentina prove their potential with important victories

Group B: Proving that they are world class players, Juan Carlos Navarro and Jose Calderon made 39 points to help Spain get a 92-71 victory over Germany on Monday in the much-anticipated matchup of NBA frontcourt stars.

Indeed, Spain (3-0) and Paul Gasol, who plays for the NBA team Memphis Grizzlies, clinched a berth in the second round of the FIBA World Championship with the triumph.

According to the statistics, Spain shot 61% (11-for-18) from three-point range to beat Germany (2-1) and their main star, Dirk Nowitzki. We must remember that he led the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Finals last season.

Paul Gasol was limited to seven minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, but Calderon, who had 20 points, and Navarro were too quick for the German guards. Germany starters Steffen Hamann and Demond Greene both picked up their fourth fouls early in the third quarter.

It's important to say that the Group D, which includes the United States, and Group C were off Monday.

Group A: Walter Herrmann scored 25 points for Argentina (3-0), and the reigning Olympic gold medalists advanced to the second round with a 96-54 win against Venezuela. WE must mention that } Andres Nocioni left the game with seven minutes left in the third quarter when he landed awkwardly on his ankle. Herrmann scored seven straight points late in the fourth quarter as Argentina took a 94-44 lead. Richard Lugo had 15 points for Venezuela (1-2).

And in the other game of the group, Serbia and Montenegro defeated Lebanon. Darko Milicic was 8-for-11 from the field and netted 20 points to lead defending champion Serbia and Montenegro (1-2) to a 104-57 triumph over Lebanon. Serbia and Montenegro lost its first two games of the tournament to France and Nigeria. Fadi El Khatin had 12 points on 3-for-14 shooting for Lebanon (1-2), which shot 32% (19-for-60).
Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lebanon show their heart with victory over Venezuela

It is really emotional to see a nation like Lebanon put all their heart in order to achieve something important, despite the war they are suffering. Indeed, Joseph Vogel and Fadi El Khatib scored key baskets in the final minutes Saturday to help Lebanon beat 82-72 over Venezuela at the basketball world championships in Japan.

As we sai, Vogel gave Lebanon a 76-67 lead with a two-handed slam dunk with just over a minute remaining.

Khatib then score to put the game 78-72 with a pair of free throws and hit two more at the buzzer to give Lebanon a 10-point margin.

We must remember that Lebanon lost all five encounters and finished in last place at the 2002 world championships.

It's also good to say that Venezuela led 57-56 after the third quarter. Any chance they had for a comeback was spoiled when Oscar Torres' errant pass went out of bounds with Lebanon leading 77-72.

Khatib is one of the Middle East's best players. Two years ago, he unsuccessfully tried to get a release from his club team so he could play with the Los Angeles Clippers.

According to the experts, Lebanon, 26th in the FIBA rankings, is missing center Paul Khoury, who is stranded in Idaho with visa problems. Khoury returned to the United States after fighting between Israel and Hizbullah broke out in Lebanon.

In the schedule we can read that Lebanon's next game is against Argentina while Venezuela faces Nigeria on Sunday. Good luck for them.

Japan 2006 has begun: USA beat Puerto Rico and Serbia and Montenegro lost to Nigeria

It was a very difficult game but they managed to win. With the help of Carmelo Anthony, who scored 21 points in Sapporo on Saturday, the United States' basketball team had a good start at the 2006 World Men's Basketball Championship against Puerto Rico.

In the other hand, the defending champion Serbia and Montenegro had a bad day, upset by African bronze medallist Nigeria.

As we said, the United States dominated the match with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade contributing 15 and 13 points respectively in their Group D opening win. In fact, the United States took a sweet revenge on their upset 92-73 defeat to Puerto Rico at the Athens Olympics two years ago.

"I'm satisfied, it's a game of revenge," said Elton Brand, who had six points. "It really doesn't matter we won by how many points. A win is a win."

Leading 57-51 into the second half, the Team USA opened the third quarter with a 14-5 run for a comfortable 71-56 lead. In the rest of the match, the Puerto Rican players could never cut their deficit under eight points.

The American side showed their determination to play as a team and enjoyed a surprising balanced offense with Kirk Hinrich, Christopher Paul and Dwight Howard also scoring in double digits.

In another game of the competition, NBA All-star center Yao Ming scored a game-high 30 points, but his efforts turned out to be in vain as China was beat by Italy 84-69.

Trailing 39-35 after the first half, China took the lead at 48-47 as the Houston Rockets' player had 11 points in a 13-11 run opening the third quarter. But the Italians made six three-pointers in the rest of the period for a 67-56 advantage before enlarging the gap to 80-64 amid the fourth.

"I have never seen a squad shoot the ball so well," Yao Ming expressed. "If you just spare them a half-arm distance, they can hit it."

In fact, Italy, who made eight three-pointers in the second half, went 13-for-25 from beyond the arc.

It's important to say that Gianluca Basile shot 9-for-14 from the field to lead Italy with 27 points with Matteo Soragna and Luca Garri adding 14 and 10 respectively.

And in the other Group D match, Slovenia sailed past Senegal 96-79.

And Nigeria, who was making its second appearance at the quadrennial championship, led most of the way for a 82-75 win over five-time world champion Serbia and Montenegro in the Group A match in Sendai.

We must know that in other Group A actions, Argentina outperformed France 80-70 and Lebanon beat Venezuela 82-72.

Elsewhere, European powerhouses Greece, Germany and Spain also claimed convincing victories in the opening round of the preliminaries.

We must keep in mind that twenty four nations are competing in four groups with top four finishers from each group to reach the elimination round. The race for the world title has begun.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Carmelo injured in Team USA win over Brazil

The big tournament is closer everyday, and after a pair of big blowouts, the Basketball National Team U.S. finally got some serious competition.

Indeed, the Americans also got a reality check: Facing the world’s best basketball teams without Carmelo Anthony is far from an easy task.

Anthony scored 16 first-half points before being forced out with a knee injury, and the United States hung on for a 90-86 victory over Brazil on Tuesday night.

The Denver Nuggets forward set the early scoring pace, but slipped while chasing a ball to the sideline with 2:21 left in the second quarter. He crashed into coach Mike Krzyzewski and left the game with a hyperextended right knee.

“The injury doesn’t look like it’s serious,” Krzyzewski announced.

It's important to add that Kirk Hinrich added 14 points for the Americans, who led 52-38 at halftime. Brazil staged a big comeback while Anthony sat out the rest of the match.
Sunday, August 06, 2006

Turkey Cut

The European Basketball is ready for the Cup. Turkey have designed their preliminary team for the FIBA World Championship to have just 14 players with Indiana University ace Cem Dinc, Tofas swingman Ulug Kacaniku and FMV Isik center Omer Faruk Asik all giving way.

Indeed, main coach Bogdan Tanjevic looks increasingly likely to include Ersan Ilyasova, the MVP of the recent U20 European Championships in Izmir, and Cenk Akyol – a member of that all-tournament list.

As we said, Turkey finished runners-up to Serbia & Montenegro in the Izmir-based event.

The other 12 players still involved are Ermal Kurtoglu, Kerem Gonlum, Ender Arslan, Baris Ermis, Ibrahim Kutluay, Hakan Demirel, Semih Erden, Serkan Erdogan, Kaya Peker, Fatih Solak, Engin Atsur and Oguz Savas.

We must remember that Demirel, Erden and Savas were also involved in the U20 event.
Saturday, August 05, 2006

Brazilian team ready for Japan 2006

Looking forward to have a good preparation, the Brazilian national team flies to China on Friday. The objective is to adjust things ahead of the FIBA World Championship in Japan and as expected, Nene and Rafael 'Baby' Araujo are not in the group.

As we already said, Nene missed all of last season with a knee injury and announced earlier this summer he would not play so his exclusion is not really a surprise.

The popular "Baby" Araujo has preferred to dedicate himself fully to his new team, the Utah Jazz, ahead of the new NBA season.

Main star Marcelinho Machado, Leandrinho Barbosa, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao are in coach Aluisio 'Lula' Ferreira's list.

It's important to say that in China, Brazil will play a friendly against the United States on Tuesday and then take part in the Borislav Stankovic Cup, an event from August 10-15 in which Germany, Australia, China, France and Greece are also invited.

It's good to remember that Brazil won last year's FIBA Americas Championship. In Japan, they are in Group C - widely regarded as the toughest of the four - along with Australia, Greece, Lithuania, Qatar and Turkey.

This is the list of Brazil squad : Marcelinho Machado (Zalgiris Kaunas), Welington dos Santos 'Nezinho' (Ribeirao Preto), Murilo Becker (Franca), Estevam Ferreira Jr (Uberlandia), Leandro Barbosa 'Leandrinho' (Phoenix Suns), Marcelinho Huertas (Joventut Badalona), Alex Garcia (Ribeirao Preto), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers), Guilherme Giovannoni (Bologna), Caio Torres (Rayet Guadajara), Andre Bambu (Parmesa Castellon), Tiago Splitter (Tau Ceramica).
Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Nowitzki believes US is the favorite

He agrees with the rest of the world. German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki thinks the United States is "the team to beat" in the forthcoming FIBA World Championship in Japan.

The fantastic Dallas Mavericks forward feels the Americans' depth is their best asset, and backs them to cope even with the absence of Kobe Bryant from their team.

"For sure the Americans are the favorites," Nowitzki expressed following Germany's 95-75 win over Canada in a warmup game on Sunday. "They are really stacked. The only guy they don't have is Kobe. But they still have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and plenty of other guys.

"Of course, after them everything is open. Spain and Pau Gasol will be really strong. But the field is very open and everybody can defeat everybody. But I think the Americans are the team to beat."

We must remember that Nowitzki praised Team USA's coaches for bringing in role players to go with their superstars.

"They've found a really good mix," he said.

However, he believes Bryant, who is sidelined with a knee injury, will be a big loss to the tournament.

"It would have been a great show for basketball if Kobe could have come along," he said. "But [the Americans] still have a lot of great and talented players for the world to watch."

Germany will face Spain, New Zealand, Angola, Panama and hosts Japan in Group B in Hiroshima.

Team USA will take on Italy, Slovenia, Senegal, China and Puerto Rico in Group D of the championship, which begins on Aug. 19.

  Serbia & Montenegro
  New Zealand
  Puerto Rico