Wednesday, August 30, 2006

U.S. Continues World Domination
FIBA World Chip Coverage 2006

The US finally displays some of that vaunted defense, shooting poorly against Germany, but keeping Dirk and Co. shooting... well, equally bad. America wins 85-65. Chris Sheridan seems to think that the other remaining teams love the fact that the Americans couldn't shoot... but still won by 20.

Argentina is the most boring team in the world... they win by a ridiculous margin... again. In fact, every undefeated team in the tourney won via public spanking of the opponent.

Ah, the amazing run of the on iki dev adam falls short of the final four but still guarantees Turkish basketball their best finish in international competition. Yes, that's Luis Scola celebrating in a Turkish jersey.

ESPN also seems to Greece is the forgotten team. The French didn't and probably won't... Greeks were perfection like a piece of gum right now. Vassy Spoons is looking all right.

Powerhouse Argentina will now face powerhouse, Spain and "high-flyer" Rudy Fernandez... he's got springs but calling him a leaper with Lebron in the stands is, to take a football analogy as the season nears, like saying Hines Ward is fast... yea, he's faster than us, but he ain't Randy Moss. Nevertheless, this guy does more reverse alley-oops than is humanly necessary. Yes, one of those highlights was a clip of him taking a charge.

The Greeks then, of course, will face Team USA. Single elimination for only one Highlander.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dirk is Ready for Team USA

USA v. Deutschland, 8/30 6:30a.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Round One: The Usual Suspects... and Turkey
FIBA World Chip Coverage 2006

It's not that Turkey hasn't had a growing respectability in competitive international basketball. It's just not this team that's had it. The on iki dev adam competing sans NBAers Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur advance to the quarter finals.

Camp USA is getting that kinda hype again... in Minnesota, anyway. They advance to play fellow winners, Germany and the Dirk-meister. Favorites, Spain, Lithuania and France, without Mr. Longoria, also advance.

Argentina is still boring and wins convincingly again. They will face Turkey in the second round. Luis Scola is cleared to play after cracking two teeth against New Zealand.

Only days after China's... emotional win over Slovenia, Greece shows the Chinese nats that basketball is a European sport. Suddenly, we're considerably less interested in this FIBA thing. Yao Central has your media coverage. Yao Mania! has your pics and is loving Vassy Spoons.

So yea, we're disappointed that Yao & the Mingettes made little noise in the tourney, but our thoughts are really on this date a year past.
We'll march on, however, posting our posts, saving the pretense. We only wanted to say that we grew up in Houston, but became men in New Orleans. We loved that city and hope its rebirth benefits those who truly deserve it.

Anderson Cooper promises a critical look at the reconstruction tonight.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

China Fulfills Prophecy, Yao Wants Commemorative T-Shirt
FIBA World Chip Coverage 2006

You really can't stop the prophet... Yao dropped 36 pts, 10 rebs and 4 blks in an upset last-minute win over Slovenia to secure China's spot in the medal round. Much maligned (everywhere, but also here on Globetrotter) SG Wang Shipeng hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to put China over the top (77-76).

The win may be China's greatest in international play says Yao Mania!, and the FIBA website is down with every fan in China bum-rushing the site for... we guess, the recap or box score or something. We couldn't get on. Yao Mania! has this quote from Yao on the historic win:
This was just so exciting. So dramatic. I just gave someone $500 bucks to go buy souvenirs. I want to remember this.
$500 bucks... How many t-shirts, flags, noise-makers, fans, inflatable stick thingies, bobbleheads, pennants, foam fingers, programs, bootleg videos, jerseys and ramen noodles can you buy for that? Not enough.

Group A: Argentina is boring
What could have been the story of the tournament, Lebanon just misses advancing to the medal round with a blowout loss to Nigeria (95-72). This just after an upset victory over France on Wednesday. We didn't think they would win a game, they won two (the second against Venezuala). Serbia & Montenegro gets it together and advances, as does France and Nigeria. Argentina, predictably, goes unbeaten and may be the favorite to win.

Group B: Host team goes home, so to speak
FIBA World Chip host, Japan, does not move on. Spain, as predicted, dominates the field. Germany, Angola and New Zeland all advance.

Group C: Turks, Greeks advance
On iki dev adam loses to Greece but comfortably advances to the medal round. Australia and Lithuania join the Turks and undefeated Greece in the tourney.

Group D: Carmelo sports a sag
After a brief scare against Italy on Wednesday--and after Carmelo argues with 29 second-half points that the 2003 NBA draft will be the greatest of all time--Team USA returns to form... and shits on Senegal.

Italy, Slovenia and of course, China, all advance. Carmelo pic from Reuters.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

LBJ Surprises Himself With SBD

Yao is the International Shaq
FIBA World Chip Coverage 2006

Yao Ming gets fouled out in a game he was dominating (29 pts, 8 rebs). Blames the refs. Welcome... says Shaq... we assume. Pictured above is Hack-a-Yao courtesy of, but notice also the look of sheer terror in the nearby Chinese guard when faced with the prospect of physical contact. Pictured right, Yao meets just about the only other player in The Worlds that can deliver him a proper head-butt... 7' 4" Puerto Rican center, Peter Ramos.

Carlos Arroyo nearly racks up the tourney's first triple-double and continues to prove he can play on this international level, which for some reason doesn't translate well in the NBA.

For in-depth coverage of China's World Championship exploits, visit YaoMania!.

Turks make it three straight with a squeaker over Brazil. Guard and spiritual leader, Serkan Erdogan, who had been coping with a knee injury, finally broke out to lead the team with 21. Leandro Barbosa, who has lead Brazil with his strong play, scored 26 points but missed two clutch free throws with only seconds remaining--one of which would have tied the game.
The US Nationals don't bother with the rebounding in a blowout win over Slovenia. Kirk Hinrich lead the team by more than double the next guy... with seven. But who needs rebs when you shoot 56% from the field.

FIBA wants you to vote for the best young players in the tournament. So if you've actually seen any of the games, go for it. If this blog is your only source of coverage for The Worlds... pick Chris Paul, can't miss with Chris Paul.

Monday, August 21, 2006

LeBron Has Lots of Friends

Turkey and Angola... Surprise!
FIBA World Chip Coverage 2006

A few surprises over the weekend, most notably the strong play of Turkey (18) and Angola (17) and the meltdown of the Serbian nationals--but Serbia & Montenegro (2) are hardly out of it, getting results in a must-win today. The Serbs have perhaps been given a pass to lose given their relative youth and inexperience in international play, but the Turks are even younger.

Turkey and Angola both sport fairly solid undefeated records, though Angola has yet to see a real challenge. They'll face Germany (13) and Spain (5) upcoming, which should test their mettle. Both countries, having virtually secured their positions in the elimination round, are proving to be threats to shake things up come tournament play.

Turkey has been particularly impressive, beating Lithuania (4) and Australia (9) with their spiritual leader, Serkan Erdogan (G, 6'4"), hobbled with a knee injury, and without NBAers Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur. The on iki dev adam have been lead by the solid play of perhaps their most consistent player over the years, 6'6" guard, Ibrahim Kutluay, who is apparently building his own website and plays for Tau Ceramica in Spain; and 19-year-old, 6'10" forward Ersan Ilyasova, who was recently drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Angola, on the other hand, started the tourney with certain expectations. As Africa's best chance to advance, having won the African championship in 2005, Angola's perhaps is nevertheless, unexpected. There's only one player on the roster who plays professionally outside of Angola, and their tallest player is 6'8" Abdel Aziz Boukar, who plays for San Jacinto Junior College in Texas.

Arroyo Confuses Worlds, Fine Tunes Bicycle Kick

Click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Don't click here if you do. Or you can if you want.. I'm not here to tell you what to do.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

U.S.A. Bent on World Domination
2006 FIBA World Championship Preview

Lebron James threatens to incite riots if repreated victory by humiliation is not achieved in the 2006 FIBA World Championships... or something to that effect. We're not sure if its withdrawal, but we've come to anticipate this installment of the Worlds more than any other in recent memory. But then again, before the Dream Team, we'd really never heard of it. Ah, but how the world has changed. This Saturday, international roundball competition on its highest (sub-NBA) scale begins... and its an open field.

There are expectations for many teams, Argentina, Lithuania, Greece, even China, and there are statements of redemption to be made... mostly by the home team, er, the US, may or may not still be the favorite, but... I wouldn't bet the prize pig on 'em. Thus our preview... for what should prove to be a riveting two weeks of wacky-rules basketball and infuriating "international" officiating. That comes off sardonic, but we really do love it. Love to hate it.

First the pools:

Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
Argentina (3)
Venezuela (20)
France (10)
Serbia & Mont. (2)
Lebanon (U)
Nigeria (U)
Spain (5)
Panama (34)
Germany (13)
Japan (25)
New Zealand (U)
Angola (17)
Lithuania (4)
Brazil (15)
Greece (8)
Turkey (18)
Australia (9)
Qatar (28)
USA (1)
Puerto Rico (11)
Italy (6)
China (14)
Senegal (30)

Listed also are the current international rankings... which as always mean less when weighted against the competitive level of their respective regions. Australia, for example, comes in with a no. 9 ranking, racking up points against such basketball luminaries as Fiji, Micornesia and the Marshall Islands... a list that reads like the "Coalition of the Willing." In fact, it appears, according to the archives, that the Aussies have never played anyone other than New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania championships and qualifiers... on any level. Sufficed to say, 9 might be a bit high for a team that lost to China taking sixth in the six-team Stankovic Cup tourney, but Boomers, Andrew Bogut and Brad Newley could be interesting. Anyway, to the groups...

Group A would appear to be the monster, seeing Serbia & Montenegro (2), Argentina (3) and France (10). The two unranked teams (FIBA's rankings ceiling at 75) almost ensure that all four ranked teams will advance--unless Nigeria's Julluo Nwoso has something to say about it.

Lebanon... probably won't win any games... but their participation at all should make a statement... of some kind... maybe political by nature... maybe not.

Groups C and D should be the most hotly contested with every team in each respective group ranked in the top 30--though we're not sure how Australia can delude belief of a 9th rank or China with a 14th... or for that matter Puerto Rico with an 11th when Brazil is at 15. The Brazilian nationals should probably be ranked ahead of the aforementioned after making a strong case with their solid play against the US in their recent friendly.

We still see the US taking this one, despite an inexperienced team (in international play), but--and I know its been said over and over, and our expectations have always been foolishly hinged upon it post-Dream Teams I & II--the talent level if too much. Bron-Bron, D-Wade and Melo?!? Lovely. But it perpetuates within us a hoary internal conflict of assembled talent vs. team familiarity and chemistry--granted, the US is trying to achieve the latter but they just got started. As occasional coaches in local youth leagues, it attacks our very sensibilities of talent vs. team. The statement for the US in the Worlds is not to regain glory--glory they got--but to prove that talent can equal team... and medals.

More to come on the World Chips. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Denny Lee's Sing Tao 3-on-3

Once again, it was on.... Denny Lee and the New York Rockits hosted another fine tournament for Tri-State Asian American basketball enthusiasts of all shapes, sizes and skills.

Globetrotter was there but sat on the sidelines talking shit about how we could beat everyone... IF we weren't all nursing bum knees. More pics are up at the Chinatown Cowboy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Skip Bayless: They're Still All Alike to Me

Skip Bayless tore former NBAer Eddie Johnson a new one when AP recently released that Johnson was an alleged sex offender... but he ripped the wrong Eddie Johnson. And then barely apologized after learning the truth. But come on, it's something he would do. Blowhards can't help themselves. It's like the frog and the scorpion... no I didn't get that from The Gilmore Girls last night... I already heard it before.

Hoops Addict has a great interview with "Fast" Eddie Johnson, our favorite former-Rocket gunner, to clear up how he, Eddie A. Johnson, (NBA '82-'99), former Illini, was confused with Eddie Johnson (NBA '77-'87), former Auburn Tiger... and convicted felon and alleged child molester.

Deadspin, on the other hand, has mass coverage of the sheer hatred that Mr. Bayless generates, no doubt resulting in subway tunnels flooded with rivers of emotional slime only to manifest in a 16th century demi-god bent on world domination... unless Bayless is that demi-god.

You can start here but search the site for "Skip Bayless" and enjoy.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fists of Fury: Addendum to the State of the CNT:
State of the Taiwanese Nats

This is Taiwan's pro league... Taiwan is not China.

China has long endured a rep for being squares... meaning, really, that they're often demure, restrained if respectful, and overly deferential. The team is only now embracing a sense of panache comparable to the US--as featured in our previous "State of the CNT" entry--and then only reluctantly.

The Taiwanese have had no such rep... their league, the SBL (Super Basketball League), is one of globalization's finest. Known for its flash and pop, the SBL is a showman's league, more EBC than NBA. Well... it's got great production value, anyway. Better than Summerball on MSG. (Sorry, Bob... *more)

The national team, though... has rarely produced results in serious international play. Led by forwards Chen Hsin-An, Tien Lei (both of whom have worked out with NBA teams without sticking) and Lin Chih-jay, the Taiwanese nats can be exciting, but for the most part... well, they were recently beat in the Jones Cup final by a Christian goodwill team... which was coached by Mike Jarvis... and now they're barely staying alive in a tournament against Asian pro teams... the whole Taiwanese national team... against pro clubs... from Japan... Korea... the Phillipines... at home... barely staying alive.

Why did we have this addendum? Oh yea... I haven't seen this many Asian guys dunk since my friends and I used to go to the local elementary schools with the 9-foot rims. Taiwan: can't win, can dunk. Here's one of Chen Hsin-An dunking on Yao Ming and then going Tom Chambers on some dude. Love the titles.

For more on the SBL and Taiwanese national team, visit Chris Wang's SBL blog ro visit his column at

*Why's the game of the week always a 20-point blowout? I don't care if Black Wall Street is the best team at the Rucker, show me something watchable... and tell Sticks I got that and-one I dropped on him at BBC on tape... no, don't tell him.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fists of Fury: State of the Chinese National Team

Chen Jianghua is the answer.

Not just because some of the more delusional of international scouts compare him to Allen Iverson, but because he, along with a small crew of young Chinese nationals, represent two qualities that Chinese basketball has always been left wanting... athleticism and fearlessness. The first is obvious. The Chinese National backcourt has never boasted any exceptional quickness, agility, speed and for that matter, slashing, consistent perimeter scoring, ball-handling or semblance of basketball fluidity or instinct. Chen has this in bunches, minus the perimeter scoring, and all at the ripe age of 17*.

The second quality is less tangible, but evident in the often timid play of many Chinese nats. Chen is anything but timid, and in fact, his devil may care attitude, which makes him special among his teammates, has also alienated him from his many critics and past coaches. Which is evident in that Chen, has never played in a CBA game--compared to say, Tony Parker, who was playing professionally in France at 16--and that CBA officials resisted giving him a shot at the National team until Chinese coach Jonas Kazlauskaz insisted.

We'd heard stories of Chen throughout the last couple of years. Message boards and scouts described him as a young phenom who could be the "savior" of Chinese basketball--a backcourt player who could dominate with his athleticism. And though we were excited to cover his exploits, he seemed to disappear after an impressive appearance at the Adidas ABCD camp last summer. The highlight film in the link shows you a little of his vaunted athleticism, along with some beaming testimonials from his teammates, who are among the best preps America has to offer. But as with all athletes, the true test is onstage with the best comp possible. In basketball, there's only one... National. Basketball. Association.

But how many preps get to play against pros? Very few. And how many get to play against the US National team? Chen had no better opportunity to test his mettle than in his own national team premiere against Team USA on August 7th. One with the the kind of implications that make a career--perhaps like Earl Boykins made his by dropping 30 on Team USA when he was collegian. In the end, Chen's was not a particularly strong performance by the numbers (6 pts. on 2 of 7 shooting, 3 asts), but he displayed impressive abilities. Most notably his fearlessness, facing the best young players in the US, who aren't that much older, but a hell of a lot bigger, he repeatedly challenged them, displaying an ability to easily get to the rim and challenge US forwards and centers. Of course, there's a thin line between fearlessness and recklessness. Chen finished the game with 5 turnovers in 16 minutes. Not to mention that China lost the game 110-73.

Nevertheless, Chen's statistically unremarkable outing seems to have bolstered an already profound optimism for the future of Chinese basketball. (Add to that his performance against powerhouse Germany). We'll put it out there... expect that the Chinese nationals will surprise some teams at this year's Worlds in Japan.

As for the Iverson comparisons, Chen actually looks much more like a young Tony Parker--able to get to the rim with relative ease (even against NBA athletes), suspect jumpshot with funny release and at times questionable decision-making. But you can see for yourself with the magic of Youtube.

If Chen Jianghua is the future, Yi Jianlian is the next.

Featured in Time Asia last year as the successor to Yao Ming, Yi also showed flashes (14 pts, 9 rebs) in China's blowout loss to the Team USA and his overall friendly and tournament play has been solid in the absence of Chinese stalwarts, Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi, proving to many that he may ready to make the jump to the NBA. At 19* years old, this "readiness" may be based strictly on his potential. Yi's offense is at best raw. His agility and athleticism, however, is impressive for a seven-footer, and likely to make at least a few NBA GMs rub their hands salaciously should he put together some viable offensive skills.

Yi is the complement in the low post to Chen's athleticism at the guard position phsically and symbolically: both agile, explosive ...and rare. Which should highlight what seems to be an illogical pursuit for the Chinese for the athletic sublime. Are athletes, in the extraordinary physcality sense of the word, what Chinese basketball fans should be fixating on? Here, in the US... hell, just in Brooklyn, I could step out on my fire escape and point in any general direction and find an athletic combo guard with a handle and no jumpshot. Of course, my fire escape is facing Coney Island, but nevertheless, the US has athleticism to spare. So, of course, US teams are built around the fact, it's natural to the US style of play.

The Serbs and Lithuanians continually field competitive teams without. Theirs is of a national identity that showcases finesse, shooting, fundamentally sound, team-oriented basketball, without the extraordinary athletes. Would suddenly fixating on athletes disrupt these programs? For their part, Chen and Yi have meshed well with Yao and the older, slower Chinese nats, which seems to counter the idea that they might disrupt a national basketball identity--not that China's is particularly definitive or effective. In fact, disruption might just be what they need. Arguable is the nature of comparing countries like Serbia and Lithuania to larger ones such as the US or China when pertaining to whether the latter are capable of maintaining a definitive basketball identity among massive populations. But is that beside the point? You can't mine what's not there, right?

Well, maybe it is there. Out of 1.3 billion, there's gotta be ten with some real hops. So far, they have two. But a recent ad starring Yi Jianlian, as well as some Chinese streetball videos seem to represent not just the country's desire for a new look, but perhaps, a new wave.

Not to be easily overshadowed, our boy, Sun Yue is making his own impressive debut with the Chinese nats, leading the team in assists since China's starting PG, Liu Wei, sat out with injury. He's also given China it's highlight of international play so far, swatting a Carmelo Anthony two-hander (follow the instructions in the link, it's free, it's legit, it's worth it).

Yue and Chen Jianghua have split time at the point. Yue (at 6' 9") playing the setup man to Chen's slasher. In Yue, the Chinese nats finally have height and versatility at the guard, in Yi and Chen, real athleticism. Together with Yao Ming, Chinese basketball may just get a little more interesting to those of us outiside of the People's Republic by 2008... and not just for the novelty of seeing giant Chinese people.

For more speculation, visit the Yao Ming Mania! fan forum. For Golden State of Mind's "The Yi Movement" campaign to take Yi Jianlian with the Warriors' 2007 (highly likely) lottery pick, visit Golden State of Mind.

*Discrepencies between listed ages and actual ages have been a source of controversy in China.