Archive for the ‘ International ’ Category

pau gasol

The Lakers went to the Great Wall on Sunday afternoon, a two-hour trek on a charter bus that started on the bustling streets of China’s capital, continued along a narrow two-way road near a quaint Chinese village with farmers pushing wheelbarrows, and ended at the Mutianyu portion of the Wall.

Two days before their exhibition game here, the Lakers didn’t go to the more popular Badaling or Juyongguan sections of the historic site, eschewing the crowds and amusement park-like environments for more solitude. Or so they thought.

Crowds immediately formed as they disembarked from their shuttle buses. Players were shepherded along by a dozen guards wearing black hats, white gloves and “RISK CONTROL” on their shirt sleeves.

Then the Lakers went up a thin pock-marked path that wound through a hundred kiosks and overzealous vendors. Scores of passers-by thrust out scraps of paper and begged players to take photos.

An elderly vendor yelled “Paulo, Paulo,” and proclaimed, “Big, big size” as he held out an extra-large T-shirt to Pau Gasol that said, “I climbed the Great Wall.”

Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times

France wins 2013 EuroBasket championship

Tony Parker, France wins 2013 EuroBasket championship

France finally captured their elusive first continental crown by beating Lithuania 80-66 to win EuroBasket 2013 and will head to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup as European champions.

Nicolas Batum led the way for the French with 17 points, six rebounds and two steals while Boris Diaw added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists and Tony Parker finished with 12 points.

“It’s hard to describe how I feel. The journey was unbelievable. I wouldn’t change a thing,” Parker said afterward.

“I won the title. I’m a little tired. I felt it in the Quarters and Semis. And before the game coach (Vincent Collet) said ‘trust your teammates’. If you score 10 points we will win the Final. And he was right.”

Lithuania’s veteran big man Robertas Javtokas said his team let their opportunity slip.

“Today we had a chance to win but they were better than us,” he said…

Parker was named the tournament’s MVP and headlined the All-Tournament Team that also included Lithuania’s Kleiza, Slovenia guard Goran Dragic, Marc Gasol of Spain and Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic.

Reported by FIBA.com

France broke open a close game by finishing the third quarter with a 14-0 run that kept Lithuania scoreless for four minutes. The French lead grew to 22 points with three minutes remaining in the third and Lithuania never came close to a comeback.

Batum had 17 points and Diaw added 15, while Linas Kleiza led Lithuania with 20.

Parker finished with 12 points, after scoring just four through the first three quarters. But his scoring and leadership during the run to the final - including 32 points against defending champion Spain in the semifinals - earned him the tournament MVP award.

“We had a perfect plan, the coach said they would double-team me and that I had to trust my teammates and not to worry if I don’t score much,” Parker said.

After finally capturing that elusive gold - in France’s record 36th appearance in the tournament - Parker led the French team into the stands to celebrate with their fans after the final buzzer.

Reported by the Associated Press

Lithuania reached their first final since winning the 2003 edition after playmaker Mantas Kalnietis (18 points), shooting guard Jonas Maciulis (23) and forward Linas Kleiza (22 points and 11 rebounds) overran a Croatian team lacking the shooting accuracy of their rivals.

After a tight first half the Lithuanians engineered an 18-3 run early in the third quarter to take an unassailable 58-40 lead and set up their ninth win in 10 matches against the Croatians.

“We gave Kleiza and Maciulis too many open shots and we didn’t play defense with enough tenacity,” Croatia’s top-scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points) told HRT television.

Coach Jasmin Repesa added: “We hoped to go all the way but looked very flat today and had no chance of winning with such poor perimeter shooting.”

Croatia nailed only three of 20 three-pointers.

Reported by Reuters

Lithuania are in the EuroBasket final for the fifth time - and first since the 2003 title - knocking off Croatia 77-62 to set up a date with either Spain or France to decide ultimate EuroBasket 2013 glory.

Croatia will fight for their third bronze medal after 1993 and 1995.

Linas Kleiza saved his best for the big time with 22 points, 11 rebounds and two assists to lead the Lithuanians while Jonas Maciulis nailed four three-pointers in scoring 23 points and Mantas Kalnietis added 18 points, three rebounds and four assists.

“It is important for us, for our generation, now that most of the older guys have left the team, our generation has proved that we can play basketball and represent Lithuania too,” said Maciulis, whose 23 points were a tournament-best for him.

“I think we have proved something now and we need to take one more step.”

Reported by EuroBasket2013.org

Tony Parker

France ended Spain’s reign as European basketball champion Friday with a 75-72 overtime victory behind 32 points from Tony Parker and set up a final against Lithuania.

Two-time defending champion Spain led by 14 points at halftime, but Parker led France’s comeback after the break. His 3-pointer with 2 minutes left gave France its first lead of the second half at 64-63.

“We wanted to be aggressive, but until halftime we weren’t really playing,” France coach Vincent Collet said. “We talked about it during the break and we came back very different. They couldn’t score for five minutes in the third and even when they started hitting shots again, our spirit stayed the same.”

Parker had a chance to put France ahead in regulation with the score tied at 65-65, but his drive to the basket was blocked by Rudy Fernandez with 11 seconds left. Jose Calderon then missed a 3-point attempt at the other end.

In overtime, Parker and Antoine Diot scored France’s last eight points from the free-throw line to keep France in front. Marc Gasol missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer after Rodriguez had missed a previous attempt to tie it.

Reported by Nesha Starcevic of the Associated Press

Spain looked home and dry at the interval. France had missed their first 10 attempts from three-point range while Parker scored 14 of his team’s 20 first-half points as his colleagues appeared overawed by the occasion.

The tide turned after the break as France hit nine of the next 10 shots from behind the arc with the unstoppable Parker producing blistering lay-ups, lethal perimeter shots and defense-splitting passing having also racked up six rebounds.

Reported by Reuters

See below for video highlights of today’s Lithuania vs Croatia game, in the semifinals of the 2013 EuroBasket tournament. Lithuania won, 77-72, and will face the winner of Spain vs. France in the championship game.

Mexico completed its unlikely run in the FIBA Americas tournament, beating Puerto Rico 91-89 in the title game on Wednesday. It was the first time Mexico has won the championship of North, Central and South America, which serves as a qualification stage for next summer’s World Cup of Basketball in Spain.

(The United States did not have to participate as champions of last year’s Olympics, earning an automatic birth to the World Cup. Mexico will participate for the first time since 1974.)

Reported by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News Blog

Gustavo Ayón scored 20 points and pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds to complete a magnificent individual tournament performance that crowned him MVP.

Ayón also made the all-tournament team, averaging 17.2 points and 8.4 rebounds.

Puerto Rico and Mexico exchanged leads throughout the fourth quarter, and the Puerto Ricans missed an open three-pointer at the buzzer that would have won it.

Reported by Jaryd Wilson of HawksBasketBlog

Dennis Rodman planning exhibition games with former NBA players in North Korea

Former Detroit Pistons Bad Boy Dennis Rodman is going back to North Korea and bringing a team of former NBA players with him.

Days after returning from his second trip to visit Kim Jong Un — in which he said he became the first foreigner to hold the leader’s newborn daughter — Rodman announced plans today to stage two exhibition games in North Korea in January.

The first will be Jan. 8 — Kim’s birthday — with another to follow two days later.

Rodman’s friendship with the autocratic leader has been criticized — and led to a couple of testy exchanges during his Manhattan news conference. But Rodman insists Kim is a good person, wants to have better relations with the United States and that he’s the one who can help make it happen with his plan for “basketball diplomacy.”

“Why North Korea? It’ll open doors,” Rodman said.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Jan Vesely playing great at EuroBasket

Jan Vesely playing great at EuroBasket

Don’t look now, but Jan Vesely may have found his confidence. So far in Eurobasket 2013, the [Washington] Wizards forward certainly has found his game.

Playing for the Czech Republic along with Washington’s 2012 second-round pick Tomas Satoransky, Vesely leads the entire tournament in rebounding (11.3) and is tied fourth in scoring (18.5). For some context regarding the talent on hand for the tournament in Slovenia, as a scorer Vesely is tied with is San Antonio Spurs star and French guard Tony Parker.

The Czech squad evened its record at 2-2 with a 95-79 over Georgia on Sunday behind 27 points and 10 rebounds from a fist-pumping Vesely. On the assumption that many of you didn’t seek out the game online, there is video of Vesely taking a lob from Satoransky and overall highlights with the 6-foot-11 forward making an aggressive dunking appearance. He finished 12 of 14 from the floor. The 27 points came in only 27 minutes.

Reported by Ben Standig of CSN Washington

Canada eliminated from FIBA Americas basketball tournament

Cory Joseph’s 19 points wasn’t enough to deliver Canada into the semifinals of the FIBA Americas tournament, from which it was eliminated on Sunday with a 73-67 loss to Argentina.

Canada finished with three straight losses, squandering a berth to next summer’s FIBA World Cup of Basketball that had seemed like a lock after it improved to 4-1 with a crushing victory over Mexico.

Canada was 4-1 at that point, but losses to Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and finally Argentina will force it to miss the world championship tournament for just the second time since 1967. The competition has been held every four years since 1950. Argentina qualified for the eighth straight time since 1986.

Reported by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News (Blog)

Canada bowed out at 3-4 and now faces a potential summer off next year.

On Sunday, Scola, the MVP of this qualifying tournament three times in a row, was masterful, turning in a performance for the ages as the last star standing from Argentina’s golden generation. Using a variety of fakes, feints, passing and outside shooting, the Indiana forward absolutely dominated.

Coming off of a tough 81-74 loss to the Dominican Republic a day earlier, Canada got off to a good start and stayed in front until Scola took over, scoring 13 straight points for Argentina at one point.

A three-pointer at the buzzer put Canada down five heading into the fourth and some dubious calls and veteran gamesmanship allowed Argentina to claim the win in the end.

Reported by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun

Jordan Farmar

In 2010, Farmar was frustrated over playing a secondary role in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, which didn’t suit the player’s game. His journey took him to New Jersey, where he averaged 9.6 and 10.4 points per game in two seasons, and during the lockout to Tel Aviv, where he reconnected with his Jewish heritage.

After he was traded to Atlanta and waived, he signed with Anadolu Efes of the Turkish League and lived in Istanbul, where he marveled at hearing the traditional Muslim call to prayer echo around the city five times a day.

“A lot of people can’t say they have that experience in the short lives we live,” said Farmar, who shared it with his wife, former UCLA and professional soccer player Jill Oakes, and their first child. The couple added a second daughter a month ago.

Seeing the world has helped Farmar see himself more clearly and recognize what’s important.

He followed the Lakers closely, staying up until the wee hours in Europe to watch them on TV. But not until Jackson retired and was replaced — by Mike Brown, who was replaced by Mike D’Antoni — was the situation right for Farmar to return to the Lakers, or for them to want him back. They paid his Turkish team $500,000 to buy out the rest of a contract potentially worth $10 million, and he took a one-year NBA deal for $1.1 million.

Reported by Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol remains an avid traveler and a highly-cultured person, ranging from reading historical novels, making trips to countries in need as a UNICEF ambassador and attending operas. But Gasol’s latest excursion serves a different person.

He landed Wednesday in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he will represent Madrid’s 2020 Olympic bid committee in hopes that his native Spain can host those Summer Games.

Madrid will compete with Tokyo and Istanbul for the 2020 Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee will announce its decision Saturday in Argentina.

Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog)

EuroBasket: Goran Dragic ready to go in Slovenia

Goran Dragic has been preparing for this moment all summer and anticipating it even longer.

Today, with Slovenia across his chest, the Suns guard will lead his national team into a Celje Arena filled with 5,200 green-clad, raucous fans for a European Championship opener.

Slovenia is more than just the host country. It is a team striving to medal after reaching the quarterfinals in the past four European Championships, placing as high as fourth in 2009 without Dragic.

Dragic has evolved into the team’s star, the face of Slovenian basketball like his mentor, Beno Udrih, once was. He has led his Slovenian team to an 11-1 record in the summer’s exhibition games, including a game in which he made a game-winning shot and another that he got ejected for a retaliation shove into a Turkish player’s back.

Slovenia faces Czech Republic today at noon Arizona time to open pool play. Slovenia will also face defending champion Spain, former Suns assistant coach Igor Kokoskov’s Georgian team, Croatia and Suns teammate Marcin Gortat’s Polish team this week in pool action before the elimination tournament leads to the Sept. 22 championship.

Reported by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic (Blog)

Canada hasn’t been rolling like this since Steve Nash was a young pup.

The senior men’s hoops squad picked up its third win in four games at the FIBA Americas tournament Tuesday with a blowout 93-67 win over Uruguay.

Canada clinched second place in its pool at 3-1 (though one win will not be carried forward because it came against a team that has been eliminated) with its second convincing win in four contests and heads forward in great shape.

Four of the eight remaining teams will be knocked out, while the other four will advance both to the semi-finals and to next year’s FIBA World Cup in Spain.

Reported by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun

Marc Gasol
Spain seeks third straight European basketball championship
Spain continues to be a basketball powerhouse

Led by Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio, Spain is favored to win a third straight European basketball championship despite losing plenty of talent.

Gone will be the size of Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka and the shooting of Juan Carlos Navarro when the 24-team tournament starts on Wednesday. Two years ago in Lithuania, the Gasol brothers were a huge presence under the basket, while Navarro added 27 points in the 98-85 victory over France in the final.

France is back with Tony Parker, but is missing some of its own big men, including Joakim Noah.

The tournament features 24 teams for the first time, split into four groups that will play in Ljubljana, Jesenice, Koper and Celje. The final two rounds are in the capital of Ljubljana.

Reported by the Associated Press

Pistons forwards Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome will play for their respective EuroBasket 2013 teams this week in Slovenia.

Datome and Italy open with Russia on Wednesday. Jerebko and Sweden play Greece the same day.

Pistons president Joe Dumars and assistant general manager George David were scheduled to leave for Slovenia on Monday to watch both in the tourney, according to pistons.com.

Reported by the Detroit Free Press staff

[Former] basketball star Dennis Rodman is heading to North Korea for the second time this year for what he says is a friendly visit to his friend, the communist nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

But he is playing down speculation his trip is aimed at freeing jailed American missionary Kenneth Bae — saying there’s been “nothing promised.” Rodman spoke briefly to reporters Tuesday while transiting at Beijing’s airport on his way to Pyongyang.

“I’m going to North Korea to meet my friend, Kim,” he said. “It’s a friendly gesture.”

Reported by the Associated Press

“I’m not going to North Korea to discuss freeing Kenneth Bae,” Rodman told Reuters in a telephone interview before he left Beijing for Pyongyang. “I’m just going there on another basketball diplomacy tour.”

Kim, the third of his line to rule North Korea, is a basketball fan and appeared to get on well with Rodman on the earlier visit, with the two of them pictured laughing, eating and drinking together and watching an all-star basketball match.

Rodman’s latest trip is being sponsored by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.

Wearing his trademark dark sunglasses, the 6-foot 7-inch (2.01 metre) Rodman pushed through a throng of journalists on Tuesday as he made his way to his plane at Beijing’s international airport, a common waystation for travellers to North Korea.

Reporters by Reuters

Cory Joseph shining for Canada at FIBA Americas

Another victory to close the opening round-robin portion of the FIBA Americas would ensure Canada enters the next phase 2-1 and would enhance the odds of advancing further. Victories against teams previously eliminated do not carry forward.

The squad has been able to come together and play well quicker than most anticipated.

That’s largely been because of how good Pickering’s Cory Joseph has been. While manning the point, Joseph has been treating opponents like his adversaries in the NBA Development League, where he was a standout months ago. He’s been stuffing the stat sheet, racking up points and assists, even leading Canada in rebounding against Brazil. Joseph looks like a veteran on the court. Reaching the NBA Final and being developed by the league’s best organization, San Antonio, has been huge for the former first-round pick. And he’s playing like a star. Practising every day against MVP candidate Tony Parker surely has something to do with that, as well.

Reported by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun

Ivan Johnson signs to play in China

Ivan Johnson signs to play in China

Ivan Johnson has agreed to a deal to play in China next season, according to his agent.

Johnson, who played the past two seasons with the Hawks, will play for Zhejiang China next season said agent Jeremiah Haylett. It is the same team Eddy Curry played for last season.

Reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Blog)

Luke Babbitt agrees to play in Russia

Luke Babbitt agrees to play in Russia

Portland Trail Blazers free agent forward Luke Babbitt has agreed to a one-year deal with the Europe club BC Nizhny Novgorod of Russia, a league source informed CSNNW.com.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the fact that no announcement has been made, added that the deal does not contain an NBA-out clause.

Babbitt’s agent Bill Duffy confirmed the deal saying, “My take is Luke needs to play 30 minutes a game and play a more expanded role. We’ve had recent success with both Danny Green (of the San Antonio Spurs) and Patrick Beverley (of the Houston Rockets) getting an opportunity to develop their games in Europe and return to the NBA. The NBA is a league of opportunity. We feel strongly this is the best move for Luke at this time.”

Reported by Chris Haynes of CSNNW

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol will sit out of the FIBA EuroBasket Championships in September in hopes of fully rehabbing his knees, but the Lakers forward plans to help his native Spain in a different way.

Madrid’s 2020 Olympic bid committee has appointed Gasol as one of its spokesman and will address International Olympic Committee during Madrid’s final presentation in Buenos Aires next month. Gasol provided an impassioned statement and indirectly suggested how hosting the Summer Games would provide a significant financial boost to Spain, which has battled a recession for most of the past four years and has a 26.3 percent unemployment rate.

“The Olympic Games are more than sport – I know this personally as an Olympian. Spanish sport and the people of Madrid need the boost the Olympic Games would provide, and Madrid is ready to face this challenge,” Gasol said in a statement. “But Madrid will also give something back to the Olympic Movement – we are a city that is prepared with a responsible bid plan that will help develop sport far into the future.”

Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog)

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