Monday, September 17, 2007

International Flavor

The European Basketball Championships came to an end Sunday night, as Russia stunned host country Spain 60-59 in the Finals, while Lithuania knocked off Greece in the bronze medal game 78-69. You can read a recap of the Final on Yahoo! Sports and get some analysis from my source for international baskeball commentary-- The Painted Area. Also, be sure to check out Chris Sheridan's spotlight feature on J.R. Holden, the American born Russian basketball star who aided Andrei Kirilenko in bringing home the gold medal. In fact, check out all of Sheridan's columns about the tournament, as he shows a true committment to covering the international scene, rather than just relying on boxscores and highlights to form opinions. He's one of the better NBA writers out there right now. Henry Abbott has some insight on TrueHoop, too.

This was a disappointing conclusion to what had been a great tournament for Spain and its premier player, Pau Gasol. Gasol joined his entire team in having a rough day, as Spain shot a tournament low 29% from the floor, with Gasol having difficulty from the floor (3/12) and the free-throw line (4/9). He finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, but missed what would have been the game winner at the buzzer after J.R. Holden scored the go-ahead bucket with only seconds left on the clock. Gasol had played very well throughout the tournament, averaging 19.4 ppg on .680 FG% and .773 FT% in 27 mpg prior to the Final against Russia. As noted earlier, he was not alone in his struggles, as only José Calderón seemed to be on his "A" game, scoring 15 points on 5/7 shooting from 3-point range. Newest Memphis Grizzlies member Juan Carlos Navarro also had an abnormally quiet game, going scoreless in 17 minutes after averaging 14 ppg in his previous 4 games. While the final result was a huge disappointment to Spain, its players had performed extremely well all tournament and they suffered no serious injuries, so for NBA fans paying attention to the tournament, this was an all-around success for all teams involved.

Of course, Gasol and Navarro weren't the only Grizzlies to play this summer, as both Mike Miller and Darko Milicic joined their national teams in action. You can check out ChipC3's thoughts on Darko . We'll have a post about Miller later this week, so be sure to check back for it.

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