That's right! We've got some actual basketball to watch. The 2011 EuroBasket Tournament. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "This is a boring event, just a bunch of amateurs...". Wrong! How many NBA players can you spot in this photo? Yep, four! And as you can see, one of them happens to be the great Boris Diaw in typical Doris fashion. Brings back memories, doesn't it? See, this is no amateur event, its got pros.
Now hit the jump and I'll give you the info.
First is the Bronze Medal Game between Russia and the F.Y.R of Macedonia. Afterward, France takes on Spain for the Gold Medal.
Games are on Sunday, 9/18.
Russia vs Macedonia at 7:30 AM PDT
Spain vs France at 11:00 AM PDT
Both games will be streamed on ESPN 3.
Bronze Medal Game
Strengths: Russia is perhaps the best defensive team in this competition. They rank #1 in both steals and points allowed. On offense they have good ball movement as evident by their 2nd place ranking in assists and 3rd place ranking in FG%. They go 9-10 guys deep and everyone knows their role. This is a true team.
Weaknesses: They don't rebound the ball very well and it's what killed them in their lone loss to France on Friday. Also, despite their good ball movement, they're really just a decent offensive squad. They have no scorers. They don't have that guy who they can throw the ball to and expect to get to the line and draw a foul. That is why they only rank 12th in both free throws made and attempted. Now, that may be better than half the teams in this tourney, but that's only because the rest suck (no offense).
Overview: This is still a very good group though, but they rely too much on their defense. However, it's to no fault of their own. They just don't have the weapons to be good offensively and so they have to rely on defense. Hey, it's worked out so far as they've had much success, and now here they are fighting for a medal.
F.Y.R of Macedonia
Key Players: Bo McCalebb and Pero Antic.
Strengths: They're the best 3pt shooting squad in this tournament and they're good defensively, but not on par with Russia. They've got that underdog thing going for them though.
Weaknesses: Not a good offensive team. They rely too much on the 3-ball.
Overview: Too be honest, I don't know much about them and so I'm probably not giving them the credit they deserve. What I do know is that they've been the biggest surprise in this competition. Nobody expected them to be here and yet, here they are. That shows me they're no pushover.
Game Prediction: Russia won the last matchup vs Macedonia due to a game winning, buzzer beater from Sergey Monya. I expect this to be a very competitive and intense, defensive contest. I enjoy watching the Russian team play, so my best bet is on them. Russia takes home the Bronze winning 67-60.
Gold Medal Game
Strengths: Spain has it all. They've got a good PG, they've got good shooters, rebounders, defenders and they've got Pau Gasol. They're about top 5 in every category and they're loaded with NBA talent as you can see above.
Weaknesses: I don't think they have one, so I'm going to make one up. They're too confident. Their only loss in this Tournament was due to a 4rth quarter choke in which they gave up a 55-49 lead, allowing Turkey to go on a 16-2 run.
Overview: For the last 6-8 years, Spain has been one of the top 3 countries in basketball next to Argentina and the USA. Nuff said.
Strengths: France can score and they're athletic. That makes them a very intimidating team to guard (Just ask Russia). They too have some good, quality NBA talent.
Weakness: Their defense is kind of average, but their offense makes up for it.
Overview: I don't know much about these guys, I've only seen them play once and that was during a win against the undefeated Russians, 79-71 on Friday. Of course, I have to assume they're pretty good. I mean, I don't even need to see their record, just look at those players. Parker and Noah? If they had these guys actually play for them in recent competitions, who knows what they could have done!
Game Prediction: In their last meeting, Spain crushed France 96-69. I don't think that's how it'll play out on Sunday. There is a chance Spain comes into this game too confident and lets France get up on them early. However, I doubt it. This is the Gold Medal Game were talking about! This is for their country! For that same reason, I don't expect France to just lay down like they did in the last outing. This is their chance to redeem themselves and there's no better opportunity to do that then in the Gold Medal Game!
I expect this to be an exciting one, but someone other than Parker and Noah from that French squad is going to have to step up. And guess who that player needs to be? Yep, Boris Diaw.... Well, good luck France.