Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Mens Basketball Day 2

The streaming video seemed to be working well over the weekend, but tonight the basketball replays keep breaking up. I'm just going to go the easy route and recap the game I recorded off MSNBC this morning.

Game of the Day, Day 2:
Spain defeats China in Overtime after overcoming a 15 point second half deficit.

MVP: Ricky Rubio, Age 17. The Point Guard was 0-4 from the field, but his relentless defense (including 5 steals) finally wore down China's guards. China had a chance to win on the final posession of regulation, but Rubio forced a turnover and Spain pulled away in the extra session. Here's why I like Olympic Basketball and College Basketball over NBA basketball. I love to see players diving on the floor and giving it their all from start to finish. Rubio personified all of that and his tenacious defense was clearly the deciding factor in a game where Spain did not play well.

Play of the Game: Rubio pulled down a rebound and dribbled out towards the three point line. He appeared to be pulling the ball out to settle things down, but instead made a ridiculous no-look pass to Pau Gasol for a dunk. Seriously, look for this pass on Youtube in a few days, it was the ultimate fake-out.

Ridiculous Sharpshooter: Zhu Fangyu. Whatever you do, do not leave Zhu Fangyu open. He followed up a 3-3 performance against the US, hitting 5-8 from downtown against Spain. Spain's defense was absolutely outstanding in this game and if it wasn't for the hot hand of Zhu Fangyu and former NBA reserve Wang Zhizhi, China would have been blown out.

Key Reserve: Felipe Reyes. If you thought Ricky Rubio was the unknown factor on a loaded Spanish roster, what about Reyes? He had a couple of huge baskets to key the Spanish comeback.

Mr. Basketball: Pau Gasol. China had no answer for the big man. Spain continued to feed him in the post, and if not for his dominance China would have built an even bigger lead.

Mr. Clutch Shot: Marc Gasol. Trailing in the final minutes, Spain pulled Pau Gasol from the game and put in his brother Marc Gasol. It made no sense at all and yet there was Marc catching the ball and hitting a fall away jumper over Yao Ming to complete Spain's huge comeback.

Missing in Action 1: Jose Calderon (point guard of the Toronto Raptoers) had an off night but Rubio and Rudy Fernandez easily filled the void. While Rubio provided the defense and crazy assists, Fernandez kept taking the ball to the basket and he was also a star.

Missing in Action 2: Yi Jianlian. With Yao Ming struggling with conditioning and foul trouble, China played Yi for 38 minutes and he was basically invisible. Maybe the Chinese national team was right about him not getting enough development in Milwuakee. They expected more from their 20 year old 7 footer.

Punch Line: I really feel sorry for the Chinese fans who saw their team nearly pull the big upset. It really looked like China was going to defeat the defending World Champions, but instead the Chinese fell to 0-2 in pool play. Spain remains the second best team in this tournament, and when you look at the depth on this team, I'm really looking forward to this weekend's game against the US.

Wednesday Night Schedule

Germany vs Spain: A rare terrific game that you can watch live in the evening in the US at 9pm on the Olympic Basketball channel or using the streaming video feed on NBC's website. If you can pull yourself away from Gymnastics, this is a good one to watch.

Australia vs Iran: Australia has started 0-2 in group play and looks to avoid disaster here.

Thursday Early Morning (Watch the Replay)

Angola vs China: China finally picks up a much needed win or Angola pulls the ultimate shocker.

Russia vs Lithuania: Russia tries to bounce back after a loss to Croatia, but Lithuania is now the favorite it Group A.

Thursday Morning

US vs Greece: Toughest test to date for the US. One of the next 3 games will probably be close, and this may or may not be the game.

Argentina vs Croatia: Croatia's surprising run would become shocking with a victory against Argentina.