Sunday, September 02, 2007

Running to Beijing

The USA team in the Tournament of Americas was nothing short of impressive. Even for my skepticism of the direction of USA basketball and basketball in general in this country, this particular group of stars showed that they could play together, make perimeter shots, and completely dominate their lesser known counterparts.
I would, however, caution that the opponents in this tournament are inferior to whom this new Dream Team will face.
Yes, the same Puerto Rico team that beat the USA a few years ago got spanked by 40 points, but some of the European teams are much improved. Argentina, with their full complement of players will serve as a big-time challenge as well.
If all players decide to participate (which never happens but it's fun to think about) here are the USA's toughest potential opponents.

Starting 5
PG: Pepe Sanchez (Formerly of the 76ers)
SG: Manu Ginobilli (Spurs)
SF: Andres Nocioni (Bulls)
PF: Luis Scola (Rockets)
C: Fabricio Oberto (Spurs)

Bench: Carlos Delfino (Raptors)
Pablo Prigioni
Walter Hermann (Bobcats)
Ruben Wolkyowski (formerly of the Sonics)

Starting 5:
PG: Tony Parker (Spurs)
SG: Mickael Pietrus (Warriors)
SF: Boris Diaw (Suns)
PF: Ronny Turiaf (Lakers)
C: Johan Petro (Sonics)

Mickael Gelabale (Sonics)
Joakim Noah (Bulls)
Yakhouba Diawara (Nuggets)

Starting 5:
PG: Jose Calderon (Raptors)
SG: Juan Carlos Navarro (Grizzlies)
SF: Rudy Fernandez (Blazers)
PF: Jorge Garbajosa (Raptors)
C: Pau Gasol (Grizzlies)

Bench: Sergio Rodriguez (Blazers)
Marc Gasol (Lakers)
Fran Vazquez (Magic)

Starting 5:
PG: Milos Vujanic (rights held by Suns)
SG: Marko Jaric (TWolves)
SF: Peja Stojakovic (Hornets)
PF: Darko Milicic (Grizzlies)
C: Nenad Krstic (Nets)

Bench: Zarko Cabarkapa (Warriors)
Mile Ilic (Nets)
Vladimir Radmanovic (Lakers)
Jelly Rebraca (Clippers)
Peja Drobjnak

Starting 5:
PG:Beno Udrih (Spurs)
SG: Sasha Vujacic (Lakers)
SF: Bostjan Nachbar (Nets)
PF: Rasho Nesterovic (Raptors)
C: Primos Brezec (Bobcats)

Uros Slokar (Raptors)

Starting 5
PG: Sarunas Jasikevicius (Warriors)
SG: Renaldas Seibutas (Mavs)
SF: Linas Kleiza (Nuggets)
PF: Darius Songaila (Wizards)
C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Cavs)

Bench: Martynus Andriuskevicius (Bulls)

Starting 5
PG: Leandro Barbosa (Suns)
SG: Marcus Vinicius (Hornets)
SF: Anderson Verejao (Cavs)
PF: Rafael Araujo (Jazz)
C: Nene (Nuggets)

Others to consider:
China: Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian, Sun Yue, Wang Zhizhi
Russia: Andrei Kirilenko, Viktor Khryapa, Yaroslav Korolev
Italy: Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli
Canada: Steve Nash, Samuel Dalembert, Jamaal Magloire

...and of course Latvia: Andris Biedrins (Warriors), Kaspars Kambala (former UNLV star), Raitis Grafs (former Valparaiso star)

Some teams can be compromised of all NBA players and enough have at least a starting five. Basketball is a global game and I only wish that these players decide to play in the Olympics and make that tournament more competitive than the one we just witnessed.

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