Monthly Archive for September, 2009

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Pau, Spain Smash France, Advance to Semis

gasol_spain_fistSo much for an injured finger.

For the second straight night in EuroBasket 2009, Pau Gasol looked to be in midseason NBA form, leading the Spaniards with 28 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in an impressive 86-66 victory over previously undefeated France.

With the win, Spain not only advances to face the winner of Turkey and Greece on Saturday in the EuroBasket semifinals, but it earns an automatic berth in the 2010 World Championships after guaranteeing themselves a Top 6 EuroBasket finish.

Throughout the game, a France squad featuring NBA players Tony Parker, Ronny Turiaf, Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum had no answer for Gasol, who routinely had his way around the rim with an array of touch shots, layups and dunks. Gasol also showed some of his 2008-09 playoffs defensive form behind three blocks of Turiaf, causing consistent problems in the paint for France.

Teammate Rudy Fernandez, whose alley-oop pass to Gasol late in the fourth was the game’s final dagger, added 16 points for the Spaniards, while No. 5 overall draft pick Ricky Rubio contributed eight points, four assists and four rebounds. Pau’s brother Marc chipped in six points and five boards in the victory, while Juan Carlos Navarro added 11 points and four dimes.

Parker managed just six points, three assists and a rebound in limited minutes for the French, who were led by 12 points and four boards from Turiaf and nine points with six boards from Diaw.

Spain’s victory came a night after their 90-68 victory over Poland, in which Gasol scored 20 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

Happy Birthday, Coach

Phil JacksonHall of Fame coach Phil Jackson turned 64 today, on September 17 of the year he won his 10th championship to become the NBA’s greatest coach of all time.

While the 10 championships represent Jackson’s trump card, his career record (1,041-435, 70.5 percent) and playoff record (209-91, 69.7 percent) aren’t too bad either.

To the Lakers he’s delivered four championships (2000-2002 and 2009) in nine seasons as head coach, while the Chicago Bulls were privy to six titles in as many seasons.

All in all, Jackson has won titles at the ages of 45, 46, 47, 50, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 63.

How about 64?

Several Lakers Gather for Wednesday Workout

Training camp is still a few weeks away for the Lakers, yet several of the players gathered in El Segundo on Wednesday afternoon to shoot, lift and play some pick up ball.

As Shannon Brown explained in the above @Lakers Twitvid, he was joined by Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, Ron Artest, Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell and Adam Morrison in addition to some D-Leaguers (to round out a 5-on-5 run).

Prior to the full-court action, some of the players went through lifting and general strenghtening activities with Lakers Director of Athletic Performance Chip Schaefer (Walton and Brown specifically), others got some shots up (Vujacic and Farmar) while others worked with assistant coach Brian Shaw and advance scout/assistant coach Rasheed Hazzard on running L.A.’s offense (Artest and Brown).

“It’s just good to get back in here,” said Walton. “I think we’re all excited about the coming season and eager to get ready to go.”

It won’t be long, since the first preseason game is only three weeks away on October 7 against Golden State.

Spain Beats Poland, Advances to EuroBasket Final 8

Needing a win to advance to the Final 8 in EuroBasket 2009, Spain easily handled host Poland with a 90-68 victory that sends Pau Gasol and his squad into the quarterfinals against undefeated France (5-0).

As reported on EuroBasket.org, L.A.’s power forward had another outstanding all-around game in scoring 20 points, grabbing five rebounds, tossing three assists and swatting three shots. Gasol and teammate Juan Carlos Navarro, formerly of the Memphis Grizzlies, combined for 19 of Spain’s 23 first quarter points, including the first seven from Gasol.

EuroBasket.org recorded Gasol’s postgame comments:

“We had a good performance today,” Gasol said afterwards. “We are growing as a team and we are very much alive in the tournament. It will be a tough game against France but we have to go through them to get anything done here. We very much look forward to it.”

The game against France will take place on Thursday evening.

Lakers Second-Round Pick Signs in Spain

Lakers second-round pick Chinemelu Elonu signed a two-year contract with the Spanish team CAI Zaragoza.

As such, Elonu will not appear at Lakers training camp this season, though the Texas A&M product does have an opt-out clause in his contract after the first season and the Lakers will retain his NBA rights.

At the Las Vegas Summer League in July, Elonu averaged 8.2 points and 6.2 rebounds, including 16 points and eight boards in L.A.’s final game.

Gasol, Spain Defeat Lithuania 84-70

Pau GasolThroughout L.A.’s 2008-09 campaign, Lakers fans grew accustomed to the elite offensive efficiency of Pau Gasol, who routinely went 9-for-11 (like in Game 3 of the Finals), 8-for-12 (like Game 6 of the Western Finals) or even 12-for-13 (like against Dallas in March).

On Monday evening in Poland, Gasol was at it again, though this time for his National Team, leading Spain to an 84-70 victory with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting alongside eight rebounds and three blocks.

For full details of Spain’s win, which puts the team in good position to advance to the Final 8 of EuroBasket 2009 (a win against Poland on Wednesday would ensure as much), you can head to Eurobasket.org:

Spain recovered from a slow start to cruise past Lithuania 84-70 in Group F of the EuroBasket 2009 Qualifying Round. The win saw the world champions improve to 3-2 and boosted their chances of reaching the last eight of the competition. Meanwhile, Lithuania dropped to 0-4 and are assured of missing out on the Quarter-Final stages for the first time since 2001. Afterwards, Spain head coach Sergio Scariola was very happy with his team’s performance.

Scariola praised star player Pau Gasol for his performance: “Pau was very important defensively for us. He made one big step forward in terms of intensity and aggressiveness. The team took advantage of this.”

The win came at a key time, as Spain had lost to Hedo Turkoglu’s Turkish squad 63-60 on Saturday. Their tilt against Poland is set to tip off at 6:15 in Lodz, Poland.

Spain Squeaks By Slovenia

Pau GasolPau Gasol and his Spanish teammates built a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s EuroBasket showdown with Slovenia, but found themselves in overtime after a furious rally and buzzer-beating jumper that mandated an extra period.

Enter Gasol, who first converted a tough and-1 near the rim and second grabbed an offensive board and stuck it back for five-straight OT points that gave Spain some breathing room. Ultimately, the Spaniards were able to hold on for a 90-84 victory that propelled them into Eurobasket’s next round.

A day after posting 27 points and 11 rebounds in a victory over Great Britain, Gasol’s finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal against a scrambling Slovenian defense that loaded up down low, though his contributions were certainly timely.

Former NBA player Juan Carlos Navarro led Spain with 21 points, while Portland’s Rudy Fernandez added 19.

Spain had previously lost to Serbia but beaten Great Britain, while Slovenia had beaten both, meaning both teams finished at 2-1 in their group. It’s presumed that Spain’s victory over Slovenia would render them the group winners as both advance to the subsequent round.

Gasol Responds in Spanish Win

After a tough first game back from his finger injury in Spain’s opening loss to Serbia, Pau Gasol was back to his dominant self in a 27-point, 11-rebound performance that led Spain to a 84-76 victory over Great Britain as the Spaniards avoided elimination from EuroBasket 2009.

Eurobasket.org described what ended up being a surprisingly close game:

Great Britain used a 12-0 run in the first 3:28 of the fourth quarter to take their first lead, 68-66, on Mike Lenzly’s right corner three-pointer. They went up by as many as four, 73-69, when Jarrett Hart hit a long bomb of his own. Spain answered right back. Rudy Fernandez stepped into the passing lane for a steal and breakaway dunk before Pau Gasol hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with just over three minutes left to edge Spain back in front 74-73. Spain didn’t trail again after that as Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro sealed the game.

After scoring just nine points and missing all but 1-of-8 free throws in Spain’s Game 1 loss to Serbia, Gasol made 5-of-6 shots from the field, 2-of-2 from three and 11-of-18 free throws to lead the way.

That’s the Pau Lakers fans know.

Gasol, Spain Drop Eurobasket Opener

In his first game since injuring the index finger of his left hand, Pau Gasol scored nine points with seven rebounds in 25 minutes during Spain’s 66-57 loss to Serbia.

Gasol missed the first seven of his eight free throws, and hit only 4-of-9 shots in the loss, a surprising result for many as Spain are the heavy favorite to win the Eurobasket 2009 title.

Gasol, who shot 56.7 percent from the field and 78.1 percent from the line for the Lakers during L.A.’s championship run, may have been bothered by the finger, but he and Spain have a chance to bounce back against Great Britain on Tuesday.

To read a full report of Spain-Serbia game and view the box score, CLICK HERE.

Mbenga Concludes Week in Africa

D.J. Mbenga concluded his week in South Africa with the NBA’s Basketball without Border’s Africa program, as summarized by league staff:

It was all basketball on the final day of BWB Africa 2009, with a women’s clinic starting things off in the morning led by former WNBA players Nkeysha Sales and Teresa Edwards. Sixty girls Basketball South Africa ran through passing, shooting and dribbling drills. After the on-court action, Hoops 4 Hope ran a life skills session for the girls teaching the importance of teamwork and leadership.

The BWB campers played their last games with their teams and the Houston Rockets, coached by Dikembe Mutombo, Teresa Edwards and BJ Johnson, finished in first place in the camp tournament.

The campers waited eagerly for the All-Star announcement and Nigeria and Senegal had the most representation with six and five respectively. BJ Johnson coached Team Black to a 44-31 victory over Team White. After the game, individual camp award winners were announced as follows, including Nike Camp MVP Gorgui Sky Dieng of Senegal.

The campers then had a final chance to say their goodbyes and trade email addresses with their new found friends at the end-of-camp barbeque.