Saturday, July 26, 2014

NBA Players suiting up for International teams at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, #Spain2014

I was enlightened on the distinction between Basketball and NBA fans entering into my first FIBA International Basketball event. On my flight into Lithuania for EuroBasket 2011, I befriended the Manager of the English Basketball Men's Team. He spoke of his love for the game but didn't rate the NBA style. He likened it to WWE Wrestling, all glitz and glamour. To which I responded, "I love Wrestling". Though I doubt he meant it, the Wrestling analogy offers another layer. Hardcore fans tend to support all types of Wrestling, they have an awareness of the International scene and support their local and Indy Feds. On the other hand some fans only know the WWE Universe. This means stars from elsewhere who are entering the WWE often need to reestablish their credibility to this new audience. They're essentially starting from scratch despite any notoriety gained in other Federations or in Developmental. I imagine this plight is not too dissimilar for accomplished Ballers in the International scene, the NBA is simply on another level as far as exposure goes.

VIDEO: See you in #Spain2014

For many fans, all Basketball is viewed through the prism of the NBA. Growing up with the flash of its Superstars, highlights and shoe endorsements, I assumed that's how everyone came to love the game. Being at EuroBasket surrounded by passionate hoops fans and the International game, I realised there were aficionados who were interested in aspects of the game like Ball movement and Team execution who might have preferred the technical International style of play. Something the 2014 NBA Finals might have educated audiences to as the chemistry of the San Antonio Spurs triumphed over the star wattage of the Miami Heat. The Champion Spurs fielded 9 International players from 7 different Countries.  

#Spain2014 FIBA World Cup Group Draw
Here in Sydney I've heard many people being dismissive of our local League, the NBL. Having watched a few International Leagues in Turkey, the Baltics and EuroLeague our game stacks up well. By its nature every League is inferior to the NBA, in talent, money and production therefore value should be placed more on how well the League fosters the product and the fanbase. When people critique the NBL I feel it more likely reflects an allegiance to the NBA Product. Those same critics are also just as unlikely to consume EuroLeague, WNBA or the D-League.

The dominance and celebrity of TeamUSA has meant a lot of these International Tournaments are simply a showcase for the North Americans. It's not a matter of if they'll win but by how many points. In the last International Final at the 2012 London Olympics, Spain put in a spirited effort only losing by 6 points to a Superstar-laden team. For this Basketball World Cup, hosts España will have Homecourt advantage whilst TeamUSA look vulnerable with last minute roster changes and a squad largely inexperienced in International play.

It's worth noting the omission of Canada from the Tournament. They had a strong initial showing at FIBA Americas, even besting eventual Champions Mexico in the First Round. They faded in the later stages eventually placing 6th in the 10 Team competition. Had they fielded their NBA Players for the World Cup, Team Canada would have showcased 3 recent Cleveland Cavaliers' draftees including this year's No.1 pick Andrew Wiggins. The team would have also been led by recent NBA Champion, PG Cory Joseph. Canada would have been a fun team to watch. Several European teams are notably absent also, Powerhouse Russia alongside Italy and Germany. I feel FIBA Americas host Venezuela were an unfair omission after their Spirited 4th Place Finish. Considering Brazil were winless in the Tournament Canada and Venezuela could have deservingly taken their place.

Below is a progress list of Current and recent NBA Players who'll be representing their Nation for the FIBA World Cup in Spain. I've denoted the players who won't be in uniform in Red.

2013 FIBA Africa Champion: Angola
Angola def. Egypt (57-40)
#15 Angola, Group D

#3 Argentina, Group B (5 of 5)
F Luis Scola, IND
F Carlos Delfino, MIL
G Manu Ginobili, SAS
G Pablo Prigioni, NYK
F Andrés Nocioni, PHI (2012)

#9 Australia, Group D (6 of 8)
F Aron Baynes, SAS
G Matthew Dellavedova, CLE
G Dante Exum, UTA
C David Andersen NOH (2011)
F Cameron Bairstow, CHI
C Nathan Jawai, MIN (2010)
C Andrew Bogut, GSW
G Patrick Mills, SAS

#10 Brazil, Group A (4 of 5)
G Leandro Barbosa, PHX
C Nenê Hilario, WAS
C Tiago Splitter, SAS
C Anderson Varejao, CLE
F Vítor Faverani, BOS

#16 Croatia, Group B (1 of 1)
C Bojan Bogdanović, BKN

#26 Dominican Republic, Group C
F Francisco Garcia, HOU
F Charlie Villanueva, DET
C Al Horford, DET

#46 Egypt, Group A

#39 Finland, Group C

EuroBasket 2013 Champion: France
France def. Lithuania in the Final (80-66)
#8 France, Group A (5 of 13)
F Nicolas Batum
G Nando De Colo
F Boris Diaw, SAS
G Evan Fournier
C Rudy Gobert, UTA
C Joakim Noah, CHI
G Tony Parker, SAS
F Kevin Séraphin, WAS
C Ronny Turiaf, MIN
C Ian Mahinmi, IND
F Mickaël Piétrus, TOR (2013)
G Rodrigue Beaubois, DAL (2013)
C Alexis Ajinça, NOL

#5 Greece, Group B (2 of 3)
G Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
G Nick Calathes, Mem
C Kosta Koufos, MEM

2013 FIBA Asia Champion: Iran
Iran def. Philippines in the Final (85-71)
#20 Iran Group A
C Hamed Haddadi, PHX (2013)

#31 Korea, Group D

#4 Lithuania, Group D (2 of 3)
F Donatas Motiejūnas, HOU
C Jonas Valančiūnas, TOR
F Linas Kleiza, TOR (2013)

FIBA Americas Champion 2013: Mexico
Mexico def. Puerto Rico in the Final (91-89)
#24 Mexico, Group D (2 of 2)
C Gustavo Ayon, ATL
G Jorge Gutierrez, BKN

#19 New Zealand, Group C
C Steven Adams, OKC

#34 Philippines, Group B
C Andray Blatche, BKN

#17 Puerto Rico, Group B (1 of 3)
G José Juan Barea, MIN
G Carlos Arroyo, BOS (2011)
F Renaldo Balkman, NYK (2012)

#41 Senegal, Group B (1 of 2)
F Gorgui Dieng, MIN
C DeSagana Diop, CHA (2013)

#11 Serbia, Group A 
C Nenad Krstić, BOS (2011)

#13 Slovenia, Group D
G Goran Dragić, PHX
G Beno Udrih, MEM

#2 Spain, Group A (6 of 6)
F Rudy Fernández, DEN (2012)
G José Calderón, NYK
C Marc Gasol, MEM
C Pau Gasol, CHI
C Serge Ibaka, OKC
G Ricky Rubio, MIN

#7 Turkey, Group C (3 of 3)
C Ömer Aşık, NOL
F Enes Kanter, UTA
F Ersan İlyasova, MIL

#45 Ukraine, Group C
C Alex Len, PHX

#1 USA, Group C (Team to be decided)
G Bradley Beal, WAS
C DeMarcus Cousins, SAC
G Stephen Curry, GSW
C Anthony Davis, NOL
G DeMar DeRozan, TOR
C Andre Drummond, DET
F Kevin Durant, OKC
F Kenneth Faried, DEN
G Paul George, IND
G James Harden, HOU
F Gordon Hayward, UTA
G Kyrie Irving, CLE
G Kyle Korver, ATL
G Damian Lillard, POR
F Chandler Parsons, DAL
G Derrick Rose, CHI
G Klay Thompson, GSW
G John Wall, WAS

I've tipped the field for the FIBA World Cup. Hosts Spain have a good chance of knocking out TeamUSA but if they plan to it'll need to be in the Final game. Lithuania and Mexico will threaten the North Americans in the second stage, incidentally both teams are my Darkhorse favorites to win it. USA face little resistance in their own Group with Dominican Republic and Turkey being the best of the bunch.

The FIBA World Cup begins August 30 culminating in the Final, September 14th.
Download the full schedule PDF from the FIBA website here

Thursday, July 24, 2014

#SummerisSerious 2: Nike's Global Search for the "Baddest" streetballers

Nike have returned with their 'Summer is Serious' campaign and this time it's Global. Culminating in a pickup game in Barcelona, it seems to be capitalising on the congregation of basketball stars that will be in #Spain2014 for the newly named FIBA World Cup of Basketball.

Here is the promo:
Summer is Back and Summer is Serious. And this year we want to see your "baddest"... and because the baddest don't have borders get your passport because this time we're going Global.
We're going from LA to Liverpool, from Pittsburgh to Paris, from Chi-town to China. From the Parking lot to the Pool...
Ladies, fellas you can not hide if you've got game... so we wanna see your Hypnotic Handle, the Teardrop, the Crossover, your Eurostep. We wanna see it all. We don't care where you do it. We don't care how you do it and if you bring your baddest you could be drafted by one of these folks [Harden, Irving, Nowitzki, Diaw etc...] to play in the World's Biggest Pickup game this Summer in Barcelona.
- Film yourself
- Put it online
- Hashtag #SummerisSerious and we'll find it
If you've got game, it could be you. Move em!
'Summer is Serious 2' is going Global
Entrants are eligible from all around the World
1. Film yourself
2. Put it online
3. Hashtag #SummerisSerious and they'll find it
Get drafted by WNBA and NBA International superstars
from Kevin Durant to Marc Gasol.
I'm not sure I have the elite game to be a part of this but I definitely have the passion for Travel and Hoops which is what draws me to this campaign. It would also make it a trifecta having been at FIBA Americas 2013 and EuroBasket 2011. I'm encouraged that they're looking for the "Baddest", I'm sure I satisfy at least one of its meanings.
I'd love to be a part of this somehow.

- Go to the Nike Basketball 'Summer is Serious 2' minisite for more
- Find more about the the FIBA World Cup of Basketball

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#SBC4 Star Basketball Tournament IV: Kicks on Court Gallery

The 'Real Events' SBC Tournament is the brainchild of Von RM. Knowing that his work colleagues had built a community playing weekly pickup games, he had the foresight to assemble the One-Day event. Cleverly it was designed catering to the group's collective basketball obsessions. From organizing uniforms and introducing a GM and Draft format, it appealed to us as Fantasy nerds, Ballers and Trashtalkers. #SBC4 wrapped up a week a ago and it was another ripper day.

A great by-product of the Tournament has been the Kicks Parade. Many in the work crew are shoe aficionados and collectors. Some are just starting out whilst others have been in the shoe game since childhood. The guys contribute to forums, use Instagram to show off their pickups or talk kicks regularly. We don't get to bust out our heat during the regular weekly meetups but as everyone is in attendance and all eyes are on the Court for Tourney day its the perfect time to rock our prized possessions. No doubt with the intention to bring the game to match their gear. "It's gotta be the shoes!"

I wasn't able to capture each shoe in its glory as our team had a greater mission at hand. Some not featured include the Jordan Fly Wade "South Beach" and the Nike Air Pippen II "Eggplant". Heat of the Tourney has to go to 'P Money'. He rocked the Air Jordan XI "Gamma Blues" as his Playoff shoes last Tourney and wore the Air Foamposite Pro "Yeezy" for his Playoff run this time around. He was the GM of the team we faced in the Finals. I'll reveal the day's results in a later post.

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Yeezy"
Follow the Shoe Game on the '30 Home Games' Instagram
So without further ado, here were the  Kicks on Court for #SBC4:

Nike Air Up '14 "Orlando"
- Adidas Adizero Dominate Low
- Nike LeBron X
- Adidas Mad Handle 2.0
Nike Lebron 11 "King's Crown"
- Jordan CP3.VI
- Adidas Super Beast
Nike Zoom HyperRev "Lakers"
- Nike Kobe 9 Elite "Detail"
- Nike Kobe 9 Elite "Perspective"
- Nike FlyKnit Lunar1+
- Jordan CP3.VII
- Nike Kobe 8 System (EXT Red Blue)
- Nike Kobe 8 (Black and Yellow)
- Nike HyperDunk 2012
Nike Lebron 11 "Summit Lake Hornets"
Converse Aero Jam "Home"
Adidas T-Mac 6
I was rocking the Adidas Garnett 1s. They've moved up the Depth Chart since my Adidas Gil Zeros busted open last Tourney. I brought in alternates this time around but secretly hoped I wouldn't need to use them, my "10th Year Anniversary" Reebok Questions.
Adidas Garnett 1
Reebok Question Mid "10th Year Anniversary"
Reebok Shaq Attaq 2013 Retro
I'll be post a recap of the Day's events shortly, featuring Video and Photos taken by others. It was the most evenly matched Tournament to date with 3 of the 5 teams splitting their games with 2 wins and 2 losses. As the Tourney expands it continues to get more polished and competitive. Can't wait for the next one.

Find posts on previous Star Basketball events
- 30 Home Games participates in a Final Four Tournament
- 30HomeGames at the 2nd Star Basketball Tournament
Star Basketball Tournament II recap
- Star Basketball Tournament III: Kicks on Court Gallery
- Recap of the 3rd Star Basketball Tournament
#SBC4 Star Basketball Tournament IV: Kicks on Court Gallery

Friday, July 4, 2014

Photos of Football Fields around South America: Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog

I've been compiling photos of hoops found in my travels for my @30HomeGames Instagram under hashtags like #hoopsoftheworld and #basketballeverywhere. In my time in South America I rarely saw them used, especially not for Basketball.

The truth is every sporting ground in the continent really doubles as a Football Field (cancha). This made my mission to find a basketball experience quite the scavenger hunt. Football is 'THE' sport of the region, everything else falls a distant second. There were no shortage of "canchas" to be found in every Corner of South America, from isolated villages in the Amazon to the iconic beaches of Rio. With all eyes on Brazil for World Cup 2014, people are seeing the display of passion South Americans are known for. Not only towards their Football but also their pride of Country and zest for life.
Bogota, Colombia (Dec 2013)
In South America the dual Basketball/Football canchas
are only ever used for Football
My most memorable Football experience was an organised match in Córdoba, Argentina which pitted the French against the Argentinians. I was acquainted with most of the players the day previous at a University mixer with expats and French exchange students. I played as an honorary Frenchman, the only outsider of the group. I was of little help as we were outclassed by the South Americans, though we did make it respectable by the end with the help of an extra man. There were no photos of the day which only heighten the surrealness of the dusty match at dusk on the stretch of fields at 'La Gran 7'.

I never did watch a live game, many might consider this blasphemous considering the ample 6 months I spent in the Football mad continent. I did have the pleasure of joining in the festivities in Medellin, as Atlético Nacional won the domestic League after besting their rivals in Cali. The streets were awash with people and celebration paraphernalia, from fireworks and foam to more illicit fare. I was also invited to a Corporate Watch party in Caracas hosted by a Whisky maker to watch Venezuela battle a formidable Chile team for a World Cup berth. Venezuela put on a gutsy display but were clearly outmatched.

Medellín, Colombia (Dec 2013)
Liga Postobón Final: Atlético Nacional vs Deportivo Cali
I've also seen small towns celebrate a Football Championship. Football in rural areas can command an entire Village's attention, it's entire population huddled around one sporting event. Vilcabamba won the Championship for it's league, interestingly it was sponsored by the German's-run resort I was staying at. That night the Town Square usually occupied by Expat hippies was replaced by Jubilant local football heroes salsaing in celebration.
Vilcabamba, Ecuador (Nov 2013)
The whole town in attendance
I've compiled some photos which illustrate the spectrum of Canchas you'll find around South America:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Oct 2013)
Santa Marta, Colombia (Dec 2013)
Montañita, Ecuador (Nov 2013)

Malacatos, Ecuador (Nov 2013)
Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Ecuador (Nov 2013)
Salento, Colombia (Dec 2013)
My best reference for the madness that must be happening on the streets of Brazil was my time in Medellin as they celebrated Atlético Nacional taking the Championship. Colombians know how to celebrate. I've tipped them to make the Finals which means I see them upsetting host Nation Brazil. If World Cup attendees have concerns that this means an end to the revelry. Rest assured, Colombians are the best equipped to keep the party going should Brazil exit. The Colombians have been exciting on and off the field in this World Cup.
Atlético Nacional Campeon 2013
Felicidades Medellin!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

NBA Postcards: Finals Rematch - Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs

In case you don't already know, I've created a dedicated Tumblr to house the comprehensive collection of @30HomeGames NBA Postcards. The site also showcases other Postcard designs from featured artists.

To celebrate the NBA Finals rematch between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, I've designed 3 complimentary card sets. Enjoy!
Greetings from the NBA Finals: OG Edition
- Miami Heat
- San Antonio Spurs
Greetings from the NBA Finals: Pastels Edition
- Miami Heat (South Beach)
- San Antonio Spurs (Texas Retro)
Greetings from the NBA Finals: Not Vanilla Edition
- Miami Heat (White Hot)
- San Antonio Spurs (50 Shades)

Find the original Postcard set that started it all - NBA Postcards: Greetings from Miami, Florida and San Antonio, Texas

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Where to watch the 2014 NBA Finals in Sydney: Heat VS Spurs II

The 2014 NBA Finals is upon us. After my beloved Memphis Grizzlies were eliminated, my eyes were set on a Spurs/Heat rematch and now we have it.
Just like a tightly contested CageFight, everyone wants to see an automatic rematch. Will there be a decisive winner on the Court this time around?  Either way, I'm betting the fans win again.

NBA Finals 2014: San Antonio Spurs VS Miami Heat (Sydney schedule)
G1. Heat @ San Antonio. 11am, Friday June 6
G2. Heat @ San Antonio. 10am, Monday June 9
G3. Spurs @ Miami. 11am, Wednesday June 11
G4. Spurs @ Miami. 11am, Friday June 13
G5. Heat @ San Antonio. 10am, Monday June 16 (if necessary)
G6. Spurs @ Miami. 11am, Wednesday June 18 (if necessary)
G7. Heat @ San Antonio. 11am, Saturday June 21 (if necessary)

Below are profiles of the best venues to catch the NBA Finals in Sydney:

1) PLAY Bar, Surry Hills
PLAY Bar, Surry Hills
(near Central Station)
PLAY Bar in conjunction with Nighthawk Diner and HalfSleeve Clothing have been supporting the NBA Playoffs from the start. I've attended a few raucous Game 7s amongst Diehard fans. During the recent closeout Game 6 where San Antonio dispatched OKC, the Bar was awash in Black and White. Patty Mills' cousin was also in attendance cheering the team along.

The communal and knowledgeable crowd aside the menu provided by 'NightHawk Diner' is an awesome "And One". Gourmet Nachos and Subs offered at $7 offers great value, I've definitely been here enough times to have sampled the entire menu.

Basement 72 Campbell Street,
Surry Hills, Sydney
p: (02) 9280 0885

b) Palings Kitchen & Bar [Ivy], Wynyard
PALINGS Kitchen & Bar, Wynyard
(near Wynyard Station)
Merivale has come on board for the NBA Finals. Boasting "The Biggest Screen in the CBD" it offers the largest site for watching the NBA Finals alongside the '24/7 Sports Bar' at Star Casino. Only one weekend game is scheduled (the crucial Game 7 if it gets there) so it'll be interesting to see how full the venue gets.
The Ivy is well-situated to draw in the office crowd on their lunch break. Like the 24/7 Sports bar there will be promotions available to coincide with the Finals.

The venue is an open air Courtyard allowing smokers to light up but is bothersome during rain. The rainfall boxed out some of the prime seats in Game One, with umbrellas partially obstructing views. The Palings Bar accept reservations so book a spot as they do fill up. There are also VIP seats on the second floor. There's definitely a feel of Miami glamour as the Ivy crowd are more "suited and booted" compared to your average sporting punter.

Palings: Kitchen and Bar [Ivy]
Level 1, Ivy
330 George St,

c) 24/7 Sports Bar [Star Casino], Pyrmont
Unlike Play Bar and Palings, the '24/7 Sports Bar' has betting stations on the premises to cater for punters. As the name suggests the bar stays open all day and night. The Bar is purpose-built to cater for Sporting crowds, a destination venue for the State of Origin, PPV fights and the upcoming Soccer World Cup.

Basketball isn't a big Spectator sport in Australia as far as communal watching goes, less so on weekday mornings. The most complete entertainment option if you're available during the day.

24/7 Sports Bar
Level 1, Casino,
The Star 80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont, Sydney

d) Most pubs in Sydney: 3 Wise Monkeys, Cheers, York 75 Sports Bar etc...
As the NBA reaches the pointy end of the Season with single games being played on alternate days, ESPN began televising each game of the Conference Finals onwards. The NBA Finals will be televised either 10 or 11am on Game Day. There will be repeat screenings each night from around 8:30pm. This means any Pub that carries ESPN should have the game playing on their screens.

Enjoy the NBA Finals everybody, let's hope its another epic series that goes down to the wire. See you out there!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

'MADE' by Throwback Store - Sydney's newest Boutique Basketball store

The availability of Basketball merch in Australia has steadily improved over the years. During my teens when I started getting into hoops, Starter and Champion were the dominant brands. Back in the day stores stocked only a handful of teams - the Hornets, Bulls, Magic and Lakers. At the time I didn't feel it reflected the most interesting or best franchises, you were almost cornered into barracking for one of these four teams.

Prior to the acceptance of online shopping, merchants ordered only the most popular jerseys as they couldn't risk stocking niche players they might not be able to sell. Today larger stockists like Footlocker and Culture Kings offer an extensive collection of jerseys, caps and retro stock. There's no guarantee you'll find merch for each NBA team but it's a massive improvement nonetheless

Sydney has several Streetwear outlets catering to hoopsheads and beyond. Espionage stock the whackiest range of sneakers and are supporters of Japanese brand KIKS TYO which reps basketball hard. HalfSleeve have created their own hoops inspired range of branded clothing and host epic annual 3on3 Tournaments.

VIDEO: AND1 Crash the Court Sydney by AND1/dPlayground ltd

As far as dedicated Basketball boutiques, Kickz101 in Melbourne is arguably the finest and most enduring in Australia. In Sydney, the now defunct 'dPlayground' in Parramatta offered two floors of hoops heaven. Basketball memorabilia and a second level with a ring to play on and and a big screen to watch classic games. Back then blogs weren't so ubiquitous, it may have been the only Sydney retailer that received sneaker samples to generate hype for upcoming drops. 
MADE Popup shop at Bondi Westfields
via @throwbackstore
Founded in 2011, 'Throwback Store' is Sydney's only shopfront specialising in all things Basketball. Retailing as part of Alexandria Basketball Stadium, they've also setup seasonal Pop-up stores by the Bondi promenade and inside Westfield Shopping Mall. Over the weekend they opened 'Made' on 4/157 Curlewis St, Bondi stocking the best in basketball merch.

Throwback Store
53 Maddox Street, Alexandria
Sydney, Australia 2015 
P: (02) 8959 6870 

'Made' by Throwback Store
4/157 Curlewis St (via Gould st)
Bondi Beach, Australia 2026

'MADE' by Throwback: Sydney Hoops Store
4/157 Curlewis St (via Gould st)
Bondi Beach 2026
'MADE' by Throwback: Official Grand Opening
Its awesome finding establishments that support basketball culture in Sydney and Australia as a whole. They'll only thrive and survive if they're supported by the wider public so its up to us to patronise them in whatever way we can. For the love of the game :)

Find other hoops-themed action in Sydney:
- Hip Hop Arcade presents NBA Jam Tournament @ The Flinders, Sydney
- Easts Basketball League presents 'Basketball Day' @ The Projects
- Home Game: Basketball in Sydney - HalfSleeve 3on3
Brown Class Cinema presents Australian screenings of 'Doin' It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC'
- NBA Playoffs: Screenings @ PLAY Bar, Sydney