Saturday, July 26, 2014

List of 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 7 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 (4 of 5)
F Luis Scola, IND
F Carlos Delfino, MIL
G Pablo Prigioni, NYK
F Andrés Nocioni, PHI (2012)
G Manu Ginobili, SAS

#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
C Bojan Bogdanović, BKN
F Damjan Rudez, IND

#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
F Erik Murphy, CLE

EuroBasket 2013 Champion: France
France def. Lithuania in the Final (80-66)
#8 France, Group A (5 of 13)
F Nicolas Batum, POR
F Boris Diaw, SAS
G Evan Fournier, DEN
C Rudy Gobert, UTA
C Ian Mahinmi, IND
G Nando De Colo
C Joakim Noah, CHI
G Tony Parker, SAS
F Kevin Séraphin, WAS
C Ronny Turiaf, MIN
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)
C Miroslav Raduljica, MIL

#13 Slovenia, Group D (1 of 2)
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
F Victor Claver, POR

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

#45 Ukraine, Group C
C Viacheslav Kravtsov, PHX
C Alex Len, PHX

#1 USA, Group C (Team to be decided)
C DeMarcus Cousins, SAC
G Stephen Curry, GSW
C Anthony Davis, NOL
G DeMar DeRozan, TOR
C Andre Drummond, DET
F Kenneth Faried, DEN
G James Harden, HOU
G Kyrie Irving, CLE
G Derrick Rose, CHI
G Klay Thompson, GSW
F Rudy Gay, SAC
G John Wall, WAS
G Bradley Beal, WAS
G Paul George, IND
F Paul Millsap, ATL

F Kevin Durant, OKC
G Kyle Korver, ATL
G Damian Lillard, POR
F Chandler Parsons, DAL
F Gordon Hayward, UTA

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.

Read a full wrap-up of the day here:
- #SBC4 Tournament recap: Anatomy of a Champion (1 of 2)
- #SBC4 Tournament recap: Road to Glory (2 of 2)

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Yeezy"
Follow the #30HGkicks 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
- #SBC4 Tournament recap: Anatomy of a Champion (1 of 2)
- #SBC4 Tournament recap: Road to Glory (2 of 2)

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!