Monday , Sep , 17 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Russia Wins FIBA Eurobasket Tourney, European Squads A Threat To Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, & Team USA at Beijing?


It’s the upset that shocked the world -okay, mostly just the European continent. On Sunday, Russia upset Spain, the defending world champions, 60-59 to win the FIBA Eurobasket tournament.

Russia, Spain, and Lithuania have qualified for the 2008 Olympics, while Greece, Germany, Slovenia, and Croatia have to play in the backdoor tournament next July. Three teams earn a birth from the backdoor tournament to Beijing.

What does all this mean for Team USA? A lot! First, they should recognize that anything can happen in international basketball;  Spain was supposed to breeze through this tournament. Second, international rules and chemistry neutralizes raw, individual talent-something that directly relates to the gifted American squad.         

Let’s take a quick look at the ‘Euro’ squads Stars and Stripes will face at the Olympics:

Beijing-Bound

Spain: Yesterday’s loss, on home soil, will provide plenty of motivation. Look for , Jose Calderon, and to bounce back in a big way next summer.

Russia: They’ve got some momentum. It was great to see rebound from a tough season in Utah.

Lithuania: Typically, a determined, well-coached team. This northern European side will compete with any national side-including the United States. Sarunas Jasikevicius has never gotten minutes in the NBA, but he’s an absolute star in the international game.

Backdoor Teams

Greece: The Americans should remember the 2006 World Championship in Japan.

Germany: Dirk, Dirk, and more .

Slovenia: The underrated Slovenians beat-up on France in the final elimination game to grab a birth in the qualifying tournament. They’ve got a few NBA players, but they’re successful because of chemistry.

Croatia: Don’t sleep on the Croats. Not many big names, but they’re still dangerous.

Who do you see as Team USA ’s biggest competition at next year’s Olympics? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

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