Two of the best big men of recent years San Antonio Spurs' forward Tim Duncan and Boston Celtics' center Shaquille O'Neal both have four championship rings. Duncan has four with the Spurs and O'Neal has three with the Los Angeles Lakers and one with the Miami Heat. But if Duncan were to get a fifth before O'Neal, seems he will have an issue with that. (source blacksportsonline.com)
It's day four of the 2010 FIBA World Championship and for San Antonio Spurs fans it meant another look at Nando de Colo and Robertas Javtokas -- two players who have been drafted by the Spurs.
In his last game against Lebanon, de Colo finished the game with 14 points, shot 44% from the field, 33% from the three-point line, went 4-4 from the free-throw line, had two assists and two turnovers in 23 minutes of play.
In today's game against Canada, de Colo didn't look as good as he did in the previous game but there were some bright spots from his performance.
He started the game for France and did not look comfortable setting up the offense. It got to a point where the French coach had to have a few words with him. After he settled down a bit, he displayed nice ball handling skills and was able to get in the lane.
In the second quarter he was moved to the shooting guard position where he looked much more comfortable. He was finding players in the lane and in one play he found former Spur Ian Mahinmi which led to a dunk. He scored his first points in the game when he was aggressive driving into the lane and got a shot to fall.
He did not play in the third quarter but de Colo got major minutes in the crucial fourth quarter as the game was close. Again he played at the shooting-guard position and continued to find the open player, recognized mismatches and knocked down an important three-point shot as Canada was trying to take the lead. He still needs to work on defense when on one play he let a Canadian player just go right past him to the basket.
He ended up fouling out of the game late in the fourth quarter and finished the game with five points, 40% shooting from the field, 33% from the three-point line, one rebound, four assists, one turnover and three steal in 23 minutes.
France remains undefeated at 3-0 beating Canada, 68-63.
Lithuania won their third straight game, this time in a thriller over Spain. Lithuania came back from an 18-point second half deficit to beat Spain 76-73.
Javtokas, who is Lithuania's captain, has not played much, due to a lingering foot injury. He played three minutes against Canada, but was on the court for considerably more minutes today. While he struggled at times with Spain's big men, including Marc Gasol, Javtokas found a way to contribute, especially on the glass.
In 23 minutes, Javtokas scored four points on 25 percent shooting from the field, but pulled down eight rebounds, which led his team in that category.
Lithuania is now second in Group D behind France, who they will play at 1 p.m. CST tomorrow. Javtokas will likely play as many or more minutes tomorrow and I expect he'll have a bigger role against France's inferior big men.
Michael De Leon contributed to this post.
The Austin Toros recently released their upcoming schedule and if you are a fan like myself, then here are a few key dates to look for in the upcoming season.
Last year the Toros made it to the Western Conference Finals, before losing to the eventual champions Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Though they did not go out without a fight.
They pushed the Vipers to the third and final game of the series and even held a lead late in the game. Turnovers would end up being their demise. So lets begin where the Toros season ended, with the Vipers.
The Toros play the defending champion Vipers a total of nine times during the regular season which amounts to almost 20% of their games. That's plenty of opportunities to rid themselves of the taste of defeat still left in the mouths of players like Curtis Jerrells and Alonzo Gee. Their first and second home games will be against the Vipers on November 27 and 28. A great opportunity for Spurs fans to get a view of potential players hoping to one day be called up by Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford.
Other dates that include the Toros-Viper match ups are January 7 and 8 (away), February 10 and 12 (home), February 16 (away) and March 18 and 19 (away).
Another match up to watch during the Toros season will be against the Texas Legends. A team the Dallas Mavericks just purchased and became affiliated with. Needless to say this has the potential to become a budding rivalry. Both Toros and Spurs fans should be excited for this series as it creates a whole new element to the Spurs-Mavericks rivalry. Five games into the season we will get our first look at this match up on November 30 when the Toros travel to Frisco, Texas. Other dates that feature this match up are February 21 (away), March 2, 3, 31 and April 1 (home).
The NBA D-League makes its debut in SouthPadre Island this year featuring the Toros in two of its annual "Showcase" games in mid-January. Every team will be featured in games during the showcase which runs from January 10-13. The Toros will play against the Dakota Wizards on January 12 and against the Bakersfield Jam on the 13.
I have attended Toros games in the past and will admit the team knows how to treat its fans. There are plenty of give aways, fan interaction and for the price you just can't go wrong. For ticket information visit www.austintoros.com
Amid rumors of being traded to the New York Knicks and this possibly being his last year in San Antonio, San Antonio Spurs' guard Tony Parker has been working hard to improve his game as the new NBA season approaches.
Parker has been working on his shot, training with new Spurs' assistant coach Jacque Vaughn and much more.
How is your preparation?
I'm in Los Angeles since August 1. I train 3 hours per day according to the letter the program Spurs. From 9 to 10:30, I work on my shot with Chip Engelland. He brought a player of 2m10 to force me to pull bell. Chip is away this week and is replaced by Jacque Vaughn. Jacque joined the staff of the Spurs this summer. It will be nice working with my former teammate. In any case, during the month, I had the chance to play with different players. There was Mike Dunleavy Jr., DeJuan Blair or Brent Barry. It was very rewarding.
After one month of work, did you feel to have progressed?
When you shoot several hundred times a day for a month, there must be an improvement. At least that's the feeling it gives me. Besides basketball, there is the physical 10:30 to 12:00. The Spurs fitness coach makes me work all body parts. It's a job that pumps a lot of energy but very pleasant. This is the first time since my arrival in the NBA that I work as a summer. The NBA players who want to progress and come back even stronger next season, all pass through here. (source fr.tp9.net)
Last season Parker's numbers were down across the board so for Spurs fans this is great to see him working hard to come back strong for the new season beginning in a few months.
In one of the most competitive games yet in the FIBA World Championships, the U.S. edged out Brazil 70-68 and remain undefeated in group play. Spurs fans had a unique reason to take an interest in this one: it was Tiago Splitter's first action against NBA competition. And it all started off on the right foot.
He won the jump ball over Lamar Odom.
All joking aside, Spurs fans should be quite pleased with Splitter's performance today. Against what amounts to an NBA All-Star team, he managed 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting in 30 minutes of play. All of his scoring came from deep inside as he played a post and kick role for Brazil, even picking up three assists on kick out passes to Barbosa among others. More impressively, he pulled down a game high 10 rebounds, including 4 offensive boards.
On the downside, Tiago did struggle to take care of the basketball. He committed a total of 5 turnovers, most of which were simply bad passing decisions - a couple of which came at crucial points in the game for his team (one in particular off of a Splitter steal in which he threw away the outlet pass).
He also picked up a lot of fouls, mostly due to coach Ruben Magnano keeping him in even after he picked up two early fouls, then his his third and fourth in the second half.
Defensively, Splitter spent a lot of time contending with Lamar Odom, a match-up he will repeat many times in a career with the Spurs. He handled it well, holding Odom to only 8 points on 4 of 10 from the field.
It is encouraging to see Splitter, a big part of the Spurs' plan for the future, playing on one of the biggest international stages, against the world's best, and rising to the occasion. Hopefully this is just the beginning.
• Hairston released by Italian team
According to The Hoops Market, former Spurs Malik Hairston, who was recently released by the Spurs and signed by Montepaschi Siena of the Italian League, is now a man without a team.
Just a month ago after signing Malik Hairston, Montepaschi Siena has decided to terminate his contract. The 23-year-old American guard, who arrived from the San Antonio Spurs, is suffering a disc problem that doesn't allow him to play normally. Hairston, though, will continue his rehabilitation in Siena, and the Italian club could considerate to re-sign him with new contract conditions.
No details were given on the severity of the disc injury and what kind, from a herniated to ruptured disc, but my guess is that with the proper rehab that a professional should offer, he won't be "unemployed" for long.
• Spurs working out Gardner
Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld tweeted yesterday that Thomas Gardner would be working out for the Spurs today.
Gardner has been playing in Belgium for the Antwerp Giants after his NBA stints with the Bulls, Hawks and Grizzlies.
Gardner is a 6-5 guard with NBA averages of 2.3 points in just over seven minutes per game.
It's not surprising the Spurs are looking at another shooter, after they struggled with shooting last season, but it is surprising that they continue to bring in guards, when backup small forward is likely the biggest weakness at this point.
The Spurs are also looking at Jawad Williams from North Carolina as a possible invitee for their upcoming training camp:
Williams, a 6-foot-9, 218-pound forward who was on North Carolina's NCAA championship team in 2005, played the past two seasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is a restricted free agent, which will allow the Cavaliers to match any contract offer the Spurs may elect to give him. (source mysanantonio.com)
Williams averaged 4.1 points and 1.5 rebounds per game for the Cavs last season.
The Spurs still have their bi-annual exception if they like what they see in Williams and choose to make him an offer.
• Suns bring back Jones
Former Austin Toro Dwayne Jones is going back to the Phoenix Suns after he was traded to the Toronto Rapors with Leandro Barbosa for Hedo Turkoglu.
Jones, who I pleaded with the Spurs front office to bring up from Austin, was waived by the Raptors on August 16.
Jeff Garcia contributed to this post.
Editor's note: Recently, the Basketball Hall of Fame inducted the 1992 Dream Team which included former San Antonio Spurs' legend, David Robinson. To honor Robinson, Jordan Rivas makes the point that Robinson was the best Olympic player ever to wear the red, white and blue jersey. Enjoy.
I remember, clearly, watching the 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championships. I remember watching the USA Men's Basketball team implode, watching Jermaine O'Neal punch a cooler full of Gatorade, but not manage to box out a 6-5 power forward from Yugoslavia, and hearing Paul Pierce say he was "embarrassed" to be on a USA Basketball team that lost the way they did.
No matter what anyone says, that was the low point for USA Basketball. The 2008 Olympic were a more public confirmation of what I already learned in 2006. USA Basketball lost its way for a while, and only of late has it started to redeem itself.
The golden era of international basketball in the 90s, including the Dream Team of 1992, actually included a staple that was also instrumental in the revival of the Spurs' comeback in the same time period - a Naval Academy graduate and seven foot powerhouse named David Robinson.
For years now everyone in San Antonio has known David Robinson as the man who saved the franchise, who kept the Spurs in town by making them relevant in the basketball world again. What may be forgotten (or at least starting to be forgotten) is how instrumental Robinson was in keeping USA Basketball afloat, and helping to catapult it to the level of international acclaim that it eventually reached.
David has always chosen to serve his country, first with the Naval academy, and then by representing USA Basketball three times in Olympic competition, more than any other player ever. He has an Olympic record of 23-1, only losing once against the Soviets in 1988. He competed in nine total international competitions for USA Basketball over an eleven year period - from 1985 to 1996 - with an overall record of 61-4. He never lost a game after the loss in 1988.
Robinson has played in more Olympic basketball games (24) than any other player in USA Basketball history. He also holds the record for most total points (280) over an Olympic career, as well as rebounds (124), and blocks (34). He's also fifth all-time in steals (28), and recorded the most blocks in a single competition (19) in the '88 Olympics.
David has won two gold medals (1992 and 1996), and he has twice received the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year award, once as the sole recipient in 1988, and again as the co-recipient on the 1992 Dream Team.
1988 Olympics, Seoul
In 1988 USA Basketball was still in the pre-Dream Team era, and comprised of non-professional players. The 1988 team was led by future NBA stars like Robinson and Mitch Richmond. Following the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, 1988 was expected to be another gold for the US.
Unfortunately one misstep against the Soviets, the only loss for the US, prevented that, and the US took home the bronze.
The 1988 Olympics are easily the most over looked in David's Olympic career. They didn't win gold, so it shuffled aside when compared to the 1992 Dream Team and 1996 gold medal run. What people might not realize is how much of an impact David had on that 1988 team. He led the team in scoring in three different games, and even in the loss to the Soviets he led the team with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
He finished the tournament averaging 12.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and shooting an astonishing .580 percent from the field. In a small dim spot for USA Basketball, David was still a consistent bright spot.
1992 Olympics, Barcelona
The 1992 Olympic Dream Team is perhaps the greatest assembly of sports talent ever accumulated onto one team - and it included Robinson. I don't even think people realize how much significance that carries. No team will ever surpass the greatness of the Dream Team, and he was a part of that; that, among a list of other accomplishments, solidified David's place in the basketball pantheon.
What many people may also not realize, is David played in the 1992 Olympics injured. He had a torn ligament in left hand, his shooting hand. Despite that he still started in four out of the eight games he played, shooting .574 percent from the field and averaging nine points per game.
And yes, as you already know, the Dream Team went a perfect 8-0, demolishing every team in their path to a flawless gold medal run. And as part of that, on the best basketball team ever, David was the co-winner of the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year Award, essentially making him the best of the best.
1996 Olympics, Atlanta
As we all know, David likes to go out on top, and with a bang. This is a tradition that fittingly started well before his 2003 finale with the Spurs. It started with his final Olympic appearance in the 1996 Atlanta games.
Naturally, the US routed all their opponents to another 8-0 Olympic gold medal. David led the team with an 18 point seven rebound effort in the opening game for a 96-68 win against Argentina. It was in the gold medal game, however, were he really left his mark.
In the final game against Yugoslavia David poured in a 28 point effort on 9-11 shooting from the field, and added seven rebounds, leading the US to a 95-69 victory. His 28 point game is still tied for the fifth highest point total in a single game men's Olympic game. He also attempted the most free-throws ever in a men's Olympic game with 14.
Robinson has not only had an exemplary record of performance on the court during his Olympic runs, he also demonstrated the same kind of world class professionalism and sportsmanship we've all known him for with the Spurs. On a world stage, several times over, he represented the Spurs, San Antonio, and our nation with great character, as well as talent.
We didn't just choose to write about him because he's a Spur, we chose to write this piece because David Robinson is the single greatest Olympic basketball player ever, and we thought that in the light of the decline and resurgence of USA Basketball for the past decade or so, that we should remind people of the gold standard in USA Basketball.
It's day two of the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey as the preliminary rounds continue.
Today Lithuania, France and Brazil played which mean Robertas Javtokas, Nando de Colo and Tiago Splitter were in action for their respective countries. This also meant San Antonio Spurs fans were keeping an eye out on these players seeing how they all have been drafted by the Spurs.
Here are their performances from day two.
Lithuania took on Canada and barely got the win 70-68. Javtokas played four minutes and had one turnover and did not score.
After a stunning win against Spain, France took on Lebanon. Hoping to shake off his horrible showing against Spain, de Colo looked much better.
He got the start and immediately was looking to push the ball for France. He was finding the open player and scored his first points at the World Championship with a three-pointer early in the first quarter.
At the end of the first de Colo scored five points.
After a long delay in the second quarter due to a Nicolas Batum dunk which caused the rim to break, de Colo saw a bit more action. He got to the line and nailed a pair of free-throws. At the half he scored seven points.
In the second half, de Colo continued to look great. He lead France in the third quarter scoring seven points, helping the team put away Lebanon early.
He finished the game with 14 points, shot 44% from the field, 33% from the three-point line, went 4-4 from the free-throw line, had two assists and two turnovers in 23 minutes of play. France remains undefeated at 2-0 and beat Lebanon, 86-59.
After scoring 13 points for Brazil against Iran and having his hands full defending Iran's big man Hamed Haddadi, Splitter and Brazil took on Tunisia.
Splitter got the start for Brazil and looked to be aggressive on the block. He drew contact from the Tunisian defender and went to the line and made both free-throws. Splitter showed great all around foot-work and a great back to the basket moves as in one play he faked left, pivoted to the right for his signature left-handed hook.
Splitter also showed tremendous hustle in the first quarter as he dove out of bounds to try to save the ball. Though Spurs fans may have cringed to see him dive head first.
In the second quarter, he did not play much ad checked into the game late.
The Tunisian defenders were physical with Splitter and he even drew an occasional double-team to keep him from rebounding the ball.
At the end of the first half, Splitter had eight points.
In the third quarter he did not play much. Tunisia was throwing a double-team at Splitter. He picked up two fouls and sat for most of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Splitter shined for Brazil. Right away he went to work displaying low post moves and his jump hook in the lane. His hook-shot is very accurate and his foot work is very developed.
Brazil remains undefeated at 2-0 and gets the win over Tunisia, 80-65. Splitter finished with 16 points, shot 60% from the field, was 4-4 from the free-throw line, four rebounds, three turnovers and one steal in 23 minutes of play.
Splitter and Brazil will next face Team USA tomorrow.
The 2010 FIBA World Championship kicked off today in Turkey and for San Antonio Spurs fans, eyes were on Brazil, France and Lithuania as Tiago Splitter, Nando de Colo and Robertas Javtokas played for their respective countries.
Here is how they did today in their opening round games.
Though the French national team pulled off the upset to defeat Spain, the defending World Champions, de Colo had a game to forget.
He played in the first half but did not see action in the second half. He drew the tough defensive assignment to guard Spain's Ricky Rubio but it was the Spanish defense on de Colo which seemed to throw him off his game.
Though he did show flashes of aggressiveness going to the rim in the first quarter when he drove strong into the lane against Spain's Marc Gasol but missed the shot.
He finished the game scoreless, got one steal which led to an easy score for France and drew a charge on the defensive end.
Javtokas did not have a good game as well as Lithuania faced New Zealand. He played four minutes, shot 50% from the field, grabbed one rebound, had one blocked shot and scored two points.
Splitter had the tough assignment of guarding Iran's big man Hamed Haddadi who also plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. On two occasions, Haddadi blocked Splitter's shot attempts.
Splitter did show an all around game which should bring a smile to Spurs fans next season. He used his body well in the paint to get to the basket and even picked up the "and 1" in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Splitter showed he can pass out of the paint when he found a Brazilian player at the opposite end of the court for an easy score. He also showed a knack for getting steals and scored most of his points in the paint.
At the half he scored seven points.
In the third quarter, Splitter showed he can run on the break and got a slam-dunk for Brazil but he continued to have the tough defensive assignment on Haddadi.
In the fourth quarter, Splitter had a huge dunk off a fast break and in the next play he ran the floor for an easy lay-up on a Brazil fast break.
What he showed was he can run up the court on fast breaks, cut to the rim, footwork in the paint and is constantly moving around the basket.
He finished the game with 13 points, shot 60% from the field, made 1/1 free-throws, grabbed four rebounds, had one assist, one steal and had one blocked shot in 23 minutes of play.
• Tiago SplitterSplitter recently sat down for an interview where he spoke on going to the NBA, the 2010 World Championship and more. To see the interview click HERE to visit FIBATV.com.
• Rod Thorn
Current Philadelphia 76ers President, Rod Thorn, reflected on his time with the New Jersey Nets and spoke about the 2003 NBA Finals against the Spurs. He feels the Nets should have been the NBA Champions and not the Spurs. Looks like he isn't over it after all these years:
"With the Nets, we went to the NBA Finals twice, but we were outmatched with Shaq and Kobe the first time. We didn't have a shot. They were too good. I thought we had a great chance against San Antonio, though. We matched up well with them and we won one of the first two games in San Antonio. Then we were tied 2-2, and in Game 5 we throw the ball away in the last few minutes of a close game. We then go to San Antonio for Game 6 and have a double-digit lead and blow it. We should've been champions; I'll always believe that. (source nba.com)