Those complaining that NBA free agency is the only avenue to fill their hoops fix this summer haven’t been paying attention. In the last two weeks all over the globe FIBA, international basketball’s governing body of course, has not only held a tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, to decide the final spots for the Olympic field, but also U17 tournaments with up-and-coming talent in Kaunas, Lithuania. I know that the highlights Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin pulled off this weekend at Team USA camp in Las Vegas will get more hits, but a roundup of top 10 plays from FIBA’s worldwide hoops in the last week pulls out some nice clips. To the videos.
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10. You can see Macedonia go “uh, oh” when the Dominican Republic (coached by John Calipari) gets on the break. The Macedonians try to foul, and even raise the hand to the ref — nothing works. It all leads to some nice ball movement and a dunk by Al Horford, the one saving grace of the DR squad.
9. Sure it was in vain, but you have to reward the effort for a buzzer-beater. Walid Ely of Egypt beat the clock in this U17 loss to Lithuania from about 30 feet. More impressive in my estimation than the shot, though, was the cross-court pass to get him the rock. Is that an Egyptian Kevin Love throwing outlet passes? Kidding of course. Nice shot, though.
8. Andrei Kirilenko is back! AK-47 gets the rebound and finishes as the trailer this week against the Dominican Republic. I’d say he beats back his man, the 6-7 Jack Martinez, on defense but it’s not really true to say that Martinez was running.
7. Nigeria was the surprise of the senior men’s qualifying tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, knocking off Greece, Russia and the Dominican Republic to earn the final spot in the London Games for its first Olympic spot. Ike Diogu was brought out of nowhere to lead the team and had a huge game in the finale, going for 25 points and even a nice step-back triple. This sequence wasn’t from that game against the DR, but he finishes off a nice end-to-end sequence.
6. Proud native sons J.J. Barea gets on the break and … turn out the lights, the party’s over. He feeds Carlos Arroyo who gets off the nifty up-and-under.
5. Team USA Tyus Williams gets past his Canadian defender and proceeds to dump off the nice dime to Johnathan Williams.
4. The U17 Australian team pulled off a very nice sequence here. Anyway, 6-4 Dante Exum gets the steal, the spin and the one-handed dime to 6-8 Benjamin Simmons for a nice two-handed slam over two guys. Exum’s a guy to keep an eye on, averaging 17 points per game this tournament, with that length and speed. He got the Aussies to the title game, where they lost to the U.S.
3. Mario Hezonja of Croatia didn’t get out of the U17 semifinals in this game against Australia, but his cock-to-the-side slam on the Aussies was a nice consolation prize. Hezonja had a game-high 28 â€” although he shot a brutal 4-of-14 from three. Maybe just stick to the breakaway dunks.
2. Bo McCalebb gets into the lane for Macedonia against New Zealand in Venezuela. It’s not an above the rim play, but it leaves his defender shaken. When’s the last time you saw a Dream Shake from a guard?
1. Andres Rodriguez gets the ball and his eyes immediately go to the rim, looking for Puerto Rican teammate Alex Franklin. Team Jordan (no, not that team Jordan) never had a chance, especially when Franklin’s head approaches the rim.
What do you think?
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