Leandro Barbosa leads Brazil to gold; Jordan’s worst idea yet

09.07.09 9 years ago 24 Comments

Similar to the Vegas/Orlando summer leagues, you don’t want to read too much into the FIBA Americas tournament as far as projecting how its standouts will do in the upcoming NBA season, especially when Team USA sat this one out. But it’s hard not to be impressed by Leandro Barbosa‘s recent work and predict big things for him this season. In leading Brazil to the tournament gold medal yesterday, as well as a spot in the 2010 World Championships, Barbosa averaged 21.1 points on 55% shooting from the field. It was a down year for Barbosa in ’08-09. On top of the Suns experimenting with a slower-paced system that just doesn’t work for his game, Barbosa also lost his mother and was basically out of it for most of the year. His game picked up when Terry Porter was fired and Phoenix went baack to their regular up-tempo system, but this is something of a fresh start for him, and we can see a big-time effort reminiscent of Barbosa’s Sixth Man of the Year campaign in ’07 … In yesterday’s gold medal game against host country Puerto Rico, Barbosa led Brazil with 24 points (9-23 FG, 1-8 3PA), while Tiago Splitter added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Anderson Varejao posted eight points and eight boards. Brazil was up by 13 going into the fourth quarter, but after PR benched its starters (including Carlos Arroyo), the second unit — including ex-Miami guard Guillermo Diaz and former Nuggets draft pick Ricky Sanchez — led a comeback. In the final minute it was a two-possession game, and in the final 30 seconds it became a free throw contest. Puerto Rico was down by one on their last possession when Arroyo (14 pts) missed a three at the buzzer … In the bronze-medal game, Argentina smacked Canada, taking a big lead in the first quarter and cruising from there. Luis Scola dropped 27 points, completing a tourney where he averaged 23 and about seven boards. One of the players we haven’t mentioned yet who put in work was Argentina’s point guard, Pablo Prigioni (10.1 ppg, 7.4 apg, 2.6 spg). At 32 years old, the 6-4 Prigioni is arguably the best PG in the same Spanish league that Ricky Rubio plays in. Coming to the NBA isn’t really in the cards for him, though. He makes way more money overseas than he would here, plus his age makes him not the most attractive NBA prospect. He’s kind of like Chauncey Billups in Spain …

And just because it’s a holiday, here’s the trophy Barbosa would go home to even if he’d lost yesterday: his Brazilian actress wife Samara Felippo (right) … Meanwhile, the FIBA European Championship tips off today, with the 16-team field consisting of Spain (Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, J.C. Navarro, Jorge Garbajosa), France (Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf, Nic Batum), Germany, Russia, Turkey (Hedo Turkoglu), Lithuania (Linas Kleiza), Croatia, Latvia (Andris Biedrins), Great Britain (Pops Mensah-Bonsu), Serbia (Nenad Krstic), Greece (Kosta Koufos, Nick Calathes, Vasileios Spanoulis, Baby Shaq), Israel, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovenia (Boki Nachbar, Primoz Brezec, Goran Dragic) and the host country Poland (Marcin Gortat, Maciej Lampe) … Among the non-actives: Dirk Nowitzki isn’t playing for Germany because the Mavs wouldn’t let him, Andrei Kirilenko is out for Russia, and Ben Gordon and Luol Deng aren’t playing for Britain because Deng is still recovering from an injury and BG, well, he just signed a $50 million deal and Joe Dumars ain’t having that … And ex-UPenn star Ibrahim Jaaber isn’t playing for Bulgaria because he’s in the middle of Ramadan and isn’t eating or drinking during daylight hours. Hakeem Olajuwon played through Ramadan when it fell during the NBA season — not even drinking water during afternoon games — and his numbers usually dropped during that time due to the expected loss of strength … Allen Iverson update: He’s reportedly close to accepting the Grizzlies’ one-year offer for somewhere between $3.5 million and $4.4 million, as he and Memphis owner Michael Heisley about arranging a face-to-face meeting. Let’s say Memphis goes with a (starting and/or crunch-time) lineup of O.J. Mayo at the point, Iverson at the two, Rudy Gay at the three, Zach Randolph at the four and Marc Gasol at the five, with Mike Conley, Hasheem Thabeet and Sam Young rounding out the top eight. How many games can they win? Consider that the Southwest Division is especially tough, with the Spurs, Mavs, Rockets and Hornets … At least Andrew Bogut doesn’t think the Bucks will match Ramon Sessions‘ offer sheet from the Wolves. “He’s got a great contract in Minnesota. We wish him all the best, but I think with the point guards we have on our roster now, it would be tough to find minutes for all four with a fourth point guard,” Bogut said in a HoopsHype interview. “We have time to match but I don’t see it, honestly.” … Forget Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison; this one needs to be at the top of Michael Jordan‘s resume the next time he goes for a front-office job. Former Bulls GM Jerry Krause revealed to the Boston Globe that back in 1987, Jordan was pushing him to draft Joe Wolf, but Krause stuck to his guns and took his guy. Some kid named Scottie Pippen … We’re out like Sessions …

* Follow Dime on Twitter: @DIMEMag

* Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE

Around The Web