Monday, August 31, 2009

Yet Another Stinkin' Announcement

I promise to chill out on all the announcements for a while. After this one.

As of right now, I'm officially a contributor to the Blazers blog Bust a Bucket. DeceptivelyQuick is not being shut down. Actually, this development could result in things getting even DeceptivelyQuicklier around here. The more directly Blazer related stuff will be over at BaB. The rest will be over here, where we will be able to savor the flavor. Some things (like the Petteri Koponen Watch) will probably show up at both places.

Bust a Bucket has a lot of good things going for it, and is maybe the one other place that I can maybe-kind of-possibly fit-in. It should be interesting to see how long they will be able to tolerate me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Yamhill High Flyers want YOU to name their mascot

What? Did you think that just because I moved across the country that our coverage of the Yamhill High Flyers IBL team would stop? I'm hurt that you don't know me better by now. Jerk.

The franchise recently made good on a promise to donate their net profits from concession sales of both of their home games to the community (excerpts from press release):
The HighFlyers played two home games during their 2009 abbreviated “branding” season, and earned a total of $250 after expenses from concessions at those games. A couple weeks ago, the General Manager of the HighFlyers, Eric Bailey, carried out the team’s promise by presenting a $250 check to Kristina Pallotto of the Parks and Recreation Department in front of the McMinnville Community Center.

The HighFlyers also helped underprivileged youth in the community by making a donation to Heather Acker of “Operation Backpack” which included several backpacks and various other school supplies, including notebooks, pencils, crayons, rulers, glue, and more.
Most awesome of all, however, is that the team is holding a contest to name their mascot. I would shed tears of joy if the winning name came from a Deceptively Quick reader. The opportunity is too awesome for me to come up with any ideas at the moment. The mind needs some time to grasp such a concept. I will be adding ideas in the comments and you should too. Here are some details:
Contest to Name the Mascot: The HighFlyers are proud to announce our “Name our mascot” contest. The HighFlyers mascot for the 2010 season (the team’s first full season in the IBL) will either be an airplane or a rocket ship, and you have the chance to think of his name! The winner will get a pair of season tickets to the 2010 season (a total of ten home games; total prize value of $100). To enter, simply e-mail our Community Relations Director, Jaime Dunn, at with the subject line of “Name the Mascot” and include all your contact information. Additional information on season tickets can be found at the team’s official website,

Game on!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Deadspin is helping the NBA

By this point you have probably gathered that I'm in favor of publicizing every thing that sucks within the Basketball Universe. I maintain that this will lead to solutions at some unknown time in the future. The League is great at ignoring unsavories publically, but I choose to believe that constant media attention on things like referees and the age-limit has encouraged some in-house discussion, which can hopefully lead to change.

This is why what Deadspin has been doing with their NBA stat-inflating coverage is worthy of your support. Maybe this will lead to more NBA oversight on box score keeping. Maybe it will lead to more rigid (Read: European) guidelines on statistics. Maybe the League will take no action whatsoever.

The most important thing is to ensure that someone is talking about this as a real problem. At some point this will probably require more NBA statisticians to come forward and corroborate this lone source's information. At this moment all that is needed is for NBA fans to become aware that a lot of statistics are ridiculously questionable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: Beating Belinelli (for protocol only) edition

You know how this works, H.T. with his take on Petteri Koponen's latest outing...

It might be that the final Eurobasket qualification game between Italy and Finland was "for protocol only" since France had already secured their spot in the Eurobasket competition, but it sure as hell wasn't a yawner for either teams. After being butchered and gutted by the Italian sports media, the last home game against Finland was a chance for Italian team to end the summer campaign with some pride. Meanwhile, Finland's hunger just grew after that 4-point win over France and the team was absolutely drooling over their first win over Italy after 1965.

Finland took care of business, end of story. Finland won the game 89-95 (48-50)(BOX SCORE), but in the fourth quarter, it wasn't even that close. Petteri Koponen lead the balanced Finland attack with a superb 26-point performance. Even though Koponen (officially) only had one assist, it must be a question of interpretation only, because he excelled in both guard position and was simply unstoppable when it mattered the most.

Examples? Italy opened the beginning of 3rd quarter with a 14-2 run, but Koponen answered with five quick points to open a 15-2 Finland run. In the second quarter, Marco Belinelli got the crowd going with consecutive triples, but Koponen answered with two long range daggers of his own right in the face of Belinelli.

Even though Koponen took a couple of ill-adviced shots and had two awkward turnovers in 2nd and 3rd quarters, he had a heck of a game and it's safe to say he won this duel against Belinelli. While Belinelli's defense looked mediocre at best, Koponen smothered Italian guards and while Italian offense was built around Belinelli's 1-on-1 decisions, Koponen shared the ball and got everyone involved. Unfortunately the two guys didn't defend each other: Finland's starting small forward Shawn Huff covered Belinelli andItalian point guard Jacopo Giachetti covered Koponen.

Once again, team Finland relied on good, steady team play. Hanno Möttölä (16/5) opened the game with two triples and kept it going throughout the game. Teemu Rannikko (15/5 assists/3 steals) maintained his normal level of play, outplaying more athletic Italian guards. Samuel Haanpää (14/5) had a good shooting day after two 0-point performances and Tuukka Kotti (11/3) had a hot streak in the end of the game. Belinelli had 26 points and Valerio Amoroso 21 for the Italians. The biggest disappointment of the game wasAndrea Bargnani, who ended up with 7 points (field goals 3/8), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and one technical foul in 35 minutes.

While Italy has dropped down a long way after that 1999 European championship trophy, Finland's future seems bright. Koponen had his share of growing pains and struggles a year ago when he had to accept the national team's starting pg spot, but right now it seems he is comfortable with the role alongside veteran pg Rannikko. There is always room for more improvement, but Koponen seems to be developing into an NBA style guard, being able to challenge his defender one and one in every occasion and not lacking any size and strenght compared to other young guards in the big league. 2009/2010 will definitely be an important year for Koponen; he has to fight for that starting guard position in Virtus Bologna, but if he can turn his rookie year struggles into success, landing a spot with the Blazers can't be that far away.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Taurean Green to play in Greece

It is not surprising that Green is headed back overseas after being buried on Chicago's summer league roster. He will play for AEK Athens this season.

With not one but two DeceptivelyQuick favorites hooping in Greece this season it is becoming critical that we find someone savvy in the ways of Macedonian basketball. Where are you?

(Assist HoopsHype.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: For protocol only edition

As Goonerluke dropped in the comments, Koponen played a great game against Italy a couple days ago. Specifics have yet to emerge, but here is the gist:
In Thursday’s Group B fixture, Finland topped Italy 89-95 in a game for protocol only. Finland guard Petteri Koponen scored 5 of his 26 points after Italy closed to within 2 with 90 seconds remaining to lead his team to the win.
Another good outing for The Finnagler. Also, I'm going to start using "for protocol only" in my daily life.

Von Wafer Watch: First words from Greece edition

I just noticed that a short Von Wafer interview popped up over at HoopsHype a couple days ago. This makes me happy because it means that 1) His plane landed safely and we will are on to follow him with the Olympiakos this season and 2) Somebody besides me must care about Von Wafer.

I'd never read an interview with Wafer before. Here we see him being more open and honest than the usual pro-athlete. Maybe they caught him in the right mood. Maybe he hasn't been burned by the media before. I'm hoping it arises from some stable personality traits, which would make Wafer even more compelling. Full interview here, excerpts below:
You are now among the best paid American players in Europe. What does that mean to you?

VW: That means a lot. I worked real hard in the NBA, just felt good to be recognized as a good player that plays hard. And I will play hard this season, as I always do.

As far as money, was any of the offers in the NBA close to what Olympiakos was offering?

VW: No, no. Not even close.

Before you decided to go to Europe, did you feel disappointed that it didn't work out with any NBA team?

VW: It is what it is. I guess they felt I wasn't good enough or maybe the economic situation... But I'm happy to be in Greece.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Something like an announcement

Posting will be slow in the coming days. I've issued that statement before, but this time around something of an explanation is in order. I will be moving to the Midwest to pursue my dreams of living in a place as cold as Finland. This could make things better around here. Being outside of the bubble can help one see things more objectively. Or it could make things even worse. We'll see.

Speaking of announcements, H.T. let me know Michael Jordan will be visiting Finland soon (or here if you can read Koponen). MJ joins Pippen and Rodman as another member of the Bulls' dynasty to take in the Finnish hospitality. Will Purdue keeps leaving messages hinting that he'd like to visit The Island Fortress of Suomenlinna, but Finland is always busy washing her hair.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Proper acknowledgement: Jason Williams signs with Orlando

You know you are in the slow basketball news part of the year when a back-up point guard signing is grabbing headlines. With that in mind, I think it is worth it to welcome Jason Williams back into the League. (It could not be confirmed that Nick Van Exel has launched a comeback attempt in order to continue his whit eboy hating.)

The player has had many critics over his career, but at a very fundamental level Jason Williams is an important part of the Basketball Universe. He always made the game more fun to watch. Fun is inspiring. Fun is something people want to be a part of. Watch those youtube highlights below and tell me they doen't make you want to hit your local pick-up game tonight.

For years he not only perpetuated, but created, interest in the sport. Few players have done that, and even fewer have relied so heavily on flair as opposed to more institutionally approved qualifications for greatness.

Williams' best days are behind him, no doubt. (Although keep in mind he does have a couple stellar alley-oop targets that can help him recapture some White Chocolate.) Nonetheless, his signing during the doldrums gives us a chance to appreciate what he has represented.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: Tony Parker is a baby edition

H.T. with more on how Finland beat France and Koponen beat Tony Parker.

(Photo: FIBA)

I see BlueForest escaped from those underground tunnels I locked him in. (BlueForest's game recap here.) Well, it gives me time to withdraw from game recap, the most typical form on narration. So here's a different look at Finland vs. France EuroBasket additional qualification round game.

Yep, France had already clinched their spot at the final qualification round with their very convincing victory over Italy just three days earlier. Nicolas Batum and Johan Petro were missing, and Ronny Turiaf played a total of eight minutes. Despite all this, the victory was something Finland needed and the decisive three pointer was scored by Teemu Rannikko, the same guy who missed the potential clincher against Italy a week earlier.

Even though France wasn't at their best, they surely didn't give this win for free. Young guards Nando De Colo (Spurs draftee, 18 pts) and Antoine Diot (15 pts) gave home team all they could handle and big guys Ian Mahinmi (12/5) and Ali Traore (12 pts) fooled Finnish interior defense in couple occations. But unlike in the first game between these two teams, Finnish big guys lead by Hanno Möttölä (16/9) weren't pushed around easily.

Of course, the main focus of sold-out group of 3354 people was on France's household names Tony Parker and Boris Diaw. Diaw seemed awkwardly overweight and was far from his best form. (We've seen that before. Damn you Diaw. Let me love you!-Ed) France only had six fast break points in the whole game and Diaw was non-existent in the half court offense, scoring only three points.

Tony Parker is still recovering from injury, and he seems to have a long way to go. Petteri Koponen (15/4/4 assists/2 steals) outplayed Parker on both ends of the court, forcing him to shoot from distance and blowing by him in every occasion. When Parker noticed he wouldn't get the superstar treatment he's used to, he concentrated on yapping to the referees and he left Energia Arena without speaking to the media. While Parker ended up with 4 points (with 2-14 field goal shooting), Koponen executed Finland's offense extremely well and had one of the best all-round games of his national team career.

(Of course, I have tremendous respect for Parker and I am sure he will go for MVP at the European Championship games, but even the best of them have bad days occasionally. For instance, I remember one day Hans von Blumenstock only scored 33 points in Finnish Division 4 game, making only 7-9 of his three pointers.)

Backcourt tandem Rannikko-Koponen were the heroes in the late game. Rannikko scored 14 points in a row in a four-minute span starting from last minute of 3rd quarter, leading Finland to 66-57 edge. After France took the next three and a half minutes 13-1, Koponen made a jump shot and Rannikko ended up with and-one, giving Finland a 72-70 edge. After Boris Diaw's one made free throw, Rannikko swished an NBA three pointer giving everyone in attendance the goosebumps. Tony Parker missed a strong layup with just 11 second remaining and France had to foul Koponen, who made both free throws and gave Finland the 77-71 lead.

France will beet Bosnia and Herzegovina or Belgium in the last qualification round, while Finland plays the last national team game of summer 2009 against Italy this thursday. Since this is the first time ever Italy slipped out of European Championship Games, local media is currently butchering everyone involved in this national team campaign excluding Marco Belinelli. Finland tries to snatch their second win in a row and end up 2nd in their additional qualifying group, which isn't exactly impossible; at the moment, Finland is highly motivated and Italy just trying to recover from huge disappointment.

Boxscore Here. Highlights Here.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Monumental Petteri Koponen Watch: Finland takes France (!) Koponen takes Parker (!!!)

This just in from BlueForest, whom I thought had mysteriously disappeared long ago...

Hello Seth,

I will try to outscoop Hippo for this one, though his complete report with stats should be coming soon...

Petteri had his best game by far this summer, and considering the opposition, maybe ever. His advantage over Tony Parker at both ends kept Finland in the game, and in the fourth quarter Teemu Rannikko caught a supernova shooting streak to win the game for Finns, 77-73.

OK, France had nothing to play for and kept Batum and Petro out of the lineup.
Parker played long minutes, but was clearly not at full speed; he was not aggressive with the ball, and missed every one of his jumpers off the front rim.
Petteri was able to stay in front of his drives, getting two blocks and a steal in the process. At the other end PK hit two pull-up 3s over Parker, got inside paint to dish 6 or 7 perfect assists and drew several fouls. He also iced the game by hitting 2 FTs with 9 seconds remaining.

Finland's third key player Hanno Möttölä had also his best game since coming back to national team this summer. France's most efficient players were the Spurs' prospects Ian Mahinmi and Nando de Colo.

This season PK should get more minutes at Virtus, without the short shadow of Earl Boykins looming over him. After that it's decision time: if Blazers still do not want him, Pritchard should trade his rights, because he looks able to play solid backup PG in the NBA.

Finland - France 77-73 (33-36) (Teemu Rannikko 21, Hanno Mottola 17/9, Petteri Koponen 15. 1 - 75,0% (12/16), 2 - 53,3% (16/30), 3 - 39,3% (11/28). R: 20+9=29. TO: 11. - Nando De Colo 18, Antoine Diot 15, Ian Mahinmi 12, Ali Traore 12. 1 - 57,1% (8/14), 2 - 56,8% (25/44), 3 - 33,3% (5/15). R: 24+10=34. TO: 13.

In which we strive to continue our appreciation of Von Wafer

I started rooting for Von Wafer when he had a cup of coffee with the Blazers. I haven't stopped. I hoped Wafer would find a situation to shine, but I never thought he would reach a level where he was actually disliked by some fans.

I jumped at my first opportunity to defend his existence. Then the playoffs happened and Blazer fans around me formed a chorus of anti-Wafer sentiment. Promoting Wafer seemed in bad taste when he was making Rip City feel so unsettled.

I thought it was mostly sour-grapes but apparently other fans have their own Wafer issues to deal with. What, too much swagger? Do the way his talent and flaws combine to make his impact on the game exceed that which his minutes (and stats) imply make him too compelling of a concept for you?

You probably know he has signed a contract with Greek juggernaught Olympiakos for two years and $10 million. (There is a clause allowing him to come back to the NBA after one season if he chooses.) What you didn't know is that I will be ressurecting the Waferd Watch. With the noticeable anti-Wafer sentiment this action will restore some balance to the Universe.

If there are any Olympiakos fans out there that want to file some reports let me know. I can post game recaps and highlights, but having someone who can actually watch the games would be infinitely more awesome. I would ask H.T. but he is currently holding out for a salary increase. (This is not the first time.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Zach Randolph news I missed because of my selfish neighbor

By "selfish" I of course mean "not letting me steal his wifi this week." Some people. Anyways, you probably saw yet another Zach Randolph story pop up on TrueHoop. TMZ:
A guy named Gary Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against Randolph, claiming the former Los Angeles Clipper beat the crap out of him on a night when the Clips got beat down on the court.

It all went down inside Berri's Pizza Cafe in L.A. -- where Randolph allegedly "verbally and physically threatened" Gary before "attacking" the guy.
I was shocked. Zach Randolph is famous enough to be on TMZ? Really?

While still-bitter Blazer fans (me) might really want to believe this wonderful anecdote and add it to the Why Zach Sucks archives, this story sounds more like a case of a non-rich asshole just trying to get some easy money off a rich-asshole.

It does build a little anticipation for what this season will bring in terms of Zach Randolph stories. He blamed a lot of his problems in Portland on the fish bowl environment. He couldn't use that excuse in NY or LA, but it will be interesting to see if he ressurects that defense in small-market Memphis.

Just be careful out there Zach. Memphis is small like Portland, but the Hoop Fam act might not be as convincing to folks down there. If something seriously bad happens we won't be able to poke fun anymore. Then we would have to find a whole new purpose in life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: I'll never eat pasta again, Italy wins edition

You know how this works. H.T. with the latest:
Tuesday's Eurobasket Qualification game between Italy and Finland was a do-or-die type of game for both teams, since loser of the game would practically be eliminated from the competition.

Finland struggled from early on, missing their first nine 3pt attempts and basically letting Italian big guys Angelo Gigli and Andrea Bargnani walk to the paint for open dunks. Italy was leading 4-15 before Finland began to maintain their defensive form.

Even though Finland came within two points in a couple of occasions, Italy extended their lead back to 9-12 points with Marco Belinelli shooting with high percentage early on, Andrea Bargnani schooling Finnish post defenders with old school spin moves and experienced players Giuseppe Poeta, Marco Mordente and Valerio Amoroso sinking their 3pt shots.

Six minutes before the end of the game Italy took a 60-73-lead behind Andrea Bargnani's three-pointer. Finland refused to go away, though. Petteri Koponen responded with a 3pt shot of his own and just a moment later, Italian point guard Matteo Soragna got heated in the midst of Finnish defense and was given a technical foul. Teemu Rannikko sank both of his free throws and after Finland regained the ball possession, Koponen opened Kimmo Muurinen for a dunk and one, narrowing Italian lead to 68-73 with five minutes to go.

After Belinelli's heavily contested jumper, both teams missed their a couple of next shots, but Hanno Möttölä ended the drought, sinking a jumper and bringing Finland back to competition. In the other end, Belinelli had an offensive foul and Shawn Huff netted a trey to bring Finland within two, 73-75. Italy's Luca Vitali missed a three-pointer in Italy's next possession and Petteri Koponen drove from coast to coast, drew a foul from Andrea Bargnani (fouled out) and tied the game with two free throws, 75-75, with 1:42 remaining.

Marco Belinelli hit another contested jumper to put Italy up by two, 75-77, with 1:24 to go. Finland had the chance to try three relatively open three point shots in the last minute, but Petteri Koponen missed once and Teemu Rannikko twice in the end. Marco Mordente caught the decisive rebound and Italy got to head to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport with a victory.

For Petteri Koponen, the night was clearly not one of his best. Petteri opened the game with two quick fouls, two missed shots and three turnovers in the first four minutes and couldn't get the offense going. Finland got back on track with Teemu Rannikko playing PG and Petteri sitting on the bench, but in the fourth quarter, Petteri played some inspired basketball, slowing down hot-shooting Belinelli and responding with five quick points, two assists and two steals in final six minutes. He took the loss and 7-point, 6-turnover night very heavily and was clearly upset when talking to the media after the game.

Hanno Möttölä scored 16 points for Finland in a steady performance while Teemu Rannikko had 11 points and 6 assists and Shawn Huff scored 12. Top scorer of the game was Marco Belinelli with 23 (fg 10/18). Andrea Bargnani finished with 21 and 8 despite playing only 24 minutes.

Italy and France meet each other in Pau, France this Friday in a must-win game for the Italians. Finland hosts France in Vantaa next Monday.

Highlights (from the coaches game tape) here

Finland - Italy 75-77 (10-17, 34-38, 55-63)

Finland: Hanno Möttölä 16/4, Shawn Huff 12/3, Teemu Rannikko 11/3/6 assists, Tuukka Kotti 9/4, Gerald Lee 8/3, Petteri Koponen 7/3/3 assists, Antti Nikkilä 6/2, Kimmo Muurinen 3/1, Petri Virtanen 3/0, Mikko Koivisto 0/1, Samuel Haanpää 0/0, Vesa Mäkäläinen.

Italy: Marco Belinelli 23/2, Andrea Bargnani 21/8, Angelo Gigli 10/6, Matteo Soragna 8/0, Marco Mordente 6/3, Giuseppe Poeta 5/1, Valerio Amoroso 3/2, Marco Cusin 1/3, Luca Vitali 0/3/5 assists, Jacopo Giachetti 0/3, Luigi da Tome 0/0.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jeremy Tyler: Freedom Fighter

OK, so that is a bit of an overstatement.

Today was the first time I've heard of Jeremy Tyler. Maybe I should know a little something about the guy before I attach him to a grand cause that he may or may not be aware of. Yes, this person will be the first United Statesian to bounce overseas to be a pro basketball before even finishing high school. ESPN:
Tyler, 18, is the first American-born player to leave high school early to play basketball professionally overseas. The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Tyler announced in the spring that he was skipping his senior season at San Diego High because prep basketball had become boring.
Oh, and Sonny Vaccaro is involved, which is probably the least surprising thing ever. And that sound you hear is the World Wide Leader is gearing up the hate machine. I wish Tyler the best of luck and hope his actions move us one step closer to the NBA abolishing that ridiculous age limit.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And suddenly the light came over me: An Akeem Scott and Delonte West back-court

It started when I watched Akeem Scott's latest video, a social commentary piece on the often ignored phenomenon known as Down Low Brothers:

Being that the timing of this video coincided with a recent release by another DeceptivelyQuick favorite, Delonte West, a rapid series of connections surged throughout my mind. And then from the chaos arose a singular unified vision. A deep peace came over me, and suddenly I could feel the perfect order of the World.

Akeem Scott and Delonte West: teammates. An undersized, speedy, crafty, fill-it-up assault on the basketball institution on the court, a tandem with unlimited entertainment potential off of it.

Where could such a vision be realized? Overseas, of course. Akeem's star has been rising in Finland, and opportunities to play in other leagues are a possibility. Delonte West is just the type of solid NBA non-AllStar that wealthy European clubs are targeting these days. (For the record, he is currently making less than recent NBA players have earned by going abroad.)

So to super rich Greek brothers and super rich Russians alike, please make this happen. Not for me. Not even for you. For the well-being of the Universe.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The best shirt in the history of clothing: Yes, its Viktor Khryapa

Clearly, my recent enlightment (A Delonte West/Akeem Scott amalgamation that was too powerful for Blogger to save property and is currently being reconstructed) is steering the very best of the Universe towards my energy frequency. I have never felt spiritually connected to a t-shirt, but that all changed when I stumbled across this beauty:

In an act of cruelty, there is no easily identifiable means to purchase this perfect cloth from outside of Russian borders. Recent Ebay searches yield only one sad basketball card.

This is as a distress beacon to vibrate across the Interwebs: I must have this t-shirt. Nothing less than the balance of our Being is at stake. If you have a way to get this to me, please let me know. If needed I will have to take that Trans-Siberian Railroad trip. The will of the Universe is impossible to deny.

UPDATE: This post has been linked to by several Chicago Bulls sites. I am now officially impressed by this fanbase.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: Nicolas Batum Edition

What happens when two of DeceptivelyQuick's favorite players in the Blazers Universe collide? H.T. checks in with an update of Petteri Koponen (and team Finland) versus Nicolas Batum (and team France). Boxscore Hotness here.
Batum leads "Les Bleus" over Koponen and Finland

Determined French national team won their second consecutive game in the additional qualifications for European Championship Games 2009 in Poland. This time they didn't need an overtime to do so like in their first game against Italy; they managed to beat Finland rather easily in front of loud and rowdy group of 7,500 spectators in Pau, France.

The name of the game was French interior dominance. While Finland did very well against French guards, just the strength and athleticism of French forwards and centers was way too much for Finns. France powered their way to the low post with superb pass and slash offense and finished with a 2pt field goal percentage of 67,5 % (27/40). Nicolas Batum (14/1), Florent Pietrus (12/6/3 assist), Ronny Turiaf (9/6/3 steals) and Johan Petro (8/4) did pretty much what they wanted against thin Finnish front line.

Finland didn't give up despite trailing throughout the game. Finns sank their 3pt shots with very good percentage (52,2 %) lead by 22-year old, 6-8" small forward Samuel Haanpää (21/0), who drained all six of his field goals, including five long range bombs. Point guards Petteri Koponen (16/5) and Teemu Rannikko (14/2/5 assists) also relied heavy on their outside shots. Finns basically had no weapons inside the paint; they finished with only two fast break points and ten 2pt field goals in the game. Another weak point for the Finns was their turnovers caused by lack of mobility: French help defense did excellent job in covering the passing lanes and forcing Finnish big men to stop dribbling in the middle of two- or three-man defense.

Here's a quick look at how the game did proceed. As you can see, it was pretty much a "catch me if you can" type of game, with French team extending the lead with fast breaks and Finland catching up with outside shots: 8-5, 21-9, 30-28, 48-35, 52-45, 63-47, 69-60, 75-60, 77-70, 82-72.

Tony Parker, recovering from a minor ankle injury, played only four minutes in the game, finishing with 3 points, one rebound and one assist. Boris Diaw was in foul trouble from the beginning and despite draining all four of his field goal attempts, his 10-point, 4-assist performance in 26 minutes was rather disappointing. Leaders of the young French team were forwards Batum and Pietrus, who caused problems for Finns all over the court, and 20-year old point guard Antoine Diot (16/3/4 assists).

And how did Koponen do? Good and bad. Everybody could clearly see he has turned out to be a very Americanized point guard. He managed to beat his man off the dribble every single time and cause some minor trouble for French interior defense momentarily, but because Finnish big men weren't really a threat, French big men Turiaf, Petro and Diaw could let their men almost open and roughen up with some very physical defense. Defensively, he did good job covering Parker and Spurs draftee Nando de Colo (8/1/5 assists/3 steals).

Finland has a couple of days off before hosting Italy in Vantaa this Tuesday. The game is a must win for both teams, so it will be interesting. French team travels to Italy next Friday and it's pretty safe to say that if they manage to win, they clinch their spot in last qualification round.

France - Finland 82-72 (28-21, 46-35, 63-47)

France: Antoine Diot 16/3/4 assists, Nicolas Batum 14/1, Florent Pietrus 12/6/3 assists, Boris Diaw 10/0/4 assists, Ronny Turiaf 9/6/3 steals, Johan Petro 8/4, Nando de Colo 8/1/5 assists/3 steals, Tony Parker 3/1, Alain Koffi 2/0, Aymeric Jeanneau 0/1, Yannick Bokolo, Ali Traore.

Finland: Samuel Haanpää 21/0, Petteri Koponen 16/5, Teemu Rannikko 14/2/5 assists, Hanno Möttölä 7/4, Tuukka Kotti 5/5, Gerald Lee 4/3, Mikko Koivisto 3/0, Antti Nikkilä 2/2, Kimmo Muurinen 0/3, Shawn Huff 0/1, Petri Virtanen 0/0, Vesa Mäkäläinen.

Petteri Koponen: 34 minutes, 2pt field goals 1/5, 3pt field goals 3/7, free throws 5/6, points 16, rebounds 5, assists 1, steals 1, blocks 1, turnovers 2, personal fouls 1.

In unrelated news, I really, really have been wanting to use the below video for a while. It does not make sense in this post. Don't worry about it. Still awesome.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Starting things up again

Back from a short break (I almost said blog-cation. You are welcome.) here are some things I wish I didn't miss (outside of Roybot's payday.)

- Apparently Portland wanted to bring Joel Freeland over this season. I'm not sure this could be a huge surpise to anyone who followed our updates over his last season. Freeland was solid in the ACB League in spite of some nagging injuries. This news did catch all those off-guard who had been saying Portland would renounce Freeland's rights to gain a little flexibility. Why so many seemed to think that the franchise should give up on a high-potential (he's still only 22) player for absolutely nothing was what was really crazy.

- Sadly for everyone, Shawn Kemp cancelled his plans to go play an exhibition in China. Going to China was the next logical step for Kemp after playing in the 3BA. By the way, if you like basketball and novelty, and if you read this blog more than twice a week you do, the 3BA is made for you. (Assist HoopsHype.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And now for some quiet time

The next few days posting will be slow or non-existent as I'll be doing many things that are considered less than fun. In the mean time I leave you with Delonte West's latest brilliance:

If you've never fully appreciated the full Delonte West DeceptivelyQuick library, I urge you to treat yourself.

Also, H.T. sent me the video below, which I think is pretty self-explanatory.

UPDATE: I just found out DeceptivelyQuick is "quirky," I'll take it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: Freeeeedooooom! Expanded. Edition

H.T., in an effort to make me look bad, waited for me to post this flimsy Petteri Koponen update before sending me a feast for all Finnaglerphiles. Enjoy.

Now this post is rather long, but don't act like you got anything better to do...

Like you already noticed, team Finland has only a couple of days to go before the additional qualifications for Eurobasket 2009 tip off.

Finland is facing France and Italy in their qualification group and it's needless to say that nobody is really expecting Finland to get proceed to the next qualification round. Italy is trying to earn a spot in the Eurobasket competition with a deep roster full of veterans and lead by Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli and Daniel Hackett.

The French team is even more impressing, with nine current NBA players in the roster: Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, Ronny Turiaf, Alexis Ajinca (Bobcats), Nando De Colo (Spurs), Rodrigue Beaubois (Mavs), Johan Petro (Nuggets) and Yakhouba Diawara (Heat). Joakim Noah and Mickael Pietrus have also been named to the "Les Bleus" squad, but Pietrus' post-season surgery keeps him out of the games and right now it seems unlikely that Chicago Bulls let Noah play.

Finland played their first game in European Division A in several years last summer and managed to win three of their eight games, including a shocker over 2002 World Champion Serbia. Even though there were good moments, it must be said that the overall team play could've been a lot better; two ugly, lop-sided losses to Bulgaria and two last-minute losses to team Italy (who were missing all their best players) told that team Finland was yet to achieve its premium level.

The biggest story of this summer for team Finland is the backcourt tandem of 21-year old Blazers draftee Petteri Koponen and 28-year old veteran PG Teemu Rannikko, who has nursed injuries these last two seasons after being named one of the top point guards in Euroleague while playing for Slovenia's Olimpija Ljubljana. The two guards have been giving nightmares to their opponents in the national team games so far this season, being able to find an open man or beat their defender 1-on-1 in every single offense.

Petteri Koponen struggled at times last summer as the starting PG of team Finland, but even though he has been forced to play a lot without the ball and accept a defending role in Italy's Virtus Bologna, he has certainly improved a lot on both ends of the court. These last a couple of games Koponen has been straightly dominant in the offensive end, sinking impossible-looking jumpers and drawing fouls with the best of them with his drives to the lane.

Finland has won four out of eight national team games this summer while Koponen has averaged 17,0 points, 2,9 rebounds and 2,3 assists a game (21/3/3 vs. New Zealand, 20/6/6 vs. The Netherlands, 20/3/3 and 8/8 fg's vs. Estonia and 26/4 steals vs. Hungary). Even though Finland has lost a couple of games they shouldn't have lost (Hungary & Sweden), they have looked sharp in their last two games, victories over Estonia and New Zealand.

(Estonian TV's clip of Estonia-Finland game in Estonian capital Tallinn, Koponen blue #11.)

French team has been murdering opponents in their preparing games, with 98-57 victory over Austria, 82-44 rout over Belgium and 84-66 win over Czech Republic. They also managed to beat Hungary 70-69 in dramatic fashion without Tony Parker, who injured his ankle in the game against Austria. Here's latest on Parker's injury:,ctnX7N1.articleMode_on.html

Team Italy has gone up and down in their preparing games; they've lost to Czech Republic, but beaten Canada and New Zealand in their latest friendlies. Italy's lastest "friendly" game against Canada was nothing but friendly, with Stefano Mancinelli ronartesting his way out of the game, as you can see here:

Here's the schedule of the additional qualifying round. Only the winner of the Group B will proceed to the final qualification games against the winner of Group A (Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium).

Aug 5th Italy - France (Cagliari, Italy)
Aug 8th France - Finland (Pau, France)
Aug 11th Finland - Italy (Vantaa, Finland)
Aug 14th France - Italy (Pau, France)
Aug 17th Finland - France (Vantaa, Finland)
Aug 20th Italy - Finland (Porto San Giorgio, Italy)


Petteri Koponen Watch: Freeeeeeeeeedooooom! Edition

Petteri Koponen is back with Finland's national team, probably exactly what he needed after a season of inconsistent minutes and playing out of position.

While the team lost two of three games at a EuroBasket warm-up tournament, our brave Finnagler got major minutes at his natural position. Here are some snippets of his play:
Petteri Koponen was the star of the show with 20 points to go with six rebounds and six assists.
Koponen nevertheless emerged with great credit as he poured in 26 points while Hanno Mottola had 19 and Shawn Huff 14.
Four players finished in double figures as Koponen and Kimmo Muurinen collected 13 points each, Mottola had 12 and Huff 11.
So there you go. Do you feel better? I feel better.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Something I approve of: Comparing 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' to the Trailblazers

I'm late getting to this, but Hardwood Paroxysm has a nice bit of weekend reading for you:
Remember when the Portland Trailblazers tried to pass off Darius Miles as a broken down, must retire piece of cap relief? They tried to get his incomprehensible contract off of their books by saying he needed to retire due to injury and it nearly worked. In fact, had it worked the Blazers would have been about $16 million under the cap figure this off-season and in position to add one more major piece to their young core before the extensions of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge start being discussed.
Instead of being able to offer Hedo Turkoglu money he couldn’t refuse, they were only able to offer him something Toronto could easily match and they ended up losing him to Canada. It was all because Michael Heisley finally decided to try to be a competent NBA owner by screwing over the Blazers.
So what does this have to do with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?
Well, there’s an episode in the second season of Sunny PA (just an easy way to shorten the title in conversation) in which Mac ends up having sexual relations with Dennis’ mom. In fact, the episode is titled, “Mac Bangs Dennis’ Mom.” In the episode, Mac has foreword advances from Dennis’ mom while visiting to pick up some things. He decides to not “bang” her because she’s the mom of his friend even though he really wants to. Their other friend Charlie (the one that thought “Private” read “Pirate”) is in a feud with Dennis because Dennis is blackmailing him by threatening to sleep with a girl Charlie is obsessed with (but who wants nothing to do with him). So in retaliation, Charlie convinces Mac to sleep with Dennis’ mom so he can set up a chain reaction of backlash and chaos.
Charlie shows Mac leaving the mom’s house to Dennis one morning and Dennis’ reaction is to kill Mac. But Charlie convinces him that it wouldn’t “un-bang his mom.” He convinces Dennis to attempt to sleep with Mac’s mom, despite that being arguably the most disgusting thing anyone could ever do. And that’s what brings us to the latest in salary cap banging.
The Blazers were furious after the Grizzlies intentionally signed Darius Miles and played him to hurt their future cap space. They wanted to sue and get thousands of other team’s dollars tied up in litigation. But none of that ever happened because they knew their own threats were baseless. So instead, they waited for their opportunity this summer to try and hurt another team’s salary cap and that’s exactly what they attempted with the Paul Millsap offer sheet.
Now put it all together...
And you can’t really blame them. Their mom/salary cap situation was completely banged/ruined because of petty and shrewd business moves. They weren’t wronged in any way. Every team in the NBA should have been prepared to do what Memphis did just like every team with cap space should have tried to drive up the asking price for Paul Millsap, knowing that Utah was almost certain to match. That’s just a good business practice and a way to keep the competition down. Portland tried to retaliate by banging/ruining someone else’s mom/salary cap situation.
Unfortunately, that didn’t un-bang Portland’s salary cap and they still haven’t been able to add a big piece to their roster.
I think this means other NBA GMs should keep their respective mothers locked in the house when Kevin Pritchard comes to town. Or did I misunderstand something?

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