Saturday, July 19, 2008

Home cooking make Greeks tough to beat

Greece is in Olympics after beating Puerto Rico tonight, 88-63. Should be a good game Sunday when Germany takes on PR. Winner goes to Beijing next month. From what I've seen, Germany has better team chemistry.

Greece is really playing on another level. The enthusiasm of its home crowd here in Athens is simply too much for these other teams.

Greece is well coached by Panagiotis Giannakis. Their team plays with a great pace and a winning tempo. They push it when its there and run a disciplined half-court offense. Unselfish team.

Greece's left-handed point guard -- Dimitris Diamantidis -- I love his game. He can play in the NBA. He's better than some NBA starters and better than most back-up point guards. He can defend and, tonight, he posted up Carlos Arroyo and scored on block.

He could post in a NBA game for short stretches as a "bait" man as he wants to draw the double team and pass out of it. He's so unselfish, but did not knock down enough shots with range.

Greece really goes to Sofoklis Schortisiantis with post ups. He's a real crowd favorite.

For Puerto Rico, NBAer Carlos Arroyo can really handle the ball.

His teammate, Elias Ayuso, has the worst shot selection imanginable.

Daniel Santiago and PJ Ramos, both backups in the NBA, are not as good as the Greek big men. In fact, at one point, 6-10 Kostas Tsartsaris put it on the floor and drove right by them to the basket.

Juan Jose Barea of the Dallas Mavs came off bench for Puerto Rico. He's playing behind Carlos Arroyo.

In my opinion, based on what I've seen here in Athens, Team USA will have by far more talent and better coaching with Coach K and his staff. There will be some strong teams at the Games, of course, but just from a week of closely observing these clubs, I think Team USA is the team to beat.

Speaking of Team USA, Todd Quinter (PHX) and Billy Branch (OKC), NBA personnel execs who are scouting for the Americans, were at the game tonight. Also, T.J. Zanin of the 76ers and Team China was in the crowd.

As a side note, my son Michael wore a blue #12 Greek Hellas jersey with his name on the back and was pumped he was on national TV in Greece. Fun night for all of us.