Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dirk and J.J. closer to Olympic berth

Dirk Nowitzki and J.J. Barea are a step closer to realizing their Olympic dreams, as Germany and Puerto Rico both won yesterday and reached the quarters of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The top three teams are headed to China for the upcoming Summer Games.

Here are the recaps from FIBA's website...

ATHENS -- Chris Kaman enjoyed a winning debut as Germany beat Cape Verde 104-68 to clinch a place in the quarter-finals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Kaman, the American center of the Los Angeles Clippers who only got his German passport at the beginning of this month, started and had 10 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes.

“This is new for me,” Kaman said to FIBA.Com immediately after the game. “I had a little nerves going into it and I’m glad to get it out of the way. The rust was out there.

“I was missing some easy looks. I was fumbling the ball. The ball was different. When the ball gets wet in the NBA, it sticks to your hands better. Here, it gets more slippery.”

Germany now have two bona fide stars in Dirk Nowitzki and Kaman, though the biggest strength of the team is probably the familiarity that most of the players have with each other, and Dirk Bauermann’s system.

Nowitzki had a game-high 16 to lead a balanced German attack in their first game in Athens.

And Puerto Rico ...

ATHENS -- Puerto Rico held off Cameroon 81-72 to reach the quarter-finals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The Puerto Ricans survived a dazzling display by Harding Nana, who scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds but saw his side crash out of the tournament after a second successive defeat.

The team from the FIBA Americas led by as many as 21 points but Cameroon, just as they had on opening day against Croatia, battled back to threaten a major upset in the fourth quarter only to fall just short.

Parfait Bitee, the nephew of Cameroon coach Lazare Adingono, made consecutive baskets – the second a three-pointer – to trim Puerto Rico’s lead to 65-59 with 6:45 left.

Nana followed with a strong move in the paint to make it 65-61. Puerto Rico’s Jose Barea replied with a three-pointer, but Cameroon refused to go away.

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