NEW ZEALAND HOSTS FIBA U19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Top basketball action is coming to New Zealand with 16 nations featuring some of the best talents the sport has ever seen for the FIBA U19 World Championship from July 2-12, 2009. Only players born in 1990 or after are eligible.
The Auckland region will host a tournament regarded as the third biggest in the sport. Only the FIBA men’s and women’s World Championships are larger. This tournament is globally recognized as the breeding ground for future global basketball stars with many of today’s well known basketballers participating in past tournaments. It will feature 62 matches played at the North Shore Events Centre, Takapuna and the ASB Stadium, Kohimarama. The quarterfinals, semi finals and finals will all be held at the North Shore Events Centre.
The draw for the event took place on 2nd March in presence of many team delegations at Auckland’s SkyCity Hotel.
Angola -Greece - Lithuania - Puerto Rico.
France - Egypt - Iran - USA.
Australia Canada - Spain - Syria.
Argentina - Croatia - Kazakhstan - New Zealand.
For a precise schedule of the event and further information please go to fiba.com.
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years from 1979 - 2007. FIBA recently changed its calendar and will now hold age-based world championships every other year.
CHINA APPOINT SUN FENGWU AS NEW WOMEN’S COACH
China have handed the reins of the women’s national team to Sun Fengwu, a former captain of the men’s side who competed in three Olympics and three FIBA World Championships.
An assistant under ex-women’s boss Tom Maher, Sun is determined to build on the country’s impressive showing in Beijing where they reached the Semi-Finals before falling to Australia.
“I am confident I can take the team to the next level over the next few years,” Sun said.
The long-term aim for Sun is to have the Chinese in peak form when the Olympics are staged in London in 2012.
He is hoping that the country’s two top players last summer, Chen Nan and Miao Lijie, will be more influential after gaining experience in the WNBA where the two are expected to play next season after being given clearance by China’s Basketball Administrative Center.
Chen, the big center, and shooting guard/small forward Miao won’t be available when the Chinese compete at the FIBA Asian Championship in Chinese Taipei from June 21-28.
China will warm up for that event with games against Lithuania, Australia, Canada and the United States. Sun says his stars’ absences should not hurt the team’s chances of winning in Chinese Taipei.
"We will use other players," he said. "We're not really worried as we still have an advantage in Asia, even without them. Right now we have our eyes trained on 2012 because we hope both women will benefit from their time with the WNBA so as to be better positioned to do some damage in London."
PENNEY BECOMES FIRST KIWI TO CAPTURE MVP HONOR IN AUSTRALIAN NBL
New Zealand international Kirk Penney this week claimed the Andrew Gaze Trophy after being named Most Valuable Player of the Australian National Basketball League. The sweet-shooting New Zealand Breakers guard garnered 92 votes to edge Sydney Spirit big man Matthew Knight (90).
He is the first New Zealander to be voted MVP.
Penney, 28, said it was a bittersweet moment when he was told of the award because his Breakers were swept 2-0 in the ANBL play-offs by Melbourne. “We, the players and coaches, definitely had a bit of a sour taste in how we lost to the Tigers," Penney said. "We felt like we should have played better and had a chance of winning the series. I guess it is a little [bittersweet] because you want to win a championship, and they’re the memories that never leave you. But, as a personal accolade, it’s just a huge honour.”
Penney averaged 24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 28 regular season games for the Breakers.
He made 45.6% of his shots from the floor, 37.3% from three-point territory and 80.4% at the free-throw line.
Voting for the MVP award is conducted following each regular season game by the coaching staffs of each team, with the player amassing the most votes at the end of the season being declared the winner.
- Kirk Penney (Breakers) 92
- Matthew Knight (Spirit) 90
- Ebi Ere (Tigers) 89
- Mark Worthington (Dragons) 88
- Shawn Redhage (Wildcats) 86
FLAMENGO CAPTURE LIGA SUDAMERICANA TITLE
Marcelinho turned in one of the best performances of his career on 12th March to lead Flamengo (BRA) to a thrilling victory over Quimsa (ARG) in the Liga Sudamericana title game.
The Brazil international poured in 41 points - 30 in the first half alone - and the Rio de Janeiro outfit held on for a 98-96 triumph. Marcelinho was voted MVP of the Liga Sudamericana.
Flamengo, beaten in last year's Finals by Regatas de Corrientes, claimed the title for the first time in club history and snapped a three-year winning streak for Argentina’s Liga Nacional.
Before this year's edition, Argentina clubs had captured nine out the 13 titles in the Liga Sudamericana, which first tipped off in 1996.
Vasco de Gama (1999, 2000) and Uberlandia (2005) were the only previous winners from Brazil.
The success clinches a spot in next season's FIBA Americas League for Flamengo. Cucuta-Norte defeated Regatas 92-86 to clinch third.
Marcelinho, who is expected to represent Brazil this summer at the FIBA Americas Championship -a qualifying tournament for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey- was magnificent.
In the first half alone, he made eight of 10 shots from behind the arc and drilled all six of his free-throws as Flamengo led 49-48.
MONCHO MONSALVE OPTIMISTIC AFTER TRIP TO THE USA
Moncho Monsalve, head coach of the Brazilian National Team, spent a few days in the USA where he attended some NBA games and practices. The Spanish-born coach traveled to the USA in order to speak to the three Brazilians playing in the NBA: Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns), Nene Hilario (Denver Nuggets) and Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers).
Monsalve felt himself very welcomed by all teams and players. According to the coach born in Spain (in Medina del Campo, Valladolid), Barbosa, Nene and Varejao all expressed their strong commitment to joining the Brazilian National Team at the FIBA Americas Championship, the qualifier for the 2010 FIBA World Championship that will take place in August in Mexico. “I had a wonderful conversation with all three players and I am sure that we can count on them in the National Team”, stated Moncho.
In addition, Monsalve is confident that Brazil will be in the next FIBA Word Championship: “Brazil has extraordinary players evolving in the NBA, Europe, the NCAA and the Brazilian National League (NBB). We can build a great team, capable of facing any opponent at the FIBA Americas Championship.”
Before traveling to the USA, the Brazilian National Team coach spoke to center Ti- ago Splitter in Madrid, where his team, TAU Ceramica, won the Spanish Copa del Rey.
FORMER BASKETBALL PLAYERS WIN IOC 2009 WOMEN AND SPORT AWARDS
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) celebrated on 5th March the International Women’s Day and the 2009 Women and Sport Awards, where five exceptional personalities in the world of sport received accolades. The 2009 winners include two former basketball players: Danira Nakic Bilic (Croatia) and Lydia Nsekera (Burundi).
The official ceremony was held at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, where five continental trophies were presented to women who have made tremendous contributions to strengthening the participation of women and girls in sport on an international level.
The 2009 Women and Sport Awards, selected by the IOC Women and Sport Commission, went to:
- Trophy for Africa: Lydia Nsekera (Burundi).
- Trophy for the Americas: Maria Caridad Colon Ruenes (Cuba).
- Trophy for Asia: Arvin Dashjamts (Mongolia).
- Trophy for Europe: Danira Nakic Bilic (Croatia).
- Trophy for Oceania: Auvita Rapilla (Papua New Guinea).
Danira Nakic Bilic, born in 1969 in Sibenik (Croatia), won a silver basketball medal with Yugoslavia at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and is a member of the NOC’s Women in Sport Commission. She started her very successful athletic career in 1987 in her native Sibenik and was a professional basketball player up to 1997. I addition to the Olympic silver medal (Seoul 1988), she won one FIBA World Championship silver medal (Malaysia 1990) and two bronze medals at European championships. She was three times named Europe's Best Women's Basketball Player, and was in 1991 selected as Best Croatian Women's Athlete.
Whilst sport in Burundi has been male dominated, Lydia Nsekera, born in 1967 in Bujumbura, a former basketball player and high jumper, became the first female president of a national football federation in Africa and the second woman in the world to achieve this status. She also pioneered with the creation of women’s sports clubs in her country, including the Olympic Men’s Basketball Club in 1985.
IVKOVIC: "PRIMARY AIM IS TO QUALIFY FOR 2010 FIBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP"
Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic knows there will be a very thin line between success and failure later this year when the Blues travel to Poland and attempt to qualify for the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
The Serbians, who finished ahead of Bulgaria, Italy, Finland and Hungary in their EuroBasket 2009 qualifying group, will take on world champions Spain, Slovenia and Great Britain in group play in Warsaw when the Final Round is staged in September.
Ivkovic, who was on hand to watch many of his national team players compete in the Radivoj Korac Cup final over the weekend in Nis, a game won by Partizan 80-65, said: "I have to repeat the words of our great basketball player, now the presidential candidate for the Serbian Olympic Committee, Vlade Divac, that our main goal was and still is to qualify for the World Championship in Turkey. That's quite of a task, since our team has to be fully prepared for the very first game in Poland.”
Once the club season finishes and the players have had a small break, Ivkovic will gather the squad to begin the build-up to Poland.
“Our best chance is to be prepared as much it is possible,” Ivkovic said. “We've already planned every single detail up to our trip to Warsaw on September 5. The only unknown is whether or not we'll participate at Borislav Stankovic Cup in China, which will be held during the first weekend of August. The final decision on that issue will be made after we create our preliminary list of candidates for the national team of Serbia.”
FRANCE APPOINT VINCENT COLLET AS NATIONAL TEAM COACH
France have appointed ASVEL Basket boss Vincent Collet as their new national team coach. Collet, 45, an assistant on the coaching staff in 2002-03, takes the reins ahead of this summer's Additional Qualifying Round for EuroBasket 2009 with France set to take on Italy and Finland in Group B.
Should Les Bleus win that pool, they will take on the winner of Group A (Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Portugal) for the right to advance to the Final Round in Poland.
Collet has long been recognized as one of the top coaches in his country's top flight. While at Le Mans from the 2000-2008, he was voted French Coach of the Year three times (2001, '04 and '06). Collet will take over a French team that has underachieved in recent years in the eyes of many.
At EuroBasket 2005 in Belgrade under Claude Bergeaud, the team stunned hosts Serbia & Montenegro and made it to the Semi-Finals where they blew a huge lead against Greece in the final minute. France ultimately defeated Spain to capture the bronze medal.
At the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan under Bergeaud, France overcame the loss of star point guard Tony Parker shortly before the start of the tournament and managed to finish fifth. At EuroBasket 2007 in Spain, France were just seconds away from advancing to the Semi-Finals but missed crucial free throws against Russia and lost.
They eventually came in eighth place, which prevented the team from taking part in the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Athens and also forced them to go into qualifying for EuroBasket 2009.
Last summer under Michel Gomez, France came in second place in their Division A group behind Turkey and missed out on earning a direct ticket to the Final Round in Poland.
With Parker and other talented players, however, France will be the favorites to win the Additional Qualifying Round.
NDONG: "IT WOULD BE SAD FOR MY CAREER IF WE DIDN’T WIN FIBA AFRICA CHAMPIONSHIP"
There is almost always a big smile draped across the face of Senegal’s Boniface Ndong. The 31-year-old is, in general, a happy person.
Then there is the success that he continues to enjoy as a 2.12m center with Unicaja Malaga. Ndong is averaging almost nine points and five rebounds per game in the ACB.
The Most Valuable Player of the 2005 FIBA Africa Championship, Ndong has played at the highest level in the game, in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers and in the Euroleague with Malaga.
He could end up playing for Senegal again, but organizational issues continue to dog the federation and that may prevent them from getting their big man on board for this summer when the country goes for gold at the AfroBasket in Libya. On the question if he could play for Senegal again, or if his national team career is over, he answered: “No, it’s not over. I’ve been speaking to people and spoke to the coach recently and the general manager when we played against Olympiacos here and we still talked about coming back because I want to give it a last shot, winning the African Championship. It would be sad for my career if we didn’t win it. So I hope that first of all, our federation and our government will first do something to get us a coach. I’ve been talking a lot to other players and we’re all ready to come but we always have the same problem, organizational problem. But if these things are met, I’ll be there.”
There is no doubt that Ndong is very determined to represent his country: “It was an honour me playing for my team in 2005, for my country, and to be voted MVP was very special. It was something that hadn’t happened to a Senegalese player since 1997. It was good. We did great, and qualified for the (2006 FIBA) World Championship.
If all goes according to plan Senegal and Ndong could be a force at the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship in Libya and we could see Ndong at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
FERRY RECOGNIZES OLYMPIC IMPACT ON NBA
Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry believes last summer’s Olympic title-winning experience for the United States men has had a profound impact on their careers.
Ferry, who knows what it’s like to play for Team USA boss Mike Krzyzewski -his former coach at Duke University- has LeBron James on his Cavs roster. "It was like a corporate business retreat,” Ferry said of the last three summers when the USA players joined together to play international basketball. "These players all got to talk the game, share ideas and see how each other was working. That's had a far greater effect on each player than I ever imagined."
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo recently spoke to FIBA about how the Olympic experience was beneficial to the NBA and he hasn’t changed that opinion.
Colangelo, who met with the Team USA players that were at the All-Star Weekend to gauge their interest in playing at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympics, said: “They got a big win, and they brought that culture back to their teams.” Ferry agrees.
"That whole thing was really good for basketball, and really good for the NBA,” he said in a column written by cnnsi.com columnist Ian Thomsen.
"We reap the rewards here in Cleveland because LeBron's come back and continues to grow from the experience. You can go through a lot of the teams and see it was a great thing for basketball.” The structure put in place by Colangelo and the players’ willingness to embrace it was crucial.
“Because it was a program,“ Ferry said. “It wasn't just a team. They were together and they got to know each other, and the peer pressure within at some level had to be really, really strong. It wasn't just who won or how many points I scored. It was the process. They were together the last couple of years and they all shared; this is what I do to get better, this is how hard I work. They shared it without saying it, just by doing it. And at some level it pushed them, and they had to have grown from that.“
BANGKOK WELCOMES U19 FOR WOMEN
In cooperation with the Basketball Association of Thailand, FIBA hosted on 26th March at the Radisson Hotel in Bangkok the draw for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.
The 8th FIBA U19 World Championship for Women will be played from 23rd July to 2nd August 2009 in Bangkok with 16 teams comprised of players born in 1990 or after.
Argentina - Australia - France - Korea
Brazil - Czech Republic - Lithuania - Thailand
Canada - Japan - Russia - Tunisia
P.R. of China - Mali - Spain - USA
For a precise schedule of the event and further information please go to fiba.com.