LAS VEGAS, August 26, 2007 — With the first round of the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship drawing to a close today, caught up with the Detroit Pistons' Tony Ronzone, who serves as Director of International Player Personnel for the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team, to get a look at some of the internatonal players who have turned in good showings over the first five days in Las Vegas.

Has the play of Uruguay’s Esteban Batista surprised you at all?

Ronzone: “He’s a star player for Uruguay, so a lot of responsibility lies on him to do a lot of things on the floor. With the Atlanta Hawks, he didn’t get a lot of time; He’s more of a role guy – the fourth or fifth big for them. So, this is an opportunity for him to make a lot plays, get a lot of shots and show people what he can do. For him – and a lot of these guys – this is a great tournament, it’s great for them to show things people haven’t seen.”

NBA TV’s Rick Kamla said Saturday that he has to be in the running for tournament MVP honors. Do you think he has a shot?

Ronzone: “He’s been very valuable and I think he’s in the MVP voting, but I wouldn’t (think he’ll win). Rick’s getting a little too excited. Rick’s all about the fantasy. He sees this guy’s numbers. Rick needs to get a fantasy league for the FIBA Americas going and then he’d be in great shape.”

Has anybody here stood out in your mind?

Ronzone:Romel Beck for Mexico – he played at UNLV – has played very well. He kind of reminds me of Kevin Martin, that’s what I (wrote) down about him.

“The kid, Matias Sandes, from Argentina is an interesting player. He plays for Tau Ceramica in Spain and is a guy I’ve been watching for about four or five years. He’s played very well.

“I’ll tell you, (J.P.) Batista, who played at Gonzaga, has played really well in this tournament. He’s really solid. He’s really improved his game. He’s getting a lot better. He’s kind of an interesting guy that teams will probably look at down the road as a fourth or fifth big – a guy who can come in and make shots. He’s got soft hands. He’s been playing pretty well. It’ll be interesting how he plays against us today.

Alex Garcia, who was with the Spurs, I think he can be on an NBA roster right now. I like the kid. He had a brief stint with New Orleans and the Spurs. He was the MVP of the Brazilian league this year. He played multiple positions – one, two and three. Last year, when the USA played Brazil, we had a close game with them and Garcia had 14 points and played very well against us. He’s a guy that I, personally, really like. He can definitely play in our league because he’s tough mentally, kind of like a Detroit Piston guy. You know, tough mentally, plays hard, plays multiple positions, he drives on you, he can shoot a little bit. His hand’s been hurt. He got hurt in the Pan-Am Games over there.

Olu Famutimi is a D-League guy who’s very talented and plays very hard. He put on a nice showing against us and kind of raised some eyebrows here. Some people are kind of excited about him. He’s a guy you’ve got to keep an eye on. What he did yesterday, that I’ve never seen before, is he was making three-point shots pretty consistently. Now, he was hyped for the game and he had a little feel going. He’s more of a slasher and he’s kind of an offensive rebounding guy; If you don’t box him out he’ll jump over guys and dunk on them. I like him a lot.

“Puerto Rico is funky right now. (Ricardo) Sanchez has gotten better. He’s putting the ball on the floor a little better now. He still doesn’t like a lot of contact, but he’s made shots and he’s grown. He’s playing a little better.”

So this tournament is a great opportunity for some of these guys to get noticed?

Ronzone: “Like O Boy (Famutimi), playing against us, he helped himself. It really helped him to play us. You don’t get a chance to see a lot of these guys play, but they go to their national team where they are the star and it helps them in their careers. Their confidence gets back. Esteban played well in the Dominican Republic two years ago and that’s how he got signed by the Atlanta Hawks.

How much will the eight games in nine days take a toll on the players here?

Ronzone: “Especially for teams that know they’re out of it. You might see injuries come up. And you’ll see what guys are in really good shape. My man (Horacio) Llamas over there, he’s struggling to get up and down. If he’s got energy though … The amazing thing is he made a shot at the buzzer today. He sprinted from (the other end) to the bench; that’s the fastest sprint he’s done all tournament. But I love the kid, he’s exciting.”