Blogs From the 2006 FIBA World Championship

Nowitzki: Pressure on the U.S. | Nesterovic: Focused on the Goal | Raznatovic: Expert Predictions | Slokar: Excited About the U.S.

Posted by Manu Ginobili on August 30, 2006

The Argentina team fits together very well and that's a big key in all team sports. And we are talented, too. We've got a good bunch of players and we are unselfish. So, those are keys to every tournament we play. We are not characterized by being a young team. The youngest player we have is Carlos Delfino and he's 24 years old. So, now we get more from the experience than from young legs or anything else. But we have a nice mixture of youth and experience.

Now we're more respected than years ago. We were silver medalists in Indianapolis in 2002 and gold medalists in Athens in 2004, so everybody wants to beat us. But, that's normal. It happens everywhere. So, we have to be ready, knowing full well that we've got the potential to win the World Championship. It depends on us.

Spain is good. They are very good. They are a senior team like us with very good players and talents and they play together very well. But, I don't know, there is probably something about their matchups, how they guard us or it's hard for us to guard them. I don't know what is the key, but there's no doubt it's been very hard for us to beat them in the last couple years. So, we're going to try to change that in the next game.

The U.S. team is playing better than recent years, but you still won't notice until they play one of the other three best teams -- Spain, Argentina and Greece. They were in trouble in the first half with Germany, but they've been doing very well. Still, they have to face the best teams in the tournament.



Posted by Dirk Nowitzki on August 29, 2006

Obviously, the U.S. is the heavy favorites. They played awesome the other day. They've really got a great squad, great one-on-one players. They've got some shooters. They've got great athleticism. So, for us, it should be a fun game. The pressure's on them. We just hope to keep it a close game and put some pressure on them as the game goes on and keep it a close game and go from there. But it should be a great experience for all of the rest of us. Obviously, I know them all, but the other players on my team idolize some of them. It should be a great experience for all of us. Hopefully we can make it a great game and we'll go from there.

Just to play for your country and represent your country internationally is a great honor, I think, for all of us every year. And with most of the guys have been together now for six, seven, eight years. We come together every summer and play for Germany. It's been great. We've had some great success and I think we really pushed basketball -- in Germany, too -- with our success with the national team. Everybody's watching (in Germany) now. The game against the U.S. will be watched over in Germany by millions, so it's a great honor for us here to represent our country and it's been great the last couple years.

Over the last decade or whatever, basketball is not only a U.S. sport anymore. It's become a global sport. In South America, teams like Argentina and now we've got guys from China in the league, from Europe, everywhere. And you can really see every year the European championships, or the Worlds, or the Olympics are getting better. The competition is getting harder and we saw last year in the European championships, not one game was easy; every game you had to fight hard for and compete at the highest level just to make it through the group. So that shows you how basketball is getting bigger and better every year. It's been a pleasure seeing guys not only come over to the league but have an impact and be a franchise player as a foreigner in the league, it's been fun to watch.

Posted by Uroš Slokar on August 22, 2006

Hello, everybody!

Most of you don't know me, so I'll quickly introduce myself. I recently signed with the Toronto Raptors, where hopefully I'll stay for a long time. I really like the city and the people.

Currently I'm in Japan playing for Slovenia at the FIBA World championship 2006. Tonight we're playing against USA, for many, the strongest team at the World Championship. I'm really looking forward to the match, because I'd really like to see how much work is in front of me for the upcoming season.

Also, it's a historic game for Slovenia -- a nation with less than 2 million people, to play against the superstars of NBA. I hope we will play competitive basketball, especially counting on the four Slovenian players that play in NBA. Brezec, Udrih, Nachbar and, my teammate on the Raptors next year, Nesterovic.

They have the experience that the rest of our team lacks, so let's hope they will be helpful. The team's main goal is to qualify for the Top 16, but not through beating Team USA, but Puerto Rico and China, where our chances are much higher. I have a lot of confidence in my team that we will succeed. That's about it for now, I'm off to the game, and I'll try to keep you posted on how our "mission" on qualifing for Top 16 went. Let's hope it ends successfully.

Posted by Rasho Nestorovic on August 18, 2006

Hi, this is Rasho from Toronto Raptors. I'm currently at the World Basketball Championship in Japan, Saporo, playing for Slovenian national team. I've never been to Saporo before -- it's my first time here. However, I was in Japan in 1999 for the NBA Japan Games, when I played for Timberwolves. Japan has an interesting tradition, culture and what most impresses me is the respect they show when they talk or interact with each other.

Tomorrow is a big day. We'll play our first game vs Senegal. It is probably going to be the toughest game, because it's the first one. I think there is 50/50 chance that we could win this game. Senegal has an athletic team. They have players that are tall and play physical game. Their point guard, Babacar Cisse is exceptional.

We'll get up at 9 a.m. and have breakfast. Breakfast for us here is not so different from the one in the U.S. We'll have pastry, jelly, and cereal. Our team meeting will come after breakfast, and it would last for about 15 to 20 minutes. We'll watch game tapes and analyze opposing teams. The shoot around comes right after the meeting. After practice it is time for lunch -- sushi -- and then it's a nap time. We then play the game later that evening.

Everyday here for us is similar. There is no time for city tours and visits. I did not yet get a chance to walk around and explore the city of Saporo. We try to stay focused for the games and there is no time for anything else.

I think the USA has the best chance to win the Championship. However, there are other teams that could surprise. Brazil has a very good team this year, and then there is always Argentina, Spain and Greece.

Posted by Miodrag Raznatovic on August 18, 2006

Former Serbian player and current international super agent Miodrag Raznatovic provided us with his responses to the FIBA World Championship Experts Survey.

1. Who will win the gold?

Greece. They have an excellent, balanced team, and know each other well after playing together for many years.They have a lot of experience together, and the European Championship 2005 showed that is an advantage, even with their lack of NBA players. They have excellent precision and have a lot of confidence.

2. Who will win the silver?

Spain. Almost for the same reasons that I predict Greece .They have very good organization, with known roles for each player. The last two competitions they had no luck, but now is the time for them to have it.

3. Who will win the bronze?

USA. Very strong team, of course, the best individual players, but I think that in some of crucial games, like the semifinals, they will fall, because their basketball is different than basketball in World Championships.

4. Which team is the most fundamentally sound?

Greece.

5. Which is the most athletic team?

USA. No need for explanations.

6. Which team will be the most fun to watch?

Panama. They have very good players, who are competing for the first time together, playing with no pressure.

7. Which team is physically the toughest? Serbia and Montenegro has no real stars this year, but most of the players are very well known. They are great defenders, and I think that they know that defense is the only way for them to win.If they get lose their defense, they will be very bad in the championships.

8. Which team is mentally the toughest?

Greece, because they have three to four excellent guards, who are the best when it is money time -- Papaloukas, Spanoulis and Zizis.

9. Which team has the most spirited fans?

Lithuania, people in this country live only for basketball.

10. Which team faces the most pressure?

USA. For them, even the silver medal is a huge disappointment for the whole country, especially in the situation they are in, with poor results in the last couple of competitions.