We’ve followed the Spanish men’s play in the EuroBasket tournament and they, along with France and Turkey, are at the top of the heap. Each squad has faced a few rough moments but they’ve been quite formidable when everything’s clicking. Let’s not forget Spain gave the Redeem Team a close fight for 2008 gold until the U.S. pulled away in the fourth. Looking ahead, who are your top five favorites for gold at the 2012 Olympics? … Spain’s the most likely candidate to win EuroBasket as well as a top contender for gold next summer going by their track record. Adding Serge Ibaka to come off the bench doesn’t hurt. Interior presence on both ends is a rare commodity and España’s wealth in those respects has paid major dividends. The country’s got a formidable front court with the Gasol clan at the helm plus Juan Carlos Navarro’s streaky shooting works wonders for them when he’s on. Nevertheless Spain, outside of Navarro, doesn’t have serious threats from the perimeter. Rudy Fernadez’s J, compared to Juan Carlos’s, isn’t nearly as reliable. Moreover, Calderon and Rubio oftentimes don’t look to shoot. If they have a weakness, that’s it. They lost to Turkey by eight yesterday (after Turkey scored the game’s final 16 points), but Pau Gasol didn’t play (a minor ankle sprain) so they could rest him for the next round … Turkey’s shooting prowess is considerably more balanced. Ersan Ilyasova, Hedo Turkoglu and Emir Preldzic can hit from beyond the arch. Enes Kanter’s game has been up and down but he’s shown he can get buckets while Omer Asik does the dirty work inside. Inconsistency is a thorn in their side. They’ve already dealt with tough losses in the tournament’s most competitive group. However, with their recent win against Spain, they showed they can play against squads who outmatch them on paper … France meanwhile, has emerged undefeated thus far in the tourney. Tony Parker’s been working in overdrive by dropping monster scoring outings while Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw play their support roles quite well. Additionally, Joakim Noah naturally embraced his role as the garbage man by grabbing boards and making hustle plays as if he was in mid-season form. But they need a reality check. Serbia’s been the only country to give them trouble thus far. They’ll get no respite as they face Turkey in their next game. The upcoming matchup, especially after edging out Serbia in OT, ought to be a good test for Les Bleus since they’ve been rolling along until now … We may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves as we look ahead towards London since the EuroBasket is not even over. At any rate, what with the lockout already likely cutting into the season, USA Basketball may face an even tougher road than they faced in the 2008 Olympics and 2010 FIBA World Championships. The extra time off could help but, at the same time, some of the U.S.’s biggest opponents are working out their kinks across the pond. It’ll be interesting to see if the States can repeat with their rivals’ steady improvement. In the meantime we’ll just wait for the majority of the EuroBasket action to return by Wednesday … Great Britain was eliminated despite beating Poland 88-81, but Luol Deng went crazy, dropping 28, 14 and six … Happy birthday to John Wall, who turned all of 21 years old today. How good is he going to be in three or four years? … We would speak on the rumors about Miami’s interest in signing Nene, but there’s just no way that happens unless he wants to take a substantial pay cut. He’s looking for a contract around $12 million a year (or more). Miami will probably be able to offer him about half of that … And a hat tip to Dime commenter Mtx on this one. If you want to throw up whatever it is you’ve eaten in the last few hours, skip ahead on this video to the final 13 seconds. Edgar Sosa had one of the nastiest injuries you will ever see in the Americas Olympic qualifier. Horrific looking…like Halloween-type stuff. They do show the injury in real time early in the video but you can’t really see it. Then in the final few moments of the video, the camera shows Sosa on the ground and it’s terrifying. We’re praying it looked worse than it really is … We’re out like Miami’s shot at Nene.
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