Sunday, September 16, 2007


Plenty of Raptor-related news from the final day of the EuroBasket in Madrid.

José Calderón and Jorge Garbajosa's goal of concurrent world and European titles was dashed and dashed hard. Russia pulled a 60-59 shocker in the final, winning on a last-second jumper by J.R. Holden, a Philly-born naturalized Russian.

The upshot from a Raptors fan's POV is that Calderón was solid throughout (he had a game-high 15 points today) and Garbo (eight, with six rebounds) had some strong games. Pau Gasol had a nightmarish endgame for Spain — he missed five free throws inside of the five-minute mark and lost the ball in the last minute to set up Russia's winning shot. One concern is that the guys who went over — José, Jorge, Rasho Nesterovic with Slovenia and Andrea Bargnani with Italy, might not even make it to North America before the Raptors go over for some pre-season games later this month, as Doug Smith pointed in the Toronto Star last week.

On a more positive note, Nesterovic contributed 19 points and eight boards in Slovenia's 88-74 win over France which decided the last spot out of Europe for the Olympic qualifier.

So it's Slovenia, Dirk Nowitzki and Germany, 2006 worlds runner-up Greece and Croatia that will be vying with Canada and others in the last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament. It would be awesome if this country could host the games in Toronto, although that's probably just wishful thinking.

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