So, what the hell are we going to do with ourselves? The season wouldn’t even have technically started yet, but it’s already exceedingly evident that the basketball universe is bored. Another nearly full calendar year of these internet tumbleweeds would be unbearable and, as such, we must find things to keep ourselves occupied. Here are some suggestions.
The FIBA Americas and the FIBA EuroBasket tournaments are both on the horizon. While they aren’t going to whet your appetite to the fullest, and not for long, if you can find a source for watching the games, it’s a decent basketball fix.
The FIBA Americas Championship kicks off on August 30 and runs through September 11. The tournament features 10 teams vying for two 2012 Summer Olympics qualifying spots. While the USA has dropped out of the tournament, and other teams have struggled to attract NBA players due to insurance issues, the tournament is still definitely worth a watch.
Along with a decent pool of NBA talent, readers of this site may be interested in cheering for the team from Canada. Of course, Canada has no realistic shot at qualifying for the Olympics, but even a 3-1 record against the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela, and Brazil could be looked at as a positive for the program. NBA players Joel Anthony, Cory Joseph and Andy Rautins will try to lead a team that also features national team stalwarts Carl English, Denham Brown and NCAA players Murphy Burnatowski (U of Maine) and Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga).
FIBA EuroBasket 2011 kicks off on August 31 and runs through September 18. The tournament features
16 24 European countries, with the top two teams being guaranteed a spot in the 2012 Summer Olympics. While most of the names will be unfamiliar, the usual Euro-suspects from the NBA will almost all be in uniform.
For our purposes of course, the focus will be on Lithuania and Jonas Valanciunas. After dominating in the Under-19s, we should all be very excited to see how Jonas stacks up against full grown big men in international competition. His group features Germany, Montenegro, and Belgium, which means he’ll face NBA-ish big-men like Nikola Pekovic, Nikola Vucevic, and DJ Mbenga, along with German studs Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki.
Update: Thank you to commenter cesco, who pointed out that I had pulled the ‘group’ draws instead of the ‘pool’ draws. Lithuania is matched up with Portugal, Great Britain, Spain, Turkey, and Poland. My points remain valid, but the specific big men Jonas will test himself again are different (of primary note is that instead of Kaman and Dirk, it will be the Gasols, Serge Ibaka, and Omer Asik).
You can sometimes find decent streams of the games, but if not, they are almost always up on YouTube for full viewing within 24 hours.
Las Vegas League and the NBLC
Z covered the Las Vegas League a bit, but to reiterate, it is basically a short-form tournament being put on by Impact Basketball that is expected to draw in small handfuls of NBA talent over two weeks. If this thing gets some marketing and some internet streaming going, it could be the basketball highlight of the early fall. Here’s hoping Impact can attract as many NBA players for their tournament as they do for their training.
The National Basketball League of Canada is new, small, without heavy promotion, and relatively devoid of notable talent. While I like and respect the idea and may even try to catch a game in
Hamilton Oshawa, this isn’t going to give you much of a fix as an NBA fanatic.
Not sure if my fellow Canadians have heard, but we’re just six weeks away from the start of the NHL season! Annnnd commence hating on me for suggesting it….now. In all seriousness, the NBA lockout probably won’t turn any Canadians towards hockey, since if you’re not a hockey fan in Canada yet, you probably never will be. However, it’s worth noting for the NBA that the NHL truly stands to gain from a prolonged lockout by being the only source of weekday sports available en masse.