Nowitzki, Gasol highlight Group B
Jorge Garbajosa, a recent Raptors pickup, has been one of the best post players in Europe over the last five years. One other thought: Spain has defeated Argentina six straight times.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of help for Mavs Man. Ademola Okulaja and Patrick Femerling, who played at North Carolina and Washington, respectively, are solid role players. Pascal Roller is a heady point guard but not blessed with great talent. Nevertheless, this team is always well-prepared by coach Dirk Bauermann and with a talent like Nowitzki, it is dangerous.
Ed Cota starred on three Final Four teams at North Carolina and has played seemingly everywhere in Europe. Ruben Douglas led the nation in scoring at New Mexico in 2003 and currently stars in Spain while Michael Hicks finished second in the NCAA scoring race in 2000. In addition, 6-foot-9 center Ruben Garces helped Providence to an Elite Eight appearance in 1997 and Jaime Lloreda averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds as a senior at LSU in 2003.
It is hoped that new coach Guillermo Vecchio, a veteran of the Argentina national team, can provide some stability. By the way, the coach who last summer helped Panama qualify for the World Championship at the FIBA Americas tournament: Nolan Richardson.
Kei Igarashi does not possess Tabuse's experience but does have an excellent opportunity to step out from Tabuse's shadow and play well. Advancing in the tournament would be cause for joy among Japanese basketball fans.
Craig Bradshaw, a 6-10 center who currently stars at Winthrop University, will be an NBA prospect next season. Kirk Penny, the former Wisconsin standout, and Phil Jones, also are dangerous shooters. This is a fun team to watch and certainly can advance to the next round, but a top-eight finish is probably a great accomplishment this year.
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