It's a big opening day of group play at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey, with Carlos Delfino's Argentina and Ersan Ilyasova's Turkey both kicking things off this afternoon. We'll make this our double-barrel game thread for the day, starting with Turkey at 1 pm CT.
Turkey vs. Cote d'Ivoire, 1 pm CT, ESPN3
The hosts get things started at 1 pm CT against Cote d'Ivoire, a few hours after Greece opened Group C play with an 89-81 win over Yi Jianlian (26 pts/14 rebs) and China. Ersan Ilyasova took part in training yesterday after missing two games last weekend with a broken nose suffered against Lebanon. I haven't seen official confirmation that Ilyasova will be a go today, but let's hope it's nothing that a mask can't compensate for. Memo Okur is missing, but he'll be joined by Hedo Turkoglu and 24-year-old Omer Asik, the 36th overall pick in 2008 who signed this summer with the Bulls. Asik's Turkish league stats don't jump off the page, but I was particularly impressed by his combination of size (6'11"), skill and mobility last summer at the EuroBasket.
Getting an easy win against the Ivorians would be a big boost for Turkey, whose group schedule includes five games in six days against the likes of Russia (Sunday), Greece (Tuesday), Puerto Rico (Wednesday), and China (Thursday). Four of the six teams advance out of the group stage, with the Ivorians looking like the clear doormats at this point.
Argentina vs. Germany, 1:30 pm CT, ESPN3
As you probably know by now, the perennial South American favorites are without Manu Ginobili, but this past week also brought news that Andres Nocioni will miss the tournament due to an ankle injury. Palomba outlined the worries around losing Nocioni in the comments yesterday:
With him out, Argentina’s possibilities for winning a medal have dramatically decreased, not only because of his absence–Argentina played very well without him during preparatory games--but because of the low quality, age or inexperience of back up players.
Still, our guy Carlitos has been excellent in the lead-up to the tourney and will still have Luis Scola inside to lead on. Argentina continues its Group A schedule on Sunday against Australia (76-75 winners over Jordan this morning) and after that they've got Angola (Monday), Jordan (Wednesday) and Serbia (Thursday). Unfortunately, Serbia should have Nenad Krstic back by the time Argentina faces them in the final game of group play. FIBA suspended Krstic for three games after his pathetic chair-throwing display against Greece last week. Palomba's starting five:
PG. Pablo Prigioni. Real Madrid, Spain
SG. Carlos Delfino. Future NBA East best team
SF. Hernán Jasen. Estudiantes, Spain
PF. Luis Scola. Houston Rockets
C . Fabricio Oberto. Free Agent.
Germany is without Dirk Nowitzki and pseudo-German Chris Kaman, but they've got a couple of interesting young big men in Tibor Pleiss and Robin Benzing. The Nets selected Pleiss with the first pick of the second round in June while Benzing withdrew from the draft at the last moment.