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Delfino & Ilyasova in action, Luc in Africa, schedule teaser, East predictions

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Ball in Europe: Serbia tops Turkey
Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench to score 12 along with six boards in Turkey's 83-70 home loss to Serbia. But fear not--the FIBA World Championship hosts still have a couple weeks before the games count. Turkey opens the WC preliminary round against Cote d'Ivoire on August 28, followed by Russia 24 hours later.

El Litoral: Puerto Rico spoils Carlitos' homecoming
Meanwhile, Palomba's still doing a much better job of covering Carlos Delfino than I am. Playing in his hometown of Santa Fe, Carlitos scored a game-high 22 points but Puerto Rico surprised Argentina 96-89 in another World Championships warmup. Argentina plays three games in three days to start the World Championship, facing off against Germany on August 28, the Bogut-less Australians on the 29th, and Angola on August 30. 

JS: Mbah a Moute hooping in Senegal
Luc Mbah a Moute was the first African player to graduate from Basketball Without Borders to the NBA, and he's once again giving back as part of an NBA contingent in Senegal this week. Kelvin Sampson is also taking part.

"Luc was one of these kids, and when he was talking to them you could see the kids' eyes light up," Sampson said. "He was speaking in French and he said, 'I was one of you. Dare to dream.' "

FanShots: Bucks home opener vs. Bobcats on October 30?
The NBA schedule officially comes out on Tuesday, but the eagle-eyed Speedingtime found a Ticketmaster page which appeared to give away the Bucks schedule a day early. Assuming it's right (and it would seem like a lot of work just to mislead people), the Bucks will open up their home slate against the Bobs October 30th.  We'll know for sure quite soon.

ESPN: Forecasting the East
ESPN polled 93 of their hoops contributors and the results are neither insulting nor hype-tastic from a Milwaukee perspective. And after all that, they've got the Bucks standing pat: 6th in the East with 46 wins.

The East seems to have six sure playoff teams, and for the first time in years, Milwaukee is a member of that echelon. Our panel remains in a prove-it-to-me posture regarding whether the Bucks can crack the East's upper crust, but if Brandon Jennings progresses and Andrew Bogut's arm is OK, the pieces are in place.

On the surface it might seem silly to predict the same number of wins from a team that clearly upgraded its talent base, but I can understand the sentiment. Aside from Bogut's late-season injury, a lot went right for the Bucks last year--feels funny to say it, doesn't it?  Great chemistry, young players coming into their own, and particularly good health at the point were all things to be thankful for. So while fifty wins is a realistic target in 10/11, there's no way I'm taking it for granted. Besides, we had too much fun as underdogs, didn't we?

HoopsWorld: Central Predictions
Joel Brigham sees the Bulls coming out Central kings, but don't accuse him of sleeping on the Bucks.

Somehow, this team turned itself into one of the most stacked rosters in the conference, yet hardly anybody is talking about them. They might not have the star power of Chicago, but overall this very well could be a more talented roster from player one through player twelve. Regardless of who wins the division, Milwaukee is likely to be the sleeper very few people talk about heading into the year. There will be a lot of attention on Chicago and Miami and Orlando, but this Bucks team could be the group that rounds out the top four for the 2011 postseason.

I'll ignore the fact that Redd is mentioned as though he might be part of the rotation... 

Bucksketball: Can small market teams compete
Jeremy asks a question that's kinda-sorta relevant to all of us. Bucks offseason gets a C+
It won't take long to figure out who Britt Robson's picking to win the Central. While he gave the Bulls an A, the Bucks were actually ranked second with a C+. So yeah, Britt's not a big fan of what's going down in Cleveland, Indy and Detroit. Not too surprisingly, his Bucks skepticism centers mostly on the additions of Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden:

On paper, Gooden's five-year, $32 million deal looks decent: He has averaged 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in 28 minutes during his eight-year career. And with Bogut recovering from his horrific elbow and wrist injuries, Gooden is decent insurance. But a closer look shows he's not efficient on offense: He's shot better than 50 percent just once in a season -- not good for someone who is known for his offensive rebounding. And his defense is suspect: Both the Mavs and Clippers were at least five points better defensively per 100 possessions when Gooden sat compared to when he played last season.

I'm not going to bend over backwards defending Gooden--his resume is solid but it's got some major holes. Hopefully Skiles gets him to play to his strengths, but he's going to have a hard time earning his contract.

But what I would dispute is the notion that the Bulls' offseason haul was a "mission accomplished." While the Bulls did well, there's a monstrous difference between what they got and what they were hoping for on July 1. Nabbing Boozer was the least they could do considering they had tons of cap space, a big market, and existing talent on the roster. Fear the Deer
Sekou Smith offers the counterpoint to Robson.

Bucks fans have a right to demand their team receive its due as one of the league’s up and coming outfits. They were better than the Bulls at the end of last season, playing without Bogut down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Why shouldn’t they be included in the conversation of the most promising young teams in the league?