Aussies to Storm | Azkals over Mongolia

So Agler’s signed a couple of Aussies – Erin Phillips and Belinda Snell – to the team. Initially I didn’t know whether I’d be elated or what. But when I remembered that both Jana Vesela and Svetlana Abrosimova ain’t coming back, I guess the signings are alright.

Erin Phillips

I actually haven’t seen Erin Phillips play except those sparse minutes she had during the FIBA Worlds and because I don’t really much watch other teams play in the WNBA (except when they play the Storm of course), I can’t really say if she’ll fit into Agler’s system. I know she wasn’t Tully Bevilaqua or anything but she’s a gritty player and the team needs those. I can hypothesize that she’s probably a decent enough back-up to Sue Bird because as awesome as she is, Birdy really needs a few more extra minutes of rest.

Belinda SNELL  (Australia)
Belinda SNELL (Australia) by FIBA World, on Flickr

I also don’t know much about how Belinda Snell plays except that she can shoot the three. And is a veteran. And probably way better than Lacey (to be fair, Lacey didn’t get too many minutes but that may also have resulted from the fact that she didn’t do anything to deserve those minutes). So, yeah, definitely pulling for her to make it.

Sidenote: I’m not sure if Abby Bishop is signed or whatever but the Storm has a significant chunk of the Opals squad. Maybe instead of making LJ skip the 2011 season to prepare for London 2012, Carrie Graf can just hold practices in Seattle? Lolz. Also, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that maybe Agler will pull another metaphorical rabbit out of the hat and will sign Jenna O’Hea (another Opal).

But anyway, I’m still glad that finally the Seattle Storm had joined the fray of player movements. A couple of weeks ago, Camille Little re-signed a multi-year deal with the team. Can’t wait to finally hear/read about Swin Cash though. I hope Agler works his player personnel whatever magic with her.

***

The Philippine National Football Team — nicknamed, Azkals — won their first match against Mongolia in the first leg of the AFC Challenge Cup. Emilio Caligdong booted in a goal in the 42nd minute while striker Phil Younghusband added another three minutes into extra time.

***

There will always be people jumping on the bandwagon. The Azkals should enjoy the attention they’re getting now that the limelight is still focused on them. Pretty soon it will all fade away, more so when the bandwagoners are made aware that this squad is not A Seleção or La Furia Roja or even Samurai Blue, but still just a newbie and one that is simply not to be expected to win all the time. What they can hope for, however, is that maybe some filthy rich person would pour money for the improvement of their training and for the promotion of the sport to every single inhabited island in the country. Oh, yeah, and also that some of those bandwagoners might actually stay with them through thick and thin. Just like I (and probably several others) did with the Storm since I started following them in 2004.

US Women Get Gold

See the hardest thing (for me) about the recent OGs is picking who to root for. The Opals or the US? A host of current and former Storm players and a coach are involved. It’s really cool to see Birdy and AD rejoice over the US women’s 92-65 victory over the Australian Opals but it’s really really hard to see the disappointment painted on Lauren Jackson, Tully Bevilaqua, and Suzy Batkovic’s faces.

But in the end, one team has got to emerge on top. And it was the US, who got their fourth straight gold.

BTW, so LJ’s gonna have ankle surgery after the Games. What on earth is gonna happen to my Storm huh?

Beijing 2008 : WBB Semifinals

So the stage is set — for the semis, at least. Barring any surprises from the Russians and Chinese, this could be very well my dream US — Opals Gold Medal Match-up.

The following are the results of the quarter finals:

Quarterfinal game 1 Final
NATION SCORE
Belarus 62
China 77
Quarterfinal game 2Final
NATION SCORE
Czech Republic 46
Australia 79
Quarterfinal game 3 Final
NATION SCORE
Spain 65
Russia 84
Quarterfinal game 4 Final
NATION SCORE
South Korea 60
United States 104

According to the results, the semifinal pairings will be:

United States vs. Russia
Australia vs. China

⇁EThe U.S. team is very deep in talent and well, barring any phenomenon where EVERYONE on the team would have an off-night (*crosses fingers*), they would easily take this game. But let’s not count the Russians out just yet. They may have bowed down to the US women during the Diamond Ball Tournament but they could turn things around — remember the recent World Championship Semi-Final Game where they absolutely owned Sue Bird and Company? Uh-huh, that game. Please don’t let that happen again, please?

⇒ I haven’t watched any game (boohoohoohoo) but I’ve been reading and hearing nice stuff about Sylvia Fowles. Wow. Monster stats and monster games. She’s even more effective down there than Lisa Leslie.

⇒ I just read earlier today that Penny Taylor, the Opals’ three-point specialist, sprained her ankle and she has no chance in hell to play in the semis. I said before that the Opals are rocking but wait-a-minute-now I’m not so sure they can beat the US WITHOUT PENNY FRIKKIN’ TAYLOR.

⇒ Non-OG’s update but still somewhat related. Opals Captain (and Seattle Storm star) Lauren Jackson will have surgery on her right ankle after the Olympics and will not finish the season. OMFG, what’s gonna happen to the Storm?! Waaaaaah! LJ contributes a very big bulk of the scoring for Seattle. I’m not so sure who will be able to fill that gap. Sue? Can you? Ugh. Damn injuries. After the OG’s we’re gonna have 5 (is it 5?) road games and almost, if not all, of those are against teams with playoff dreams. So good luck Stormies.

⇒ I still haven’t decided who to root for in case the Opals and US actually make it to the finals.

Olympic WBB Update

No, I haven’t watched any game coz I can’t find no frikkin’ coverage in my part of the planet. Booo! Tried CCTV yesterday but they only showed the China vs Germany Men’s Game. What was I thinking — of course they’re gonna show it, CCTV is a Chinese channel after all. Drat.

Anyone has an idea how I can watch a game? I’m pulling for a US-Australia Gold Medal Game (*crosses fingers*). Kinda excited coz the Opals rock and I totally wanna see the LJ-LL smackdown haha. And oh, of course, Sue at the helm and Taurasi too, and fine, (sige na nga) Candace Parker. I still haven’t decided which team to root for.

Anyhoo, the current standings are the following:

Group A Wins Losses Pts
Australia 5 0 10
Russia 4 1 9
South Korea 2 3 7
Belarus 2 3 7
Brazil 1 4 6
Latvia 1 4 6

The undefeated World Champion Opals (go Opals!) are leading Group A after they beat a strong contender in Russia (with Becky Hammon and Maria Stepanova and Svetlana Abrosimova) 75-55.

Australia, Russia, South Korea, and Belarus (I think … or is it Brazil — not sure) will enter the quarterfinals.

Group B Wins Losses Pts
United States of America 5 0 10
China 4 1 9
Spain 3 2 8
Czech Republic 2 3 7
New Zealand 1 4 6
Mali 0 5 5

The US Women top Group B and will enter the quarterfinals undefeated as well. In their last preliminary, they defeated New Zealand 96-60, causing the Tall Ferns to be eliminated from the next stage of the competition. Sue Bird and Company will face South Korea in the QuarterFinals.

Road to the Quarter-Finals

【Australian Defence Force Opals、E

Aug 08 : Australia 83 — 64 Belarus
Aug 11 : Australia 80 — 65 Brazil
Aug 13 : Australia 90 — 62 South Korea
Aug 14 : Australia 96 — 73 Latvia
Aug 16 : Australia 75 — 55 Russia

【US WNT、E

Aug 09 : USA 97 — 57 Czech Republic
Aug 11 : USA 108 — 63 China
Aug 13 : USA 97 — 41 Mali
Aug 14 : USA 93 — 55 Spain
Aug 17 : USA 96 — 60 New Zealand

Photo Source: Getty Images / Yahoo! Sports

FIBA Diamond Ball Conclusion

The US women beat reigning FIBA World Champions Australia 71-67 Tuesday night to get the top spot in the FIBA Diamond Ball for Women. The hard-fought contest seemed like a good preview for the game that would really matter — the August 23 gold medal clash. That’s the date that most people expect these two teams to meet anyway, although Russia or China or maybe Brazil might have something to say to that.

Penny Taylor (Phoenix Mercury) led the way for the Australian Defence Force Opals with 19 points and Lauren Jackson (Seattle Storm) had 16 and 8 boards.

Lisa Leslie (LA SpOrks) had 14 and 10 for the US women and point guard Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) contributed 11 on five-of-six shooting (WTG Birdy!). Candace Parker (LA SpOrks) also had a great showing with 12 buckets.

Tournament MVP: Lauren Jackson (AUS)

All-Tournament Team:
Lauren Jackson (AUS)
Sue Bird (US)
Diana Taurasi (US)
Candace Parker (US)
Sui Feifei (CHN)

Diamond Ball Finals

Sue BirdThe finals of the Diamond Ball Tournament (a friendly tune-up before heading into the Olympics) will feature the highly anticipated match-up between super-powers US and Australia after both squads went 2-0 in their respective groups. The tourney also featured 2006 WC silver medalist Russia (ya know, that squad that knocked Sue and company out of the WC gold medal match back then?) and emerging China.

The Australian Opals, led by captain Lauren Jackson (Seattle Storm) won over China (84-70) and Mali (112-43) to get to the finals. LJ posted some very nice numbers (which is not that much of a surpise, BTW). Suzy Batkovic and Penny Taylor, among others, added the necessary supporting firepower.

The US Women, on the other hand, had to face Latvia and emerged victorious through balanced scoring (84-74). And then they had to face Russia (ya know, that squad that knocked Sue and company out of the WC gold medal match back then? Yes, that Russia). It was the first match-up for point guard Becky Hammon (San Antonio Silver Stars) against her home country. The US won 93-58 in that suprisingly lopsided game.