It's Day 1 of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and the first day of action was really boring. I mean, it was exciting to see guys like Antetokounmpo and Teodosic back in action. But all of the games were all but decided by the end of the first half. With many games to go, things are certain to pick up moving forward. After all, these are only group stage games. Here's what you need to know about the first day of action....
Greece destroys Iran with a fast pace and solid shooting
It's obvious that the Iranian players have been together for a long time. Iran worked the pick and roll to a T, and was able to get out of traps with decent passing. But Greece was just on another level defensively. Greece caused 15 Iran turnovers in the first half, despite good rebounding and shooting numbers from Iran. Greece also had superior outside shooting, pacing and spacing like total pros. Nick Calathes was particularly effective, with 5 first half assists. Meanwhile, Koufos had a solid 9 points inside.
I liked Greece's substitution method of putting in Thanasis for Giannis. It gives them a consistent role on the wing that no other type of player can really provide.
Jamshidi is easily Iran's most entertaining player IMO. Only guy who can shoot off the dribble.
Haddadi had to leave with 9:35 to go in the second half due to foul trouble, after 13 points scored in the first half.
Amazing cross-court bounce pass assist by Nick Calathes, to Giannis down the court.
Japan vs. Latvia
Really no compelling reason to watch. Japan was down 23 at the half.
Serbia catches nerves, but runs away from Puerto Rico with excellent ball movement
It took like 5 minutes to start the game. Peter Ramos was complaining about something, talking to a lot of refs on the sidelines. Then Ramos lined up, but both teams were facing the wrong sides of the court. So everyone had to re-arrange their bodies. Then, the game started. It was the most bizarre tip-off that I've ever seen.
Speaking of Peter Ramos, he was discovered in New York while at a big and tall shop buying clothes. Was moved to Puerto Rico during high school. Interesting factoid from the announcer.
Anyway, in the actual game, Ramos was an effective counter to Jokic because he's so big. Also, Ramos' confusion early in the game allowed him to avoid early foul trouble. Puerto Rico had some hot shooting early as well. J.J. Barea hit a miracle deep three through contact, while Vassilo Calon nailed a couple himself. Meanwhile, Serbia was 3 of 12 from three, and missing open shots. The president of Serbia was there, so their jitters were understandable. All of this culminated in a 31-29 Puerto Rico lead.
But Serbia countered that lead with a 12-0 run to end the first half. Lots of heady passes on the break for Serbia, as well as ball rotation in half-court sets. Puerto Rico suffered from problems with defensive timing, and getting the ball out of pressure on offense.
In the second half, Puerto Rico still struggled to move the ball, or make any proper rotations on defense. Serbia had a 20 point lead late in the third quarter, and the game was basically over. It was chippy throughout, with a Balkman-Kalinic double foul in the post being the most significant contact. Also, Peter Ramos pretty much elbowed Stimac in the face on a backdown.
Tunisia vs. Italy
No reason to watch here. Italy was smashing Tunisia mid-way through the fourth when I checked. But the announcers said Italy's play in the first half was well-below par, for what that's worth.
Any thoughts on Day 1? Let us know in the comments!