Today presents another opportunity for Mavs fans to see J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell don their nations’ colors — this time with a trip to the Olympics on the line — while across the Atlantic Ocean Dirk Nowitzki and Germany are putting the final preparations in place for their own Olympic qualifier.
Canada, Powell’s home country, begins play in the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship today in Mexico against Argentina. The 24-year-old big man averaged 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in four appearances for Canada in last month’s Tuto Marchand Cup, a warm-up tournament for the Americas Championship. The Canadians finished the event undefeated and have become the trendy team in the Americas, touting young talent like Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Nik Stauskas, and Powell, among others.
Barea and the Puerto Rican National Team, meanwhile, have already begun play in the tournament, losing to Argentina 91-86 in the opening game. But Barea impressed, scoring 20 points (including hitting four-of-seven three pointers) and dishing out 10 assists. Today the club will square off against Cuba. Barea and Powell crossed paths during the Tuto Marchand Cup, and while Canada ultimately got the better of its opponent, Barea didn’t fail to disappoint, scoring 17 points and adding nine rebounds and eight assists. According to FIBA.com, Barea has averaged 15.6 points, 5.0 dimes, and 3.8 boards in FIBA events throughout his career, dating back to 2003.
It will be a busy schedule for both players in the coming days. The opening round of the FIBA Americas Championship is played in round-robin style, meaning each of the five teams in both Groups A and B will play each other once each. After the four-game round, the top four teams in each group will advance to the second round, where they will play the qualifiers from the opposite group once each. To simplify things, all teams which advance out of the first round will have played eight games in 10 days to reach the semifinal round.
Below is a table which shows dates and times for each team’s first-round matchups. It’s fitting that Canada and Puerto Rico play each other on the last day of the first round, as two Mavs will face off with potentially advancement on the line. All games will be available on ESPN3, while some will be aired on ESPN2 and NBA TV. That call will be made later in the tournament, however. (All tip-offs are listed in Central Time.)
|Sept. 1||vs. Argentina||L, 94-87||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Sept. 2||vs. Cuba||W, 101-59||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Sept. 3||vs. Venezuela||W, 82-62||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Sept. 4||vs. Puerto Rico||6 p.m.||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Aug. 31||vs. Argentina||L, 91-86||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Sept. 1||vs. Cuba||W, 91-61||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Sept. 2||vs. Venezuela||L, 74-63||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Sept. 4||vs. Canada||6 p.m.||Mexico City, Mexico|
On the other side of the world, Nowitzki and the Germans begin their own road to Rio this Friday. After his home country missed out on the 2012 Olympics, Nowitzki said he couldn’t pass up the chance to help get his team back into the tournament in 2016. And considering Berlin is the host city for Germany’s opening round, it would have been that much harder for Nowitzki to say no to the opportunity to sport his nation’s colors yet again.
Nowitzki has had plenty of success in the German uniform in years past, earning the MVP award at the 2005 EuroBasket and averaging 26.6 points per game during the Olympic qualifying tournament in 2008. Germany would ultimately qualify for the Olympics, played that summer in Beijing, and Nowitzki was chosen as the athlete to bear his nation’s flag during the opening ceremony. Most recently, the Big German averaged 19.5 points and 6.6 rebounds at EuroBasket 2011.
As is the case with the Puerto Rican and Canadian teams, Germany will have a busy schedule during the opening round of the tournament. The club will play five games in six days in the round-robin style opener against a heavy-hitting list of opponents which includes world juggernauts Spain, Serbia, and Italy. The top four teams from each of the four groups advance to the elimination round, and from there a champion will be decided in traditional single-elimination fashion, with the championship game taking place Sept. 20. Even if Germany doesn’t win the tournament, however, there’s still a chance it could qualify for the Olympics. The two teams which make it to the final game automatically qualify for Rio, while teams 3-7 will land a spot in one of three qualification tournaments. Teams 3-5 at the Americas Championship will do the same.
With a trip to the Olympics on the line, and especially given Nowitzki hinted earlier this summer that this could be his last appearance in his country’s colors, the stakes are high and the drama is sure to be higher. Nowitzki has a long history of success in the German uniform, and he’s looking to continue that run starting this Friday.
Below is Germany’s schedule for the tournament, with all tip-offs listed in Central Time. All games will be available on ESPN3.
|Sept. 5||vs. Iceland||8 a.m.||Berlin, Germany|
|Sept. 6||vs. Serbia||8 a.m.||Berlin, Germany|
|Sept. 8||vs. Turkey||12:45 p.m.||Berlin, Germany|
|Sept. 9||vs. Italy||12:45 p.m.||Berlin, Germany|
|Sept. 10||vs. Spain||12:45 p.m.||Berlin, Germany|