Spain 89 v. Serbia & Montenegro 70
Perhaps the most noteworthy part of this tournament for Raps management and fans will be the performance of Jose Calderon. Starting at PG, and now with the absence of Pau Gasol, Calderon is bearing a heavy load during the tournament. In game 1 Calderon was no disappointment. Facing a team filled with NBA players including Darko, Nenad Kristic and Marko Jaric, Calderon performed extremely well in helping to lead his team to victory. Calderon played 28 minutes, scored 17 points, along with 3 assists and 2 rebounds. Many of Calderon's baskets were late in the game helping to secure a Spain victory. Although his shooting percentage left a little to be desired (42.9%) he did manage 2 three's and shot a nice 83.3% from the charity stripe. All in all a great first day for the Raptors second string PG.
It is disappointing that Gasol is out of the tournament as it would have been interesting to see how Calderon would have played with a dominant big, as he will be this year with Bosh. Spain's chances of winning the tournament obviously took a huge blow when Gasol withdrew, but the squad still features Orlando's number one pick this year Fran Vasquez, and future number 1 Rudy Fernandez. We will be watching Calderon carefully.
Croatia 88 vs. Bulgaria 84
Croatia was victorious in their first match-up of the tournament. Unfortunately for Raps fans there is very little to take out of the opener in terms of Croatian Roko Leni-Ukic. Roko was given 6 minutes of game time where he went 0/1 from the floor (a three) but managed to get to the line where he went 2/2 and dished out 1 assist. Raps fans should expect to see Roko play more minutes as the tournament wears on due to a recent injury to Croatia's starting 2 guard Marino Bazdaric. Roko is currently the back-up PG behind Zoran Planinic of the New Jersey Nets. Evaluating Roko will likely be done through his all around play and not necessarily stats and he will hopefully have a greater opportunity to showcase his strong passing ability and solid defense. Any experience this 21 year old gets in the tournament is a large plus, unfortunately the benefits will be reaped by Tau Ceramica before the Raps.
Slovenia 74 vs. Bosnia & Herzeg. 65
As little as there is to say about Roko's first game in the Eurobasket Tourney, there is actually less to say about Uros Slokar. Although his fellow Slovaks managed a 9 point victory Uros played the role of cheerleader and did not see a minute of game time. Unfortunately for Uros, Slovenia has a glut of strong front-court players including Primo Brezec (Charlotte Bobcats) , Rasho Nesterovic (San Antonio Spurs), Bostjan Nachbar (New Orleans Hornets) and Erazem Lorbek (property of the Indiana Pacers). In fact all of these players logged over 20 minutes of action, except Rasho who was ice-cold from the floor (15 minutes 1/6 fg), and as a result there was no time left for Slokar.
Uros should get his chances in the tournament to show his propensity to grab rebounds, and his soft touch. He is an intense player and there's no doubt that when he gets some game time he will be playing at full tilt. In the meantime hopefully he is taking some positive things from the experience. For Raps fans, here's hoping Rasho continues his woeful shooting.