NBA's 15 Last Samurais to Japan

Point Guards
  • Gilbert Arenas, Washington
  • Kirk Hinrich, Chicago
  • Chris Paul, New Orleans/Oklahoma City
Shooting Guards
  • Joe Johnson, Atlanta
  • Dwyane Wade, Miami
  • Bruce Bowen, San Antonio
Small Forwards
  • Carmelo Anthony, Denver
  • Shane Battier, Houston
  • LeBron James, Cleveland
Power Forwards
  • Chris Bosh, Toronto
  • Elton Brand, L.A. Clippers
  • Antawn Jamison, Washington
  • Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix
  • Brad Miller, Sacramento
  • Dwight Howard, Orlando
Only 12 players will be submitted come Aug 18. So three players will be joining the trip as practice players and cheering squad. Seriously, having been cut doesn't necessarily mean that the players are dispensable, they are still part of the program, the re-develepment of USA Basketball. Just that, for the time being, for a particular tournament, certain guys would do the job better.

From 18 players, it was trimmed down to the 15 above. My marked rookie, Adam Morrison didn't make the cut. Also, Luke Ridnour was edged out by Hinrich. Shawn Marion had a minor injury and had to back out.

Who will be the three players that will be cut for the Japan Games? My gut feel is that, Bowen will initially take the defensive mantra over Shane Batier. This will be a learning curve for Shane. By the next tour, Batier will take the defensive guy slot. If Amare is not 85% to 90%, he'll probably have to sit it out too. Hinrich too is nursing hamstring injury, he might be cut. Antoine Jamison is candidate too. 3 out of these 4, will have to watch at side court.

Having been relegated in the doldrums of the international basketball for the most part of this century, all players now are eager to bounce back. Most specially, the trio of Wade, James and Carmelo who, in the Athens Olympics, all didn't see much action, much less, didn’t see eye to eye with the coach. Thanks to the ego of Mr. Larry Brown who wanted his players to play the right way but didn't coach right way. BTW, by sheer talent, the USA got the Bronze in the 2004 Olympics.

Now that team USA line is almost done, will Manu Ginobili, Oberto and the rest of the Argentina Basketball team be in fear? Is Puerto Rico rattling now upon hearing this final line-up? I believe, no. Spain, France, Greece, all these teams no longer doubt their capabilities, they know too well, we all know too well, USA Basketball is no longer invincible.

Let us see if the NBA Ball is up to the challenge. Obviously lacking in shooters like Michael Redd, Billups, Bryant, Pierce, Miller (Mike, that is) and Ray Allen, Joe Johnson and Gilbert Arenas should be at their very best to counter the daily dose of zone defense they'll be getting. Defensively, Bowen, Chris Bosh, Howard (and Amare if healty) will all play key roles in manning the middle and helping running out at outside shots that will come from all conceivable angles. Last time the USA played internationally, they were shredded into pieces by the relentless high post screening, backdoor cuts and constant movement of their opponents.

One thing good going for the team is that, they are projected to play better team ball. Both defensively and offensively. Judging by the coaches’ and players’ press interviews, they seem to like each other. They claim to be one in what they are trying to accomplish. This is the first step in forming a team.

I am exited too to watch, how can the NBA Prime Movers, the trio of Lebron, Anthony and Wade transform their games in the international front to power the American team to basketball supremacy once again.


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