Jul 29, 2012; London, United Kingdom; France center Ronny Turiaf (14) pulls down a rebound against USA center Tyson Chandler (4) during the men's basketball preliminary during the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
I don't know about you guys, but I watched a LOT of Olympic basketball today. Obviously I'm a basketball junkie to begin with, but I also seem to have a particular fascination with these international tournaments, as anyone who has been around during European Cups or the World Championships can attest.
For some reason I have less attachment to Chris Paul on Team USA than I did to Eric Gordon in 2010, but I think there's a good reason for that. There was always the feeling that Gordon needed someone to champion him and his role on that World Championship team, whereas Paul certainly does not.
In year's past we've also had Chris Kaman for Germany and even Sofoklis Schortsianitis for Greece (aka MBFGC) to follow in international play, but that isn't the case this year. There are however a few current and former Clippers playing for other squads in London, in addition to CP3.
The newest Clipper, Ronny Turiaf, is the starting center for France in the absence of Joakim Noah. Unfortunately for Turiaf and his French teammates, they ran into the Team USA buzzsaw today and didn't really know what hit them. Turiaf actually had a decent game with 7 points and 9 rebounds, but his 3-8 performance from the free throw line is NOT what Clipper fans wanted to see from the man who is replacing the likes of Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin on the roster.
A long ago Clipper had a decent game for China today, as Wang Zhi-Zhi from the 02-03 Clippers scored 15 points against Spain.
A couple of more recent Clippers, Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu, have been starring for Nigeria. Both Diogu and Aminu are US born but of Nigerian descent, and the Nigerian squad made a surprising run through the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament after they joined the squad. Nigeria beat Tunisia Sunday 60-56 as Diogu scored 13, Aminu scored 10, and AFA's brother Alade scored 15.
Team USA looked good against France, but frankly, if the US is going to lose a game in this tournament, it won't be to a team like France. France is undersized and athletic, not unlike the US team, only far, far less talented. If the US is going to lose, it will be to a team with a big front line like Spain or Brazil or possibly Russia (who looked great today, btw).