USA, LANG MOVE TO SECOND ROUND STAGE
* With a Group A prelim round record of 2-2 (wins over Brazil and Panama, losses to Canada and Venezuela) the USA entry has advanced to round two of the FIBA Americas Men's World Championship Qualifying Tournament in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Former Tar Heel Kris Lang (C, 6-11, 247) is a member of the U.S. men's senior squad and has compiled the following stats in four games played: 19.0 mpg, 7.5 ppg (13-24 FG, 4-9 FT), 5.3 rpg, 14 personal fouls, 6 turnovers, 5 blocked shots and 1 steal.
With Canada (1-3) and Mexico (1-3) eliminated, eight teams now advance to the second round. The top four teams from each preliminary group play the teams from the other preliminary group. The U.S. will meet the Dominican Republic (3-1) tonight, Argentina (3-1) tomorrow night, Uruguay (1-3) on Thursday and Puerto Rico (2-2) on Friday night.
The overall standings for the second round will be based on games played in the second round as well as games played against preliminary group opponents that have reached the second round. The top four teams advance to the semifinals on Saturday. The finals will be played on Sunday.
FIBA Americas will send five countries, including Argentina who has already qualified by virtue of winning the 2004 Olympics, to the 2006 FIBA World Championship that is being held in Japan (Aug.19, 2006).
Even if the Americans are unable to qualify for the 2006 World Championship with a top-four finish from the FIBA Americas Tournament, the FIBA event has four wild card berths to be awarded in November. FIBA most certainly would be compelled to invite a United States squad of stars from the NBA as one of those wild cards.
Go to http://www.fibaamericas.com for FIBA Americas official event website and check www.usabasketball.com for full coverage of Team USA in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
OTHER NATIONAL TEAM TAR HEELS
* Former Tar Heel Ademola Okulaja is busy preparing for EuroBasket 2005 with Germany's national team. Okulaja continues to rehab from a knee inury that prematurely ended his season in Spain last year. He recently said his knee is about 70 percent recovered and he is again expected to be a key player for Germany along with Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks during European national team competition.
Germany failed to reach the quarterfinals two years ago at EuroBasket 2003 in Sweden, but Okulaja thinks Germany`s chances are much better this time. "I think we're a better side simply because of the fact that we have more experience," Okulaja told PA International last week. "We have played together more in these past two years and a lot of the guys are in their best years of playing basketball. They're at the age when they're reaching the high point of their careers."
EuroBasket 2005 begins on September 16 in Serbia-Montenegro. The tournament's results will qualify the top six teams for the 2006 World Championship in Japan next summer.
At his website – www.okulaja.com – Okulaja posted the following note on August 12: "The German national team and I have been at training camp in Mallorca, Spain. It is bittersweet. On one side we have great weather and on the other it is way too hot to practice, but you can´t have it all. Practice is going well. The team is welding together. I am still practicing individually on the side, but I am making big steps forward. It is a great feeling to run, jump and play again."
* Also in preparation for FIBA's EuroBasket 2005, Italy has made four personnel changes to the 12-man squad that won a silver medal at last summer's Olympics.
Former Tar Heel and veteran Dante Calabria is among the four players named in that group that will represent Italy in the European Championship in September. "Calabria, a versatile American-born guard, was a key factor for Armani Jeans Milano as runners-up in Italy's Lega A," noted fibaeurope.com when the roster announcement was made.
* Makhtar Ndiaye recently completed playing for Senegal at the FIBA Africa Championship in Algeria. Senegal finished second after losing the championship game to Angola.
Senegal's second-place finish makes them one of the three African countries to be qualified for the 24-team 2006 World Championship event in Japan.
SHAMMOND ARRIVES IN SPAIN
* Former Tar Heel guard Shammond Williams met the media in Barcelona, Spain, last week where he was introduced by his new team Winterthur F.C. Barcelona of Spain's ACB league. His new backcourt mate Bootsy Thornton (St. John's) was also presented.
The fact that Barcelona has had little success with point guards imported from the U.S. was brought to Williams' attention. "These things are not very important to me. I hope to break with this history. Success for me will be for the team to win," said an unfazed Williams at the press conference. Williams also noted that teamwork would be vital.
Go to http://www.fcbarcelona.com to view photos of the event.
Williams, a naturalized citizen of Georgia, will be in Helsinki, Finland, on Saturday with the Republic of Georgia's national team for a EuroBasket Division B qualification match against Finland. That will be followed by home games in Tbilisi, Georgia, versus Macedonia on September 7 and Luxembourg on September 10.
CANCER DIAGNOSIS FOR MOE; KARL RECOVERING
* Denver Nuggets assistant coach and former Tar Heel star Doug Moe, 66, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the team announced Monday. Surgery is scheduled for September 12 in San Antonio, Texas. In a statement released by the team, Moe said, "The prognosis is good and I expect to be in training camp on October 3rd."
Moe is the winningest coach in Nuggets history at 432-357 from 1980 to 1990. He worked as a consultant for the Nuggets since 2002, but Karl became head coach last season and convinced Moe to return to the sideline as an assistant coach.
Doctors gave Moe a clean bill of health to return to coaching after he recovered from a heart attack and bypass surgery last year.
* Just five weeks ago Denver head coach and former Tar Heel George Karl, 54, had successful surgery to treat prostate cancer. Karl talked with Denver media on Monday for the first time since his surgery and stated he had received a clean bill of health and has started an excercise program.
"It wakes you up. It slaps you around,'' Karl said, according to Associated Press. "There was a period of time when I first found out, that you wake up thinking of death a lot. It's an uneasy feeling.''
"[North Carolina guys] are always there. Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge, they're like second fathers to me. Kupchak was always giving me static. Billy Cunningham called like the old times. Doug (Moe) was great. Larry Brown and Pop (Gregg Popovich) were calling about once a week; so a lot of good stuff," Karl said at the press conference about some of the people that have helped him through the process, according to the team website.
THIS WEEK'S BIRTHDAYS
A look at some upcoming Tar Heel birthdays with the rest of September's to come next week ...
- August 30 – Fred Quartlebaum (38)
- September 2 – Mike Pepper (47)
- September 3 – George Lynch (35) and Kevin Madden (39)