Archive for July, 2012
The Spaniards had a lot of faith on their Olympic Soccer National Team. On the one hand, the group of U-23 players mostly play in the most prestigious leagues in the world, and considering how successful the Spanish Senior National Team has been, winning two consecutive Euro Championship and the 2010 South African World Cup, it seemed only natural that the Olympic team was meant to come home wearing the Olympic Gold. Instead, after three days of Olympic games, the Spaniards as a whole are yet to win a single Medal, in what is certainly their worst Olympic start since the Seoul Olympic summer games of 1988.
The biggest surprise was not that the National Olympic Team from Honduras had pulled off an upset against the Spanish team. The biggest surprise came with that win’s context. The Spaniards had already fall 1-0 against Japan in the tournament opener and a second loss would ultimately risk their chances to even advance into the next round. Needless to say, when Honduras forward Jerry Bengston scored that header only 7 minute after kickoff, the pressure, the expectations simply diminished the Spaniards and took away any chances they had of turning this game around.
The game inevitably became heated and was filled with aggression. The Spaniards picked up 7 yellow cards along the way while Honduras returned the fouls picking up 6 for themselves. “The team was tense from the beginning because they knew that they had to score to qualify for the next round,” Spain’s coach Luis Milla said in the postgame press conference. “And the early goal made it harder.” It certainly made it harder, but it is really no excuse. Sure enough the Spanish media is throwing plenty of blame for this loss to the referee. The press, including sports media outlet Marca, said that Juan Soto, the Venezuelan referee, basically stole the game away from the Spaniards. They claim that Soto didn’t call for two infractions within the box, one of them that was way too clear not to call.
Now the Spaniards are going to have to return home without a medal. But what could really make this worst is if by some reason they again fail to put up a good game against Morocco on Wednesday. It will be a very unpleasing situation for this team to return home without scoring a single goal from a major tournament. Don’t get me wrong, no matter what they do, or how many goals they score against Morocco, truth is that only Japan and Honduras are moving to the next round.
Now, it is still unclear what the Honduras Olympic soccer team can actually do down the stretch. For many, including the president, what the team has just done, defeat Spain, is good enough of a performance to return home as winners. It’s certainly a sign of mediocrity but in the long run, it is very unlikely that this team will do much more in the next round. Even head coach Luis Fernando Suarez admitted his team was lucky to defeat the Spaniards. “Things went our way tonight, because Spain could have come back to tie or win the game,” Suarez said. “We have to remain calm as we look to qualify, because the next match will be very hard.”
The Argentinean National Basketball team has been a bit criticized for failing to renew it’s aging players with new talent. Truth is that, despite the fact that these guys are certainly aging, and that the average age for the Argentinean team is somewhere up in the 33-year-old range, these veteran guys are still willing to prove that they’ve got what it takes to take the gold medal away from the championship favorite, the team USA and the 2012 dream team. Yet, for a moment, before the London 2012 Summer Olympics even kicked in, many considered this team to be too old to even be considered a serious contender for a medal. Sure enough their most recent performances in the friendly matchups they played in preparation for London were not great, and that made the aging Argentinean team look weak.
So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to see that the South American squad took this first match against Lithuania as a message board to pinch on a bold statement. The old guys are here to stay! But let’s be fair and let the recently traded to the Phoenix Suns power forward, Luis Scola put it on his own words: “I think the message is that we are old but we can play, something like that,” said Scola in the postgame press conference. Sure enough, the Argentinean squad relied heavily on a solid performance Scola, who finished the night with 32 points, while the veteran Manu Ginobili proved to be the heart and soul of this squad, signing off a brilliant 21 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assist performance to lead Argentina to a 102-79 win over Lithuania on Sunday. Carlos Delfino rounded up the Argentinean game with 20 points. This was a big rematch of their 87-75 win over Lithuania in the bronze-medal game four years ago in Beijing back in 2008. Yet this time, they are going for gold. Or at least come home with a silver medal.
Now, Manu Ginobili knows that their next matchup is going to be of utter importance. They will face France tomorrow, a team that lost it’s opening game against the Dream Team. Now, the French need a win urgently, and Tony Parker, who plays next to Manu Ginobili with the San Antonio Spurs, is going to have to prove his worth in order to get around the Argentines. The Lithuanians were able to hold on in the game and were down 24-23 after the first quarter. But soon, things were going to change for good. Argentina got on fire before the halftime break and the 3-pointers just kept on coming. They scored 27 points in the second quarter, taking a 51-39 lead into the break and they never looked back.
“We didn’t want to show nothing to nobody –Said Scola in the same interview- We weren’t playing well in the preparation. We weren’t feeling well, we got this feeling that it’s not going well, we need to do something, we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to move faster, we’ve got to have a little bit more of a spark, so we needed to have this game.” Well, they’ll have a good chance to prove their worth as they play France and Team USA in the first stage.
Few teams in Olympic Sports face as high expectations as the Team USA’s men basketball squad. For starters, the dream team is now officially on it’s 20th Anniversary, and although the legacy has seen its ups and downs in the last two decades, anything but a gold medal is utter failure for the nation that holds the most competitive professional basketball league in the world. So yes, when the NBA-star filled Team USA goes into play, it is win or go home, every time, no matter who’s in front of them. This time, to open up their play at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Team USA played against France and burst the game open in the second half to take an easy 98-71 win on Sunday.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star, Kevin Durant, took the top-performer honors for the North Americans, with 22 points, while his rival in the 2012 NBA Finals and this year’s NBA championship winner LeBron James of the Miami Heat, pitched in with 8 assists to round up a solid yet rough around the corners performance. Four years ago, the core of this team won Olympic Gold in Beijing and now they are trying real hard to do the same thing. But sometimes, out of the court, they have this tendency to become a little cocky. Both LeBron James and the LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant have hinted one way or another that they could defeat the original Dream Team of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. A couple of the original members have been quick to comeback with some answers to those comments. Larry Bird, for example, said that of course they could defeat them, he was now almost fifty years old.
Certainly enough there is no way to really know if this version of the Dream Team could actually defeat Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and the rest of the 11 future hall of famers that made that 1992 trip to the Olympics such a magical and game changing experience. One thing is for sure, they made it look much more easier then than what this team has shown. Sure enough Team USA was never in any real trouble playing against the French team. Even their biggest star, the San Antonio Spurs point guar Tony Parker seemed to be playing a little slow. Sure he had to undergo eye surgery a couple of weeks ago after he injured his left eye in a pub fight in New York City, but the google wearing Frenchman was not at his best. Neither where the other 5-NBA playing French players that hold it up strong in the first quarter, but eventually succumbed to the star ridden dream team.
The American would have plenty of time to improve in the second half. Let’s not forget that they struggled a little through a foul-filled first half in which the Americans were whistled for 18 personals fouls. Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook spent the final six minutes of the second quarter on the bench after picking up their third fouls. And by the end of the first quarter the French where down 22-21. But things got flying in the third quarter and by the last period there was no doubt the team USA would end up with an overwhelming victory. There is still plenty of work to be done, but things are looking bright for the Olympic Gold.
Things at Penn State University are never going to be the same. We are still far away from really finding out how much of a wake is going to be left behind the Jerry Sandusky’s crimes. At the end of the line Sandusky committed heinous crimes against children in the Penn State football facilities and the administration and the head of the coaching staff didn’t report this abuses, that kept on happening for over a decade, to avoid bad publicity. Now, Sandusky has been convicted and found guilty and he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail. But the legacy of Joe Paterno has been severly damaged and on the wake of the Freeh Report, the town has taken two very antagonist sides. On the one side, some football fans and students will like to cut Joe Paterno some slack and try to believe that he did what he was required of him. Then again, considering Paterno never called the Police and limit his actions to protect these abused children to report this to his bosses.
And this is where it gets tricky. On the one side Joe Paterno had become the soul and body of the football team, he was the Penn State Football Program, he had been there longer than anybody else, he had more power than anybody else; the 85-year-old head coach had been the head coach since 1950. He’s career had been filled with highlights and perseverance. But this all came folding down when the former FBI director released the finding in his 8-month investigation of the Jerry Sandusky children sex abuses. The reported said that Penn State had failed to protect children and he went on to affirm that Paterno had not done what it needed. That he, upon himself, had enough authority within the school’s power structure to put an end to Sandusky’s pernicious actions. And that he had ultimately allowed this to happen for more then a decade.
Administrators and the Board of Trustees of Penn State University have been fervently discussing what to do with the Joe Paterno Statue that sits in front of the Beaver Stadium. On the one hand they realize that whatever decision they make, whether to take it down, move it somewhere else, or leave it where it is, is going to be more than a decorative decision. Ultimately this is a decision that will be very symbolic of the schools decision to move forward on this issue, and it’s institutional effort to keep this from ever happening again. The board is also concerned on how their decision will be interpreted by the NCAA, which has come out as recently as last week to say that they could go ahead and give the school the “death penalty” for what they consider the school’s lack of institutional control.
Some fans believe that the statue stands for all the good the Paterno did over his 60-year-old career ahead of the program and that it should stand. Those who feel deeper for the victims want to eradicate any cult and devotion left for the octogenarian coach who failed to put an end to the sexual abuse of children by Sandusky. At the end, the decision that Rodney Erikson makes could not be more political.