FIBA World Championship Round-Up (Day One)
Lebanon 82, Venezuela 72
These two teams combined the post the worst collective offensive ratings of all the preliminary games played. This could speak to stellar defense being played or just awful offense, depending on whether you value defense over offense. Although, Lebanon did win, their offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) was 90.6, not exactly a stellar output although it looks good compared to Venezuela's 84.7 offensive rating.
Despite the fact Lebanon won, they still did worse than Venezuela in several categories. Lebanon had a slightly worse turnover-to-possession ratio, had a much lower offensive rebounding percentage, a lower assist rate, and a higher turnover rate. What did carry Lebanon to victory was their better shooting and the fact they made more free throws than Venezuela attempted.
Nigeria 82, Serbia & Montenegro 75
Nigeria had a higher offensive rating advantage than they did actual scoring margin in this game (115.5 to 104.6). They managed to be more efficient even while shooting a worse percentage than Serbia & Montenegro. The secret behind that oddity is that Nigeria turned the ball over far less. Serbia & Montenegro had a turnover-to-possession ratio of .237; Nigeria's was only .155. Nigeria also did a better job of rebounding the misses they had, leading to a higher floor percentage (percentage a team scores at least one point per possession and developed by Dean Oliver).
Argentina 80, France 70
These are probably the two teams expected to advance out of this group and Argentina got an edge by not having to play a Tony-Parker led France team. France no doubt suffered from Tony Parker's absence, but the loss of their point guard was no reflected in their ballhandling. Without Parker, France still bettered Argentina in getting assists and avoiding turnovers. Had France been able to shoot better from the free throw line, they would have had a better chance of beating Argentina.
Argentina did put up the best offensive rating of this group in day one with a rating of 117.6.
Germany 81, Japan 70
Germany was better than Japan in almost every aspect of the game. They were much more efficient on offense (112.3 to 102.6), had an offensive rebounding percentage more than double that of Japan's, shot better from the field, and got to the free throw line more often. Their turnover per possession ratio was only marginally worse than Japan and they shot a slightly lower free throw percentage. Other than that, Germany did all a team needs to do to win a game.
Angola 83, Panama 70
Angola put up one of the more dominating performances in day one both in terms of actual scoring margin and offensive rating margin (+16.8). They were able to do that by not turning the ball over and shooting better from the field, riding their 12 3-pointers to victory. Panama certainly did not help their own cause by missing half of the twenty-four free throws they attempted or having a 42.6 effective field goal percentage. Also not helping was Panama's propensity for turning the ball over while not accumulating enough assists to offset the wasted possessions.
Spain 86, New Zealand 70
If New Zealand wants to stick around for the Eight-Finals, they will have to shoot better from the field and also get to the free throw line more often than they did against Spain. Being more disruptive on defense by causing turnovers would also help their situation.
Spain, on the other hand, will want to improve their ability to rebound their own misses. All in all, it was a good effort by Spain putting up a 110.7 offensive rating and limiting New Zealand to a 95.5 offensive rating.
Australia 83, Brazil 77
This game was fairly close in three of the four most important factors of the game as determined by Dean Oliver: free throw shooting, rebounding (both offensive and defensive), and turnovers. However, field goal percentage is another matter because Australia had an effective field goal percentage of 55.1% to Brazil's 46.0%. This advantage in effective field goal shooting is because Australia hit three more three-pointers in the game.
Greece 84, Qatar 64
Qatar may have been better off staying in their own country because they were absolutely demolished by the Greece squad. In fact, the disparity between the two teams' offensive ratings was the highest of the day (119.6 to 87.6). A large part of the reason behind Qatar's low offensive rating is that they only managed 45 field goal attempts to Greece's 60 while having three more offensive possions and they certainly did not make up that gap in free throw attempts because they only had 13 of those to Greece's 24. Those missing attempts are the result of their extremely high turnover-to-possession ratio of .411, the highest of any team that played.
Greece also turned the ball over a fair amount, but they made up for it by going 22 for 24 from the charity stripe.
Turkey 76, Lithuania 74
Even though Lithuania lost this game, they still had a higher offensive rating than their opponent (105.1 to 103.0), largely because they scored those 74 points on three fewer possessions. The problem is Turkey managed to turn those three extra possessions into two extra points and it did not matter how much more efficient Lithuania was. Turkey did hit two more three-pointers while making four less free throws so that is probably where the extra two points come into play.
USA 111, Puerto Rico 100
Despite all the criticisms launched against the US, they still managed to cobble together the most efficient offensive outing of the day with a 133.8 rating. Of course, their opponent had the third most efficient offensive rating of the first day with 122.3 so they did not play a complete game, but they did play well enough to win.
What hurt the US the most was Puerto Rico's ability to shoot 3-pointers at a high make percentage. This helps explain their 61.4% effective field goal percentage, higher than the US's. Also, the US were unable to cause as many turnovers as they had during their exhibition games leading up to the World Championships. Puerto Rico has a knack for lulling the US to sleep with poor play in exhibition games and then playing with a renewed sense of determination when the real tournament begins.
Slovenia 96, Senegal 79
Just like the score says, Slovenia was clearly the better team in this game. Their offensive rating was 118.2. Compare that to Senegal's 98.5 and you will begin to see why the score is so lopsided. Just like the case is with so many games, Slovenia turned the ball over less per possession and had a higher offensive rebounding percentage.
Italy 84, China 69
Even though Italy came in second to the US in offensive rating (129.2), Italy still played a better game, mostly because they chose to play defense throughout the whole game holding China to an offensive rating of 103.0, for the second highest offensive rating advantage on day one.
Italy can thank their thirteen 3-pointers for their high offensive rating. Italy actually shot better from 3-point range than from 2-point range, calling into question whether or not they can duplicate such an excellent shooting display on a regular basis. Another plus for the Italians was their good ballhandling; they had a turnover-to-possession ratio of only .123, 12.3%. That is good enough for offensive success any day and it looks like the Italians will be the US's main competition to see who wins this group.