September 16, 2019

FIBA Grand Final 2019

At many basketball tournaments the semi-finals prove to be the best games and this tournament in China was no exception. The final between Spain and Argentina was a comfortable win for Spain. They hit the front from the start and were leading throughout the contest. Argentina tried everything but they didn't have the size or talent to match the Spanish. It all came down to defense, Spain shut down Argentina completely. Toward the end of the game, Spain seemed to block shots at will.

September 14, 2019

Australia v Spain @ FIBA World Cup 2019

Now THAT'S basketball. Disappointment for Australia to go down in double overtime, I couldn't believe I was rooting for Australia. In the end, they ran out of juice and Spain showed their class. Australia play an abrasive style, it looks ugly to my eye, but they're effective and are a team. Spain look more stylish, smooth, and when they needed to they upped the ante and put the stops on defensively.

September 13, 2019

US Basketball Aura of Invincibility Ends

The USA are going to playing off for 7th place at the FIBA World Cup taking place in China. The US had been beaten in the quarter-finals by France 89-79 and following that defeat the US lost to Serbia 97-89 to prole them down to the basement of world basketball.

Is it because of a lack of talent and quality coaching? Hardly, as the team is fully stacked. Maybe many of the players are not exactly household names, but you cannot question the Team USA pedigree, especially the coaching staff which includes Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr. 

No, what happened is the rest of the world has caught up. They no longer fear the US, they see Team USA as beatable. Look at Turkey at this tournament, they lost by one point in overtime to the US, then lose to New Zealand and end up finishing in 21st place (or thereabouts). What I'm saying is that on the day any team can beat any other team and no outcomes are guaranteed. And as I write this the first quarter of the first semi-final has ended, Australia on 21, Spain on 20. Really close, the world of basketball just got intense.

September 12, 2019

Jacinda Ardern's Credibility Shredded

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern's credibility has been brought into question over her handling of a serious complaint of sexual assault within the executive branch of her administration. What did she know about it, when did she know and did she cover it up.

Read about it here, short video is embedded: https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/mike-hosking-breakfast/video/mike-hosking-pm-jacinda-ardern-is-donkey-deep-in-sex-scandal-botch-up/

This is all really concerning and right now, Jacinda Ardern is not believable and quite frankly, she's shredded her chances of re-election. What she should have done is talk to the woman who was allegedly assaulted and brought in the police toot sweet.

September 10, 2019

NZ v Turkey @ FIBA World Cup 2019

Classification rounds: New Zealand beat Turkey 102-101. Does NZ understand how huge that is? Turkey are really good and NZ just beat them. This NZ team can score, only three players failed to get on the score sheet. C'mon NZ government, fund some proper development for these guys, NZ can be top 10 in the world at this rate.

September 08, 2019

US Open 2019 Women's Singles Final

Congratulations to Bianca Andreescu, the Canadian pocket rocket who has quickly risen to the top. Along with Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty, she's the face of the modern game of women's tennis; all power, skill, accuracy and mobility.

Serena Williams was totally outclassed in the final and one has to wonder how her current ranking is justified. In finals since coming back from giving birth, she's failed to win a set in finals at any of the Majors. Her game is now badly exposed, previously she bludgeoned her opponents into submission, a lot of power and some skill. But now she faces younger opponents who have all that and more, their accuracy, fitness and skill level moves Williams around and she can't keep up. Williams sideways movement is almost non-existent these days. This poses a problem for the modern game as viewing numbers must be plummeting, no-one wants to watch such one-sided match-ups.

September 06, 2019

NZ v Greece @ FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019

New Zealand's best performance by far, but a loss 97-103. NZ played with intensity throughout and the difference really came down to Greece's superior shooting skill. NZ won two quarters and only lost the final quarter by 1 point. So it was getting a little ragged in the first quarter that cost them the game. The verdict? They were under-prepared, going up against Euroleague and NBA players who have a lot more quality games under their belts. NZ are now out of the running for the title but still continue playing for a place at the Olympics. They'll likely regret not beating Brazil in their first game, they could have definitely won that game, shame as Brazil go through as the top team, having found their stride. For NZ it was so close and yet so far.

September 05, 2019

Boris Johnson and Brexit

Just when you thought Brexit was back on track with Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister of Britain, everything goes pear shaped with game playing from Jeremy Corbyn's Labour team and the Remainer camp. Technically Corbyn is not a Remainer, but I think it's safe to label him as such now the gloves are off. We can see him for what he really is, selling out the British working class to London's chattering classes who are dead against Brexit.

I have no idea how this will pan out or who will win. We have a second English Civil War of sorts. On the one side the Leave team made up of Conservatives, along with the hard left of Britain siding with the working class districts which solidly voted Leave. Against them are the South-east of England, Remain camp soft-centred technocrats with their holiday homes on the Continent and a will to defy anyone who gets in the way of their cushy lifestyles. Whoever wins sets the course of Britain's future; either an independent future and world leading or a follower and supplicant to Brussels and the princes of Europe.

September 04, 2019

NZ v Montenegro @ FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019

New Zealand improved in beating Montenegro 93-83. Once again the stand out for the Kiwis was Isaac Fotu, along with Shea Ili's energy and speed.

The NZ performance was a more complete team effort, with their full court zone press creating several turnovers. But they still have things to work on; they need to stop the silly errors, such as stepping out of bounds, or trying to control the ball with one hand instead of getting two hands on it. The big men have got to learn to control the ball and stay on their feet, several times they fell over and lost possession.Shot selection improved but they still need to improve some more, with the hot hands getting the ball more.

The NZ team effort was assisted by the lack of discipline of the Montenegro coach who was ejected from the game.

Can NZ beat Greece? Why not, NZ is far better than its 38th rank in the world suggests. But they'll have to play a near perfect game, making their free throws count and not making stupid unforced errors.

September 02, 2019

Azealia Banks Disses Sweden

Azealia Banks has found out the truth about Sweden; the country is racist and lives so far up its own arse they can't find daylight. That's the nub of it I reckon. The thing that is most annoying about Sweden is their attitude. They think they're always right and that everyone should listen to them. Hang on though, they were neutral during WWII but were happy to take German money. Hmm? They're monumental hypocrites, the best example right now being that grandstanding publicity seeker Greta Thunberg (or is that her parents?). I am always amused by Ms Banks antics, she's rarely wrong but certainly will not win any points for diplomacy.

NZ v Brazil @ FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019

The New Zealand men got off to a bad start, losing 94-102 to Brazil. They won two of the four quarters, but the third quarter decided the final outcome, with a bad display for the Kiwis despite a promising start in the second half.

For me it came down to the quality of the shooting from the field and from the free throw line. The Kiwis lost it in both departments, their shot selection was poor at times, players were often bombing away from long range without a single Kiwi in a rebounding position. And they didn't make the free throws count despite getting Brazil into foul trouble. I haven't seen the exact stats but I wouldn't be surprised if NZ's missed free throws were the difference between the teams. By contrast the Brazilians shot the lights out.

I don't see Brazil going deep in this tournament, they looked to be a team that preferred to shoot from the perimeter, eschewing the rough stuff inside the keyhole. I liked the Kiwis physical style of play and on attack their up tempo style, that alone kept them in the game.

For individuals, I like Alex Garcia for Brazil. He's a defensive specialist and his intensity turned the game for them. For New Zealand, Corey Webster looked useful, but the best of the Kiwis had to be Isaac Fotu. It's a shame the Kiwis don't have more like him. Contrast his efforts with those of Tai Webster who was playing hero ball the whole time. He needed to settle and play sensibly, he pushed too hard, forcing his shots and ending up looking awful. Then Tom Abercrombie looked out of his depth. However, Shea Ili and Ethan Rusbatch looked full of energy, they both chimed in well.

Where to for NZ now? They have to beat Montenegro (possible) and Greece (unlikely) to advance. They've got to sort out their shot selection and sink those free throws. Then stop playing hero ball. More importantly, continue to play physically and fast. Good luck Kiwis. Oh and don't expect to get the referee calls go your way, they're clearly favouring the more fancied teams, so put the result beyond doubt.

August 31, 2019

Bury Out, Bolton Survives

It's bad news for Bury FC, unable to find a buyer they're been thrown out of the EFL and now their future looks bleak. Bolton on the other hand look to have secured a buyer and they can continue for now, but their long term future looks uncertain. Bury are gone after 125 or so years in the EFL, they've won two FA Cups. A sad day for English football.

August 30, 2019

Prorogation

People have found a new word, prorogation. Those in the UK trying to derail Brexit are calling the Prime Minister's proroguing of parliament a coup. Err, except far from it. To prorogue parliament means to discontinue a session. It is not a coup as parliament is not being overthrown, power is not being seized illegally. The bluster from those complaining is quite incredible but also very funny. The PM has every right to govern, especially when you consider he intends exercising the will of the people which was the result of the referendum held in 2016, and that was to leave the EU. Get over it and get on with it.

August 29, 2019

Top 5 Colonial Masters

I'm talking about the best, not the biggest. Some empire builders don't get a high rating, failures include Australia and Belgium. What? Just look at Papua New Guinea in the case of Australia and the Central African Republic in the case of Belgium.

Here is my best, in order by the amount of individual freedom yet bringing order, security and trade.

1. British Empire

No surprise this, they brought the Common Law, Education, Engineering, Arts, the list is endless. But then the locals get to do pretty much whatever they like within reason.

2. Mughal Empire

Prosperous, once they took control through war, they pretty much left people to get on with things. Economic growth took care of the rest. 

3. New Zealand

In terms of population a tiny empire but large if you consider the area of the globe covered, encompassing Cook Islands, Tokelau, Niue, and after invasion and removal of Germany, Western Samoa. Never heavy handed, ready to listen and generous, NZ should do more enlightenment.

4. Roman Empire

It's all true, they did so much and hardly ever get credit. Cue the Monty Python team; what have the Romans ever done for us. It has become fashionable to only talk of negatives.


5. Achaemenid Empire

An early and rather large empire. Its capital was Babylon and eventually fell to Alexander the Great. Depending on who you read, the fall of the empire was largely due to high taxation or a failure to create a national identity. Still, everyone wanted to belong and it grew rather fast, lasting for just over 200 years. Think about this, they valued the truth and disliked debt. A pretty good recipe for success right there.