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  Wed, September 1, 2004


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Argentines show right way to play
GM wants same for his Raps
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

Rob Babcock wouldn't mind if his Raptors adopted the same style of basketball as Argentina's national team, eventually if not immediately.

"I watched almost all the Olympic games," Babcock, the Raptors' rookie general manager, said yesterday. "And I was not surprised."

Argentina won the gold medal in Athens after defeating Babcock's native United States in the semi-finals. The Americans, stocked with NBAers such as Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, settled for a disappointing bronze.

"There are two things we in North America have to realize," said Babcock, who long has been a proponent of international hoops. "First, the rest of the world has improved tremendously during the past 20 years. And second, we're not playing the right way anymore. We're not playing well anymore.

"Fundamentals have deteriorated. Coaching has deteriorated. That's not to say there aren't great players and coaches out there, but there aren't nearly as many.

"Argentina plays basketball the way you're supposed to play it. They help each other on defence. They help each other on offence. They help to get each other shots. Absolutely, we should be playing more that way in the NBA."

Easier said than done, obviously.

However, Babcock is certain some of the philosophies exhibited by Argentina are being discussed this week by Raptors coach Sam Mitchell and his staff.

"The coaches are together right now, as we speak," Babcock said. "They're having a kind of coaching retreat in Georgia, making plans for training camp. We're going to be at Brock University (in St. Catharines early next month).

"We're planning to have about 17 or 18 players in camp, depending upon who comes available. Some teams like to have fewer, but we have a number of guys coming off injuries, so we'll need some extra bodies."

Speaking of extra bodies, Argentina looked like it had a few as it befuddled the U.S. with an aggressive passing attack. Babcock rejects the notion that the Americans weren't trying, or that their egos were too big.

"I don't blame the players individually," Babcock said. "They played hard and I don't believe they played selfishly.

"But we sent a young team that was not very experienced, and quite frankly, they were going against better teams. Argentina clearly was a better team than the U.S. Spain probably had a better team than the U.S., too. And there were a few other teams that were right there as well.

"It's true there's more pressure in the smaller countries for their best players to play, but we have to address what type of team the U.S. can put together for these events. We try to do it in 2 1/2 weeks. A coach like Larry Brown teaches a system, but he can't possibly put it in place in 2 1/2 weeks. So I don't blame him, either."

So if the players weren't to blame and the coach wasn't to blame, what happened?

Well, to quote an old Al Pacino movie, "This whole court is out of order."

But all is not lost, according to Babcock. He sees hope in the fact that the Detroit Pistons, coached by Brown, beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA final last spring playing a style that relied more on team play than individual skill.

"It's just a more entertaining style, I think," Babcock said. "You still can have that one-on-one stuff and dunks in the NBA for the people who like those things. But it's also great to see players actually passing the ball.

"And the bottom line is, it wins. Look at Argentina. Look at the Pistons."

And someday Babcock wants to add the words, "Look at the Raptors."









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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