Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011Posted: 1:22 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Follow @CSNBullsInsider
The trio of Bulls with international ties concluded a collectively successful opening round of EuroBasket competition Tuesday.
Although Luol Deng's Great Britain squad didn't advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament, Deng finished as the leading scorer and second-leading rebounder through first-round play and led his team to wins in their two final games, putting up 32 points and 10 rebounds against Portugal and 28 points, 14 rebounds and six assists against Poland.
As the host country of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Great Britain was already assured of a spot in London and after its progress this summer -- and the possible addition of former Bulls guard Ben Gordon, who didn't play this year because of a reported insurance issue --there should be more optimism for the perennially-dismal national team.
France, Joakim Noah's team, went undefeated in its pool to win its group and advance to the quarterfinals after surviving an overtime thriller Monday against Serbia. Noah fouled out in the extra period, but went for 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists against former NBA counterpart Nenad Kristic, who ended last season as a Celtics center. Spurs point guard Tony Parker has been dominant for France and with fellow NBA players Nicolas Batum of Portland and Boris Diaw of Charlotte also playing key roles, Noah hasn't put up gaudy statistics.
Omer Asik's Turkish national team, runner-up to USA in last summer's FIBA World Championships, also advanced to the next round with a 3-2 record in the same pool as Great Britain. Asik, coming off a fractured left fibula suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals, progressed throughout the first round and scored his highest point total, 12, in Turkey's upset win over Spain -- the favorite in the tournament was without star Lakers big man Pau Gasol, but still had his brother Marc of the Grizzlies at center -- Monday.
Noah and Asik will face off Wednesday in their teams' first game of quarterfinal action.
Who do you expect to come out on top in the individual matchup? Keep in mind, Asik is much more experienced when it comes to the international game.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.