World B-Ball Smackdown: Shane vs. Pau? 

Maybe they never won an NBA playoff game together, but Grizzlies star Pau Gasol and ex-Griz fan favorite Shane Battier could be on a collision course at the World Basketball Championships, which begins elimination play this weekend in Japan. Spain and the USA will line up on opposite sides of the 16-team bracket and are the favorites to meet in the gold medal game next week. Gasol is having another dominant tournament, currently third in scoring (behind fellow NBA stars Yao Ming and Dirk Nowitski) and 6th in rebounding in leading his Spanish national team to a perfect 5-0 record in preliminary play. Batter has settled into a key bench role for the undefeated US team, playing double-digit minutes in every game so far while shooting 60 percent from three-point range.

Spain opens elimination play against Serbia & Montenegro Saturday. Team USA squares off against Australia Sunday. The World Basketball Championships are being broadcast on ESPN2 and NBATV. Check listings for game times, and scope out everything’s that’s happening at the tournament here.


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