Angolan-born Júlio Chitunda’s basketball acumen was first broadcast nationwide in 2002 when he warned his editor at the Portuguese Radio TSF (www.tsf.pt) that a historic basketball moment had just happened. Argentina had just stunned the world after beating (87-80) a US team filled with NBA players at the FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana.
He is a former player in Portugal's former second division and a University of Sheffield journalism alumnus. Júlio had a short spell in TV and also worked as an international correspondent for the British “Press Association Sports.” In Portugal, he worked for the former National Basketball League’s website, as well as for Infordesporto, a leading sports news website. Julio is also a FIBA.com columnist.
LeBron James and the Miami Heat (36-14) ended the first half of the regular season with a remarkable seven-game winning streak, raising a question whether they will remain unbeaten and stretch their winning run in the coming games.
James averaged a record 32 points in seven straight games, before the All-Star break, a historic feat that only Wilt Chamberlain did in the 1962-63 season.
No question that James is playing in his prime.
But if you are wondering how you solve a problem like James’s offensive game, there is a bunch of stiff defenders in the league able to answer, including Milwaukee Buck’s Luc Mbah a Moute, known for his defensive mindset.
It is not an easy task to stop James, but it is possible.
Because “he uses quite a lot of pick-and-roll,” Cameroonian Mbah a Moute says “I try to be physical at all times with him and give him different angles.”
“If you let him dominate you - because of his physical presence - you are already at a disadvantage. You just try to make it tough,” the 6’ 8” forward explained in an interview published on his website when asked about the toughest players to match up with in the league.
On the other hand, for the New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana, Portland, and the Milwaukee Bucks – the only five teams to have subdued the defending champions by two digits this season – yes, the Heat and James are beatable.
In the Knicks season opener, as Hurricane Sandy hit parts of the East Coast, Heat conceded their biggest loss of this season (104-84) in front of 19,033 fans at Madison Square Garden.
But the Heat would not enter the New Year without another road setback (104-85) – the second biggest loss of the season - versus the Bucks.
On December 29, Mbah a Moute pulled down 19 points and had a strong defensive job on LeBron James who harvested 11-for-20 in field-goals, turned the ball over on six occasions and finished with 26 points in 36 minutes. James was 1-for-2 from behind arc.
Mbah a Moute’s defensive skills mean that he is one to match up against the best player of whichever team the Bucks are playing, regardless of their position. Whether they are point-guards, forwards or centers, Mbah a Moute is there to stop them.
“When I am out there, it is just something I enjoy doing,” he explained, although he recognizes that guarding players of James’ and Kobe Bryant’s caliber has helped improve his game.
On March 15, the Heat will return to the Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee for their third clash of the season, and if these two players can keep injury-free there will surely be a good match-up to follow.
As for the question, “how do you solve a problem like LeBron James,” it seems that Mbah a Moute’s view speaks for itself.