The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++ Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen +++ The Dish: Can I play with Madness? +++ Just point out the bounce +++

The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt

Quantez Robertson's last ride

BiE’s editor headed to Frankfurt to catch a supposedly nothing game between Fraport Skyliners and medi Bayreuth on Sunday. It was 11th vs 15th, the atmosphere was like a playoff spot was at stake.

The stakes could hardly have been lower. Fraport Skyliners were all but eliminated from the playoffs and medi Bayreuth only faced a relegation threat in the mathematical sense. A few hundred miles away Bamberg and Bayern were going to duke it out in the battle for home court advantage but the fans in Frankfurt didn’t care for the bigger picture. They had one foe, one goal, help their team get the W by being as loud as humanly possible. No-one is going to confuse the Fraport Arena with the OAKA any time soon but when you head to a mid-table game, you don’t really expect this:

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Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs

BallinEurope only went 6 of 8 in picking the teams to make the post-season and one of those sides we didn’t have faith in won’t be happy with how we see the playoffs shaping up. It’s fearless prediction time.

Barcelona vs Galatasaray

Pick: Barca in 3.

So we didn’t think Galatasaray would make it this far and now we’re saying there roll a doughnut in the post-season. Harsh? Perhaps but we’re standing by it. Barcelona’s slump at the end of the Top 16 can’t disguise a 22-0 start to Euroleague this season. This team is going to Milan, the question is how many games it will require. Much as Galatasaray deserve credit for holding their nerve in the wild battle for fourth in Group F, they look to have drawn a pairing suited to exploit them. If it’s any comfort, we seem to have given Pops Mensah-Bonsu some added motivation.

Real Madrid vs Olympiacos

Pick: RMB in 4.

This was a tough call to make and not for the reason you might think. Real Madrid look to have the most complete team in Europe this season. If they weren’t utterly unbackable, I’d take RMB to walk into a 2-0 series lead without blinking. The question in my mind is whether they will be able to finish the Reds off quickly or if it will require them going back to Madrid. In the end I split the difference and called it Real in a 3-1 win.

CSKA Moscow vs Panathinaikos

Pick: CSKA in 5.

Honestly, this was the easiest call of the lot. You could slot in any opponent and I’d have trouble believing this CSKA team would take care of business the easy way. It’s just not been their style all season. If any series goes the max, this will be it. Panathinaikos still look capable of taking care of business back home but neither of the Greek giants looks like final four material this year.

EA7 Milano vs Maccabi Elektra Tel-Aviv

Pick: Milano in 4.

This is about as good a style match-up as Milano could have hoped for. They have the weapons to hurt Maccabi and to do so repeatedly. Home court in the final four isn’t something that comes around every year and that’s plenty motivation for Milano. It could have been a source of nerves but the maturity this outfit showed in the Top 16 makes me think otherwise. For the first half of that phase Milano kept stumbling, not quite doing enough to convince skeptics like me (who said they wouldn’t make the post-season) of their worth and then boom they caught fire. The Barca win is what most remember but the change had already happened. They had evolved from could-bes to probablys.

So where have I gone horribly wrong? Please vent your frustrations in the comments.


A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing

March Madness ended on Monday. On Tuesday Dario Saric, having just signed a new agent, delivered a triple-double with perfect timing to get the attention of NBA scouts. His 20 points, 13 board, and 10 assists in Cibona’s 96-70 Croatian Cup semi-final win over KK Zagreb. Super Dario certainly knows when to pick his moment.


Swee’ Pea needs your help

The Legend of Swee’ Pea- extended trailer from Benjamin May on Vimeo.

A couple of weeks back we told you about a great Kickstarter looking for support in developing a documentary on Lloyd “Swee’ Pea” Daniels, a player who spent a couple of seasons in Europe having risen from playground legend to the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs. Right now it’s not looking like this film will get made as the producers are a long way short of their fund-raising goal.

BiE has literally zero bias here, no-one in the site stands to make a dime from the movie. We just really want it to get made because it looks awesome. From the footage we’ve seen outside of the extended trailer above (which for rights reasons we can’t share), it looks like a tale any basketball junkie wants to see told.

So, purely because we think you’ll enjoy this movie, we’re urging you to go to the Kickstarter page here and pledge your support.


Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk

APTOPIX SEC Kentucky Florida Basketball
Those familiar with this site’s Twitter handle may be aware that our editor, Emmet Ryan, spent a few years working in the gambling business. He looks at how the bookies see the odds for the NCAA Championship and what it says about their confidence in the four combatants.

Lets take a look at the odds (NCAA Basketball championship odds taken from a prominent bookmaker) and see what the bookies are seeing.

Florida -120
Kentucky +240
Wisconsin +350
Connecticut +750

There are two quick takes here. Firstly, despite it being an utterly awful year for the SEC per the stats, the oddsmakers love Florida and Kentucky and it makes sense. The Gators have experience, talent, and have the edge in every area of note over all three of their opponents. Being odds-on with two games to go, even if it’s only narrowly, is no easy feat and Billy Donovan’s team must be seeing a lot of action. Make no mistake, this is a defensive stance from the bookies. They expect Florida to beat UConn and to then get a heap of action for the championship game on Monday. This is an effort to force that run until after Saturday.

The other key observation is importance of profile in terms of action. Wisconsin have done more over the course of this season to merit support, despite an ugly start to Big Ten play, but they haven’t laid a market down. Kentucky has the profile of being Kentucky, John Calipari as coach, and a lottery pick in Julius Randle. Throw in a hot run through March Madness and suddenly a team that lost three times to Florida is second favourite.

The value play here is, in fact, the team favoured to win it all. At -120, Florida aren’t priced out of the market and unless you seriously think they will lose to the Huskies, a bettor can back them now and then lay their bet with a bit of wriggle room on Monday.


The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever

Also, admittedly, possibly the only Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever. It’s so good we briefly considered forgiving Lipko, then we remembered that we hate Lipko.


Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA


With Ballineurope’s Editor Emeritus Os Dave moving back to the USA later this, Nick Young did the most Nick Young thing possible. Behold the Lakers man going full Swaggy P are the wrong time.

Best of luck to Os and the family back in the USA.


Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen

In this gig I get a lot of unsolicited email. Most of it is nice and a huge chunk of it is begging for coverage. I tend to say no a lot because I’m not in the interest of spamming my readers. Every now and again, one of those unexpected mails is worth following up. This is definitely one of those exceptions. Allow me to introduce you to The Legend of Swee’ Pea.

Lloyd ‘Swee’ Pea’ Daniels was a playground legend whose quixotic life saw him signed up to UNLV, forced to leave the program over drug issues, eventually make his way to the NBA, and then a few stints in Europe with Pesaro, Galatasaray, AEK Athens, and Ovarense. Every baller has a story to tell but they guys behind this documentary have found a gem in Daniel. This is a player whose life is fascinating and worth telling.

In addition to the clip above I’ve seen some other unfinished portions which I sadly can’t share for rights reasons at present but trust me, the film-makers are on to something really special here.

To put it simply. If you want to see a great documentary about a fascinating character, support this project via its Kickstarter. You can also find out more at the film’s web site.

BiE will be making a donation next weekend to help it along and we plan on interviewing the film-makers in the coming weeks. If you have any questions you’d like us to put to them, leave them in the comments below.


The Dish: Can I play with Madness?

It may be March Madness across the Atlantic but Euroleague served up plenty of insanity this week as the races for the final playoff spots entered crazy territory. Emmet Ryan breaks it all down.

The story of this week should have been the return of Zeljko Obradovic to the OAKA and, in fairness, it was but only barely. The love-fest for Zoc’s return was quite heart-warming under any circumstance but moreso considering the importance of Panathinakos’ game with Fenerbahce. The Greens took the lead in the race for the final two spots in Group E with a 76-67 win over Fener. The whole celebration has been documented well by Eurohoops who also did a great job on Twitter in the build-up with their #ReturnOfZoc tweets.

That win not only moved Panathinaikos to 6-5 and third spot but also gave them the season head to head advantage over Obradovic’s side. Olympiacos ran riot over Baskonia but they only hold fourth on tie-breakers over Unicaja and Fener. Malaga for their part looked limp in defeat against visiting Barcelona. The Blaugrana moved to 21-0 in Euroleague play, 11-0 in Top 16 play. A win next week and top spot is their’s, fortunately if that does happen their two dead rubbers almost certainly won’t influence who makes the next stage. EA7 Milano effectively ended any shot at the playoffs for Anadolu Efes and look certain to take second spot following their 76-69 win.

Before I move on to Group F, on behalf of the whole BiE family I’d like to extend our support to all of our readers and followers in Turkey. With Twitter being blocked, you guys responded the only way you should have; by finding ways around the block. This is not a political site but we believe that everyone should have a voice. There is nothing right with silencing people, it was good to see so many of our friends finding ways to keep their voices.
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Just point out the bounce

A just beyond half-court buzzer beater is impressive enough in its own right but this video is all about the bounce. Nazareth High School JV point guard Zak Wegfahrt put up a heave and got a big time assist from the backboard.