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Feb
2

Basketball Movies in 2012: The winner of the Oscar (Robertson) for Best Full-Length Documentary is…

Other Dream Team posterCongratulations from BallinEurope go out this morning to Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Day-Lewis, the Argo team, Jennifer Lawrence (swoon) and the other winners of Academy Awards last night. And now, it’s decision time here.

The annual bestowing of BallinEurope’s Oscar (Robertson) Awards for basketball excellence in 2012 has seen Thunderstruck, The Dream Team and The Harlem Globetrotters take awards in their individual categories, leaving the prize for “Best Full-Length Documentary” still to be awarded — and lemme tell ya, BiE has spent way too much time thinking it over this weekend.

The no-brainer nominee (and well worthy) is the long-awaited The Other Dream Team, which was finally released in 2012 after more than two years of buildup and production. And damn, was it worth the wait.

For those somehow not in the know on this film, The Other Dream Team tells the story of the 1992 Lithuanian men’s basketball team, a squad essentially assembled from scratch, rather like its home nation itself in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. As with their Team USA counterparts in that fateful year (not to mention the silver-winning Croatia and even the fourth-place “Unified Team”), the scope of Team Lithuania’s story is huge. Unlike The Dream Team’s run to immortality in Barcelona, though, this team’s podium finish carried all the weight of history with more than a touch of good-humored wackiness.

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Nov
0

Podcast: Interview with wheelchair hoops legend Patrick Anderson; rants and raves on FIBA, D’Antoni, Euroleague underdogs

Now online is episode #9 in the ongoing “Taking the Charge” podcast series, a production of heinnews with BallinEurope. In a desperate attempt to keep things under three hours for once, just one interview makes the ‘cast this week, but an interesting subject he is.

For Patrick Anderson is a three-time gold medalist and one-time world champion in the sphere of wheelchair basketball; he’s “largely considered to be the best wheelchair basketball player in the world and one of the greatest to have ever played the game” – and BiE’s quoting directly from Wheelchair Basketball Canada there – the Calvin Stadiums of wheeled hoops, to employ some “Taking the Charge” vernacular.

The now-retired Mr. Anderson lets us in on the specialized skills required in that game, his favorite moments, Steve Nash’s game on wheels and, in Taking the Charge’s attempt to relate as many obscure sports as possible into the tangential orbit of European basketball, the story of sledge hockey.

Also on the ‘cast are Dave and Davis’ musings on that whole FIBA thing (who else can’t wait for the announcement from the federation on Monday?); the still-awaited arrival of Mike D’Antoni to the Los Angeles Lakers; a handful of recent Euroleague, Adriatic League and VTB United League games; and surely more.

The entire podcast may be heard here. Talk to you next week!

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Aug
26

US NBA stars beat Spain to take gold



(via AFP)

The United States Dream Team of NBA stars captured their second Olympic men’s basketball gold medal in a row and the 14th overall for America by beating Spain 107-100 in Sunday’s final. The US multi-millionaire lineup of NBA elite claimed their fifth crown in the past six Olympics, improving to 62-since revamping the national team program after settling for bronze in 2004.

The Americans ran through the tournament undefeated just as they did in 2008 when they defeated Spain 118-107 in the Beijing final. The latest roster had five gold winners from Beijing and five from the US 2010 world champions.…

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Aug
22

USA 107, Spain 100: Lebron James continues ownership of 2012 with pair of golden daggers

Even more than Vassilis Spanoulis and Olympiacos, 2012 in basketball has belonged to Lebron James. So it is indeed fitting that the King threw the dagger to earn his Team USA the gold.

At 97-91, a double-digit Team USA had evaporated through some sloppy turnovers in what felt like a momentum change, a Spanish charge. And then Lebron returned, getting the ball, charging through the lane while the BBC play-by-play man was reduced to “uh oh.” Slam, 99-91. “And by uh oh,” quipped BBC guy, “I meant ‘wow.’”

On the next possession, it was James for three. USA 102, Spain 93 and “hope was fading” for Los Rojos.

This after Team Spain had managed a brilliant third quarter, trading leads with the US and perhaps inducing a tiny bit of fear. In lieu of Marc Gasol, the formerly nearly-invisible Serge Ibaka had a swell third quarter, capping it with a block on Deron Williams driving to the basket which might’ve given Team USA a three-point lead to end a quarter in which Spain shot 60% overall – and no threes.

Wire writeup to be posted later, but for now kudos to Lebron James, high-scorer Kevin Durant and Team USA for taking the gold, and to Team Spain for fighting adversity, wear and tear for the silver.

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Aug
5

USA 59, Spain 58 after 20 minutes: Notes and such

Here we go … Team USA vs Spain for the gold! What more needs to be said?

The first hype pushed at 4pm on the NBC broadcast: Kobe vs. Pau! (Clearly, BiE’s in touch with the American broadcasters…); Kobe is 1-0 in Olympic Games, doesn’t want to lose to Pau, doesn’t want to lose at all, etc.

Key stats from the final game in the 2008 Beijing Olympics; that game saw Kobe Bryant go 7-of-14 for 20 with six assists, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 18 after struggling throughout the tournament, and 56 fouls were called.

Spain is following the Liga Endesa-prescribed plan at best as possible, forcing USA to play a very slow game. Fast break points in the first quarter went just 4-0 for Team USA, and Pau Gasol is exploiting the mismatch against Carmelo in the post when possible, though that hasn’t been often.

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Aug
1

Russia 81, Argentina 77: Alexey Shved leads way to team’s best Olympics finish of modern era

Though Team Russia didn’t quite reach the lofty heights BiE had forecast, a hearty congratulations go out to the team today for its 81-77 win over Argentina to take the 2012 Olympics bronze medal in its best showing of the post-Soviet Union era. Wire report runs below.
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Aug
14

2012 Olympics: Five reasons Russia will beat Spain (and one other Fearless Prediction™)

Now that BallinEurope’s personal Olympic bracket has been shot to hell, BiE will revert to the cumulative readers/contributors’ podium picks of USA-Russia-Argentina. Followers know that BiE’s ridden Russia since the opening ceremonies and the quarterfinals, despite a Spain win, only strengthened this convinction. Below, then, are five reasons why Russia will overcome the 4.5-point favorites.

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Aug
1

2012 Olympic basketball: Cold War clash to be repeated?

From the newswire this morning comes a bit of nostalgia for those who remember and perhaps a tiny bit of history for those who don’t remember Team USSR of the old Olympic Games … BiE’s telling ya, it’s USA vs. Russia in the finals…

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Aug
41

Fearless Predictions™ by BallinEurope readers, contributors: USA, Russia, Argentina will medal

Right, things will be tipping off shortly in London with eight teams remaining in bids for a podium spot. And with the votes in and brackets fashioned, let’s see what BallinEurope contributors (including David Hein, Enrico Cellini and Sam Chadwick) and readers find in their own crystal balls…

Gold medal: USA (with 86% of votes)
So probably the only surprise here is that it wasn’t unanimous. Dissenting votes were logged for Spain and Russia, though the latter may carry a bit of an asterisk. The sole voice liking the Reds to take it all was commentator El Diablo from Australia (!) who took his home side to win the gold, then backed down, explaining “I still reckon that Russia will beat the US, assuming Shevd doesn’t lose his shit again…

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Aug
5

2012 Olympic basketball: Rising and falling stock after the first round

While we’re a little ways away from actually awarding medals for 2012 Olympic basketball, the first round showed international hoops fans quite a lot. Though the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, reputations have changed over the past five games to cause some individual and/or teams losses beyond these Olympics. BallinEurope today takes a look at those whose stock has risen and those who’ve fallen in the early going of the London Games.

Rising
Lebron James. Yeah, like this guy needs a further upward trend in his already all-time lofty-looking career. Four years ago, ESPN’s Bill Simmons proclaimed (correctly, in BiE’s opinion) that in 2008 ‘Games crunch time, “everyone deferred to Kobe, who made some monster plays to clinch it. Know that in the history of the NBA we have never had the best-player-alive argument resolved so organically.” In 2012, King James has proven himself to be the best player on the best team in this Olympic tournament.

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