It was a big night for Jonas Valanciunas as he scored 19 points and snagged 8 rebounds in Lithuania’s World Cup warm-up win over Australia. Here’s the Raptors’ big man doing his thing.
Well that was one of the most dramatic finishes in a while. Barcelona beat Valencia 77-75 to progress to the ACB Finals but they needed an incredible floater to take the final W. Enter Marce…
The win gave Barcelona a 3-2 series win. The Blaugrana now progress to take on reigning champions Real Madrid in the ACB Finals.
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:
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.
It was another big week in the Top 16 of Euroleague, the Greek stars narrowly won their own All Star game, and Killester claimed the title in Ireland.
My keyboard is acting up and I hate writing on a touchscreen so this won’t be too long.
Is that breathing room I see in Milan? The biggest result of the week was unquestionably EA7 Milano pulling the upset at Olympiacos. The 86-88 final score crucially moved the Italians, who host the Final Four, to 6-3, two games clear of fifth place with five games to go. Having stayed in the playoff places throughout the opening eight rounds, Milan have looked the part but hadn’t been able to establish their credentials as a probable playoff side. Now, with Barcelona out of sight on 9-0, the Italians sit in second place with room to err before getting worried about their season falling apart. Rob Scott has a lengthy but good read on the rise of EA7 Milan over on Euroleague Adventures that you should check out.
The rest of Group E is all kinds of insanity. Unicaja hold third place on 5-4 with Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, and Fenerbahce right behind on 5-4. This isn’t going to shake out in any sensible way until Round 13 at the earliest and my money says there is still at least one place up for grabs in the final week.
Group F is really all about fourth at this stage and it’s a funny old battle. Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow, both 8-1, are likely to take the top two spots with Maccabi Elektra slotting into third. Lokomotiv Kuban have looked much, much, better than Bayern Munich during this stage but keep on giving the Germans chances. A big win for Kuban over Maccabi put them ahead of the Bavarians, who took a pounding from Partizan, but both sit on 4-5 and Galatasaray are only a game back of a playoff spot on 3-6. All logic and reason says Kuban finds a way to take fourth but this game is about wins and losses. This fight is far from a done deal.
Looking ahead to next week, Fenerbahce’s home game with Unicaja is huge for both sides. A road win for the Malaga side makes life an awful lot tougher for Fener. If Obradovic’s side is serious about making the playoffs, this is a must-win game. Milan travel to cellar dwellers Baskonia. If they hit the 7-3 mark, they can seriously start thinking about home advantage in the playoffs. Over in Group F, Kuban host Galatasaray while Bayern welcome RMB. It’s tough to see anything other than a Madrid win in the latter so Kuban, if you’re serious about making the post-season, it’s time to take care of business.
Outside of Euroleague, the Irish title was decided on Sunday. Killester, fresh off a road upset win over cup winners Blue Demons, needed to win two games in as many days to lock up the championship. Convincing victories over UL Eagles on Saturday and Neptune on Sunday gave the Dublin club their eighth championship. Killester, Neptune, Demons, and DCU Saints, will contest the season ending Champions Trophy next weekend.
Sunday was also the day of the Greek All Star game with the Greek Stars edging their international counterparts 123-122.
The most entertaining geeks in European basketball over at In-the-game.org have a new podcast up. Check out their historical analysis of the 2002 Euroleague final which once again serves to remind us that someone in basketball should hire Simon Jatsch.
UCD Marian beat DCU Saints in the Irish Men’s Premier League on Saturday night but their victory wasn’t without its faults and the best were put together in this sweet compilation set to the stytle of the NBA on TNT’s Shaqtin’ a Fool segment.
And because it seems Marian’s fans really like to play with videos, they have also put together a slow-mo video ala the NBA Phantom videos.
Note to Euroleague…do some Phantom style videos.
Friday night was the highlight of the Irish Basketball calendar as both Cup titles went south to Cork. BiE’s Emmet Ryan was at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght to take in the action. Health and safety is a strange beast for sports organisations. The Arena is barely 25 years old yet its capacity has been more than halved over the years. Built as a gym to seat 3,000, the venue has come down to just 1,400 seats in the modern era. The din isn’t the same when its full as in the old days but it still gets loud when something special goes down. That’s what we got in the women’s Cup Final. The inelegantly named Team Montenotte Hotel Glanmire (TMH) were looking to avenge their loss to the UL Huskies in last year’s decider. The Limerick team has dominated the Irish game in recent years, taking every title on offer the past two seasons. This year however the league has turned into a real dogfight with most teams having both a US import and a Bosman. TMH’s import, Emilee Harmon, is a former Ohio State Buckeye but she was flat-out owned by UL’s Sligo born centre Aoife McDermott in the early going. The low-post was the only place the Huskies were in control early as TMH set a ludicrous pace from the off. Nailing 6 of 9 from beyond the arc in the first half certainly helped but far more important was the Glanmire side’s 10 seconds or less approach to offence. This pace did not suit the Huskies in the slightest and they were brutalised in transition in the first half. Save for McDermott’s one-woman show, the reigning champs would have been in a much bigger hole than the 52-40 deficit they faced at the break. Continue Reading…
Luol Deng is no longer a Bull but he wasn’t going to be at the end of the season anyway. The move to Cleveland gives the Great Britain international more control over his future.
Two words. Two words give Luol Deng reason to be happy with his situation: Kyrie Irving. Deng has gone from being a player who would get dumped by Chicago in the summer to one with far more influence come the end of the season.
The Cavaliers know they made a meal and then some of their efforts to keep LeBron James happy but they never gave him a bona fide second option to work with. In acquiring Deng, effectively on a rental, and cashing in some picks in the process they are sending a message to Irving that they won’t err the same way with the point guard. This isn’t exactly putting Pippen with Jordan but it serves a role almost as vital, in spite if the talent disparity. The Cavs took a punt on Andrew Bynum, it didn’t work, so they moved fast to ensure their star didn’t get needy.
In the process they gave Deng, an All Star a few seasons back, the one thing he really lacked this summer. A home option. The Team GB star was going to be an attractive option in the free agent market but he would be going up against a market loaded with top end talent. Now Deng will enter the summer, irrespective of how Cleveland’s season ends, knowing there’s at least one team in greater need of him than he is of their courtship. The Cavs zre desperate not to make the mistakes they made with LeBron with Irving. They are also desperate not to look desperate.
This is a situation where it behooves the Cavs to make Luol Deng happy quickly because the sooner he gets locked down, the lower the risk of Irving getting angsty. It’s about the long game with Irving. The Cavs don’t want to give him a reason to ever be needy, to ever be demanding. Take care of business, get your house in order, and keep it that way. That is how your maintain control in a front office, by never giving a player reasons to want it. For examples of how to best succeed with this strategy see Spurs, San Antonio.
Everyone’s trying to call which way this trade went. Deng is the only certifiable winner here but long-term, the shuffling of assets may actually benefit both the Cavs and the Bulls. For Britain’s best baller, that’s at most a secondary concern.
Sunday sees the best ballers in Ireland head to the UK to try and pull off a big upset over their compatriots in the British Basketball League (BBL) for the second year straight. Emmet Ryan spoke with Mark Keenan, coach of the Irish Men’s Premier Select Team (MPSL), about their quest for glory in Birmingham.
Mark Keenan became a big deal just as Irish basketball entered its dark age, well the first as it was punctuated by a turn of the century revival, as he led an all-conquering St Vincent’s team to national cup and league success in the early 90s. Here was this 5’6″ nobody playing a vital role on the best team in the game as far as Irish viewers were concerned. Since hanging up his kicks, Keenan has enjoyed similar success as a coach. Last season he coached UL Eagles to the league title and a losing appearance in the cup final. Keenan was also the man in charge when an unfancied selection from the Irish league topped a BBL select team just hours before the BBL Cup Final.
Keenan’s back again with a squad containing just four members of that victorious roster. They head to Birmingham this weekend looking to build on a rout of a Welsh selection earlier this season. With no national team to aim for, this is the peak for many Irish players. Rare as the opportunity to play an international, even a quasi one, is the realities of life have somewhat stymied preparations. Of tbe 29 players invited to camp, only 17 could make themselves available for the weekend commitment in Birmingham. With the national cup semi finals on Friday night, many of the amateur outfit couldn’t commit the extra time off work or away from their families. Keenan however is confident in the 12 man roster he has. Now there’s just the small matter of preparing for an opponent of who they know little.
“We had to do some homework. Last we I watched a lot of BBL games on TV, as much as I could. With players I wasn’t familiar with, I bounced them off Colin O’Reilly an Irish player who played in the BBL. I’ve taken a similar approach this year watching them online and Colin’s helped out again with the players I haven’t seen too much of,” Keenan told Ballineurope.com.
This morning everyone’s favourite Euro basketball geek, Simon Jatsch, shared tbis image showing stats on point guard behaviour in Spain’s ACB. Take a look at try to see wbat’s wrong with it…
Click to see the image in full. What the chart lacks, quite simply, is an anomalous performer. The correlations are almost perfect. It’s the lack of something strange that makes this information strange in its own right. Where’s the freak? Sometimes an abundance of the conventional can raise eyebrows.