Oh, Mirza. Mirza, Mirza, Mirza…
Congratulations to Turkey’s Deniz Kiliçli and his West Virginia University Mountaineers, who pulled off the nice 73-66 upset of Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament regional finals last night. With six teams remaining in The Big Dance, Kiliçli is one of two remaining European youngsters in an otherwise all-American tournament; Baylor, with Bosnia & Herzegovina-born Dragan Sekelja, hope to upend no. 1 seed Duke in the Bears’ hometown of Houston.
Kiliçli saw minimal court time in the win, as WVU employed an exceedingly short rotation that had four starters essentially playing throughout and only six players grabbing more than 20 minutes on the floor. The freshman from Turkey had to have been happy just to be there, however.
After entering WVU from Mountain State Academy high school for the 2009-10 season, Kiliçli was immediately greeted with a 20-game suspension for – stop BiE if you’ve heard this before – having played some pro ball in Turkey.
(One has to wonder why, if the NCAA has deemed Kiliçli to have violated the principal precept of American amateur sport, he’s allowed to play college ball at all. Was it because he didn’t make *that much* money in Istanbul?)
Once activated, Kiliçli won the Mountaineer fanbase over quickly in going 4-for-4 for nine points in just seven minutes of playing time in his first-ever game with WVU against Pittsburgh. As the man says, “How about that for a start?”
As we await the two-game showdown between France and Belgium for the final spot in the FIBA Eurobasket 2009 tournament and Eurobasket Division B pool play enters the homestretch, Ball in Europe takes a speculative look at three national programs we might be hearing a lot more about in 2010 and beyond.
Finland. When Finland capped pool play in Group B of the Eurobasket Additional Qualification Road with an impressive 95-89 victory over Italy, an exclamation point was emphatically put on the team’s success in this tournament.
The Belgian national team has not been crowned with much success in recent years. But a growing number of interesting talents will try to qualify for 2009 Eurobasket in Poland for the first time since 1993. Head coach Eddy Casteels has published his shortlist of 24 players that will attempt the impossible.
With Eurobasket 2009 approaching (by the way, official ticket sales started this weekend), the various participants are currently reviewing possible rosters and inviting new players to compete for spots to play in the basketball event of the summer in Poland. And one player has raised particular interest, as he can play for two countries actually.
To be perfectly honest, Goran Suton was an unknown before this season. The 2.10-meter tall center for the Michigan State Spartans was a honest NCAA player averaging 9.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. This season, too, his stats were not particularly high, but an impressive NCAA tournament turned the spotlight onto Suton, as he was the only European participant in the Final Four. While Suton has now finished his college career, the war to obtain him has begun among various player agents and professional teams. But a totally different type of war has also started these last days.
Suton can in fact play for the senior national teams of either Croatia or Bosnia-Herzegovina: Suton was born in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to a Croatian father and a Serbian mother. During the Bosnian war, his family fled Bosnia to escape ethnic cleansing, but Suton was still a member of different Bosnian youth national teams. However, the wartime escape of his family only finished when they arrived in the United States of America, where Goran continued his basketball career at Everett High School in Lansing, Michigan, and later at Michigan State.
At present, according to FibaEurope, Bosnia still claims the rights to Suton. He was called to the preparation camp of the Bosnian Federation last summer, but he could not answer the call because of student obligations. In 2009, this would no longer be a problem. So Bosnian NT coach Mensur Bajramovic was hoping to see Suton join his squad this summer in order to play the Eurobasket 2009 qualification round, but he did not expect what has now happened.
Suton also got an invitation to join the Croatian national team. Team Croatia head coach Jasmin Repesa put Suton’s name on the list of the Croatian B team that will play a certain number of games this summer and from which the best players will get a roster spot on the national team that will compete in Poland in September. The Croatian Basketball Federation has already been in contact with the former Michigan State player via phone contact, according to sources.
So two national teams are for the moment working hard to get the center under their banner. As for Suton himself, the choice he makes now will determine the future of his plans for international play. While Croatia may have the better chances to win medals one day, Suton is not assured of securing a spot in a team always loaded at the inside positions. In contrast, Bosnia-Herzegovina gives him certainty about playing time, but the chances to win or even qualify for a Eurobasket are far lower than those of Croatia.
We will follow this story and keep you updated as to which country Suton finally decides to play for.
Sofoklis Schortsianitis (Olympiacos) – No shot attempts at all and only one foul in 7:42 minutes. Only once before has Schortsianitis finished a Euroleague game without a single shot attempt and that was when he played only two minutes.
Milos Teodosic (Olympiacos) – How often did you get to see this Serbian scorer finish with zero three-point attempts in 14:40? It happened once last season. If this were to continue this season, it would mean Yannakis is turning the kid from a scoring machine into a true team player. Keep an eye out.
Loren Woods (Zalgiris) set a Euroleague career high with 17 points and nine defensive rebounds against Pao, who have one of the best front lines in Europe.
Tamar Slay (Avelino) had his Euroleague debut as well against a Greek team, but we won’t mention this game on his resume, with his 1-of-10 from the field and -11 VAL.
Marcus Brown (Maccabi) – On Monday, Brown took two flights to arrive in Tel Aviv in the afternoon from Kaunas. The following day, he took two more flights to get from Tel Aviv to Zagreb with his new team. In total, Brown has probably had more flights than practices with his new team. Nevertheless, he played 27:44.
Willie Deans (Zalgiris) – In his Euroleague debut, Deans finished 1-of-10 from the field and -9 VAL against Pao.
Tau Ceramica Vitoria (ACB) used the shortest rotation this week with only eight players. Efes used nine, with one player on the floor for just 22 seconds. All other teams used between nine and 12 players
Rawle Marshall (Cibona) – Simply fun to watch. 20 points, 5-of-9 from the field, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, zero turnovers, 7 fouls drawn, and 29 VAL in a Euroleague debut. All cold numbers. Bottom line: Simply fun to watch.
Dimitris Diamantidis (Panathinaikos) – The best defender award winner for the past four years and one of the top three ball stealers on The Continent played 25:42 against Zalgiris with zero steals.
Dewarick Spencer & David Bluthenthal (Le Mans) – Now this could be a weekly check: Which of these two took more shots for his team? This time, Bluth wins 14-13 and also scores better accuracy.
Theodoros Papaloukas (Olympiacos) – 2,380 days have passed between 18/04/02 and today. Back then, Theo played his last Euroleague game for the Reds; yesterday, he made his rdappearance. Back then, he finished the game with 26:53 in playing time, 8 points, 3 rebounds and a VAL of 16. Today, he played only 90 seconds less, still scored 8 points, still grabbed 3 rebounds, and notched a VAL of 15 …consistency over a six-year span.
Avelino (LEGA) – In its Euroleague debut, the small Italian team registered a VAL of 36. Often this is less than the best weekly VAL from a single player.
Armani Jeans Milano (LEGA) – The game at Moscow was far from Milano’s Euroleague debut but under the new hat and management, expectations were different. Just like Avelino, another Italian team finished a game against a Final Four contender with a poor VAL rating of 36.
Tau (ACB) and Fenerbahce (TBL) combined for 52 attempts from long range on a night on which neither surpassed 30%.
Drew Nicholas (Panathinaikos) – After three seasons in a row over 40% from long range, the US shooter started his career in green with an 0-for-3 performance from long range.
Juan Carlos Navarro (Barcelona) – La Bomba bombed on the NBA runnerups 34 points less than a week ago. Last night, against SLUC Nancy empire, Navarro celebrated his return to the Euroleague with only four points and 1-of-8 from the field.
Derrick Sharp (Maccabi) – The veteran didn’t play a single second the entire game in Zagreb. The last time a Maccabi coach chose not to use Derrick was on 6 January 2000. After a 195-game streak and 3,213 days, a new count begins. Back then, in the first week of the millennium, Maccabi was just 1-of-6 from long range. Last night they showed a poor 4-or-16. Whether that’s a coincidence or not, you be the judge.
Oguz Savas (Fenerbahce) – The Turkish center is a decent rebounder, sometimes even more, but in Vitoria spent more than 23 minutes on the court and finished without a single rebound. This happened to Savas only once all of last season and back then, he played only five minutes.
Milos Vujanic (Efes) is officially back. The Serbian point guard beat his former team by a single point and was his team’s top scorer with 17 and just a single missed shot. The last time Vujanic scored more than 17 in a Euroleague game was on 9 March 2005 (that’s 1,324 days if you’re curious), when his Fortitudo Bologna won at Zalgiris by a single point as well and Vujanic had 18.
Real Madrid (ACB) – No fewer than eight players wrote a double-digit VAL in the 21-point cruise to victory against Olimpija.
Ibrahim Jabber, Ray Allan, Rodrigo De La Fuente, Brandon Jennings and Sanice Becirovic (Roma) – Coach Repesa’s backcourt combined for 4-of-18 inside the arc against Alba.
Nana Mensah-Bonsu (Joventut) had a very busy night under both baskets. Around Joventut’s rim he blocked three shots but on the other end was blocked three times as well. Not many players get to experience such activity on both ends on the floor.
Partizan (YUBA) and Maccabi (BSL) – Both lost by a single basket difference, the smallest margins of the first week, but in both cases it was after a three pointer at the buzzer that only made it look closer than it really was.
Alba (BBL) – No less than 1,723 days, since 4 February 2004, when Alba won their last Euroleague game. It was a 16 point triumph over Efes. John Best, Jovo Stanojevic, Marko Pesic and DeJuan Collins were the top scorers for Alba then. Not a single player on Alba has survived on the team since that season.
Brandon Jennings (Lottomatica) – The most standout number in the game that took Jennings’ Euroleague virginity is his 22 minutes with just a single turnover. Brandon also took nine shots from the field, more than any other Roma player yesterday.
Montepaschi (LEGA) were shooting better outside the arc (48% with 12 made) than inside it (40.5% with 15 made) in the nine-point win over Prokokm.
Boniface Ndong, Marcus Haislip and Robert Archibald (Unicaja) – The team’s three big men were also its three top scorers with 14, 13 and 11 points, respectively, over Le Man’s bigs.
Alain Koffi (Le Mans) – The athletic big man has finished each of his five seasons in the ULEB Cup and Euroleague with seven to nine assists total. On Wednesday night at Unicaja, the local stat guys bestowed him with no less than three, obviously a career high, and a great start to set a new season record as well.
(In case you are too shy to leave a comment here, you can always contact Yarone by sending him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Eurobasket 2009 qualifiers have started really poorly for coach Recalcati’s Team Italy. After four losses in the first five games, the situation was pretty bad but without going for incredible results, Italy is back in the race for Poland.
BallinEurope has established a list of all National Champions in the various European leagues as they are known so far. If you have results to add or know who was named Final MVPs in a European league, feel free to add this in the comments so that we can update the list.
- Not a very nice Christmas break for Lucca Staiger as the last decisional level confirmed that he will miss a whole season with Iowa State
- Delonte Holland seems to be close of finding a new team. The Turkish newspaper Fanatik claims that Fenerbahce is interested in signing him.
- For all the showtime lovers, this is one of my presents for you
- Darjus Lavrinovic also explains Roger Powell how to say Merry Christmas in Lithuanian: su Kaledoms
- After the players selected for the French All-Star game have been announced, here is the selection of players that will compete at the Slam Dunk Contest: Guy Dupuy, Fabian Greiser (from Germany), Max Kouguere and Steve Lobel
- Demond Greene was known for two plays: a monster block on Dwayne Wade and a very very bad foot injury. Now Euroleague TV draws a nice portrait video on him
- Ermal Kuqo Kurtoglu gave a very long and interesting interview to Euroleague TV. Worth to watch really as he explains his new three point shot, the difference between Efes and the other Turkish basketball teams and his multinational background.
- Chuck Eidson and Hollis Price explain krepsinis.net that they have to stay in Lithuania over Christmas
- Here are the rosters for the Adriatic League All-Star game
- Nicolas Batum announces that he will be in the NBA Draft this upcoming summer.
- The first Bundesliga basketball game in the German Free-TV for three years was a blowout win by ALBA Berlin in Bamberg. However, we saw one of the nicest plays of the season so far.
- The 22nd edition of the World Junior Tournament will be held from June 18 to 22 in Douai, France. Former players that showcased in Douai are Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker or Andrei Kirilenko
- Vote for the Adriatic League All-Stars and the German Bundesliga All-Stars
- Second player of the month award for Vladimir Stimac in the Baltic League
- Curtis Borchardt wins the MVP of the Day in the Spanish ACB
- After being waived by Prokom Trefl, Eugeniusz Kijewski is now rumored to become Polish NT headcoach
- Alpella, which is a club formed to let young players develop, beat Efes Pilsen this Saturday. Apparently, they have developed too much that they have beaten the two Euroleague competitors from Turkey. Omer As?k is putting his names higher and higher in the Mock Drafts by another monster game 25 points, 14 rebs. and 6 assists vs. Loren Woods and Andre Hudson! (Thanks for the hint, Kerem)