The NBA All-Star What Contest? Over in the ‘States, basketball superstars created highlight-reel clips while facing little opposition … so forget canned exhibitions (especially Flight White’s sad showing) and check out a show most missed: Croatian wunderkind Mario Hezonja submitted the dunk of the weekend with an incredible one-handed finish to an alley-oop pass from fellow youth-ball player Joan Creus in FC Barcelona’s 67-66 squeaker of a LEB Gold league victory over Leyma Basquet.
The 17-year-old Hezonja went on to put in a game-high 17 points, most of which were highlight-worthy. See the man-among-boys for yourself below — and remember the name.
Some exciting news for folks in Zagreb from the English-language section of the news portal Croatia Week: Basketball fans in the big city may be treated to a unique Brooklyn Nets-Cibona Zagreb exhibition match in October in observation of the 20th anniversary of the death of all-time great Drazen Petrovic.
Now who saw this one coming? According to Croatia-based news outlet Jutarnji, Cibona Zagreb, having just activated the previously in-limbo Dario Saric (not to mention already eliminated from Eurocup play and in a 6-7 hole in the ABA), will announce the signing of Smush Parker.
Perhaps best known nowadays for serving as Kobe Bryant’s media-side scratching post, Parker has logged court time in China, Greece, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic since last playing in the U.S. with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2008.
(For the record, the same story telling of Parker’s arrival also notes that current head coach Daniel Lutz will in fact remain in the position through 2012-13.)
Predrag further went on to comment that at least 10 clubs were willing to sign his son and immediately loan him back to KK Split; apparently, Predrag had little say in the matter after all, however, since relations among family members has become a bit strained.
And BallinEurope asks could the downward spiral of this legendary European basketball club continue? Kobe’d probably say yes…
Barcelona’s future: Alex Abrines, Mario Hezonja, Marko Todorović
As though FC Barcelona’s red-hot play – they’re now at 14-4 overall after an 0-2 start in Spain – weren’t enough to keep European basketball devotees watching, here are two more reasons for you: Mario Hezonja and Marko Todorović.
Hezonja again did not play in Spain this weekend, unlisted on the roster for Barca’s 81-64 win over Cajasol in Liga Endesa play; the 12th-man spot was filled by 20-year-old Todorović of Montenegro. In the Beşiktaş game, Todorović’s 12 minutes of court time was the most he’s gotten all season and the national teamer was good for four points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Now here’s an encouraging rumor about Dario Saric’s potentially disastrous contract situation: According to Euro-Step, one team which can afford to do so will step up to foot the €550,000 transfer fee demanded by KK Zagreb to release the Croatian wunderkind.
Hopefully things will work out for The Next Big Thing Out of Croatia, who had been looking at the prospect of a Kanteresque sat-out season as Saric looks to continue moving up his basketball career ladder.
The 2012-13 Adriatic League season tipped off this weekend with all 14 teams playing their first games. BallinEurope contributor Marko Savkovic takes a look at two teams figuring to be fighting for a top spot in the ABA table come season’s end: Partizan Belgrade and Cedevita Zagreb.
It was about time! The 2012/2013 edition of the Adriatic League promises us tough competition, has many exciting prospects to showcase, and includes some interesting newcomers with the grand prize awaiting top three teams. Be there crisis or not, let’s play ball. In BallinEurope’s first coverage of the new season in the Adriatic, we concentrate on two of the top contenders, who played each other in the last year’s semifinals: Cedevita and Partizan.
It has been said over and over again, so don’t mind us repeating it: Cedevita is a brand of instant drink enjoyed in former Yugoslavian countries. Team Cedevita’s success is in many aspects instant as well, but it’s hardly enjoyed by its competitors. By finishing second last year, and especially by defeating Partizan along the way, the team from the Zagreb suburbs has become a red hot favorite with Maccabi Tel Aviv gone.
All the right ingredients seem to be in place. The team’s core is preserved, with Marino Bazdaric, Goran Suton, Miro Bilan and Marko Car kept on board. Arriving from Galatasaray, Luksa Andric should bring more versatility to the paint.
The 1992 Olympic Games, the Games of the XXV Olympiad: The first to be held without mass boycotts and, by many estimation, the greatest Olympics ever in presentation, hosting, and competition. It was the Games of Hungarian swimmer Krisztina Egerszegi, of Belorussian/Unified Team member Vitaly Scherbo in gymnastics, of the Russian men’s swimming team, of Cuban baseball – but most of all it was basketball that took center stage on the worldwide court in Barcelona.
On this day in 1992, the Dream Team, Team Croatia and Team Lithuania played in their first-ever Olympic basketball games. In memory of these fantastic, historically significant squads, BallinEurope presents some highlight clips from the ’92 Games.
Day one of 1992 Olympic basketball saw the tournament’s powers take care of business: tie-dyed Lithuania handled China, 112-75; Croatia bested Brazil, 93-76; and the stripped-down CIS/USSR side got past Venezuela, 78-64. Of course, the game the world was watching that day would be the biggest laugher of the entire competition: The Dream Team’s infamous 116-48 decimation of Angola.
All right, so it wasn’t exactly twenty years ago today per se, but the current Argentina-Spain-US tournament playing these days brought to mind some of the warmup games in 1992 – at that time, all the Dream Teams kept us enthralled as we imagined the upcoming clashes in Barcelona.
• The Dream Team’s first appearance had them opening the Tournament of the Americas in Portland, an Olympic qualifying round (giggle), against Cuba. Team USA ultimately went 6-0 in the tourney, rolling over opponents by an average score of 121-70; it all began with a 136-57 victory over Cuba which ultimately elicited the old Cuban adage “You can’t cover the sun with your finger” from head coach Miguel Calderon Gomez.
Drazen Petrovic: The name is always mentioned in any discussion of all-time greatest European player, his effect inestimable, his ultimate greatness unknowable. BallinEurope has waxed poetic on the Basketball Mozart innumerable times already, but must say that lost in the general hoopla of the Dream Team in 1992 was the fact that one of the world’s top three or four players at that time (BiE’d put him with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen) wasn’t on Team USA.
Following a year which saw the dissolution of his Team Yugoslavia and the finalization of his demanded trade to the New Jersey Nets, Petrovic’s brilliant 1991-92 season earned him a deserved reputation among the NBA elites. The stats say the Croat led the Nets in points (20.6 per game), shooting percentage (50.8%), three-point percentage (44.4%) and minutes played (36.9 per game with appearances in all 82 games), but they just called him team MVP.
Along with Derrick Coleman, Petrovic helped the Nets to a 14-win increase over 1990-91 and the playoffs, racking up some amazing individual performances such as the 29 he dropped on the Boston Celtics early in that season…