FIBA World Cup Preview – Group C +++ CSKA Moscow’s Kyle Hines and Sonny Weems take the ice bucket challenge +++ Tony Parker does ice bucket challenge but his friend can’t use a camera phone +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer: Semi Finals +++ EuroBasket 2015: Wins for Macedonia, Belgium, and Georgia +++ Q&A with Alex Krstanovic on the Belgrade Trophy +++ Thomas Klepeisz shows you how to celebrate a winning bucket +++ Big jam by Giannis Antetokounmpo as Greece beat Slovenia +++ Two-time Euroleague winning coach close to Wakayama deal +++ This is how LeBron does the ice bucket challenge +++

Poll: Which player in Europe should be in the BallinEurope logo?

Congratulations, thanks and an apology all go out from BallinEurope this morning.

In order, that’s a congrat to Arvydas Sabonis, who will receive the honor of immortalization (sorta) as one half of the to-be-redesigned BallinEurope logo. Sabas was mighty impressive in amassing more votes from readers in the public opinion poll here than Dirk Nowitzki, Ricky Rubio and poor Tony Parker combined;

a shout out to all those who voted in the BiE poll; you’re gonna love part two for sure; and

apologies for the relative lack of contributions last and, foreseeably, this week. To put it in brief, BiE headquarters is relocating (read: “Os is moving”), but in December things will be again running smoothly here.

Right, then. Let’s get down to business. Based on suggestions from BiE readers, contributing writers and such, the field for Sabonis’ cartoon opponent in the BallinEurope logo will be the following.

Erazem Lorbek got some support from commenters and BiE admits that once again the Barcelona big went underrated on these pages. So BiE didn’t have Lorbek in his top five for Euroleague MVP balloting last season; this nomination should make up for that. While Lorbek’s numbers are generally down in 2012-13, he looks to be rearing back with three consecutive double-digit EL games and could be wearing the Blaugrana colors for some time yet.

The BallinEurope endorsement, however, goes to Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Not only is Big Sofo a fan favorite, not only would Sofoklis be done well in caricature, but can’t you just imagine him squaring off against Sabonis? Vote Sofo.

Despite the possibility of imminent retirement, Juan Carlos Navarro stays on the list. And Bo McCalebb’s there because he’s Bo. And because BiE wants that FYR Macedonia jersey in the logo.

Finally, there’s Vassilis Spanoulis. Damn straight BiE went there; after all, the guy did orchestrate Olympiacos’ magic run to cap 2011-12 with a couple of titles and he’s been an anchor on Greek national teams since 2000.

You may now blow up the comments section – but vote first!

Which player in Europe should be in the BallinEurope logo?

  • Vassilis Spanoulis (56%, 108 Votes)
  • Juan Carlos Navarro (20%, 39 Votes)
  • Bo McCalebb (11%, 21 Votes)
  • Sofoklis Schortsanitis (11%, 21 Votes)
  • Erazem Lorbek (2%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 194

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Vlado Ilievski: FIBA partly to blame for FYR Macedonia defeat

How do you say “sour grapes” in Macedonian? In looking for reasons for his side’s loss to Team Dominican Republic in Olympic qualifiers, Vlado Ilievski sounded off on FIBA organization itself.

Teams from South America had more time for preparation,” Ilievski is quoted in FYR Macedonia-based Dnevnik. “They played in continental championships and were [in sync]. We had players whose seasons ended on June 15. I was injured and I was with the team for just 10 days. How can you prepare in such a short time? This is no excuse for losing, but at least we tried. We had a chance to become the first team from Macedonia to play in the Olympics and so we are disappointed. If we’d won, we would have had two more chances, but life goes on. Thanks to this generation [of players], the world knows about Macedonia…”

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Bo shakes and bakes like Hakeem the Dream

The play of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament thus far? Well, call BallinEurope biased, but check out Bo McCalebb’s crazy moves in utterly flummoxing New Zealand big man Rob Loe in FYR Macedonia’s 84-62 win over the Tall Blacks. And since FIBA is comparing Bo’s moves to those of Hakeem Olajuwon’s “Dream Shake,” a video of this maneuver’s variations by the master is included for comparison’s sake.

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Midnight for Cinderella? Angola shocks FYR Macedonia, 88-84

Just about 20 years ago, Angolan basketball was known internationally for a single game, for their service in providing the appetizer course for the angry/hungry Dream Team in the 1992 Olympic Games. Ultimately, Team Angola’s first turn on the big stage was remembered for a single moment of ignominy, i.e. Charles Barkley’s hammering of Herlander Coimbra amid a massive blowout.

Angola today has a long way to go before finally upending a Team USA in tournament play, but the FIBA Africa runners-up delivered a message to world basketball in defeating Europe’s Cinderella story of 2011, FYR Macedonia, 88-84, in game one of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men.

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FIBA denies EuroBasket doping rumor; Macedonian media trash-talks Lithuanian counterparts

Though Team FYR Macedonia eliminated hosts Lithuania from the 2011 EuroBasket tournament in mid-September, a certain amount of talk-trashing about the match continues in the blogosphere.

Yesterday, FIBA was forced to do a bizarre bit of damage control after Lithuanian media – specifically, who else but powerhouse club sponsor Lietuvos Rytas? – reported that two players competing in EuroBasket had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs; the piece quoted representatives from the Lithuanian Anti-Doping Agency stated abnormalities had been found and that further testing would have to be done by FIBA on the samples of the two players.

FIBA Europe was quick to deny any such claims, however, soon releasing the following tersely-worded statement on the subject:

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FYR Macedonia players return to experience “joy of a nation”

Sure, the players of Team Spain have been feted for their 2011 EuroBasket championship, but wasn’t that nation kind of … well … *expecting* to be holding those victory parades? On the other hand, there was tournament shocker FYR Macedonia, who received a hero’s welcome in Skopje yesterday for achieving the seemingly impossible again and again in the tourney. The team eventually placed fourth, thereby gaining a spot in the 2012 Olympics Qualifying Tournament.

To show their appreciation, over 5,000 fans greeted the dozen basketballers at Alexander the Great Airport in the capital of FYR Macedonia – not at all bad for a workday in a city of under 670,000 – and many more lined the streets of Skopje to show gratitude for their underdogs. Noted the Macedonia-based MicNews: “The joy of the nation is worth more than a medal. The uniting power of victory is amazing. We returned with a trophy after all.”

(Impressive) video of the celebration runs below.

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Brief (and super-brief) histories of France vs. Russia, Spain vs. FYR Macedonia; plus Fearless Predictions™

While one half of the remaining 2011 EuroBasket semifinal matches is essentially devoid of history, the Russia-France duel brings something of a rivalry in the modern era. The teams have met in three international tournaments since 1990. A brief rundown of prior meetings follows (sadly, video clips are mostly lacking, unless BallinEurope readers could suggest something…?)

• 1999 “European Basketball Championship for Men.” France wins over Russia, 66-62 in a second-round game; France would ultimately go on to place fourth in the tournament. Les Bleus brought a roster which included Antoine Rigaudeau, Tariq Abdul Wahad, Ronnie Eugene Smith (that’s Galveston, Texas-born Ronnie Eugene Smith, and yes this inclusion is dedicated to all you naturalized player haters) and Fred Weis, who is best known for – ah, let’s not go there again.

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Official Fearless Predictions™: Spain vs. Slovenia, Lithuania vs. FYR Macedonia

Now things are getting interesting. Eight teams remain in EuroBasket 2011, and tonight two will be eliminated from contention for the European championship. These teams will join with the losing teams of Thursday play in a playoff round to determine the all-important no. 5 and no. 6 finishers; this two sides will join nos. 3 and 4 in a qualification round for the 2012 Olympic Games.

And BallinEurope will perhaps make things a bit more contentious with not just one, but two sets of official Fearless Predictions™ as BiE’s U.K. compadre Sam Chadwick gets in on the fun in forecasting tonight’s games. Neither writer read the other’s opinion before posting.

Also provided strictly for the reader’s edification are some lines from the sportsbook, in this case Sporting Bet. As BiE argues, whether gambler or no, it pays for the fan to know the bookie’s stand; after all, these guys have the most to lose financially if they get it wrong. (Sheesh, talk about your fearless predictions…)

Plus, YouTube clips!

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Beaver without Borders: OSU’s Roberto Nelson wreaks havoc in FYR Macedonia

Just because professional basketball is in the midst of a lull right now doesn’t mean BallinEurope can’t bring you a “dunk of the week” clip.

The Oregon State University basketball team is currently in FYR Macedonia participating in “Beavers without Borders,” a charitable program in which the student-athletes are doing a little infrastructural improvement for the less fortunate … as well as some infrastructural destruction, it seems.

In a recent exhibition game there, Roberto “Maybe I’m Strong” Nelson showed some power against Skopje in shattering a backboard with a thunderous dunk. Check out the video below for Nelson’s “you are there” commentary. Let’s just hope Nelson returns home with a less painful souvenir than the 20 stitches in his face…

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Bo McCalebb might play for Team FYR Macedonia, will not attend training camp

Montepaschi Siena point guard Bo McCalebb is currently pursuing the Serie A title with his team, but folks in his alma mater town are already looking forward to Eurobasket 2011.

Earlier this week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune spoke with the former UNO baller about the possibility of again playing with the FYR Macedonia national team, with whom he got into this year’s European tournament. McCalebb was the undisputed star of the squad in the Eurobasket qualifiers, averaging 23.5 points, 3.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per in six matches.

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