The Dish: Let’s keep this brief

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 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.


Shaqtin a fool…Irish style

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.


Colbert stands tall on Irish Cup Finals night

UCC Demons Irish Cup champions 2014 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…


Irish select coach Mark Keenan plotting another upset

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
Continue Reading…


The cruellest buzzer beater of all

We need to give context here. The Irish Cup involves teams playing over two legs, home and away, in the first round. UCC Demons held a 31 point lead before heading up to UCD Marian for the return leg yesterday. Marian, in blue, managed to move into a 33 point lead on the night, putting them up by 2 points overall. The free throw at the start of this video made it 98-65 on the night. You can guess what happens next.

Demons take it by a point, stopping the comeback in heart-breaking fashion for Marian. There was one big positive on the night for the home side as UCD Marian donated all of the gate receipts from the game to Concern’s Filipino relief effort.


Travis Black fights to get back on the floor

Travis Black got the chance that so many young ballers spend their lives working for. He got a scholarship to play basketball and get an education at the same time. Half-way through his college career, that’s all in jeopardy because of a NCAA ruling. Emmet Ryan spoke with the Irish baller about his fight to regain his eligibility from the NCAA.

It was quite the leap. Travis Black spent his teenage years playing for Swords and Ard Scoil Ris in Ireland before getting the chance to go to the US at 17. The Dubliner had to leave his family behind to try his hand at pursuing his dream. Black didn’t immediately go to college, despite finishing second level in Ireland because he was told he had to do more to qualify.

“I was told that since I graduated from secondary school in Ireland, moving to America I did not have the credentials to be considered a American high school graduate. So I was classified as a Junior in high school,” Black told

“After graduating I attend a Prep School for a year to strengthen my academics where I also participated on their basketball team.”

Black first made it into the juco ranks, helping the Spartanburg Methodist Academy to the NJCAA Final Four. From there he got an offer to play Division II ball with Clayton State. That’s when the NCAA stepped in.

“They declared me ineligible for my final two years so basically I’m done playing but with all this publicity maybe I can get the case reviewed again. If that does not work I might have eligibility to play NAIA which is another Division but I’m waiting on word regarding that situation,” said Black.

“I receive a great amount of support from my teammates. The coaching staff has let me continue to practice with the team and allow me to have a major role within the team.”

Essentially Black is being punished for furthering his education. By finishing his Leaving Cert in Ireland and then going on to complete high school in the US, the Dubliner has done all he can to make sure he was eligible to play at the NCAA level. The governing body doesn’t see it that way.

“The NCAA always promotes students first and athletes second. I’m just a young Irish lad trying to get my bachelor’s degree, while pursuing my dream of playing college basketball,” said Black.

“Not only is my eligibility taken but my opportunity to have school paid for which is worth $40,000 for the next 2 years,” he said.

Black’s fight came to BiE’s attention following a massive social media campaign last weekend. The Black family back in Ireland has mobilised the basketball community locally and their efforts have seen support come in from across the globe. Black recognises the importance of this kind of backing.

“The more the NCAA is being publicized in a bad way, the more chance they might review the case. Like I said because there such a big organisation in America so they don’t want to have a bad name,” said Black

“To have so much support from people I don’t even know gives me hope and shows that the people who have been there for me since day one is great to see as well. I would like to give a big thanks to everybody that has supported me,” he said.

“To all the people I do know and for the ones who I don’t know, it means a whole to me and my family. All I ever done since I have been in America is work hard, represent my family, my friends and last but not least my country. In doing this my way of paying back my family, friends and country was not only playing college basketball at a high level but earning a college degree as well. I kind of felt ill letting them down but there is nothing I can really do. I still plan on reaching those goals though because I have come too far to stop now and with all this support from back home and around different places I know I’ll get it done.”

You can show your support for Black by tweeting with the hashtag #LetTravisPlay


Ireland crawling back to international Basketball

Ireland, still without any adult national teams, took a couple of baby steps back into international basketball this weekend.

A pair of emphatic routs gave Irish basketball fans a sweet taste of international ball but after one afternoon normal service resumed. Life without a vanguard returned. Two selections from the Irish Premier League slaughtered Wales in men’s and women’s games respectively. As these weren’t technically national sides they wore blue, not green. An immediate reminder that this generation of players will likely play their entire careers without the opportunity to represent their nation.

Money, naturally, is the issue and Basketball Ireland’s current administration inherited a situation where there wasn’t much to go around. Sanctions from the Irish Sports Council earlier this year related to that era, for using capital funding to cover day-to-day expenses, has left the sources of expenditure severely limited. Right now there simply isn’t the money to cover a national team and there is no indication that situation is likely to change in the foreseeable future.

It’s an understatement to say this is bad. Without a national side, there isn’t a single entity to drive attention locally. Former Ireland captain Conor Grace compared the issue this year to another sport fighting for attention. “From a cricketing perspective, I don’t know, if Lansdowne beat Sandycove I don’t care, but if Ireland are playing England, then I care,” Grace told our sister site.

A similar Irish league selection played a British Basketball League selection but it’s difficult to get the media to care for the mouthful that is the Irish Premier League All Stars. Attention isn’t the only issue. Most of Ireland’s better young players are multi-sport athletes, indeed many continue on doubling up in adult life. Louise Galvin of UL Huskies, the reigning champions of everything in the women’s game, plays Gaelic Football for Kerry. The men’s game has lost Michael Darragh MacAuley and Kieran Donaghy to Gaelic Football, where the duo are amongst the most recognisable names in the sport.

Grace is an odd exception, the son of an international rugby player he opted to go with hoops and hoops only from a young age. The path was clearer for an exceedingly tall Irishman back then. US colleges were an option, from there the pro game across Europe. It’s not a bad way to spend your 20s but the national team structure was at the backbone of Grace’s generation.

Now, once you leave the underage ranks there is no next level. Senior club ball is entertaining certainly but it doesn’t provide the elite competition required for late bloomers to catch attention. Worse, competing sports can give young players a grand stage on the local level earlier. Having a team in green jerseys playing against serious competition helped to make teenage players at the decisive point in their development think twice.

Yet still, it was impossible not to smile when seeing these quasi-national sides in action. Finally there was something, anything, for local players to step up to. The opposition likely would struggle against mid-tier club teams in the Premier League here but it was something.


New Basketball Ireland promo video

With the season starting this weekend, Basketball Ireland has released a promo video for the launch of the re-branded men’s Premier League. will be showing the opening round game between newcomers Templeogue and last season’s playoff finalists DCU Saints live on Saturday at 19.45 CET.


Podcast: Tony Parker! Ricky Rubio! New BiE editor!

Taking the Charge podcast seriesEpisode #54 (alternatively “Volume II, Episode 2”) of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now available online or via iTunes.

But enough with the pleasantries. Let’s get right to the headliners. From the post-games of last week’s Eurobasket 2013 final matches come words from perhaps the biggest names we’ve ever had on the show. First up is 15 minutes’ worth of post-game press conference from the peerless Tony Parker along with Team France coach Vincent Collet in the afterglow of Les Bleus’ triumphant gold-medal win over Lithuania.

Following this is the positively gregarious Ricky “The Human YouTube Highlight Clip” Rubio after Team Spain’s bronze-medal win; in the post-game, hard-working David Hein gets La Pistola to weigh in quickly on his national team’s future as well as the importance of Nikola Pekovic.

But that’s not all: new BallinEurope editor-in-chief Emmet Walsh has introduced himself at length online but gets audio room in which to stretch his wings when he guests on this edition of Taking the Charge. Emmet tells us about his motivations for running and his love of the European game before he and Hein face off in a “Fact or Fiction”-like round of Q&A regarding some thematic motifs. What does Emmet think about, say, Olympiacos’ chances for a Euroleague three-peat? Tune in to find out…

Finally, the sports movie review of the week is a documentary set in the world of Emmet’s other sports love, that utterly unique game called Gaelic Football. This Irish national television production is called “Jimmy’s Winnin’ Matches” and is one fantastic look at how important a coach/trainer/manager – in any sport, really – can be.

Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.

Continue Reading…


VIDEO: Irish Basketball season launch and Cup draws

BiE caught up with the best in Irish Basketball at the official launch of the men’s and women’s Premier Leagues. The draws for this year’s national cup competitions were also made.

Ballineurope spoke with Darren Townes of Bord Gáis Neptune, Terrance King of UCD Marian, Lehmon Colbert of UCC Demons, and Kathryn Fahy of UL Huskies at the launch of the Irish Premier Leagues for 2013-14.

Check out our photos from the launch on Facebook.

Continue Reading…