FIBA dropped a sweet promo for the World Cup +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer – Bronze Medal Match +++ Rudy gets iced, the internet rejoices +++ 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 +++

Highlights: Jonas Valanciunas scores 19 points against Australia

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.
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Round-up: Siena take Supercoppa, fight in Lithuania, Nanterre and Strasbourg squeeze out wins

Four Euroleague teams returned to domestic action on Tuesday night. In Italy, Montepaschi Siena took the Supercoppa, while there were league wins for JSF Nanterre and Strasbourg IG in France. Lietuvos Rytas also won in the LKL but their victory at Juventus was marred by a brawl.

After a one and done display in the Euroleague qualifiers, Cimberio Varese looked to get one over on Italian kingpins Montepaschi Siena in the Supercoppa on Tuesday night. The EuroCup outfit managed to hold a one point lead at the break. Aubrey Coleman, 23 points and 7 rebounds, and Achille Polonara, 17 points and 7 rebounds, did the heavy lifting for Varese but they lacked the strength in depth to stay in the contest down the stretch.  Siena bust them open with a big final quarter. That 29-19 final frame turned a competitive clash into a comfortable 81-66 victory for the Italian champions. Joshua Coleman led Siena in scoring with 18 points and picked up 4 boards while Daniel Hackett had 14 points and 6 rebounds.

There was no drama on the scoreboard, although plenty on the floor, as Lietuvos Rytas blew out Juventus in the LKL. Fresh off their success in the Euroleague qualifiers, the Vilnius club stormed to a 15 point lead by the end of the first quarter and the gap had grown to 47-27 by half-time. Dirk Bauermann’s side eventually secured a 92-67 road win but not before this went down…

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Sabonis and the media, maybe nobody’s right

Lithuania legend Arvydas Sabonis announced he and coach Joas Kazlauskas would be leaving the national team set up. Emmet Ryan says there’s no right or wrong way to react.

Beneath the 7ft frame of a giant lies a man. Forget the Olympic success, the triumphs in Europe and the NBA. Ignore, if you can, his status as a living legend and hall of famer. Focus just on the fact that for all of the great things we know about Arvydas Sabonis, we still don’t know all that much about him as a person. We don’t know what makes him tick. Remember that when you look at the comments he made on Tuesday.

As reported by Simonas Barauskas, Sabas is leaving the Lithuanian national team set up. So too is Jonas Kazlauskas. This announcement, while expected, came after Lithuania made it all the way to the final of EuroBasket for the first time in a decade. Sabonis said the duo were stepping down because of intense pressure from the media and asked the press to be more gentle going forward.

As a journalist, this kind of argument is hard to stomach. The most fundamental talent we have is reporting on the talents of others. Sabas knows this and has been in the crosshairs for the guts of three decades. The split will be easy. Many will side with the legend and criticise the media for bringing too much heat. Just as many will contend he should be able to handle it, indeed I posited as much in this paragraph. Yet perhaps we should look at it from a third perspective.

Maybe both sides are as right as they are wrong.

Few journalists get up in the morning looking to bring stress or pain to people. It’s part of the job sometimes but those that actually relish inflicting suffering are a small and sick breed. I’ve certainly met some but the vast majority are regular people with regular problems and are fairly reasonable. Likewise few ballers actually buy into the mythos built by the media. Most of them are, admittedly often wealthy, regular folk too. The idea of someone writing and reporting on their every act may be an occupational hazard but that doesn’t mean they have to like it.

So what of Sabas? Clearly the heat of working in one of the most pressured environments in basketball wasn’t what he wanted. Kazlauskas had led Lithuania back to the top table, Sabonis was by his side, yet still the scrutiny remained because that, quite frankly, is our job.

He may very well be right in saying it’s because of the media that he left but that’s no fault of the fourth estate. Sabas and Kazlauskas had their fill, got far , and decided they were both better off elsewhere. We only talk about it because of the profile of the jobs but fundamentally this was a case of two men thinking about their work-life balance. Time to up sticks, find something different.

As for the being gentle comment, hey the dudes did a good job. I’ve thick enough skin to let it slide and the rest of the media should too.


France beat Lithuania 80-66 to finally lift their first EuroBasket title

After being carried into the final by Tony Parker on Friday night, the rest of the French team stood tall as a second quarter run sparked their charge to the title.

Were it not for the golden generation of Spanish talent, this likely wouldn’t be Tony Parker’s first EuroBasket title. Were it not for Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Alexis Ajinca, he likely would have suffered a second defeat at the final hurdle.

Parker was a one man army against Spain in the semi final but that was never going to suffice against Lithuania. The breadth of options at Lithuania’s disposal meant there was no way a solo show would suffice. After so-so or worse games against Spain, the rest of the French line up showed up when it mattered most.
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EuroBasket: It all comes down to this

After 11 games and ups and downs, France and Lithuania enter Sunday’s EuroBasket 2013 final with a clean slate. The only thing that matters is who is in front when the final buzzer sounds.

Key man: Tony Parker He is the tournament’s top scorer and unquestionably its biggest star. Whatever else happens in Ljubjana today, you can bet your house that Tony Parker will get buckets and lots of them today. It’s not the array of honours he’s won with the San Antonio Spurs that makes him a marked man today. Parker has done enough in the blue jersey of France to make the continent aware of what he can do. Lithuania will be tempted to overload on Parker but given nobody has been able to stop him so far, there’s a more important area to focus in stifling the French offence.
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Podcast: Talking Euroleague, NBA transactions, Lithuania basketball

Taking the Charge podcast seriesEpisode #44 of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now available online or via iTunes.

This week’s podcast pays homage to the axiom that, when in doubt about what to talk about in European basketball, simply go to Lithuania. And who better to discuss Team Lithuania’s chances in Eurobasket 2013, Linas Kleiza’s release from the Toronto Raptors, Zalgiris Kaunas’ exit from the VTB United League and such topics than Lithuania Basket’s Simas Baranauskas? Few, we think. (Spoiler: Simas is “cautiously optimistic” about Lietuva in the Slovenia tourney.)

Hein and yours truly also bring the speculation and chatter about recent moves and events in European ball and abroad, touching on Kostas Papanikalaou staying with prospective threepeaters Olympiacos; Richard Hendrix staying in his niche on Eurocup champs Lokomotiv Kuban; the success of Milwaukee Bucks draft pick Giannis Antetokounmpo in the FIBA U20 European Championship tournament; Andrei Kirilenko taking a pay cut to join the Brooklyn Nets (which is clearly about kickbacks and not pursuing an NBA title ); Bogdan Bogdanovic eschewing those same Nets for another turn with Fenerbahçe Ülker; and Bobby Brown attempting to crack the New York Knicks roster.

All this and our sports movie review of the week, the so-bad-it’s-marvelous Jean-Claude Van Damme flick Double Team co-starring none other than Dennis Rodman and Mickey “The Wrestler” Rourke. Ever wonder why The Worm has had to resort to bizarre forays into North Korea for HBO in order to stay in the entertainment biz? Rodman brazenly putting his acting “chops” in this flick will explain all. And remember: Offense gets all the glory, but defense wins championships…

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

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Real Madrid tops FC Barcelona for first Spanish title since 2007; Reyes MVP, Jasikevicius with flashback performance

BallinEurope sends out congratulations this morning to Real Madrid, which closed out a most successful season by taking the decisive game five of the Liga Endesa championship series, 79-71, in yet another “El Clasico”-level thriller. The title represents Los Blancos’ first ACB championship since 2006-07; though title is Real’s sole trophy this season, the win plus a Euroleague runner-up bid has to add up to the club’s finest run since Juan Antonio Corbalán was running point in the early to mid-1980s.

Felipe Reyes was named MVP of the Liga Endesa finals; Reyes turned in yet another efficient performance in game five, contributing 14 points and drawing a whopping seven personal fouls in under 21 minutes of playing time.

Reyes’ show (not to mention the actual win) overshadowed an incredible individual game from Sarunas Jasikevicius, as the old guy played like he’d tapped into his personal 2005. After going just 191 seconds in Madrid’s game four loss, Jasikevicius constantly got/created easy open looks in his under-19 minutes for a huge 23 points on 6-of-9 overall shooting and 8-of-8 from the line.

Unfortunately for the Blaugrana, aside from Joe Ingles’ excellent night, Barcelona shooters could managed just 7-of-33 success overall, including an 0-of-11 mark beyond the arc. (On the other hand, Saras and Ingles did make for one heckuva highlight clip…)

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Adidas Eurocamp: Edgaras Ulanovas demonstrates effortless 70-foot shot

As one of the world’s most prestigious protracted workouts for youth ballers, the Adidas Eurocamp will certainly produce innumerable highlight clips at which to gawk in the leadup to the NBA Draft (not to mention Europe’s 2013-14 seasons) … but BallinEurope may already have a favorite.

Courtesy Hoops Fix, here’s Edgaras Ulanovas of Lithuania showing how to flick in a three-pointer … from about three-quarters the length of the court – if a half-second too late to count.

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Highlights: Top five plays from VTB United League quarterfinals

Flawed, top-heavy and not exactly consistent in attendance it may be, but the VTB United League still garners BallinEurope’s attention – particularly come playoff time when ages-old rivalries add new chapters to stories first begun in the days of the Soviet Union.

Besides, who needs an excuse to run another YouTube highlight clip…?

From the VTB folks, then, running below are the top five plays from the recently-completed quarterfinal round, starring Unics Kazan’s Mire Chatman, Zalgiris Kaunas’ Robertas Javtokas, Lokomotiv Kuban’s Mantas Kalnietis, BC Khimki’s Sergey Monya and CSKA Moscow’s Anton Ponkrashov. Three-pointers, blocks, alley-oops – they’re all here. Enjoy!

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Sarunas Jasikevicius: “Basketball is not a job — it’s a dream”

Sarunas Jasikevicius may be 37 years old and has finished this Euroleague season with FC Barcelona in a somewhat disappointing fourth place, but Lithuania-based has some very good news for this all-time great’s fans (and fans of European basketball in general). Ending the speculation that’s been dogging him for the past season or two, Saras told the website earlier this week that This is certainly not my last season, because basketball is not a job: It’s a dream.

Saras repeated similar sentiments in post-game interviews tonight, but not quite as poetically. See you next year, Mr. Jasikevicius!

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