Sarunas Jasikevičius retires, joins Zalgiris in coaching role +++ Vintage Drazen Petrovic jersey up for auction +++ Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies +++ We really need you to nominate beers +++ Mykhailiuk operating almost under cover +++ Nando de Colo has the best location for a basketball camp +++ Ireland end famines with two slices of Danish bacon +++ Former Galatasaray baller Jamont Gordon talks about the road to recovery +++ FIBA Europe Under 20 final highlights and top plays +++ VIDEO: Ettore Messina’s coaching philosophy +++

On Hezonja, Todorovic plus a couple of Swedes: FC Barcelona’s future as bright as the present?

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.

At just 17 years old and despite missing the entire 2011-12 regular season, Hezonja finally got a taste of the action in Barça’s 78-48 laugher over Beşiktaş in Turkey last Friday night. His Euroleague debut stat line read five points, two rebounds and one steal in a few ticks under 12 minutes of play.

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.

Potentially the nucleus of a shiny new Barca frontcourt? Continue Reading…


Montenegro 72, Serbia 62: Déjà vu from Guess Who in fourth quarter

“It. Uh … it … it happened again.”
“It? It? It? No! No, Billy! What the f*** is it, it, it? There is no it! It is you! You happened again!”
– dialogue from White Men Can’t Jump

Until the 2013 Euroleague Final Four then, for which CSKA Moscow is already Fearlessly Predicted™ to appear, Milos Teodosic will be represented by the green dude at right. Yep, it happened again last night.

As though programmed lately to self-destruct at the sound of the fourth-quarter buzzer, Teodosic began the 31st minute with his first statistically-recorded bad pass of the final 10. To his credit, Good Milos was briefly seen in the 34th and 35th, with proper awareness on defense to net him a pair of rebounds that led to two time-killing Team Serbia possessions and reduction of Montenegro’s lead to just three at 59-56 – capped by Dusko Savanovic’s jumper with the assist by Teodosic.

Maybe it was the substitutions, then, but before you could say “Hulk smash,” Bad Milos had thrown the ball away twice more for a final quarter stat line of 1-of-2 shooting, two rebounds, one assist and three TOs in under eight minutes. In total, Teodosic’s cumulative stats through seven EuroBasket qualifiers are as follows.

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Montenegro 73, Serbia 71: A star is born as Ivanovic hits buzzer-beater three

How do you quiet one of those notoriously airplane-loud crowds in Belgrade? Eighteen-year-old Nikola Ivanovic, showing poise beyond his years, had the answer to that riddle on Saturday in Team Montenegro’s Eurobasket 2013 qualifying round game against Serbia. To cap the stunning upset victory, Ivanovic calmly launched a near-halfcourt three, struck gold and instantly utterly silenced a stunned Serbian house.

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The moment, he owns it (or The best Nikola Pekovic highlight video we’ve seen this week)

Forget Rubio mania and Ersanity … the European player in the NBA to watch right now is the mighty Montenegrin bulldozer, Nikola Pekovic. The Minnesota Timberwolves big man recently inspired the below YouTube clip with soundtrack that old reliable, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

So enjoy Nikola seizing the moment, yo, and may Pekovinsanity reign!

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How good is Nikola Vucevic? Very.

Not long ago, BallinEurope handed out mid-season grades for NBA players representing The Continent; rookie Nikola Vucevic was awarded a solid 3 out of 5 – a 3.5, really, if only this self-imposing grading system weren’t so harsh. BiE assessed that “subjectively speaking, Vucevic has been particularly impressive for the surprisingly impressive Philadelphia 76ers; if he were getting more playing time, there might be mutters about the former USC Trojan vis-a-vis Rookie of the Year honors.”

Today, Sam Chadwick takes a look at Vucevic in the form of a “draft review” column and, crunching a few numbers, echoes BiE’s contention. Chadwick deduces that the sky’s the limit for this rookie who could in fact become a top-level NBA big. How good is Nikola Vucevic? How about Dwight Howard-level good?

Name: Nikola Vucevic
Country of birth: Switzerland
Nationality: Montenegro
College: University of Southern California
Position: PF/C
Height: 7’0” (2.13 meters)
Age: 21 (born October 1990)

Vucevic quietly made a name for himself at the University of Southern California, where he had career averages of 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists across three years while shooting 51% from the field and 30% from three-point range. He made the All-Pac 10 second team in his second season and All-Pac first team after averaging 35.0 minutes, 17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in his junior year. His junior year also saw him make the Fox Sports All-American third team and become the first player to lead the Pac 10 in rebounds in consecutive years.

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Minnesota Timberwolves play “Where’s Nikola?”

In a season when Nikola Pekovic finally seems to be coming into his own in the NBA (not too shabby that 18.2 ppg/10.7 rbg average through 20 games), the Minnesota Timberwolves PR folks are apparently having some difficulty locating the 6’11” (2.11m) big man – at least that’s what they’d like you to think.

Check out below the Wolves’ new cheeserific promo clip made in conjunction with Delta Airlines in which Pekovic in full basketball gear – all the better to see his awesome inkwork with – strolls (unconvincingly) through African jungle, China, Moscow, Paris, Egypt and outer space.

As for answering the question itself, BallinEurope’s gonna go out on a limb and guess Bijelo Polje…

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Ricky Rubio to Nikola Pekovic for the NBA’s Play of the Day

Here it is: Another one for the Human YouTube Highlight Clip’s collection. From the Love-less Minnesota Timberwolves’ 86-84 victory at the Sacramento Kings last night, Ricky Rubio contributed what the NBA official website is calling “The Play of the Day.”

In the third quarter, Tyreke Evans lost the handle, and La Pistola swooped in on the errant ball to lead the fast break for the ‘Wolves. And then, the pass. While in motion, between the legs to another BallinEurope NBA favorite, Nikola Pekovic, for the slam as Evans can only watch.

Ah, Ricky Rubio, you’ve done it yet again…

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Real Madrid wins 81-80 on clutch shot by Nikola Mirotic (or, Sheesh, more good news for Chicago Bulls fans?)

With an league-best 13-3 record, all signs pointing to a deep run in the NBA playoffs and a pleased-as-punch fan base that has long forgotten about the non-acquisition of Dwight Howard, it’s not like the Chicago Bulls need more positivity. Regardless, BallinEurope’s gonna give it to them; as it turns out, their brightest European prospect can play in the clutch as well.

Prospective Bull/Euroleague “Rising Star” Nikola Mirotic again came to the fore last night to prevent an upset of his Real Madrid at Unicaja Malaga. In Los Blancos’ 81-80 victory, Mirotic played 25 minutes to help matters with six rebounds, two blocks and 6-of-9 shooting for 12 points, none as important as his clutch shot in the final second.

Below the break, watch how Mirotic burns Jorge Garbarosa and Luka Zoric on the way to the hole to throw in a buzzer-beating runner off the glass with 0:00.5 or so remaining in the game – dagger!

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Nikola Pekovic: Best tattoo in the NBA – no, the Universe

Media day in the NBA gave a lot of newbies, unknowns and ubiquitous presences (see coverage of Miami Thrice schmoozing at right) alike the chance to know and be known. Minnesota Timberwolves fans and players alike are well enthusiastic about their new addition Nikola Pekovic, who’s already generating hilarious quotes from his teammates with just his general badass demeanor and play.

Said Wayne Ellington: “I’m making him my new best friend.”

Said Michael Beasley: “I don’t think nobody has the guts to challenge Pek to a fight, nobody. Pek is 300 pounds, he’s 6’10” and he’s from Serbia. [Actually Montenegro, no? – Ed.] I don’t think nobody wants to challenge him.”

Said Kevin Love: “He wants to make friends with us before he knocks a few teeth out.”

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