Marcelinho Huertas one-legged buzzer beater to beat Valencia

Well that was one of the most dramatic finishes in a while. Barcelona beat Valencia 77-75 to progress to the ACB Finals but they needed an incredible floater to take the final W. Enter Marce…

The win gave Barcelona a 3-2 series win. The Blaugrana now progress to take on reigning champions Real Madrid in the ACB Finals.


ACB Point Guards – Well this is conventional

This morning everyone’s favourite Euro basketball geek, Simon Jatsch, shared tbis image showing stats on point guard behaviour in Spain’s ACB. Take a look at try to see wbat’s wrong with it…
Click to see the image in full. What the chart lacks, quite simply, is an anomalous performer. The correlations are almost perfect. It’s the lack of something strange that makes this information strange in its own right. Where’s the freak? Sometimes an abundance of the conventional can raise eyebrows.


Musings from the basement

BiE’s Emmet Ryan went to the Palau Blaugrana to check out the next generation of talent playing for Barcelona, getting there proved a challenge in its own right.

The names were largely familiar. The bulk of the players on Barcelona B’s roster, playing in Liga Oro, had been on the NIJT squad that reached the final in London back in May. Considering my hotel was next door to the Palau, it would have seemed like a straightforward affair to check them out.

There was one slight problem. The main entrance was closed. Instead, I had to take a lengthy route around to get in around the mid-point of the first quarter. A few hundred heads were in attendance for the clash with Grupo Iruna Navarra. It was a battle of the two worst teams in the second tier. There was no Abrines or Hezonja, both having graduated to the big boys, and it showed in their record. Barca B had all of one win heading into this game and their opponents had also won just the once all season.

The talent gap was obvious early. The physical gap took longer to develop. Barca B had some young guys with good skills, looking far more disciplined than Navarra. What they lacked was bulk. These were teenagers going up against men and when play broke down, the men took advantage. There wasn’t a single baller on the visiting roster that looked likely to step up a division but they knew how to play against kids. Go hard from the start and keep doing it.

This in part explains why Barcelona went light on minutes, relatively speaking for some of their more talented players. Ludvig Hakansson, who entered the game on terrible run from outside the arc, found his shot and looked dangerous en route to an 11 point haul including a three. Marc Garcia was the class act for Barca but his slight frame stuck out a mile on court. When both were on the floor Barca pounded Navarra but the duo saw precious little action together. A pair of small guys were at risk of getting beat up by the men out there.

So who was left to take out the beef? The stats sheet would say it was Alexandr Zhigulin but the man who showed the most potential to step up to another level was Emir Sulejmanovic. It was the vision, the awareness, and that little step here and there that made him stand out. Sulejmanovic showed a smart inside step off the baseline for a dunk early in the game and he added little to that tally as the game wore on. What the big man showed instead was positional smarts. He knew where to close down instinctively, when to take the step off, and how to keep Barca’s engine running.

In terms of NBA prospects, Barcelona’s current crop of reserves has none but there are several players on this roster that will expect to step up to a higher level of competition for the bulk of their professional careers. Hakanson and Garcia will likely attract the most attention but the basketball intelligence of Sulejmanovic means he could be one to make the biggest strides at Euroleague level in years to come.


ACB: Barcelona survive, Gran Canaria top Baskonia

Real Madrid’s season doesn’t get under way until Monday night but the opening weekend of Liga Endesa almost saw a huge upset as their arch-rivals Barcelona squeezed out a win over Valencia.

The contrasting fortunes of Barcelona in Euroleague and ACB was one of the most bizarre stories of the 2012-13 season. Barcelona were untouchable in Euroleague for most of the season but faltered early and often in domestic action. The first round of play in Spain almost saw the Blaugrana fall at home but they just about got over the line with a 76-75 win over Valenica. Justin Doellman carried the load for the visitors with 25 points and 3 rebounds while Rafa Martinez scored 17 points, including 7 from the foul line. Barcelona’s back court had no trouble creating, with Marcelinho Huertas and Juan Carlos Navarro each chipping in 4 assists, but they leaned heavily on their front court for points. Kostas Papanikolaou had 14 points in his ACB debut for Barcelona, after winning back to back Euroleague titles with Olympiacos, while Maciej Lampe had 12 points and 6 rebounds. NBA draft prospect Mario Hezonja saw 2 minutes of action for Barcelona, scoring 3 points.

It took overtime but Gran Canaria eventually recorded an upset at Saski Baskonia. The islanders got off to a hot start on the road, leading by 11 at the half but a 24-13 third frame for Baskonia leveled matters. With the sides inseparable at the end of regulation, Gran Canaria eventually took the win 99-96. Nacho Martin scored 22 points and picked up 6 boards for the victors and he was ably assisted by former Notre Dame star Ben Hansbrough who had 15 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Baskonia’s Lamont Hamilton led all scorers with 23 while Fernando San Emeterio had 18 points and 3 assists.

It was a rough road trip for Estudiantes to kick off the season. Unicaja Malaga swept the Madrid team aside 97-78. Jayson Granger had 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists for Malaga, with Zoran Dragic scoring 16 points for the victors. Domas Sabonis, son of Arvydas, had a quiet but efficient day for Malaga with 6 points on 2 of 3 shooting and 3 rebounds. Andres Miso was top scorer for Estudiantes with 23.

The final game of the opening round takes place later today as defending champions Real Madrid play host to Valladolid.


Spain: Real Madrid roll to Supercopa title – Highlights

Liga Endesa champions Real Madrid added the Supercopa title over the weekend with wins over Bilbao Basket and FC Barcelona. Here’s what you might have missed.

Jaycee Carroll led a rain of threes for Real Madrid in Friday’s semi-final win over Bilbao. The Liga Endesa champions went deep early and often, crushing their opponents 100-61.

The final was a repeat of last year’s Liga Endesa playoffs final, where Real took the title in Game 5 over Barcelona. This edition of El Clasico ended with the same victor as RMB won 83-79 to lift the Supercopa.


From the free-for-all: Last week’s top five Euroleague acquisitions (plus one from the NBA)

Has it really been almost two months since the Euroleague Final Four? And when did the seasons in Spain, Greece, Italy and the NBA finish up? Time gets exceedingly relative and outright bendy once offseason transactioneering begins as memories of the previous year are quickly disposed for a look to the next and the money starts flying around.

Last week was a particularly noteworthy, headline-making span, particularly over here in Europe and especially if you’re interested in any player not named Dwight Howard. Here are BallinEurope’s five favorite moves of the previous seven days. (Is it wrong to say BiE already can’t wait for October?)

• Adam Hanga to Laboral Kutxa Baskonia. The career arc of the player destined to become Hungary’s all-time greatest continues: After developing in the Hungarian league followed by two seasons with Manresa of Liga Endesa, Hanga is set to make his Euroleague debut at age 24½ with Baskonia – and seems certain to surprise those not in-the-know with his across-the-board contributions; while Hanga will be having some minor surgery this week, he expects to miss no regular-season games. The four-year contract with Baskonia may yet keep Hanga here in Europe and out of San Antonio for a bit longer, which can be construed as good news (certainly for Continental ball followers) or bad (for the NBA supremacists).

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Euroleague American Tour 2013: CSKA Moscow scheduled for Minnesota, San Antonio visits

euroleague-basketball-nba logosThe Red Army is coming to the US as part of the always fun and interesting Euroleague American Tour 2013: Euroleague and NBA officials today announced that in October, CSKA Moscow’ll be taking on a couple of teams with nice Continental/ international ties in the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs. No word yet on whether a second Euroleague side might also be making the trip, as is customary on the ‘Tour, but the schedule for NBA team appearances in Europe is set.

Official press release on CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague American Tour 2013 and the schedule for the NBA Global Games follows.

(Euroleague) – Euroleague Basketball and the NBA today announced that CSKA Moscow will make its third trip to North America in the past five seasons this October when the team headlines the Euroleague American Tour 2013. The Russian champion and 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague semifinalist will play games in the U.S. against the 2013 Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves.

On October 7, CSKA will travel to Minneapolis to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose 2012-13 roster included former CSKA star and Euroleague MVP Andrei Kirilenko, former CSKA player Alexey Shved, as along with former Euroleague champions Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio. On October 9, CSKA will visit San Antonio to face the Spurs, whose 2012-13 squad included another former Euroleague champion, Manu Ginobili, and three-time All-Euroleague selection Tiago Splitter among six Euroleague alumni.

This will be the third trip for CSKA Moscow to the United States and Canada to play preseason games. In 2008, the team Russian powerhouse played against the Orlando Magic and the Toronto Raptors.

In 2010, CSKA crossed the pond again to played games against the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers. CSKA’s victory in Cleveland made it the first European team to have ever beaten an NBA team on United States soil.

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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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Spanish media: Bogdanovic coming to Brooklyn; Splitter rebuffs wacky Real Madrid overture

It’s good news for international hoops fans into the NBA in a pair of stories via Spain-based Marca today.

Earlier this morning, the outlet reported that Mikhail Prokhorov and his Brooklyn Nets will buy out Bojan Bogdanovic’s contract with Fenerbahce Ulker for some $570,000. Bogdanovic was originally drafted by the Miami Heat at no. 31 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, and his rights subsequently bounced to Brooklyn through the Minnesota Timberwolves in a series of trades.

For Fenerbahce this season, Bogdanovic was good for 15.9 points in 28.25 minutes per game in Euroleague cumulatively – and 20.5 in just over 32½ in the Top 16 round. Back in Turkey, Bogdanovic averaged 13.0 in 25.3 minutes.

Any buyout of Bogdanovic’s contract would become official on July 1.

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Crisis in Spain: Player strike averted, ACB playoffs to continue as planned

Phew, that was close…

Typically, it’s a bad sign when a sports page follows up a headline story with a photo like this:

(image courtesy Marca.com)

However, good news from Spain is the order of the day today, as ACB officials have announced that at least a temporary agreement is in place to avert a player strike scheduled to begin today which would have halted the Spanish League’s basketball playoffs from continuing further.

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