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The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++ Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen +++ The Dish: Can I play with Madness? +++ Just point out the bounce +++
Apr
1

The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt

Quantez Robertson's last ride

BiE’s editor headed to Frankfurt to catch a supposedly nothing game between Fraport Skyliners and medi Bayreuth on Sunday. It was 11th vs 15th, the atmosphere was like a playoff spot was at stake.

The stakes could hardly have been lower. Fraport Skyliners were all but eliminated from the playoffs and medi Bayreuth only faced a relegation threat in the mathematical sense. A few hundred miles away Bamberg and Bayern were going to duke it out in the battle for home court advantage but the fans in Frankfurt didn’t care for the bigger picture. They had one foe, one goal, help their team get the W by being as loud as humanly possible. No-one is going to confuse the Fraport Arena with the OAKA any time soon but when you head to a mid-table game, you don’t really expect this:

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Apr
4

Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs

BallinEurope only went 6 of 8 in picking the teams to make the post-season and one of those sides we didn’t have faith in won’t be happy with how we see the playoffs shaping up. It’s fearless prediction time.

Barcelona vs Galatasaray

Pick: Barca in 3.

So we didn’t think Galatasaray would make it this far and now we’re saying there roll a doughnut in the post-season. Harsh? Perhaps but we’re standing by it. Barcelona’s slump at the end of the Top 16 can’t disguise a 22-0 start to Euroleague this season. This team is going to Milan, the question is how many games it will require. Much as Galatasaray deserve credit for holding their nerve in the wild battle for fourth in Group F, they look to have drawn a pairing suited to exploit them. If it’s any comfort, we seem to have given Pops Mensah-Bonsu some added motivation.

Real Madrid vs Olympiacos

Pick: RMB in 4.

This was a tough call to make and not for the reason you might think. Real Madrid look to have the most complete team in Europe this season. If they weren’t utterly unbackable, I’d take RMB to walk into a 2-0 series lead without blinking. The question in my mind is whether they will be able to finish the Reds off quickly or if it will require them going back to Madrid. In the end I split the difference and called it Real in a 3-1 win.

CSKA Moscow vs Panathinaikos

Pick: CSKA in 5.

Honestly, this was the easiest call of the lot. You could slot in any opponent and I’d have trouble believing this CSKA team would take care of business the easy way. It’s just not been their style all season. If any series goes the max, this will be it. Panathinaikos still look capable of taking care of business back home but neither of the Greek giants looks like final four material this year.

EA7 Milano vs Maccabi Elektra Tel-Aviv

Pick: Milano in 4.

This is about as good a style match-up as Milano could have hoped for. They have the weapons to hurt Maccabi and to do so repeatedly. Home court in the final four isn’t something that comes around every year and that’s plenty motivation for Milano. It could have been a source of nerves but the maturity this outfit showed in the Top 16 makes me think otherwise. For the first half of that phase Milano kept stumbling, not quite doing enough to convince skeptics like me (who said they wouldn’t make the post-season) of their worth and then boom they caught fire. The Barca win is what most remember but the change had already happened. They had evolved from could-bes to probablys.

So where have I gone horribly wrong? Please vent your frustrations in the comments.

Apr
0

A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing


March Madness ended on Monday. On Tuesday Dario Saric, having just signed a new agent, delivered a triple-double with perfect timing to get the attention of NBA scouts. His 20 points, 13 board, and 10 assists in Cibona’s 96-70 Croatian Cup semi-final win over KK Zagreb. Super Dario certainly knows when to pick his moment.

Apr
0

Swee’ Pea needs your help

The Legend of Swee’ Pea- extended trailer from Benjamin May on Vimeo.

A couple of weeks back we told you about a great Kickstarter looking for support in developing a documentary on Lloyd “Swee’ Pea” Daniels, a player who spent a couple of seasons in Europe having risen from playground legend to the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs. Right now it’s not looking like this film will get made as the producers are a long way short of their fund-raising goal.

BiE has literally zero bias here, no-one in the site stands to make a dime from the movie. We just really want it to get made because it looks awesome. From the footage we’ve seen outside of the extended trailer above (which for rights reasons we can’t share), it looks like a tale any basketball junkie wants to see told.

So, purely because we think you’ll enjoy this movie, we’re urging you to go to the Kickstarter page here and pledge your support.

Apr
1

The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever

Also, admittedly, possibly the only Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever. It’s so good we briefly considered forgiving Lipko, then we remembered that we hate Lipko.

Mar
2

Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen

Lloyd-Daniels
In this gig I get a lot of unsolicited email. Most of it is nice and a huge chunk of it is begging for coverage. I tend to say no a lot because I’m not in the interest of spamming my readers. Every now and again, one of those unexpected mails is worth following up. This is definitely one of those exceptions. Allow me to introduce you to The Legend of Swee’ Pea.

Lloyd ‘Swee’ Pea’ Daniels was a playground legend whose quixotic life saw him signed up to UNLV, forced to leave the program over drug issues, eventually make his way to the NBA, and then a few stints in Europe with Pesaro, Galatasaray, AEK Athens, and Ovarense. Every baller has a story to tell but they guys behind this documentary have found a gem in Daniel. This is a player whose life is fascinating and worth telling.

In addition to the clip above I’ve seen some other unfinished portions which I sadly can’t share for rights reasons at present but trust me, the film-makers are on to something really special here.

To put it simply. If you want to see a great documentary about a fascinating character, support this project via its Kickstarter. You can also find out more at the film’s web site.

BiE will be making a donation next weekend to help it along and we plan on interviewing the film-makers in the coming weeks. If you have any questions you’d like us to put to them, leave them in the comments below.

Mar
1

The Dish: Can I play with Madness?

Rudy
It may be March Madness across the Atlantic but Euroleague served up plenty of insanity this week as the races for the final playoff spots entered crazy territory. Emmet Ryan breaks it all down.


The story of this week should have been the return of Zeljko Obradovic to the OAKA and, in fairness, it was but only barely. The love-fest for Zoc’s return was quite heart-warming under any circumstance but moreso considering the importance of Panathinakos’ game with Fenerbahce. The Greens took the lead in the race for the final two spots in Group E with a 76-67 win over Fener. The whole celebration has been documented well by Eurohoops who also did a great job on Twitter in the build-up with their #ReturnOfZoc tweets.

That win not only moved Panathinaikos to 6-5 and third spot but also gave them the season head to head advantage over Obradovic’s side. Olympiacos ran riot over Baskonia but they only hold fourth on tie-breakers over Unicaja and Fener. Malaga for their part looked limp in defeat against visiting Barcelona. The Blaugrana moved to 21-0 in Euroleague play, 11-0 in Top 16 play. A win next week and top spot is their’s, fortunately if that does happen their two dead rubbers almost certainly won’t influence who makes the next stage. EA7 Milano effectively ended any shot at the playoffs for Anadolu Efes and look certain to take second spot following their 76-69 win.

Before I move on to Group F, on behalf of the whole BiE family I’d like to extend our support to all of our readers and followers in Turkey. With Twitter being blocked, you guys responded the only way you should have; by finding ways around the block. This is not a political site but we believe that everyone should have a voice. There is nothing right with silencing people, it was good to see so many of our friends finding ways to keep their voices.
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Mar
0

Excessive reaction follows excessive reaction in Finland

The video below has been doing the rounds and no-one comes out looking good.

Shanel Harrison was so in the wrong here, no argument from this corner. She was clearly angered by a hard screen up the other end that, upon close inspection of the video, looks like it could have been a body check. My initial reaction when I saw the video was that it was a deliberate body check but having re-watched a bunch of times, I honestly think it’s a badly set screen.

Either way, there was no call for her to flat-out cold cock her opponent. That’s nasty. That earns a suspension and a fine…but it really shouldn’t have cost Harrison her job. Taplonen Honka issued a statement confirming her dismissal as a result of this action. If it’s just for this, and pardon my lack of knowledge of the former La Salle player’s behaviour in the Finnish league this year, then dismissal is a massive over-reaction. Yes it was dirty but there has to be room to punish action that falls short of completely removing any potential for penance. Harrison deserves to get the book thrown at her but it was an emotional reaction in the heat of the moment. That gets you the bench for a couple of weeks, it shouldn’t get you the door.

Mar
0

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 In-the-game.org 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.

Mar
0

Even inaction is political for FIBA in Ukraine

The last thing on most people’s minds when it comes to the crisis in Crimea is basketball. FIBA Europe don’t have that luxury. Emmet Ryan says that whatever call FIBA makes on EuroBasket 2015, they will suffer for it.

The road to EuroBasket 2015 had been rocky enough already before last weekend. The Crimea crisis has escalated matters and there are many furrowed brows in FIBA Europe’s headquarters in Munich right about now. Ukraine is set to host the continent’s premier basketball competition next year, that presents a political nightmare for the basketball body.

Let’s look at the options facing FIBA. Only two really matter, keep the tournament in Ukraine or move it. The former requires no new action from FIBA Europe, the latter most certainly does. Neither is pleasant.

The lone upside to keeping the tournament in Ukraine is that FIBA Europe technically isn’t making a political statement if it proceeds with the plan. There’s just a slight problem, if Russia says it’s a political statement then it might as well be. Russia could pull out of the tournament, removing every Russian eyeball and the TV money that goes with it. More importantly, it’s a blatant opportunity for Vladimir Putin to grandstand. And all of this while FIBA Europe does literally nothing to change its current course of action. The financial hit is one the body could take in the short-term but pissing off a big market isn’t advisable beyond it.

Removing the tournament from Ukraine has obviously negative implications from a face-saving point. It’s basically a continent-wide governing body saying Kthanxbai and leaving a member hanging. Whatever your views on the political administration in Ukraine, their governing body of basketball is hardly one to shoulder the blame here. What no-one else will say is that if Ukraine loses the tournament, the only nation likely to boycott is Ukraine. Many more will cluck but they’ll still show up to ball.

The only way FIBA Europe gets out of this jam easily is if Ukraine becomes unviable as a host for the tournament. There are two ways this could happen. Political instability is the less pleasant option. Should matters escalate, and it’s safe to say that’s not a good thing, then FIBA can cite safety concerns but it would really wish it didn’t have to. The second is infrastructure. Does Ukraine still have the physical infrastructure and financial resources to deliver EuroBasket? It’s not exactly a nice idea either but infrastructural concerns, especially substantial ones, would be by far the easiest option for FIBA Europe to use to abandon Ukraine.

Whatever way it pans out, FIBA Europe is going to take an absolutely beating in the press. There are often fair and reasonable reasons to mock the governing body. This really isn’t one of them but it will be one of the more visible and it will end badly for them.

EuroBasket 2015 isn’t the first potential clash of politics and basketball in this crisis. With Ukraine’s Budvielnik Kiev and Khimik Yuzhne still in EuroCup, along with Russian outfits Khimki Moscow Region, Unics Kazan, and Nizhny Novgorod, the competition could yet deliver a match-up where politics takes precedence over basketball.

There’s also the small matter of the VTB United League. The next game scheduled between teams from both nations is between Triumphy Lyubertsy and Azovmash Mariupol. Given Mariupol’s home game with Russia’s Khimki was postponed on 23 February, it’s safe to say that games between Russian and Ukrainian sides in the league are likely to go unplayed for the foreseeable future.