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BiE’s official Irish awards ballot +++ Joakim Noah wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year +++ Swee’ Pea makes the cut – Reaches Funding Target +++ The Dish – Too Rude for Masai Uijiri +++ 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 +++
Oct
0

VTB League: CSKA cruise, more heartbreak for Neptunas

Neptunas are doing everything they can to be the lovable underdog of the VTB United League but CSKA Moscow remain the class of the league. Lietuvos Rytas meanwhile secured an important win over Lokomotiv Kuban, just four days before the sides meet again in Euroleague.

Omar Cook had 7 assists and Juan Palacios scored 12 as Lietuvos Rytas won a defensive struggle with Lokomotiv Kuban. The Krasnodar club managed to convert just 28 per cent of their shots from the field including a vile 4 of 16 from three-point range. The victory doesn’t just move the Lithuanian side to 2-0, it gives them a big mental advantage before Thursday’s clash with the same opponents in Euroleague.

CSKA Moscow, who had a lucky escape at Nanterre on Thursday, made much lighter work of Astana. A hot start meant the Russians looked to be in control but Astana dragged themselves back into the game and trailed by just a point entering the final frame. The Kazakhs however were out of gas and a 27-10 fourth quarter gave CSKA a comfortable 72-54 win. It was a balanced display but CSKA with Sonny Weems, Nenad Krstic, and Viktor Khryapa carrying the load for much of the game.

Tsmoki-Minsk won a thriller at the expense of Neptunas in the second round of action in the VTB League. The Belarus side condemned the Lithuanians to their second straight heartbreaking loss with a 91-90 win. Neptunas, who lost in overtime a week ago, trailed early but came back well to make a fight of the road contest. Martynas Mazeika, who had 17 points and 4 assists, had the chance to win the game for the visitors late but he couldn’t make the final bucket and the home side held to edge Neptunas 91-90 and take their second straight win, a remarkable early start considering they had just three wins in the league in the whole of last season.

Andrew Goodeluck was the charm for UNICS Kazan as they rolled to an 86-77 win over Enisey Krasnoyarsk. Goodeluck had 23 points and 6 assist in the win, bringing Kazan to 2-0 for the season.

Oct
0

Round-up: Nanterre perfect, Siena can shoot, Neptunas fall in OT

Reigning champions Nanterre maintained their perfect start in France. In Italy, Montepaschi Siena showed they won’t lose many games for lack of shooting and in the VTB United League it was a heartbreaking debut for Lithuania’s Neptunas.

They were the Cinderella story of European Basketball last year but JSF Nanterre has begun the 2013-14 LNB season like seasoned champions. Having won the title as 8th seeds in the playoffs last year, Nanterre now hold a 3-0 record in domestic action on the back of an impressive 85-58 home win over Olympique Antibes. Xavier Corosine led the Euroleague newcomers in scoring with 18 points. Elsewhere in France, Vincent Collet’s Strasbourg topped Elan Chalon 78-68 on the back of 16 points and 8 boards from Alexis Ajinca.

Last year Montepaschi showed there was life after Bo McCalebb. This season they seem intent on proving they can keep on scoring after losing Bobby Brown. The reigning LegaBasket champions had five players in double digits as they rolled to a 97-82 win over Cremona. Spencer Nelson had 12 points and 15 rebounds for Siena while Karl English led all scorers with 22. Milan will have plenty to worry about due to the manner of their 88-80 loss at Brindisi. Milan were wholly dependent on Keith Langford (29 points, 7 rebounds) and David Moss (19 points, 7 rebounds) on offence as a more balanced Brindisi side took the win.

Game Tape focussed on the VTB United League yesterday where CSKA Moscow got off to a winning start with an 80-63 win over VEF Riga. Neptunas, the new arrivals in the league, came close to taking a win in their first outing. The Lithuanian side eventually succumbed to Avomash Mariupol of Kazakhtan in overtime, going down 96-86. Lietuvos Rytas fared better in their opener with a 70-66 win at Novgorod.

Oct
1

GameTape: Breaking down CSKA Moscow’s 80-63 win over VEF Riga

GameTape is back with a breakdown of how CSKA Moscow overcame the challenge of VEF Riga in the opening round of the VTB United League on Sunday. The reigning champions eventually rolled to an 80-63 win over the Latvians.

  • Sasha Kaun was just plain dominant inside. Riga’s defence had no answer for the big man as he racked up 27 points on 10 of 14 shooting and added 9 boards.
  • Sonny Weems looked a little rusty early but once he got going it was a highlight reel display from Weems.
  • Viktor Khryapa was solid on the fundamentals, showing good organisation on defence as well as playing with vision and intelligence on offence.
  • VEF Riga kept this game close through three quarters on the back of superior three-point shooting but they struggled mightily against CSKA’s interior defence, shooting just 10 of 36 from two.

GameTape will be on the case for the return of Euroleague this coming week.

May
0

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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Mar
2

Report: Ksystof Lavrinovic to leave Zalgiris Kaunas for unnamed Russian team

With the sad departure of Tremmell Darden and the mathematical probability of Euroleague advancement very low, things can’t get much worse for Zalgiris Kaunas.
Or maybe they can. Just before midnight yesterday, Lithuania-based basketball website Krepsinis.net reported that Ksystof Lavrinovic has received offers to jump ship from more than one Russian team and “will soon leave” Zalgiris.

The teams were unnamed, but Krepsinis notes that, while players can no longer added to Euroleague rosters, any additions made would still be allowed to play in VTB United and Russian League games through the season’s remainders.

As BallinEurope’s man in Lithuania Y. would surely say, “Just frustrating.” And the nadir may not have been reached yet…

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Mar
1

Poll: What is Zalgiris’ problem in the clutch?

All right, so BallinEurope has been considering the case of this season’s Zalgiris Kaunas — a team that went 17-2 in European competition in calendar year 2012 but has since shown a distinctly alarming propensity for losing close ones — all weekend to the ultimate result of 1,200 words or so coming to no concrete conclusions. So it’s your turn: What do you think the problem has been the Greens’ primary problem?

Zalgiris Kaunas is now 2-6 in Euroleague and VTB League games going down to the wire. The main reason is:

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Mar
2

Zalgiris loses to Minsk, drops to 2-6 in tight European-league games; what is happening in Kaunas?

Ksistof doesn’t get it either…

The conversations BallinEurope has with peers in the European basketball blogosphere lately tend to drift toward one team: Žalgiris Kaunas, the hardest luck team in Euroleague basketball.

No, wait, strike that. Let’s start over.

The conversations BallinEurope has with peers in the European basketball blogosphere lately tend to drift toward one team: Žalgiris Kaunas, a team that, in spite of a roster chockfull of experienced talent, simply cannot close out games and fall apart in the clutch.

It’s one of the two, anyway. Or maybe not: Perhaps we can lay the blame at Joan Plaza’s feet (though expectations going into the season were long) or on the subpar refereeing (which might be stretching things a bit considering the sum total of questionable calls in game seven of the Euroleague Top 16 round worked out in the Greens’ favor).

Maybe the front-office issues and lack of payment to players have been overwhelmingly distracting (as Marko Popovic told heinnews and BiE in a recent Taking the Charge podcast interview, “We made a deal at the beginning of the season that this team would stay together until the end of the season, no matter what happens. Hopefully people are going to recognize the way that we play for this club, the way that we show on the court and hopefully the financial status is going to change. We are just focused on the court. Of course we hear the rumors going on around the club but we are trying to be focused, which is not easy, I gotta be honest…”

Maybe it’s none of the above, some of the above, or all of the above. But with Žalgiris now looking at a 4-6 record after another heartbreaker to Real Madrid last week, Lithuania’s remaining representative may have already bad-lucked itself out of a Euroleague playoff spot after starting out at a strong 8-2 clip. An examination of crucial moments may give some insight into the Bizarro equivalent of last season’s Olympiacos squad. Or perhaps not.
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Feb
3

Messina on Teodosic: “I’m no Dr. Frankenstein”

L to R: Milos Teodosic, Ettore Messina

Just because the Euroleague is off this week, it doesn’t mean the media is closed for business and CSKA Moscow leader Ettore Messina gave international news a little to chew over during the bye. The coach wants you all to know a few things: He’s not a mad scientist animating cadavers, nor can he get Milos Teodosic to what the Italian coach sees as his next level.

Spanish-language Piratas Del Basket today quotes Messina in calling out his point guard a bit after the Red Army’s shocking home loss to Zalgiris Kaunas in Monday’s VTB United League game: “Clearly, there is progress in Teodosic’s game, but there’s still plenty of work to do in order for him to reach the necessarily level to be a leader.”

He went on to rhetorically ask media members, “Do you think that I’m doing nothing or that I’m Dr. Frankenstein and I can change his head as I please? Everything depends on the player. I can help but he will only change when he wants to.

Ever since last season’s Euroleague championship final – more known for Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis’ heroics, but also notable for Teodosic’s fourth-quarter meltdown – BallinEurope has kept half an eye on the PG in late-game situations. And while CSKA was stumbling to two consecutive Euroleague losses, BiE is sad to note that mercurial Milos has reemerged…

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Dec
41

Poll: Which is the best European team going into 2013?

Right. So. Especially after this –

– and with the calendar page about to be flipped into 2013, BallinEurope’s question is: Which is the best basketball team in Europe right now?

Straight by the qualification system, the top four teams in Euroleague round one were Real Madrid, Maccabi Tel Aviv, FC Barcelona and Žalgiris Kaunas – not a bad start there, but Eurobasket.com’s mathematically-derived rankings on Monday morning includes CSKA Moscow at no. 1 and Olympiacos at no. 3. Maccabi, likely saddled by the competitive imbalance they enjoy back home in the Ligat Ha’Al, places a lowly eighth…

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Dec
3

Monday Hangover: Žalgiris Kaunas impressive again; Saric’s 2012-13 debut; Goldsberry’s Bizarro Buzzer-Beater of the Week

Goldsberry, who won for losing

Damn, BallinEurope watched a lotta sports this past 72 years: Euroleague games, highlights, quarters here and there, a VTB United game, three hours of late-Sunday night NFL football, two sports-related films for upcoming Taking The Charge podcasts … life is ball games … and especially basketball, but unfortunately BiE watches almost nothing live and compresses most viewing into the weekend.

So no further ado: Three quasi-brief impressions from the bigger games, done up bullet-style.

Žalgiris: Ever interesting, ever relentless. BallinEurope’s recommended EL game of the week was Žalgiris Kaunas at Emporio Armani Milano. Žalgiris, with its slight vulnerability shown lately, needed to make a statement in this game in BiE’s opinion. Don’t worry Greens men and women: After this game, your guys will be sure to move up in the BallinEurope Euroleague power rankings

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