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Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender +++ 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 +++
Jul
0

Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender

James Weldon UL Huskies
Dragan Bender has been the talk of Twitter this week on the back of his impressive displays for Croatia at the FIBA Europe men’s under 18 championships in Konya, Turkey.

James Weldon, who has won all there is to win as a coach in the Irish women’s league, is in town for the FECC and was at Croatia’s 101-81 win over Poland on Monday. We caught up with him last night to get his thoughts on the 16 year old who is averaging 16.4 ppg 11.2 rpg and 4.8 apg through five games.
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Jul
0

FIBA Europe Under 20 final highlights and top plays

An exciting FIBA Europe Under 20 men’s championship came to a conclusion on Sunday with Turkey taking the the title. Check out the highlights of their 65-57 win over Spain below.

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Jul
4

Until it matters, it won’t matter

Kevin-Durant-Team-USA
The FIFA World Cup is over, the FIBA World Cup is seven weeks away. Whereas the former near guaranteed shocks and surprises, Basketball fans can only hope we avoid a predictable tournament in Spain.

The FIBA World Cup of Basketball has tremendous potential but it’s hard not to be a little worried. Player drop outs keep leaking out as the off-season staggers along. Save for Spain and Lithuania, because it’s Lithuania, and a handful of others it’s hard to guarantee teams will bring their strongest possible rosters. International hoops, while adored by fans, simply doesn’t get the commitment of its soccer counterpart.

Team USA’s provisional roster is a good indicator of how much of an opt-in event this is for stars. Kevin Durant, the reigning NBA MVP, is there, so too are Derrick Rose and James Harden but after that the top names have opted out without much consternation. A NBA contract, the NBA season, is just that much further ahead in the order of priorities. Part of Rose’s motivation for playing indeed is to get some real game-time to get his career back on track next season. This is far from a NBA problem. It’s not the NBA’s fault that it is, by a considerable distance, the top priority for players. That’s on FIBA and the national federations.
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Jul
0

Watch all 40 of Angela Salvadores points against USA

Ángela Salvadores couldn’t carry Spain all the way to the FIBA Women’s World Under 17 title but she still stole the show. Check out all 40 points from Salvadores in the video below.

Jun
2

The BallinEurope FIBA World Cup Beer Challenge

Beer-Basketball

BiE is looking to match a beer with every team in the FIBA World Cup. After ranking all of the teams in Euroleague by beer last season, we’re expanding our mission to find the best beer in every nation at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain this year.

We’ll start playing off the groups in our beer rankings on 1 August with the winner being announced on 29 August, the day before the 2014 FIBA World Cup tips off.

Are you a brewer or a beer enthusiast? Has your favourite beer earned the right to represent your nation on basketball’s grandest stage? Submit your nominations to ballineuropeATyahoo.com or via Twitter @bie_basketball or in the comments for your beer’s chance to claim the trophy…yes we’re going to get an actual trophy to give to the winner.

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.

Sep
0

Preview: EuroBasket Quarter Finals – Croatia vs Ukraine and Lithuania vs Italy

Three more teams will book their place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Thursday as the quarter finals of EuroBasket 2013 conclude. Here’s are take and picks on both games as well as the classification game between Slovenia and Serbia where the winner books a ticket to Spain. 

Croatia lost their first game in Slovenia and then rattled off seven straight wins to secure a favourable draw in the last eight. The Croats have power inside and will look to dominate on the glass, where they have averaged 43.1 rebounds per game. After beating Ukraine home and away in the qualification round last year, it’s hardly a surprise to see Croatia as favourites for this game. This is a team however which is almost addicted to making life difficult irrespective of the opponent. Only one of Croatia’s run of victories came in a manner that could remotely be described as comfortable. Every other game was a battle often of the Croats own doing. This will give hope to Ukraine which will rely heavily on three-point shooting to keep the game competitive and make the favourites nervous. Mike Fratello’s team lives and dies by how Pooh Jeter plays. What Croatia do to shut down the world’s biggest fan of borscht could prove decisive. The bookies have Croatia down as -8 favourites. That looks about right to me. Croatia to advance.

The second quarter final today sees Italy take on Lithuania. Raptors Republic is calling this tournament JonasBasket and while there’s an element of insular thinking there, for one evening they may have a point. Lithuania can bang hard with anybody and Jonas Valanciunas will have an important role to play in this game. Italy’s struggles inside hurt them in the second stage and they will need Alessandro Gentile to match his big display against Spain for this game to be competitive. There’s certainly talent on the Italian roster, with Marco Belinelli and Gigi Datome both impressing at this tournament. What the duo needs most is help. I expect a heavy emphasis on defence from Lithuania early to try and frustrate Italy before the favourites look to punch a big hole on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Lithuania are favoured by 5.5 points and again this looks about right. Power inside will make the difference. Lithuania to win.

Before today’s quarter finals take place, the first of the classification games will see Slovenia take on Serbia. The home side lost to France in a contest that took a while to get going last night while the Serbs were swept aside by Spain. The emotional energy spent by Slovenia is a big concern going into this game. While Serbia will have been shocked by the way they were manhandled by Spain, it’s easier to get back mentally after a laugher than the type of draining game Slovenia played. I’m going for the slight upset here and picking Serbia.

Sep
0

EuroBasket: France grind past Slovenia 72-62

The home side exited EuroBasket 2013 after a quarter final that took a while to come to life.

This game started ugly but Slovenia clearly came out the better of the first quarter. Going in 14-10 up at the end of the final frame, there was reason for the home crowd to be hopeful. Neutrals however well already being overcome with a sense of dread. The offence in the first half was terrible. Slovenia shot 11of 33. France went 11 of 34. It gets worse when you dig inside the numbers. The Slovenians were happy to go deep. Unfortunately their accuracy was vile. Going just 1 of 14 from beyond the arc early, the underdogs weren’t getting the big shots they needed to plant the seeds of an upset. The home side’s futility however was balanced by France’s own failure, going a meagre 9 of 28 on 2s. France went in 26-24 up at the break.

Any kind of a run had the potential to blow this game open. It was France who found it. Pushing 36-26 ahead, Les Bleus developed a cushion and from there the pressure was on Slovenia. Had this been a game where either offence was in passable form, the chances of the hosts countering with a run of their own would have been good. The crowd in Ljubiana however knew their men weren’t on tonight. Goran Dragic was trying to be a do everything player for his side, creating and scoring in a spirited performance, but as Slovenia’s effort to cut the deficit kept hitting a wall he looked like he was trying to do too much.

With 3 minutes to go it was a two-possession game, Slovenia had a shot to make the French nervous. Another offensive set failed and France punished them. Trailing 67-60 with time running out a Bostjan Nachbar three was off. Tony Parker hit a lay-up on the next possession. Slovenia’s next run up the court fell short too and now it was time to foul but the French had time on their side. It was anything but a polished performance but France had done enough. After a first half where offence went to die, France came out hard from the locker room and left the home side in their wake.

Slovenia won’t win a medal here but they will need to make home court advantage count to secure their place in the FIBA World Cup next year. France’s place in Spain is now locked up. Their next opponents will be a Spanish side that ran riot against Serbia.

Sep
5

EuroBasket: Spain rout Serbia 90-60 in quarter finals

Spain brutalised Serbia early as they romped to victory in the first quarter final of EuroBasket 2013.

Spain started hot and rarely let off in a rout of Serbia. Everyone knew the Spanish had speed but Serbia weren’t ready for how hard Spain would start the game. A 21-5 first quarter set the tone for the contest. Spain’s guards created opportunities at will as Serbia’s battered back-court struggled to keep up. Nemanja Nedovic bravely tried to compete but the injured Golden State Warrior couldn’t handle the constant pressure being brought by Spain’s offence. The rough start rattled Serbia early and their shot was off, further hampering their cause.

Spain didn’t let up in the second quarter despite Dusan Ivkovic’s best efforts to calm his young charges. Marc Gasol utterly dominated Nenad Krstic, a match-up he was expected to win but one in which the Serbian looked lost throughout. Serbia finally got a dash of success on the other end but with Rudy Fernandez raining threes for fun, it was a case of damage limitation. With Spain 22 points up as half-time neared, Pablo Aguilar put up a three on the buzzer and lead was 48-23.

When it’s going your way, it’s going your way. With 3.38 left in the third quarter Gasol heaved a full court pass to Sergio Llull for an easy lay-up, releasing the ball before he even knew where the Real Madrid man was, and the lead grew to 69-29. There wasn’t an aspect of play where Spain didn’t look in control. On the inside they battered Serbia. Their outside shooting was downright scary. Serbia’s Eagles looked like rabbits in the headlights. The question for Ivkovic was no longer what he needed to win this game. It was what he must do to get his young side refocused on the games ahead that will decided whether they play in the FIBA World Cup next year.

Serbia showed some fight in the final frame but in truth it was as much Spain easing off as the Serbs finally finding their confidence. The Spanish now await the winner of tonight’s second quarter final between the hosts Slovenia, who beat Spain in the first round, and France. The French are hungry for revenge after losing the 2011 final to Spain and then dropping a chippy Olympic quarter final to them last year. Whoever progresses, they will face a formidable opponent in Spain. After taking it easy at times in the early rounds, Spain look hungry for the three-peat.

Sep
1

EuroBasket: Jonas Valanciunas Leads Centres in Points Per Possession

Lithuania may want to consider giving Jonas Valanciunas more minutes after checking out this chart. The Toronto Raptors big man leads all centers in points per possession (PPP).

jonas-valanciunas-possession-chart

This chart by Simon Jatsch of In-the-game.org shows, unsurprisingly, that Valanciunas does most of his work around the rim. The “Rest Two” category relates to jump hook shots and other close range efforts that are not strictly jump shooting. Valanciunas has yet to record an assist in the tournament and his total shots per game ranks relatively low among big men. Much of this can be attributed to Valanciunas playing mostly off the bench for Lithuania through the tournament. Serbia’s Nenad Krstic leads all centers in shots created with 5.5 per 28 minutes.

Israel’s Afik Nassim is the only player with a higher PPP than Valanciunas, at 1.226. Greece’s Kostas Papanikolaou, currently with FC Barcelona and whose NBA rights are held by the Portland Trail Blazers, has matched Valanciunas 1.189 PPP.

Goran Dragic is by far the most pass happy point guard in the tournament with 49.6 per cent of his possessions turning into assists.

Simon has produced 50 charts covering the most interesting players in the tournament, including most of the top 10 at every position. Check them out here.