The opening dates of every* basketball league in Europe

EuroBasket is in the books. Time to look ahead to all the national and international leagues in Europe. Here’s when the action starts in all of them. Well, in all of them that have announced their schedules.

Euroleague – 1 October/16 October
The qualifiers for the one remaining slot begin on 1 October but the regular season doesn’t start for another two weeks. Olympiacos begin their quest for a three-peat at home to Unicaja Malaga.

Eurocup – 15 October
Europe’s secondary competition begins its regular season the night before Euroleague.

Eurochallenge – 5 October
Play in Europe’s tertiary competition starts just a couple of weeks after EuroBasket ends. Krasnie Krilya won the crown last season and are back in Eurochallenge this year.

Adriatic League – 4 October
KK Krka have moved up from Liga Telemach after four straight titles. Reigning champions Partizan begin play at home to KK Igokea.

VTB League – 5 October
After a scattered start to the regular season, reigning champions CSKA Moscow open their campaign at home to VEF Riga.

Balkan League – 14 October
Hapoel Gilboa Galil took the title last season and begin their title defence with a road game at KK Teodo Tivat.

Baltic League – 8 October
Reigning champions Ventspils open play against Barsy Atyrau.
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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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On Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, Giannakopoulos and the Greek League mess

The history books will forever record Panathinaikos as having won game three of the 2012-13 Greek League championship series over Olympiacos by a score of 76-72 to complete a three-game sweep. The reality, as is sadly so often the case in Greens-Reds match, was more complicated.

With just under a minute and a half remaining, an Olympiacos turnover gave Panathinaikos the ball. At this point, Reds fans unleashed their fury on the Greens’ bench for a scene well-known to those familiar with Greek basketball.

Game three therefore ended with refs calling the match with 87 seconds remaining; a request from the officials to clear the building went unheeded.

While some Olympiacos players admitted in defeat that “We did not play good basketball” (18-of-79 three-point shooting in the three games is one statistic fortifying that opinion) or that perhaps they’d been mentally/physically/emotionally exhausted by the Euroleague Final Four victories, but one cannot deny the assessment that “anything can happen in 87 seconds,” particularly when the side down by four points have proven to be Europe’s comeback kids these past two seasons.

The Red Planet report portrays a team “disrespected” by Greek League referees and, by extension, by league officials. Again, hard to deny, considering reports that Reds players were subject to the Wada Test some 15 times since last year’s playoffs – and with not a single positive result.

Said Kostas Papanikolaou in the post-game presser, as reported by Eurohoops: …we are deeply hurt by the rumors [...] that doping had to do with our Euroleague win. This is something that we didn’t deserve and it affected us.” Olympiacos coach Georgios Bartzokas bitterly stated that “A journalist, who is a joke, started a rumor and the Greek state changes its anti-doping policy. That says a lot about Greece. Nobody around Europe mentioned anything like that about us…”

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Cinderella story in France as no. 8 seed JSF Nanterre wins LNB title, 2013-14 Euroleague spot (theoretically)

Nanterre celebrates winBallinEurope’s favorite European domestic-league champion this season? It’s gotta be JSF Nanterre, yesterday’s crowning of whom as French LNB kings has surely guaranteed who will be the underdog of all underdogs for the 2013-14 Euroleague season.

Backing into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak to squeak in by dint of tiebreaker with a regular-season record of 15-15, Nanterre proceeded to 7-1 in the tournament, sweeping top seeds Gravelines Dunkerque and defending champions Elan Chalon before winning a concluding game four in the best-of-five championship series against Strasbourg, 83-77.

In yesterday’s final match, Ohio State alum David Lighty again led the way for Nanterre, with this third 20-plus point game of the playoffs, notching 21 to top-score for the upstarts – but perhaps the most kudos should go to coach Pascal Donadieu, who faced Team France/Strasbourg’s Vincent Collet with the pragmatic attitude that got his team through the playoffs: Against Gravelines, [the game plan] was to neutralize [Dwight] Buycks. Against Chalon, [Blake] Schilb; and against Strasbourg, [Alexis] Ajinça.”

Indeed, in game four, Ajinça’s influence was limited to just 12 points and six rebounds, both below his season averages.

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CSU Asesoft Ploiești defend title, become Romanian champions for 9th time in 10 seasons

(CSU Asesoft image by Răzvan Păsărică)
BallinEurope usually hears from Adi Micinic of Romania-based Total Baschet at this time of year as the country’s league winds up its season. Adi told us last month about possibly the hidden play of the entire tournament there, a beyond-controversial call which ultimately may have stolen CSU Asesoft Ploiești a semi-final win and continued them onto the winner’s stand again. Today, he provides recaps of the final round and the third-place series which ended quite familiarly…

CSU Asesoft Ploiești are the Romanian champions for the nine time in league history, wrapping up the series against BC Mureș four games to two in a best-of-seven set.

Ploiești’s Alhaji Mohammed, younger brother of the Chicago Bulls’ Nazr Mohammed, scored 38 points in the decisive game six played in Brazi which finished with the score 83-76. Vaidotas Peciukas replied with 23 points for Mureș.
Interestingly, the defense of CSU Ploiești – and maybe the offense of BC Mureș – was the deciding factor in the finals. When BC Mureș scored over 80 points during this series, they won.

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How do you say “buzzer-beater” in Estonian? Tanel Soku shocks TU/Rock with half-courter

Another antagonist has been added to the nightmares of Tartu University/Rock fans: namely, point guard Tanel Soku. Already back-to-back title-holders with nine consecutive wins in Estonian league championship series over Rock, BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn made it 10 last night thanks to Soku’s heroics.

In a back-and-forth game, Rain Veideman was ultimately sent to the free-throw line as Rock held a one-point advantage with about three seconds remaining. Unfortunately for his side, Veideman hit just one of the two FTs to give the challengers a 71-69 lead but leaving Tallinn with no timeouts.
And then this happened.

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Cup finals highlights: Barca dominates Valencia; Siena squeaks past Cinderella; PAO bests “club of filth” Olympiacos; Korac Cup final postponed

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this morning to FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena and Panathinaikos, perhaps each respectively their nation’s top basketball club, for taking domestic cup titles this weekend.

In Spain, FC Barcelona showed no letup after outlasting Real Madrid in Thursday’s barnburner from the Copa Del Rey quarterfinal round and cruised through Valencia BC in the finals, 85-69. Nice to note that BiE fave Pete Mickael snagged this year’s MVP award from within a relentless and balanced Blaugrana attack.

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God, please give us victories!

In advancing to the 2012 Olympic Games, Team Lithuania has written itself into the record books. BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y. wants you to understand just how important this achievement is to the people of that basketball-adoring country…

“God, please give us victories. Some people don’t understand: This is all we have left. Basketball is the only thing that is keeping Lithuania together. The cheering, the singing, the same colors, all of this is what reminds me of who we are. We are a union, a family and some stupid Lithuanians make me forget that all the time. But when I look at our amazing team, who put their last efforts into winning, I cannot be happier. So God, please give us victories, all we want is to stay a country.” –L. Hasai in “And you? Are you aware of what this means for Lithuania?” the video celebrating the 2010 edition of the Lithuanian national team

Go and ask anyone who understands. It was a question of life or death for Lithuanian basketball last week in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela.

As soon-to-become four-time Olympian Šarūnas Jasikevičius drove past Puerto Rico’s Daniel Santiago with 31 seconds to go in the quarterfinal matchup, the country’s entire basketball chronicle flashed in the minds of every green-and-white fan. Lithuania, down one, was perhaps one failed possession away from losing an opportunity to reach London 2012.

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Miami Heat 121, Oklahoma City Thunder 106: Now onto the Olympics, future

(Lebron James image courtesy Facebook user Nayer_Music)Okay, okay, BallinEurope’s gonna do the traditional thing … congratulations out to the Miami Heat and its clear MVP Lebron James for their 2012 NBA Championship win. James’ triple-double in the decisive game five appropriately capped a playoff run during which he fought off criticism and doomsayers as much as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As for the Continent’s representatives in the NBA’s final game of this too-quick, madcap season … Ronny Turiaf earns his first ring after joining Miami with 21 games left to play; Le Bleu saw court time in 13. The three minutes he played in last night’s game five were his first in the series, but kudos nevertheless. BiE can’t help but wonder how long it’ll be until Turiaf’s balling here full-time in Europe…

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Getting back to business: After completing threepeat, Bamberg says “Auf Wiedersehen” to Pleiss, Slaughter, Suput

Now that Brose Baskets Bamberg has completed the 2011-12 season with its third straight German Bundesliga title, management there can get down to business – and some serious business they’ll have to take care of, indeed.

First, the frivolity. From the Beko BBL official website, BiE contributor and he in-the-know about all things German sports, David Hein summarized Bamberg’s championship title and current situation as follows.

“Brose Baskets once again proved masterful in dealing with the favorites role as Bamberg confirmed the expectations of nearly all prognosticators in sweeping Ratiopharm ulm in the Beko BBL Finals to compete the incredible double three-peat. It was a testament to Ulm and their amazing season that Isaiah Swann did not allow Bamberg to take Game 3 at home without a fight as he drained eight three-pointers in scoring 36 points. But as usual the depth and balance – and fortitude – of Brose Baskets were just too much: Bamberg won Game 3 by the score of 97-95 to complete the 3-0 sweep and hoist the championship trophy into the heavens of Franconia for the fifth time in the last seven years…

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