“February Madness” begins this week in Europe, with a number of top domestic leagues hosting national cup tournaments; probably tops in pageantry and hype on The Continent is Spain’s Copa del Rey, a hoops bloodbath since 1984. BallinEurope this morning provides a few links, clips and whatnot in preparation for what they just had to call “96 horas de alta tensión.”

• First stop for all interested parties – and especially the Spanish-speakers among you – is the amazing 68-page Madrid ’11 Copa del Rey program guide; this is really just a swell production.

• The ACB is well-organized, Twitterily-speaking, as well. The league promises to tweet it up during the tournament and even have a hashtag (it’s #CopaACB) so that “No te pierdas ni un detalle de la Copa del Rey.”

• Extremely generously, all Copa del Rey games will be viewable online live or by recording via the fantastic ACB 360 website.

• With the expected outcome pitting FC Barcelona against hosts Madrid in the finals, many are apparently thinking we’ll get a rematch of clubs who met in the Copa del Rey 2011 final in that other sport.

• Speaking of the great Spanish rivals, the most decorated team in since this tournament’s inception in 1984 is FC Barcelona at 8-4 in tournament championship games; Barça is a big 4-1 against Real in Copa del Rey final games, including the 80-61 punishment handed Madrid in the 2010 edition. (Real backers, avoid watching below clip.) Madrid’s sole finals victory over Barcelona in this tournament came in 1989.

• After two months out, Pete Mickeal wants to suit up for Barcelona in this tournament, but this means Xavi Pascual will have to lose of his thirteen…

• Tonight, the tournament schedule pits Power Electronics Valencia (12-8 in ACB play in 2010-11) vs. Blancos de Rueda Valladolid (13-7) and Real Madrid (17-3) vs. Gran Canaria 2014 (10-10); tomorrow sees Caja Laboral Baskonia (12-8) face off against Bizkaia Bilbao Basket (11-9) while FC Barcelona (17-3) takes on DKV Joventut (11-9).

• And since FC Barcelona draws DKV Joventut, with whom Ricky Rubio stunned observers to win El Copa over Tiago Splitter and then-TAU Ceramica in 2008…

…here’s the obligatory Rubio interview for Spanish TV in which he obligatorily proclaims that “Será muy emotivo jugar contra el Joventut” (“It will be very emotional to play against Joventut”), even though he’s done so a few times since joining the Blaugrana in 2009.

• Anybody want a quick course in cheerleading, brought to you by ACB and Copa del Rey sponsors Orange and a Spanish dancer with one hell of a toned body…?

• Finally, here’s the slightly low-key promo. ¡Enjoy the tournament!

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