What say we close out 2012 with a whole bunch of highlight clips? BiE knew you’d be willing. Tomorrow, a list of the most popular BallinEurope stories of the calendar year will be running, but today comes an attempt to encapsulate the past 365 days in European hoops, YouTube style.

From Ibaka’s blocks to the return of Ricky Rubio, from a stunner in Istanbul to a double miracle in Italy, from the US to the Continent and back again, BallinEurope’s got your highlights right here…

• Nikola Mirotic nips Unicaja Malaga. Named the Euroleague’s “Rising Star” in 2011, the prospective Chicago Bull started his calendar year with a bang. After his Real Madrid looked ripe for the upset in the EL Top 16 round, Mirotic instead burns Jorge Garbarosa and Luka Zoric with a fourth-quarter buzzer-beating runner off the glass with less than one second remaining to give Los Blancos the 81-80 win.

• The New Sultan of Swat. Over in the NBA, Serge Ibaka solidified his reputation as perhaps the premier shot blocker alive today in 2011-12. His 10 swats against the Dallas Mavericks on February 2 was the league’s top performance in the category for the season and even though his Oklahoma City Thunder went down pretty decisively in the 2012 NBA Finals, Ibaka did add to his YouTube clip collection in game two against Dwayne Wade and later Lebron James.

• Dulkys leaves legacy at FSU. Currently with Lietuvos Rytas, Lithuania’s Deividas Dulkys put in quite a memorable senior year at Florida State. Most notably, Dulkys sealed an ACC title for his side against North Carolina in March, nailing two free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining despite reported on-court distractions.

And Dulkys’ show in the championship game was no fluke; earlier in the year, he’d rung up a career-high 32 points on the Tarheels.

• One badass buzzer-beater. Luol Deng is awesome.

• Pops with the Hops. Beşiktaş JK enjoyed a very nice run in 2012, capping an odd revolving-door of season with both FIBA Eurochallenge and TBL titles. Despite carrying US headliners Deron Williams and Adam Morrison at various parts of 2011-12, ultimately it was Team Britain’s Pops Mensah-Bonsu who proved the team’s spiritual and statistical leader. Pops ran up lines of 18.5 ppg, 11.8 rpg and 1.0 bpg for Beşiktaş in the Eurochallenge; the numbers were 12.8 ppg, 7.8 rbg, and 0.8 bpg in TBL play while getting about 25% less playing time. And his 26-point, 20-rebound show against Elan Chalon for the EC title was one of the year’s top performances.

More importantly, with Ricky Rubio out for most of the calendar year, Pops kept the European basketball highlight section of YouTube alive and well; here’s a representative explosive jam from the TBL season.

• The Shot Heard ‘Round Europe. Or, if you prefer, The Runner That Defeated The Big Red Machine…

• Remember Donatas? Motiejunas hasn’t quite lit the NBA on fire in his rookie season, but damn was he dominant for Asseco Prokom last year…

• Consecutive games, consecutive buzzer-beaters. Challenging again for the Serie A title in 2012-13, Sassari bounced Kobe-chasers Virtus Bologna in the Italian playoffs with back-to-back miracles

• The Games, The Qualifiers. When summer came, the focus shifted to national-team ball in preliminaries to the Olympics. The 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament lived up to the hype as guys like Bo McCalebb, Vassilis Spanoulis and Ike Diogu enjoyed the international spotlight for a while.

• Another memorable clash of titans. In the 20th anniversary of The Dream Team’s romp through Barcelona, the gold medal game fittingly came down to a contest between the planet’s top two programs. This edition of USA-Spain was definitely one for the books, a wonderful shootout that likely represents the final Olympic gold-medal game for the majority of players on both sides.

• A star is born. BiE’s dark-horse pick for Eurobasket 2013? Montenegro! Big names aside (and damn, there’s a lot of ‘em), a two-point defeat of Serbia in the FIBA Europe Qualifying Round game showed that contributions may come from any corner. In the game, the buzzer-beating three was provided by 18-year-old Nikola Ivanovic…

• Celtics, Mavericks lose in Europe. After cancelling the NBA Live and Euroleague America tours in 2011, the exhibition games returned on both sides of the Atlantic in 2012. Continental sides notched a couple of nice victories in October, with the McCalebb-fueled Fenerbahçe Ülker toppling the Boston Celtics, 97-91, and FC Barcelona defending home court against Dallas, 99-85. Who cares if these games are technically meaningless? The Blaugrana surely take pride in their 3-0 run against NBA teams in Spain…

• Andris Biedrins makes Dwight Howard look like Steve Nash. Is anyone happier than the Latvian big man that Brian Okam’s free throw attempt went viral? Aside from Golden State Warriors fans every time Biedrins goes to the charity stripe, that is…

• Marko Keselj’s “Machaca y vuelve loca”. BiE’s not exactly proficient in Spanish but is guessing that the expression translates roughly as “blowing past Alex King and posterizing Jason Boone for an easy two points.”

• Finally, a couple of guys basketball fans spent a good part of the year simply waiting to see take the court.Dario Saric’s debut saw The Next Big Thing Out Of Croatia contribute eight points, five assists, four rebounds and one steal in a nice display of his wide array of skills.

• The Human YouTube Highlight Clip returns. Of course, it wouldn’t be BallinEurope without something from La Pistola. After suffering a traumatic knee injury in a collision with Kobe Bryant (or perhaps something more sinister)…

…Ricky Rubio rehabbed for eight months or so before finally coming back to play with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though the results have been mixed thus far in 2012-13 – that outside shot has disappeared again, it seems – whoa, was Rubio’s season debut against the Mavericks impressive.

Just one more storyline to continue following into 2013…

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