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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 +++ VIDEO: Ettore Messina’s coaching philosophy +++ The 24 must-see regular season games in 2014/15 Euroleague +++ Until it matters, it won’t matter +++ Watch all 40 of Angela Salvadores points against USA +++ LeBron, another sign that David Blatt just keeps on winning +++
Jun
0

Blatt’s Cavs to take on Maccabi in pre-season

David-Blatt-Cleveland-Cavaliers-Maccabi-Tel-Aviv

Euroleague champions Maccabi Tel-Aviv are heading to the US and they’re going to run into an old friend. The Euroleague champions will play the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on 5 October in the Euroleague US Tour. Last week the Cavaliers hired David Blatt, the man who led Maccabi to Euroleague glory this past season, as their new head coach. It may be pre-season but this is bound to be an emotional occasion for Blatt as he takes on his former charges.

Two days later, on 7 October, the Tel Aviv club heads to Brooklyn to take on the Nets at the Barclays Center as the second and final part of their US tour.

The pre-season games will take place shortly after Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s participation in the Intercontinental Cup. The Euroleague champions will take on FIBA Liga de las Americas champions Flamengo in a two-game series on 26 and 28 September at the Gimnasio Maracanazinho in Rio de Janeiro. The competition, which had been idle for almost 30 years, was re-started last season when Olympiacos Piraeus beat Pinheiros Sky.

Jun
0

The All-Seeing eyes

SportVU2
SportVU has changed the way we measure basketball performance. BallinEurope’s Emmet Ryan spoke with the man leading the technology’s charge, Brian Kopp, to find out how its all-seeing eyes are changing basketball.

Statistics and performance analysis are nothing new to team sports. The long-standing problem for analysts has been breaking down individual performances with relatively limited data sets. To paraphrase Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy, anaylsts try to picture clusters of information as they move through the computer. What do they look like? Shots? Tackles? The performance analyst community kept dreaming of a world they thought they’d never see. And then, one day, SportVU arrived.

The technology, now owned by Stats Inc in the US, was developed by former members of the Israeli Defence Forces for soccer. Basketball however has been the sport where the visual technology has come to the fore.

The SportVU team installs computer vision cameras in arenas and stadia. The current NBA season was the first time an entire league agreed to have the system set up. Six cameras are installed in the rafters of each arena in the ceiling. The system tracks the x-y co-ordinates of the players and the x-y-z co-ordinates of the ball 25 times per second. The cameras capture video and data. Algorithms in the software tell the cameras what to track and what not to track. From there SportVU creates new data algorithms and analysis to turn that raw co-ordinate data into usable information for teams.

“We can enhance data they’re already using,” said Brian Kopp, vice president of sports solutions with Stats.

Before if a player won a rebound off a missed shot, teams couldn’t differentiate based on context. SportVU is changing that. “Now we can tell you, if there were a lot of people around, was the rebound in traffic or was it uncontested, how much ground did you cover to get that rebound, how many chances could you have had at rebounds versus how many you came away with, a lot more context around rebounding,” said Kopp.

“Another example for that category is passing. Right now assists only counts the successful passes that led to a successful basket. Now we capture every single pass, even those that you missed the shot or the pass that led to the pass that led to the basket. Teams can get a lot more context around passing the ball around versus the tally mark of just the successful assist.”
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Jun
2

David Blatt smashes the glass ceiling

david-blatt-cleveland-cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers and David Blatt have come to terms, giving the Boston born coach with over 30 years in the European game his first taste of a NBA head coaching gig. Emmet Ryan says this could be a defining moment for European coaches.

You don’t have to go back all that far in history to a time when European players, or indeed any player from outside the USA, was seen as incapable of cutting it in the NBA. It wasn’t until the likes of Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Vlade Divac, and Arvydas Sabonis made their mark that Europeans were truly accepted in the league. Dirk’s MVP season struck another blow. The steps have been taken by players in jerseys, the idea of a player whose formative years were outside of the United States not having what it takes is seen as foolish in the modern era.

Coaches however simply haven’t made the breakthrough. Ettore Messina’s single season as an assistant with the Lakers was a big deal. It opened up the prospect of a coach who had made it to the top in Europe being able to transition to the US. Messina was linked with NBA head coaching gigs less than a month ago and now looks likely to join the Spurs as an assistant. Blatt, who is of course American born, is the breakthrough we have been waiting for.

Much as the Bostonian is a noted Celtics fan, he is very much a Euro in the eyes of the NBA. This isn’t Mike D’Antoni with his flavour of Italy coaching in the bigs. Blatt is a Euro lifer. Nearly his entire professional playing career and his full two decades as a coach have been in Europe. Blatt has enjoyed phenomenal success often when resources said he shouldn’t have. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s win in Euroleague this year was the most obvious example but he has taken care of business in Italy and Russia as well as on the international stage. When Russia beat Spain in EuroBasket 2007 they knocked off the reigning World Champions. That was followed up with a bronze in London 2012.
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Jun
0

Which NBA teams are in with a chance of being crowned 2015 Champions?

The current NBA title holders are the San Antonio Spurs. The franchise won the title in 2014 with a 4-1 series win over the Miami Heat, having lost 4-3 to the Heat 2013 NBA Finals. With all of their top talent back for another season, it seems to many people that it is a foregone conclusion that they will win the NBA finals in 2015 too, and the odds on them doing so are just 2/1.

If you are unfamiliar with the structure of the NBA finals, then they take place between the winners of the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference play-offs. The finals consist of 7 games and the first franchise to win 4 of them brings the series to a close. The team that does the best in its specific conference is given a home advantage. The play-offs follow the regular season and are played by the top eight franchise of each conference and follow the same best of seven format as the finals.

As the regular season is still months away, there is a long way to go before the playoffs never mind the finals and much could happen between now and then. Currently San Antonio Spurs have all their players back but with an aging line-up that doesn’t justify backing them at 2/1 when odds of around 10/1 are available on several other potential winners. Our tip is to hold off betting on the Spurs for now, and concentrate on the teams with bigger odds, for instance the Bulls are priced at 33/1.

So should you bet so far ahead on the Spurs or is it better to wait awhile and see what happens as the season unfolds? Long term future bets can be as interesting as watching the paint dry, so if you enjoy some fast paced immediate action then an alternative is to play a few rounds of Slam Dunk, that fast paced retro slot game that you can find at an online casino such as GamingClub.com/nz/online-roulette. The wild symbol is Michael Jordonís jersey number 23, the one he wore are Bulls and that they retired when he resigned. If you spin all five of them on a single line, then you could win the 45,000 jackpot prize.

Jun
0

Money does not equal professionalism

Galatasaray-Fenerbahce
The Belgrade derby ends in a 3-on-4 match-up and then an Istanbul derby doesn’t happen at all. These are supposed to be finals, the pinnacle of the season. Emmet Ryan writes on why, irrespective of individual fault, this makes all involved look bad.

It’s been one of those weeks (and a bit), the type we are far too familiar with in European basketball. Had the 3 on 4 last man standing match that was the finish to Game 1 of the Serbian finals between Crvena Zvezda and Partizan been the worst thing to happen this month, it would still have been a rough one. Instead the Turkish league has managed to one-up that situation with the wholly insane finish to its season.

Game 6 of the Turkish finals took a while to come to life, mostly because of how awful Fenerbahce were in the first quarter, but in the end Galatasaray’s victory had a pleasant dose of excitement to round out their impressive performance. The season would go down to a decider, well at least that was the plan. Unfortunately, and at the time of writing this hasn’t changed, there won’t be a Game 7. Galatasaray are boycotting the game over a series of charges they have levelled against the Turkish basketball authorities.

This column is not about the rights and wrongs of Gala’s protest, not least because I haven’t a clue as to what if any legitimacy they hold. If we focus on the single element, which is this boycott, we miss the problem. Game 7 of the Turkish finals isn’t the problem nor is the descent into madness of Game 1 in Serbia. The problem is that for all the progress made on the court in European basketball, we still have a putrid air of amateurism at some of the highest levels of the game.
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Jun
2

A Different Perspective for Euroleague

FC Barcelona Regal v Laboral Kutxa Vitoria - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16

While the world still awaits Google Glass hitting the mainstream, Europe’s top basketball league is already finding ways to help it change the game.

Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv took the Euroleague title, basketball’s answer to the Champions League, in thrilling fashion against Real Madrid last month. The under-card game that preceded the epic final may however prove more important for the future of the sport.

The third place playoff, a game widely ignored by fans and with little interest from players, was used as a staging ground for Euroleague’s second in-game test of Google Glass. “We’re always looking for new ways of integrating new technologies in the league. We want to find new ways to get more insight from using new content for our fans and on the other side to find tools for basketball professionals that can be useful for their day-to-day work,” said Alex Ferrer, communications director with Euroleague.

“We have a partnership with the University of La Salle in Barcelona and we learned that they were official testers of Glass in Spain. We started brainstorming to see what we could do with the technology this season,” said Ferrer.

Prior to the third place playoff test, Euroleague had a field test of the technology during an earlier stage of the season in a game between Barcelona and Laboral Kutxa. “We did a couple of tests in a Top 16 game and these tests were mostly related to producing content for the fans. The next step is to see how this can also be used to provide data to professionals to be used in real time to make decisions on the court,” said Ferrer.

“We released a clip that the fans loved for the Barcelona-Laboral Kutxa game. It was with the players and coaches and referees wearing them. It truly provided a different view, a unique view that we couldn’t experience before so we are planning to do more in the future and also to find other ways because it’s not the only thing you can do with this device.”

For the third place playoff last month, Euroleague equipped a referee with Glass for the game between Barcelona and CSKA Moscow. The league also got players to wear the device during practices before their games. The video the players recorded was used as part of two mini-movies released by Euroleague from the finals weekend. Ferrer said the players enjoyed helping to create content for the fans.

“Everybody loves it when you give it to them. Players and coaches love it. It’s a new thing so they like to experiment with it. In the beginning, it’s a little strange because you have something in your eye that you’re not used to but after a few seconds you get used to that and it’s only a very small screen on the top of your vision,” he said.
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Jun
0

Top 10 moments from the VTB League playoffs

The season is over in the VTB United League, with CSKA once again proving triumphant. Here’s the run down of the Top 10 moments from the playoffs.

Jun
1

Siena out of Euroleague and LegaBasket Serie A

Mens-Sana-Basket-Siena

The fall was expected for some time but now it has formally been confirmed. Mens Sana Basket Siena will not only exit Euroleague next season but also the top flight of Italian Basketball, LegaBasket Serie A.

It’s been quite the fall for the side which has claimed the past seven Italian titles and reached the Euroleague Final Four as recently as 2011, taking third place.

Reports suggest the club will re-enter Italian basketball at the fourth tier, a stunning fall from grace for a team which could call on talents such as Bo McCalebb and Bobby Brown in recent seasons.

Last night Siena lost Game 1 of the Italian league finals 74-61 to Olimpia Milano. Irrespective of what happens in this series, Siena will have to start once more from the bottom in 2014/15.

Jun
1

David Blatt to interview for Cleveland Cavaliers job

David-Blatt-Maccabi-Euroleague-Cleveland-Cavaliers

David Blatt, who stepped down as coach of Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv after completing a clean sweep this season, will interview for the vacant head coaching position with the Cleveland Cavaliers according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Blatt, who has been tipped to become Steve Kerr’s assistant at the Golden State Warriors, stepped down from the top job after winning Euroleague, Israeli League, and Israeli Cup honours with Maccabi this season.

According to Wojnarowski, Blatt will be interviewed for the top job in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Blatt has previously been linked with the CSKA Moscow job, with the Israeli-American saying “you know I love Russia” right after Maccabi won the Euroleague title in Milan.

Blatt has enjoyed a wildly successful career across Europe, including the EuroBasket 2007 title and Olympic bronze with Russia in 2012, EuroChallenge with Dynamo St Petersburg in 2005, the Italian league (2006) and cup (2007) with Treviso, along with 5 Israeli league titles, 1 Adriatic league title, and 6 Israeli cups with Maccabi.

Jun
1

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.