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BiE’s official Irish awards ballot +++ Joakim Noah wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year +++ Swee’ Pea makes the cut – Reaches Funding Target +++ The Dish – Too Rude for Masai Uijiri +++ The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++
Feb
1

The Dish: Ohhh Alex Abrines


After a week off due to Cup Week, the Dish returns with a packed sched. From the Hall of Fame to the Rising Stars and a big slate of Euroleague action, it’s been a busy week in European hoops but I’ve got one question: What about Rudy?

The most hated man in European basketball may be considering a switch back to the NBA. Rudy Fernandez, a man who would wear ‘Everybody hate me’ on his back if Euroleague ever considered nickname jerseys, is being looked at by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Losing Rudy would be bad for ball over here for many reasons. He is a top tier talent in Euroleague and that’s enough in and of itself  but that’s not why I’m concerned. The sheer unreasonable hate of Rudy is almost soothing. Heck even Greens and Reds can come to agree on one thing: “Fucking Rudy”. We can lose such a symbol of unity. Fortunately, Fernandez would need to be nuts to go back to the NBA. Yes it’s the best league in the world but why leave a starting job with a big salary to fight for minutes?

One man happy to fight for minutes Stateside is BiE cult favourite Pero Antic. The Macedonia  big man was meant to play for Team Hill in the Rising Stars challenge but injury prevented him from playing and was instead replaced by Miles Plumlee. Jonas Valanciunas started for Team Hill and had 4 points, 2 boards, and 2 assists in his 19 minutes. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 9 points, grabbed 2 boards, and dished 2 dimes, as Team Hill took a 142-136 victory over Team Webber.
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Feb
0

EURO-NBA: Tony Parker leads Europe’s All Star troupe

With three Europeans selected for this Sunday’s NBA All Star game, BiE pays tribute to Joakim Noah, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tony Parker.

It was hardly a shock when no Europeans got selected for the starting line-ups of this year’s NBA All Star game but with three players from the continent making the reserves, including two from France, there’s plenty of interest in Sunday’s action from this side of the pond. Here are your three European 2014 NBA All Stars.

Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
Season stats: 17.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 6.2 APG 30.9 MPG
Number of All Star selections: 6
Last year was Tony Time as Parker led his Spurs back to the NBA Finals and then finally tasted EuroBasket glory in Slovenia. This has been another stellar season for the point guard who just keeps getting it done for Greg Popovich.

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Feb
1

EURO-NBA: Europe is on Team Hill

With all three Europeans in Friday’s NBA Rising Stars game being selected by Grant Hill for his team to go up against Chris Webber’s selection, BiE pays tribute to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pero Antic, and Jonas Valanciunas.

No need to divide your loyalties this Friday night. If you are European and watching the NBA Rising Stars game, there’s only one possible team to root for. All three Europeans have been selected to play for Team Hill. Here’s a look at all three of them.

Pero Antic – Atlanta Hawks
Season stats: 5.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 15.5 MPG
The Macedonian big man was a cult favourite in Europe and nothing has changed since moving to the NBA where, at 31, he is the oldest man in this year’s Rising Stars line-up. Antic started slowly but a few double digit explosions have secured Antic’s place in this game.

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Feb
0

The history of the FIBA World Cup in 4 minutes

With Spain hosting the FIBA World Cup this year, the governing body has put together a video capturing every championship in just 4 minutes. Enjoy

Feb
1

Enough with the arbitrary rankings argument

Yesterday we found out that Finland would be playing in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Some people were upset because of Angry Birds but plenty thought Finland’s FIBA ranking meant they were undeserving. Emmet Ryan has a problem with these arguments, especially the latter.

We’ve got a pretty intelligent readership. You guys understand concepts like ELO rankings, used for chess, and how they are based on pretty heavy amounts of data. International basketball doesn’t use an ELO system and even if they did, they wouldn’t have the data to back it up. In simple terms, there really aren’t a lot of games played internationally. We live in a what have you done for me lately world not by choice but by necessity. The rankings don’t recognise said need. These rankings place China, losing quarter finalists in AsiaBasket, at 12th in the world. Turkey who, since finishing second at the 2010 World Cup (which they hosted) are 7th despite being utter turkeys in international play in the years since. Great Britain, a team for whom this writer has a heavy bias in their favour, sit 22nd by virtue of automatically qualifying for the 2012 Olympics having never got past the first stage of EuroBasket.

Yet yesterday we saw some good basketball writers lean on Finland’s ranking of 39th in the world as a reason to leave them out, ignoring their superior performances to Turkey in the last two EuroBaskets. Now don’t get me wrong, having a wild card system is a joke in and of itself but we’ll get to that in a second. If you exclude the Finns, you simply have to drop Turkey because they have been objectively worse for the last three years.

Were merit the deciding factor, I’d have sent Italy and Canada to Spain but even there we need to apply a giant caveat. The selections of those two teams is based only on what they did in 2013 on the court. Were there no wild cards, the complexion of the qualifying system would have unquestionably be different. Italy and Canada delivered their performances in full knowledge of the off-court route of qualification.

Now about that off-court route. Let’s assume nobody here likes the idea of basically buying your way into a world championship. Ideally we don’t see that option. That however was the situation and it immediately weighted the playing field on off-court criteria in favour of certain nations. TV rights and audiences make larger nations more appealing to FIBA. What the Finns did was no different in terms of its objective and basketball value to Greece, Turkey, Russia, or anyone else. The only difference was they hustled hard and found a way to make up for their deficiencies in conventional resources. If they couldn’t deliver TV, they could deliver something. The Angry Birds are that something. You may find it a novelty but as the most popular mobile download in the world. it’s a big place to put some ads.

The rankings suck, off-court factors mattering suck, Finland sure as hell don’t suck. They play fun ball and they made what should have been a dull wild card process interesting. Good for the Susijengi.

We’ll have an interview with one of Finland’s bid team up next week, I have to hold it for a piece I’m working on for my day job.

Feb
0

The Dish: No wild cards here

Fenerbahce are in free fall while the Greens and the Blaugrana served up another gem. Take your mind off the FIBA World Cup for a minute and take in this week’s edition of The Dish.

The top two in Group E squared off in the OAKA and at half-time it looked like the Blaugrana would stroll out with an easy W. Fortunately, the fixture Panathinaikos vs Barcelona rarely serves up such straightforward fare. Dimitris Diamantidis nailed a huge three at the end of the third and we were all set for a grandstand fourth quarter. And then…nothing. In a frame low on offence, Barcelona did enough to get over the line with reasonable comfort, the Greens go down 56-63 at home.

Had this group started out differently, we’d be talking about that result as a game the Greens could really have done with winning. Instead the team in crisis is coached by the man who brought four Euroleague titles to the Athens club. Fenerbahce were first hand witnesses to EA7 Milano establishing their playoff credentials. Linas Kleiza dropped 26 for Fener but they got nothing from the bench and that lack of support cost them on the road. Fenerbahce are now bottom of Group E, two games back in the playoff race after just five games.
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Feb
7

Brazil, Finland, Greece, and Turkey get FIBA World Cup wild cards

Trust FIBA to announce it early. The four wild cards for the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball are in and three European teams have booked their tickets to Spain.

The wild cards are in and we came oh so close with our picks. The 11th hour surprise was China withdrawing from the application process which suddenly made three European wild cards a legitimate possibility. This morning FIBA confirmed what had been suspected overnight. Here are your four wild cards:

Brazil – Pretty much the biggest lock from the outset, although we had China on the same level, and the Olympic hosts have their ticket to the dance in Spain.

Finland – As, fearlessly, predicted by BiE the Wolf Pack are in thanks to a MASSIVE assist from Rovio. The Angry Birds developers offered FIBA a mountain of free advertising space if they accepted the Finns. Throw in 40,000 Finns living in Spain and this offer went from no-hope to in the bag.

Greece – We had them on the outside looking in despite what was reported as a particularly strong bid. The withdrawal of China took a lot of pressure off their battle and now Spanoulis is going to Spain.

Turkey – We’ve had Turkey in from day one, on the grounds of a strong bid and the sheer amount of sponsorship money Turkish companies put into basketball. The runners-up in the last championships will get to play in Spain.

Do you agree with FIBA’s wild card picks? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Jan
1

Fearless FIBA World Cup Wildcard predictions

Tomorrow is the day we find out who the four wild card participants will be in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. BiE’s editor, Emmet Ryan, makes his call on who he thinks will get the tickets to Spain.

First off, I hate the wild card system. Merit should win out but the system is what it is. With that in mind I’m making these picks based on who I think WILL get in not who SHOULD get in. Without further ado, your four FIBA World Cup wild cards will be…

China – FIBA would love to give them a bloody nose but they can’t. They just can’t. They aren’t strong, they could well be the worst team in Spain, yet there is no doubt they get the ticket.

Brazil – They did an awful job at the Tournament of the Americas but the weakness of their roster in Venezuela strongly implied they knew they’d be in Spain either way due to their hosting the next Olympics and being a big market. They’re in.

Turkey – At no point have I flip-flopped on Turkey but to me this is a straight up fight of financial might between Turkey and Greece for the third slot. The Greeks have narrowed it, for most of the time I had Turkey well in front, but I think Turkey gets the ticket.

Finland – Yes, Finland. Their population is similar to Ireland’s, their performance at EuroBasket was good but not ‘there’s no way you can deny them a wild card’ good, and they don’t have the straight up cash money of Greece or Turkey. What they have is 40,000 Finns living in Spain and, far more importantly, the sheer muscle of Rovio. The Angry Birds game developers have promised FIBA a whole lot of mobile advertising space for a tournament that could do with every ounce of advertising exposure it can get. The Angry Birds are the game-changer here. Prior to this week, I didn’t give Finland a prayer. Now I say they take the flight.

Who do you think gets a wild card? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Jan
1

Colbert stands tall on Irish Cup Finals night

UCC Demons Irish Cup champions 2014 Friday night was the highlight of the Irish Basketball calendar as both Cup titles went south to Cork. BiE’s Emmet Ryan was at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght to take in the action. Health and safety is a strange beast for sports organisations. The Arena is barely 25 years old yet its capacity has been more than halved over the years. Built as a gym to seat 3,000, the venue has come down to just 1,400 seats in the modern era. The din isn’t the same when its full as in the old days but it still gets loud when something special goes down. That’s what we got in the women’s Cup Final. The inelegantly named Team Montenotte Hotel Glanmire (TMH) were looking to avenge their loss to the UL Huskies in last year’s decider. The Limerick team has dominated the Irish game in recent years, taking every title on offer the past two seasons. This year however the league has turned into a real dogfight with most teams having both a US import and a Bosman. TMH’s import, Emilee Harmon, is a former Ohio State Buckeye but she was flat-out owned by UL’s Sligo born centre Aoife McDermott in the early going. The low-post was the only place the Huskies were in control early as TMH set a ludicrous pace from the off. Nailing 6 of 9 from beyond the arc in the first half certainly helped but far more important was the Glanmire side’s 10 seconds or less approach to offence. This pace did not suit the Huskies in the slightest and they were brutalised in transition in the first half. Save for McDermott’s one-woman show, the reigning champs would have been in a much bigger hole than the 52-40 deficit they faced at the break. Continue Reading…

Jan
1

The Dish: If it bleeds we can kill it

You’d be forgiven for thinking this week’s Euroleague slated consisted of one game and one shot, we begin with the latter.

Efes? Really Efes did this? And Planinic? Wow, it’s like all the mockery of the club and Zoran (there was plenty on Twitter through the evening) was channeled into one wild moment of positive energy. Well, that’s the most sense I can make of it. There are buzzer beaters and there are you are taking the proverbial beaters. This was somewhere north of the latter. The score obviously meant a lot to the Istanbul club but it had wide ranging implications across Group E. Let’s start with EA7 Milan, that one moment of misfortune dropped them to 2-2. That keeps them locked with Unicaja Malaga and Olympiacos and only a game clear of Efes, Fenerbahce, and Baskonia. It is, of course, a tad on the early side to start talking permutations but none of those bottom three teams needed to lose extra ground to Milan. Planinic made sure they didn’t. Now on to the title of this week’s column.
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