BallinEurope’s Official Fearless Predictions™: 2012 Olympic Basketball Group B

And now, round two. Or maybe that should be “round B.” With BallinEurope having (sort of) Fearlessly Predicted the entries for the 2012 Olympic basketball knockout stage from Group A, it’s onto the Official Fearless Predictions™ for Group B – and we’ll do this one from the bottom up.

BallinEurope's upset specialists: Team Britain...

6. China (0-5)
5. Australia (1-4)
4. Britain (2-3)

Damn right BiE’s going there, taking Team Britain to advance for purely selfish reasons: BiE wants the European sweep. BiE supports the fledgling program they’re trying to maintain on the Isle where basketball is a low (*low*) priority in sports fans’ hearts. BiE loves the proverbial pluckiness, the dogged daring, Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu. And because BiE wants the highlight YouTube clip potential of a USA-Britain Olympic tournament game.

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USA 100, Spain* 78: Notes, highlights, miscellany

Well, then. If not quite as emphatic as in the days of Dream Teams I through III, Team USA dispatched the world’s second-best/Europe’s best side for a 100-78 win over Spain in Barcelona. Though the notebook on the Red, White and Blues mostly accentuates the positive, one doesn’t quite need to squint to see chinks in the armor – particularly with that glaring asterisk in the box score, i.e. the absence of Marc Gasol and Sergio Rodriguez.

In an Olympic field that appears to be the strongest ever on paper, could a flawed team like this one still grab the gold? (And if flawed teams are in the running for a podium spot, is Lithuania more enthused?)

A few lines from BallinEurope’s notebook and other stuff (like highlights) follow.

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Euroleague Basketball Institute recommends rule changes for “more free-flowing and rhythmic game”

The Euroleague and its Basketball Institute concluded its “Basketball Rules Summit” yesterday and today has put out a press release detailing some of the recommendations for future EL and Eurocup play. Said media communique follows.

(Euroleague) – …The spirited two-day debate among 13 of the top coaches, players, referees, team and league executives, media, television and marketing experts reached a consensus on proposals to improve a range of game situations that respected the summit’s goal in making the competitions cleaner, fairer and more exciting.

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Readying for El Clásico: A look at nine series’ worth of FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

Navarro knows: 10th finals matchup of Real vs. Barca

With just hours to go before the Liga Endesa championship series pitting FC Barcelona against Real Madrid in what they just had to call “El Clásico,” Spain-based Blog de Basket today takes a look at some of the great matchups for all the Spanish marbles these two have had over the years; the 2012 confrontation will mark the 10th between the two with Barca holding the slight 5-4 advantage.

Extrapolation from the Blog piece – plus lots of YouTubes, natch – follow.

These battles started in 1984, in a series ending in forfeit. After Barcelona’s Mike Davis tangled with Real’s Juanma Iturriaga and Fernando Martin resulting in an on-court altercation, league officials handed out suspensions. Iturriaga was given a reprimand only, while Davis, arguably the victim in the scuffle, received the longest suspension. Barca players were a no-show for game three in protest.

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Revealed: The EuroChallenge championship curse

(image courtesy Hurriyet Daily News)

Yes, but *should* they be celebrating?

Winning the EuroChallenge title is a good thing, right? After all, it’s typically the first Continental trophy to display on the mantelpiece and the champions label wins the club to right to play in the more prestigious (and more big-bucks) Eurocup competition the following season.

Well, Uygar Karaca may convince believers otherwise. In the first of a two-part series for BallinEurope.com, Karaca flips through the pages of recent EuroChallenge history to reveal the success – or lack thereof – championship clubs have experienced directly following a title bid. Hint: It’s pretty bleak stuff after 2004. Sorry, Beşiktaş

Winning a competition, especially on the Continental level, is a great achievement. However, titles come with a price. When success exposes players to the market, for example, clubs with better offers take the stars away. Alternatively, in order to get a trophy, clubs sometimes spend more than they can afford, which triggers the process of eventual financial collapse.

In this article, I tried to see whether winning the FIBA EuroChallenge tournament signals brighter days for the club or rather indicates a peak with the way forward pointing downward. Continue Reading…


BC Khimki Moscow region: In 15th anniversary year, on the verge of lucky three

In the leadup to the 2011-12 Eurocup Final Four tournament beginning on Saturday, Eurosport Turkey basketball commentator Uygar Karaca contributes a series of previews on the remaining quartet entitled “Four Teams, Four Stories” to BallinEurope.

Today, the final chapter of the series is devoted to BC Khimki Moscow region. With VTB United League and Russia Cup titles already in the club’s recent history, will they finally break through with a pan-European championship? Karaca seems to think so…

BC Khimki Moscow region is a relatively young club on the international basketball scene. However, they improved themselves quite rapidly: Coming from the same line of teams such as Avtador, Ural Great, UNICS and Lokomotiv Rostov which presented themselves as alternative powerhouses to CSKA Moscow, Khimki managed to earn a Russian Cup in 2008 and the VTB United League title in 2011. The missing trophy from the shelf is a pan-European prize. The team came close in 2006 against Joventut and in 2009 against Rytas with losses in the Eurocup finals both years. The hosts hope to be third-time lucky on their home court.

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Ganon Baker Basketball holding two youth coach clinics in Italy

Attention, European youth basketball coaches: Skill development trainers Ganon Baker Basketball are announcing two weekend programs in Italy in April. Those seeking to glean some knowledge and insight from top names in coaching and training (see just below for a few more details) would do well to mark their calendars for international youth level coaches clinics in Cremona, April 14-15, and in Caserta, April 21-22.

In Cremona, lectures and demos will be presented by notables such as legendary former Team Spain/FC Barcelona/Joventut coach Aito Garcia Reneses; former Olimpia Milano coach Franco Casalini; Team Italy U16s coach Antonio Bocchino; Virtus Bologna youth teams director Giordano Consolini; Team Italy strength-and-conditioning coach/director Francesco Cuzzolini; and, of course, the man himself, Ganon Baker, with credits on the CV including lecturing at the Nike Skills Academy and Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s youth camps.

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Official BallinEurope Euroleague Power Rankings: Heading into the Top 16

With just a few more hours before the Euroleague gets fired into action, BallinEurope has just enough time to get in some quickie power rankings! Purely subjective, these rankings have been based on recent Euroleague and domestic league performance, but also on serious speculation about season-break transactions. Enjoy the games!

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Everything you’ve always wanted to know about Barcelona vs. Unicaja (in English)

On Saturday, perhaps the marquee matchup on the ACB slate – if for historical significance only – will be the FC Barcelona vs. Unicaja match. The league’s official website has quite the extensive collection of facts ‘n’ figures about this match and the 15-year record of meetings between these two clubs, of which BallinEurope attempted to extract the most useful bits.

The vital stats
The game tips off in Barcelona (you can watch it live online at ACB 360). Barça attempts to continue its home-winning streak, now at 28 games. Unicaja is riding a three-game win streak in the ACB, its second such this season.

Jimenez and Navarro: Team Spain’s last two captains face off
Carlos Jimenez passed Spain’s national team captaincy baton to former Memphis Grizzlies/current Blaugrana player Juan Carlos Navarro this past summer. With Navarro at the head, Spain took the 2009 Eurobasket title. Of course, under Jimenez, the Spainards took gold in Japan at the FIBA World Championship in 2006.

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The Frank Euroleague roundup: Top 16, week two

Vujosevic: Among the best. Really.

Vujosevic: Among the best. Really.

It’s time for the look back at the wacky Euroleague week that was with Francesco Cappelletti. This week, BallinEurope’s man in Italy examines messing with rotations in Olympiacos and Unicaja; praises Partizan for the potential blueprint win over FC Barcelona; and chides the narcissistic defending champions for their shameful general laziness.

No instant replay, Partizan wins
The rule says that, when the buzzer sounds, the ball is no longer playable. This was the reason for the theatrical scene in Belgrade, wherein instant replay helped coaches and referees solve a risky situation. Pete Mickeal went with the hook shot over Slavko Vranes at the end of the overtime, and Lawrence Roberts swept the ball away from the rim. If the ball was over the rim, referees must make a goaltending call and Regal FC Barcelona credit for the (unmade) basket and the away win. But the ball was considered not fully over the rim, so Roberts’ action was legal.

Luckily, Partizan won. They deserved it. One week after having beaten Panathinaikos in Athens, the Serbian boys stopped the best team in Europe and made them play like no other had before. Dule Vujosevic can really aspire to stand on the podium of European coaches alongside Ettore Messina and Zelimir Obradovic, not only for his ability to develop young prospects in a hurry but also for his tactical knowledge: This week’s game was an example of how a coach can influence a game closed in the forecasts.

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