Bamberg & Galatasaray record stylish victories on Euroleague’s opening day

The Turkish Airlines Euroleague season got underway on Wednesay with Brose Baskets Bamberg and Galatasaray Liv Hospital getting off to a flying start. Bamberg defeated Strasbourg 84–70 in what was a comprehensive victory in the Brose Arina while Galatasaray saw off Montepaschi Siena 75–84 in the Nelson Mandela Arena.

Bamberg didn’t have the best of starts, trailing 16 – 21 after the first quarter, but when Jamar Smith came off the bench, the flow of the game changed. Making his Euroleague debut, Smith scored 11 points for the German champs, consisting of two jumpers, a three-pointer and a driving layup to bring Bamberg to within 25-26. Overall, he scored 19 points during his 14 minutes on the court, an impressive scoring rate.

Also helping out in the game was Anton Gavel who added 16 points and 6 assists, Sharrod Ford scored 11 while Maik Zirbes got 10. After Smith brought the side back into contention, it was Ford and Rakim Sanders that pushed them ahead 35 – 28. The final six minutes saw Bamberg finish the second quarter with a 19 – 1 run, bringing them into half time with a 43 – 29 scoreline.

However, Strasbourg wasn’t going to go down without a fight and always tried to catch up with Bamberg. Despite a forgettable third quarter where it trailed 66 – 45, Antoine Diot and Alexis Ajinca, who was Strasbourg’s top scorer with 19 points, brought the deficit down to 69 – 56. Yet it was Bamberg’s night as additional scores from Smith and Ford saw them lead 80 – 66 with two minutes left. Romain Duport reduced the lead to 12 but it wasn’t enough to worry Bamberg who ended the game comfortably.
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France beat Lithuania 80-66 to finally lift their first EuroBasket title

After being carried into the final by Tony Parker on Friday night, the rest of the French team stood tall as a second quarter run sparked their charge to the title.

Were it not for the golden generation of Spanish talent, this likely wouldn’t be Tony Parker’s first EuroBasket title. Were it not for Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Alexis Ajinca, he likely would have suffered a second defeat at the final hurdle.

Parker was a one man army against Spain in the semi final but that was never going to suffice against Lithuania. The breadth of options at Lithuania’s disposal meant there was no way a solo show would suffice. After so-so or worse games against Spain, the rest of the French line up showed up when it mattered most.
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Podcast: Lotsa Eurobasket, including interviews with Mike Fratello, Alexis Ajinca, Robertas Javtokas, more

Taking the Charge podcast seriesEpisode #53 (or perhaps that should be “Volume II, Episode 1”) of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now available online or via iTunes.

With co-host David Hein “enjoying” the Eurobasket 2013 tournament going down the stretch live in Ljubljana (that “enjoying” is in quotes because we know for a fact that the man’s working like a dog over there), the focus is all on the Continental tournament.

The final round tips off today in lovely Slovenia and we’ve got four short interviews for your listening pleasure with one representative from each of the first four games: Check out the ‘cast for words from young Team Serbia sensation Vasilije Micic; Les Bleus former Charlotte Bobcat Alexis Ajinça; the Czar Himself and current Team Ukraine mastermind Mike Fratello; and Robertas Javtokas of Lietuva.

Naturally, we couldn’t resist the change to offer some Official Fearless Predictions™, including what must be the world’s first championship-game prognostication for Eurobasket 2015.

In our sports movie review of the week segment, we’re looking at an HBO production from 1995 (also known as that time when HBO wasn’t yet HBO) centered on a Rucker Park classic, Rebound: The Legend of Earl “The Goat” Manigault.

Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter http://heinnews.com/feed/taking-the-charge/ into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.

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The BallinEurope Summer League Review: On 14 NBA aspirants from the Continent

While so much attention is paid to the upcoming Olympics and warm-up games, a number of European players have quietly gone about their business in the NBA Summer Leagues in Vegas and Orlando. BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, takes a look at an extended roster’s worth of European ballers’ performances in the Orlando and Las Vegas summer games.

Alexis Ajinca, San Antonia Spurs (2.8 ppg, 50% FG, 2.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
Ajinca is in a similar position to Ryan Richards: Both played summer league for the Spurs and turned in eerily similar numbers. However, Alexis did manage to hit at least 50% of his shots while also being a slight factor on defence (0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks) in his very low 10 minutes per game. Ajinca’s hopes for an NBA spot, like Richards’, look like a long shot and I expect him to return to France for the coming season. Although a tall and talented big man always seem to earn a roster spot, Alexis just has not developed the way teams hoped he would when he was selected 20th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.

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Nike Hoop Summit: Nine named to World Select Team (but not Enes Kanter)

Rosters for the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit have been released and while The Continent is well-represented on the World Select Team, BallinEurope considers there to be at least one shocking omission.

Team World will include Davis Bertans (Latvia/Union Olimpija); Evan Fournier (France/Poitiers); Przemyslaw Karnowski (Poland/SMS PZKosz); Mateusz Ponitka (Poland/Tempcold AZS); and Dario Saric (Croatia/KK Zagreb). Other players on the club are Canadians Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos, plus Brazilians Lucas Nogueira and Raul Neto.

Anybody else identify the missing name…? That’s right: This would seem to be another slap in the face for basketball’s most famous neo-Kentucky Wildcat, Enes Kanter. Kanter had told media last week that he’d be entering the NBA Draft and that he “expect[ed] to play for the International team in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., on April 9, where he would face UK recruits Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis and Marquis Teague.”

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The Eurocentric 2010-11 NBA Preview (or How the Hoops World revolves around Europe)

With the 2010-11 NBA season tipping off tonight, BallinEurope marks the occasion in the best way possible: By overrating the league’s Continental players and making a few offhand Fearless Predictions™ in the guise of a preview column.

Brief notes and snarky remarks on all 25 NBA teams follow. (Yes, BiE said “all 25.” Since the Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and Los Angeles Clippers boasts no Europeans, they can’t really be considered proper NBA teams for our Eurocentric viewpoint.

Southwest Division
Some folks are calling the 2010-11 edition of the Dallas Mavericks its strongest team ever; it’s also a pretty good Team France embryo, with Ian Mahinmi, Alexis Ajinca, and last year’s sensation Rodrigue Beaubois helping make up Dirk Nowitzki’s posse. Unfortunately, the Western Conference may be tougher than Western Europe this year…

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European players in the NBA for 2010-11 (or, Come on, Raptors, sign Primoz Brezec already) [UPDATED]

Parker leads 11 French NBAers

With NBA teams starting to get warmed up for the regular season tipoff, BallinEurope figured it high time to take stock of the European players prospectively set to take the court in America for 2010-11.

In considering the expanded rosters for each of the 30 NBA teams, BiE counted 50 players from The Continent plus one free agent. The asterisk here is Linas Kleiza, who carries an American passport and in fact has played organized ball in the ‘States since high school, but hey: He’s a Team Lithuania guy, so he makes this list.

A country-by-country tally produces some interesting results. France again leads all non-U.S. nations in supplying players. In fact, had Yakhouba Diawara not taken his talents out of South Beach in favor of Italia Serie A’s New Basket Brindisi, the ineffable signing of Papa Sy would have given La Republique a potential full roster of 12 NBA players.

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Help decide Alexis Ajinca’s jersey number on Facebook

Alexis Ajinca is looking for a new jersey number, and he’s turning to his Facebook followers to help. It seems Ajinca won’t be wearing the #21 he has donned for Team France in international play and for the Charlotte Bobcats over two seasons when he joins the Dallas Mavericks for 2010-11.

BallinEurope isn’t sure why Ajinca’s changing the familiar 21 after coming over to the Mavs along with Team USA’s Tyson Chandler, but is happy that he’s applying new democratic technology in the decision-making process. (Maybe LeBron should have put the question out there before deciding to take his talents elsewhere…)

Reads the appeal from Alexis:

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BallinEurope’s 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings 5.0

Right. It’s time for the final edition – pending Nenad Krstic’s prospective suspension by FIBA – of BallinEurope’s 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings. Now that Team USA has had it out with Spain and Greece, we can see the picture a little more clearly heading into the tournament tipping off Saturday. There’s a clear upper tier of USA, Spain, Greece and Argentina who can start thinking “podium” now; Serbia might also be included, again pending the Krstic decision.

But while the cream again rises to the top, question marks, dark horses and possible upsets well remain. Who doesn’t like how Germany’s rounding into shape? Or the Whole-Greater-Than-Sum-Of-Parts aspect to Team Lithuania? Or (for those paying attention) the possibilities of Lebanon…?

Without further ado, here’s BiE’s measurement of the trends going into the weekend. Enjoy (well, except for you Canada fans)!

1. (↑) USA. U-S-A! U-S-A! But seriously, the Red-White-and-Blues’ fans have got to be loving the performance of their guys last night against Greece, dominating all facets of the game – especially in the halfcourt, where BiE reckoned they’d be especially vulnerable. Good win for the U.S. Even if Hellas was coming without Ioannis Bourousis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Even if Kostas Tsartsaris exposed Lamar Odom and the rest as inadequate to play underneath against the bigger teams. Even if BiE still believes Spain will give them game in the semi-finals … is there a position 1½?

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Team France’s Rodrigue Beaubois injured, out of FIBA World Championship

Team France is rapidly becoming a team of have-nots in advance of the 2010 FIBA World Championships. Just one day after coach Vincent Collet made Joakim Noah’s non-participation with France official, the squad has also been forced to announce that 22-year-old Dallas Maverick Rodrigue Beaubois has suffered a foot injury and will not be playing in the tournament.

No word on the extent of Beaubois’ injury – a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot – or the length of basketball time he’ll miss, but he won’t be back by August 28 for sure. “It’s a blow for our team,” said Collet in announcing the injury, “because in the two weeks of training he had contributed enormously with his speed and skill.”

Collet added that “I have not yet decided on a replacement.”

Notable names missing from Team France for the world championship now include Noah, Beaubois, Tony Parker, and Rony Turiaf. Alexis Ajinca, who had been away from the team for a fortnight after the death of his father, got back to training with Les Blues this week.

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