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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 +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++ Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen +++ The Dish: Can I play with Madness? +++ Just point out the bounce +++
Apr
4

*Can* white men jump? Ratiopharm Ulm takes respite from Bundesliga race to test age-old axiom

Gunther: Can he or can't he?

Gunther: Can he or can’t he?

BallinEurope’s not exactly sure whose inspiration the below-embedded clip starring three Ratiopharm Ulm studs was or why Per Günther agreed to serve as guinea pig to test the classic punchline/sound bite of basketball subculture, namely “white men can’t jump.” (Or if you prefer, “Weiße Jungs bringens nicht” for appropriate local flavor. Completely irrelevant side note: In Hungarian, the Harrelson/Snipes/Rosie Perez epic is entitled “Zsákolj, ha tudsz!” or literally “Dunk if you can!”)

“Du willst Per Günther dunken sehen?” (or “Will you/we see Per Günther dunk?”) is a 68-second clip featuring Allan Ray and Pooh Jeter bringing the trash talk and the 185cm (6’1”) point guard’s strong willingness to jam.

Poor Per. And yet there’s a method to the seeming madness of this method. The club has announced that, should the Ratiopharm Ulm Facebook page receive 20,000 fans (could they mean “likes”?), Herr Günther promises to successfully dunk it through. Though perhaps he should recall what happened directly after ol’ Billy Hoyle pulled off the slam in a guaranteed victory…

Continue Reading…

Dec
1

Yarone’s Weekend Joints

Week 6, the beginning of the second leg in the regular season under the new format, was better than a big fat joint next to a banana-coconut shake with cream on top, on a Caribbean island with Beyonce whispering in your ear, “Did you enjoy my breakfast, darling?” as you’re already thinking about dinner.

Ok, maybe not THAT great, but it was interesting. A bit. Here and there. Sometimes. Randomly.

Here’s why.

Future telling

If Le Mans’ replica of last season’s performance – five close losses against a diversity of teams from different levels, at home and on the road – hadn’t already been amazing enough thus far, Week 6 made it even more incredible. Last year, the streak of close losses was stopped in Week 6 with a big 91-71 defeat at Cibona. This season Le Mans’ streak of close losses stopped in … Week 6 with a big 87-55 defeat to Unicaja at home. With this in mind, it’s time to predict the future. Last season, the French tallied their first win only in Week 13, but that won’t happen this year, as their season will end if they keep losing, after ten games. With matching to the new format, let’s say that just like last year the team of coach Jackson will escape from a win-free season one week before the end, at home against Air Avellino.

Pini vs. Prkacin

Maccabi’s Pini Gershon has decided that Nikola Prkacin is the key to Cibona’s success. Not a bad idea and in order to get that big obstacle out of his way, he did whatever it took, even if it made him look bad for a couple of minutes. Pini thought Prkacin would start so to the tipoff he sent his best big-guy defender, Yaniv Green, and kept Lior Eliyahu on the bench. On the other side of court, Cibona’s coach Velimir Persovic had different thoughts and kept his big guy on the bench. Gershon noticed this, and after 19 seconds made his first substitution – Green out, Eliyahu in – probably the quickest in Euroleague’s history.

Perasovic tried to ride that wave and probably didn’t think his opponent would react when he sent Prkacin in after 112 seconds of play. The three-time European champ, who meanwhile had replaced Derrick Sharp with Tal Burstein, reacted right away with his third sub in less than two minutes: Eliyahu back on the bench, Green once again in.

The outcome was exactly as Pini planned. With 4:39 to play in the first quarter, Green drew an offensive foul from Prkacin while fighting for position. It was the second foul for the big Croat, who was frustrated enough to argue with the refs and earn a technical for three fouls after less than six minutes for Cibona’s key player. Maccabi couldn’t ask for more and used this to take an early double-digit lead: perfect execution of a game plan. Green was sent back to the bench right that second and Eliyahu went back to start his MVP of the week show…

The jinx is dead

One more Gershon piece. Believe it or not, but in all of his seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and in those seasons he reached two Euroleague finals and won three titles, Pini Gershon has never won the Week 6 game with Maccabi – vs. Olympiacos, at Krka Novo Mesto, vs. CSKA, at Olimpija, and vs. Rytas. Five seasons, five losses. Since then, Gershon moved to Olympiacos and in both seasons has won Week 6, while at the same time Maccabi, under two different coaches, won Week 6 as well. On Thursday night, it wasn’t fair.

Roma men can’t shoot

The absence of Sani surely didn’t help, but even without him it doesn’t look good for Lottomatica Roma and coach Jasmin Repesa. For the second week in a row, Lottomatica got no three pointers from the backcourt. This week, they connected only twice and both shots were made by Roberto Gabini. Ibrahim Jaaber, Allan Ray, Rodrigo De La Fuente, Jacopo Giachetti and Brandon Jennings finished a combined 0-for-7 from distance, as the team reached a terrible total of 2-for-10. Then again, if Repesa and the gang still managed to win both games, perhaps that’s nothing but good news.

Ricky is back!

It was less than three minutes on court, but Ricky Rubio is back in action. In his first minutes of the season, including ACB, he gave a small example of what we’re about to see in the weeks to come. In that short time, he grabbed one rebound, two assists, a single steal and drew one foul. Without taking a single shot or making a single mistake, he reached an index of five in less than three minutes.

The symbolic turnover

The last play by CSKA in Milano finished with a turnover by Ramunas Siskauskas. He fell, lost control of the ball and saw the round orange end up between Milanese fingers. Since leaving Benetton, Siska has been not only one of the best players in Europe, but also one who rarely loses the ball. From the day he joined Pao to 10 days ago, he stood on 44 turnovers in 48 games. Considering the number of balls that go through his hands and the attention he gets from the opposing defense, it’s anything but easy to stick with a tpg average of lower than 1.0 tpg. In the last two Euroleague weeks, something has changed. Three turnovers at Partizan, combined with four he committed in Milano, are nearly 16% of what he has made in over two full seasons. The final-play turnover was symbolic in a way.

Aksis

Still in the turnover business, check out the attached table. Listed are the players averaging the most turnovers in each Euroleague regular season this decade. Up until this season, Sergey Bazarevic was atop this list with an average of 4.5 in the debut ULEB Euroleague season. Since then, nobody has reached more than 4.0 tpg. Unless something changes in the next four weeks, we can expect to see Bazarevich drop to the second place with a record that will be hard to break. SLUC Nancy’s Ricardo Greer stands on an awful 5.17 ratio after six games. His “best” performance included only three turnovers, while his worst, when he met Diamantidis, stopped with eight.

Still U-70

Zalgiris have four more games left in this nightmare season. The team is still in search for a debut win, and with games at Montepaschi and at Barcelona still on their schedule, its not a very cheering page to look at if you’re from Kaunas. Right before the Xmas break, they host Prokom, which will give them a chance to get that prospective W. On BallinEurope, we gave them another challenge: to reach 70 points in a single game. This week, they came as close as possible: After gathering only 26 in the first half, at the final buzzer the scoreboard showed 69. A season high for Zalgiris but far from enough.

Congratulating a 7-footer

When was the last time you had a chance to congratulate a Senegalese seven-footer? On Thursday night Unicaja’s Boniface N’dong scored his very first Euroleague three-pointer on his first attempt this season, but has second attempt including his debut season when he tried and failed in a game in which Unicaja lost by a big margin at Efes. N’doong also tied his best index rating (23) performance and set a new individual high in points (19). At age 31 (at least the documents say so), the tops in Europe finally recognize N’dong as a productive key big guy.

The weekly battle

One payback for a debt from last week, when the race between David Bluthenthal and Dewarick Spencer was left out of the column. Back then, Spencer took the lead in the “Who takes more field goal shots” dash by taking 17 shots against Bluth’s 11. This week, Spencer once again had the upper hand, winning 13-10. After six weeks, with probably only four more to go in their Euroleague season, Spencer leads 4-2. The big guy will have to step up in the next weeks to recover from this deficit.

Dec
1

Who profits from all the injuries?

This week, a lot of bad news happened and some fantasy owners have to some major changes in the fantasy teams. Sani Becirovic was injured and as one of the major contributors, lots of managers need to go for some changes. And as one of the hottest players of the moment in the SG/SF position was also injured  (according to some internet rumors) — I’m speaking about Charles Smith here — it will be tough to go for a good move on this position.

My problem of the week is the following, though. I wanted to get rid of two of my players at the SG and SF positions and replace them by Becirovic and Smith. Now both are injured so I’m asking myself what to do. The first player I wanted to sell is Immanuel McElroy from ALBA Berlin, but with Julius Jenkins still out and no Becirovic in Rome, Imac may come up with a good game so he’ll stay on the team. The second guy to move was Emir Preldzic. He’s on the decline right now, so he’s out. With Becirovic injured, I see another player stepping up for Roma this week, and that’s Rodrigo de la Fuente. As Allan Ray may miss the game, too, the Spanish veteran should see a lot of minutes and could come up with some interesting stats.

In order to improve my team even more, I chose then to finally trade Sergio Llull away. The Spanish youngster had a great run, but now it’s time to cash in and get a real big-time guard rotation. In order to do so, I needed to get a bit more credits so Felipe Reyes left the boat. Reyes was replaced by last week’s MVP Edu Hernandez-Sonseca, who should bring solid ranking points against Olimpija and should also gain in value. So I have enough credits to bring Lynn Greer to my team. So, recapping my moves:

OUT: Emir Preldzic (Fenerbahce), Felipe Reyes (Real Madrid) and Sergio Llull (Real Madrid).

IN: Lynn Greer (Olympiacos), Rodrigo de la Fuente (Lottomatica) and Edu Hernandez-Sonseca (Joventut).

Nov
0

Yarone’s Weekend Joints – part I

Probably the best thing would be to start with an apology for the delay, and get this out of the way. I’d like to thank the academy and blame Chris for the delay, not because it’s really his fault, but just because it’s fun to blame him on everything. Give it a try…

Week 5 of the Euroleague was full of stories and anecdotes. Some wrote new lines in the history books, others are on the way there.

After only one team won on the road in Week 4, this round of games displayed no fewer than six road wins, and three home wins by up to five points. With Olimpija and Milano taking their first Ws, and CSKA Moscow coming closer than ever to join the 23 other teams with a digit higher than 0 in the losses column, week 5 was one to remember.

Well, at least until Week 6.

Here’s the first part of the Euroleague Weekend Joints of Week 5 on Ballineurope.com.

Congratulations Jaka!

First of all, let’s congratulate Jaka Laka for becoming the 4th player in history to reach 2,000 Euroleague points this week, but that wasn’t the only mark he celebrated at Kaunas on Thursday night. It was also Lakovic’s 150th game in the Euroleague and only the fifth game ever in his eight-season Euroleague career that he didn’t miss a shot from three-point land, not counting nights he took just a single attempt. Jaka hit all five of his attempts in this game, two more threes than the entire team of Zalgiris, by the way (Zalgiris went 3-of-18 beyond the arc). Three times, Lakovic went 2-of-2, while on January 9, 2003, when he wore Pao’s green jersey and played at Tel Aviv, he had a 5-of-5 night as well.

Perfecto Greer

Not only Jaka was hot this week. Olympiacos’ Lynn Greer was also 5-of-5 from behind the arc, and for him it was the first-ever Euroleague game in which he was perfect from that range, excluding a single 1-of-1 display.

Road, bitter road

The Final Four hosts from Berlin suffered a 77-69 defeat at Olimpija, and allowed the Slovenians to celebrate their debut win of the season. After one leg in the regular season, Alba stands on a 2-3 record and it’s easy to label them. Both wins were registered in the O2 arena in front of a packed arena, and in both cases it was a close win. On the road, it’s a totally different story and there Alba lost all three games without putting up much of a fight. The eight-point difference is deceiving, as Olimpija held a double-digit lead in the closing minutes. Add the awful loss at Tau and a nine-point defeat at Fenerbache Ulker, and it’s gotten easier to place your bets from now on when it comes to Alba. In the second leg, they will play in Roma and Badalona, not the most comfortable spots to pick up a road win, so most probably in order to get some Euroleague oxygen, Alba will have to use the help of the O2 ha ha ha.

Don’t miss out…

Just in case you missed Panionios’ Aaron Miles beating the halftime buzzer with a super-cool coast-to-coast drive, check the Top 10 plays of Week 5 according to Euroleague.TV and survive the first nine to watch this beauty.

The big crisis

OK, this one has nothing to do with those red screens on your Wall Streets, but Efes Pilsen is in a big one of their own. The 95-81 defeat at home to Real Madrid marks Efes’ third loss in a row. Two were in Abdi Ipacki, and just to keep you fresh the first was to Panionios, while the third was in Moscow, where it’s more than reasonable to lose, only Efes was trashed by 22 points after a 27-9 first quarter start by the champs. Over the weekend, Efes re-signed Predrag Drobnjak to fill in at a center spot that felt kinda empty after the injury to Mario Kasun. Drobnjak was on the only two Efes teams to make it to the Final Four, back in the early days of this decade, before he moved to the NBA. Now he’s far from his prime, but let’s see if his arrival will bring good momentum to Ergin Ataman’s factory. Otherwise, Ataman himself could be next to pay for the damage. If you’re looking for a win, the last place you want to visit is Pionir and face Partizan, especially after they suffered an aching home loss, but that’s exactly what awaits Efes next week. Hopefully for Efes, Drobnjak and Milos Vujanic will feel at home enough to stop the downward spiral.

He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

CSKA climbed to 5-0 and remained the only team with a perfect record in the Euroleague. To make things worse, on anyone who’s not a CSKA fan, this week marked the return of Matjaz Smodis. God forbid…

Heart-attack Partizan

The team to draw the most sympathy and empathy this week, beyond any doubt, is the group from Beograd. The one point loss to CSKA, and the heart-breaking finish, when Partizan missed no less than five attempts in a row in the last seconds to win the game, captured whoever enjoys an underdog win. Check out this fan-made video from the Pionir seats. The last play starts 6:40~ inside the clip. This fan won’t win the prestigious “Camera man of the year” award, but turn up the volume, hope your neighbor doesn’t have a machine-gun, and focus on the sights and especially sounds around the play. This was Partizan’s second single point defeat this season, and all of their five games were close ones, decided by no more than five points.

32 is the new 11

Drive your car around the world, and other than a difficulty to avoid food poisoning (at some point or another) you might also find it hard to locate a good Spanish player playing outside the ACB. Other than in the NBA and Jorge, who just couldn’t say no to the crazy Khimki offer, there’s only one more player to name – Lottomatica’s Rodrigo De La Fuente. This week was a special one for the out stander. In the 76-67 home win over FenerUlker, at the age of 32, after 11 seasons in the Euroleague and 172 games, he set a career high in rebounds by collecting 11.

Damn rims

Prokom’s home court is called the “Arena of 100 years” and it certainly won’t be named anytime soon “Arena of 100 points”. The rims there are anything but friendly to most visiting teams. Pao escaped with a 60-67 win but they have nothing to be ashamed of. In the last six games in front of those rims no team scored more than 68 points.

Arc range darkness

Lottomatica wrote their fourth win in a row, and would probably revenge Alba, for their only defeat so far, next week in the Palalottomatica, but something strange happened in their win this week over the Istanbul’s chocolate factory of FenerUlker. All of Roma’s hits from long range were scored by the big guys. Power-forwards Roberto Gabini and Angelo Gigli were 3/3 from the distance, while all the others combined 0/6. No outside hit was made by the guards, despite one thing Repesa doesn’t miss is guards who can hit the ball. The reason was that while on the romantic scene being passive sometimes actually works, in basketball if you don’t hit you can’t score. Sani Becirovic and Allan Ray didn’t try even once from that distance, while Ibrahim Jaaber stepped up with a single attempt. For Sani it was only the second time he finished a game without taking a long range shot in his last 18 Euroleague games, while Ray broke a streak of 21 games in which he made the effort.

Road bitter road – part II

So CSKA are 5-0 but this week was the second time in a row the Euroleague champs have trouble to score and win on the road. Their previous trip out of Moscow finished with a 54-58 win in Madrid behind a terrible shooting day. The 62-63 loss in Beograd saw CSKA connect only a duo of baskets from long range in 14 attempts. Yikes! That wasn’t the only reason Partizan came so close, but to read on the second, and more peculiar one, wait for the second part.

Off-bench Diamantidis

Some would tell you that a team must have a stable starting five for things to work, but Zeljko Obradovic will reply to that with however you say “Bullshit” in Serb. Often Obra changes his starting line-up, but in Sopot it was standing out more than the usual. Batiste, Spanoulis, Tsartsaris, Hatzivrettas and Kecman on court. On the bench waited five that can assemble one of the best line ups in the Euroleague: Jasikevicius (we’ll get back to him in part two…), Pekovic, Nicholas, Fotsis and Diamantditis. The last still managed to finish with the best index rating of the night with 26, but broke a streak of 66 games in which he was a starter for Pao. The last time Dimitris saw the jump ball from the bench was in Week 4 of the 2005/06 season, andeven then, on November 24th 2005, in OAKA he was the best player on the team and finished with an index rating of 23.

Retro Le Mans

It’s shocking enough Le Mans scored 87 points in four quarters against Olympiacos, but the fact they, once again, lost a close game is something stat experts need to look into. Just a reminder, if you missed that part here in the previous weeks, last season, under a different coach and different roster, Le Mans also lost all their first five Euroleague season games in the closing plays. This season they already lost two games in overtime, first @Maccabi and this week vs. Olympiacos. The bad news for Le Mans is that last season, in Week 6, the close losses streak was put to an end, not in the positive way, with a 91-71 defeat @Cibona. Next week they host Unicaja. We shall see….

The “Disgrace Escaping” mission

After five weeks Zalgiris stand on a 0-5 record. It’s likely for the Kaunas club to finish their season earlier than expected, and considering the off-court happening around the club this season it’s reasonable, but in the remaining five games they’ll need to work hard to escape disgrace. Up to today Zalgiris stands on a horrible 19.6 turnovers per game average. Right and far behind are SLUC Nancy with “only” 16.8. Now, being behind Nancy isn’t such a big shame, it’s the history books awaiting for Zalgiris. Unless a big improvement will arrive soon to Kaunas they’ll be known as the team that made more turnovers per game than any other team in a season. In all of the Euroleague history, under ULEB (excluding the first season which its stats isn’t available on the web), the team with the highest tpg average was the 2001/02….London Towers with 18.0 per game.

Most Turnovers Per Game by Season

Season

Team

TPG

2008/09

Zalgiris Kaunas

19.6

2007/08

Olimipija Ljubljana

16.0

2006/07

Cibona Zagreb

17.7

2005/06

Strasbourg

16.8

2004/05

Estudiantes Madrid

16.5

2003/04

Alba Berlin

15.2

2002/03

Buducnost Podgorica

16.1

2001/02

Kinder London Towers

18.0