May
0

Highlights: Top five plays from VTB United League quarterfinals

Flawed, top-heavy and not exactly consistent in attendance it may be, but the VTB United League still garners BallinEurope’s attention – particularly come playoff time when ages-old rivalries add new chapters to stories first begun in the days of the Soviet Union.

Besides, who needs an excuse to run another YouTube highlight clip…?

From the VTB folks, then, running below are the top five plays from the recently-completed quarterfinal round, starring Unics Kazan’s Mire Chatman, Zalgiris Kaunas’ Robertas Javtokas, Lokomotiv Kuban’s Mantas Kalnietis, BC Khimki’s Sergey Monya and CSKA Moscow’s Anton Ponkrashov. Three-pointers, blocks, alley-oops – they’re all here. Enjoy!

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Jan
11

Sonny Weems learns Russian, enjoys bathtub with cheerleader while hocking pizza

In a series of advertisements featuring CSKA Moscow players and dance team, Papa John’s hopes to be hocking a lot of pizzas in the big city. The advertising campaign is your fairly standard stuff; a representative sample runs starring Milos Teodosic, Andrey Vorontsevich, the team mascot and Anton Ponkrashov resembling the world’s largest pencil with ramrod-straight party hat on head runs below the break.

But one commercial is particularly worthy of mention. For all those who thought basketball-related advertising in France was weird … check out this episode of Papa John’s pizza parties. In the ad, Sonny Weems demonstrates the only way to get Russian lessons: namely, with one sexy babe as tutor while, um, fully dressed in CSKA gear in a bathtub at a party. Until a teammate spoils the fun that is…

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Aug
5

2012 Olympic basketball: Rising and falling stock after the first round

While we’re a little ways away from actually awarding medals for 2012 Olympic basketball, the first round showed international hoops fans quite a lot. Though the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, reputations have changed over the past five games to cause some individual and/or teams losses beyond these Olympics. BallinEurope today takes a look at those whose stock has risen and those who’ve fallen in the early going of the London Games.

Rising
Lebron James. Yeah, like this guy needs a further upward trend in his already all-time lofty-looking career. Four years ago, ESPN’s Bill Simmons proclaimed (correctly, in BiE’s opinion) that in 2008 ‘Games crunch time, “everyone deferred to Kobe, who made some monster plays to clinch it. Know that in the history of the NBA we have never had the best-player-alive argument resolved so organically.” In 2012, King James has proven himself to be the best player on the best team in this Olympic tournament.

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Jul
49

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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Jul
34

Who can stop Team USA?

This one goes out by request to BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y. … with Team USA coming together to play the Dominican Republic today – with or without Chris Paul – BiE tries to answer the question “Who [if anyone] can beat Team USA?”

Good one.

A few gauntlets have been thrown by the Americans already, the least of which is certainly not the roster itself. That roster, one more time, is the following.

Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
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Jun
39

2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Preview: Team Russia

With the lengthily-named 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men tipping off in Venezuela on Monday, BallinEurope takes some time this week to catch up on the four European squads in the running for a trip to London and reckon on a brief assessment of each’s chances in the competition. First up is Russia, the Continent’s representative in qualifying group C.

Extended roster: Semen Antonov (BC Nizhny Novgorod); Sergey Bykov, Maxim Grigoryev (Lokomotiv Kuban); Sasha Kaun, Viktor Khryapa, Andrei Kirilenko, Anton Ponkrashov, Alexey Shved, Eugeny Voronov, Andrey Vorontsevich (CSKA Moscow); Sergey Karasev (Triumph Lyubertsy); Timofey Mozgov (Denver Nuggets); Sergey Monya, Vitaly Fridzon, Dmitry Khvostov (BC Khimki Moscow region); and Artem Yakovenko (Unics Kazan); head coach David Blatt (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

How they got here: Last year in Lithuania, the only team that could stop the Russian juggernaut was France. Les Bleus used a single 8-0 run in the third quarter and a career game from Nicolas Batum (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks) to squeak past the theretofore undefeated Team Russia in the semifinals.

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Apr
1

Spartak St. Petersburg: The Hunger of Experienced Rookies

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 taking a look at one of the two remaining Russian sides, Karaca writes “Zenit St. Petersburg reached its zenith when they managed to grab the UEFA Cup. Now, president Igor Lypsky, former deputy manager of Gazprom, has the same ambition. Isn’t it time for their citizens to win a European competition in basketball?

Talking about Spartak St. Petersburg is talking about history. Founded in 1935, the club stands as the oldest among the Eurocup Final Four competitors. However, as this marks the first time that Spartak has reached this level of competition, I think we can call St Petersburg experienced Eurocup rookies.

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Mar
42

Team Russia’s first opponent in 2012 Olympic qualifiers: Jetlag (really?)

With months to go before the London Olympic Games, some Russian media sources may already be panicking, based on concerns quoted from Alexey Shved vis-à-vis the FIBA qualifying tournament scheduled for July in Venezuela. The CSKA Moscow guard told Russia-based media service RIA Novosti that “Of course we’ll try. But flying for 15 hours changes your whole schedule. It’s very difficult.

Already, noted Shved, “We’ve had practically no rest since [Eurobasket 2011]. We’ll play out the season, then again training camps and a tournament on the other side of the world.”

The FIBA decision to place the qualifiers in Venezuela was, in Shved’s opinion, “completely mystifying. A long-haul flight, big time difference. Everyone thought that the qualification tournament would be in Lithuania.”

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May
3

Euroleague Final Four head-to-head matchups: CSKA Moscow vs. FC Barcelona

With the Euroleague Final Four mere days away, the giddiness increases at the prospect of figuring that, yes, without hyperbole, basketball fans could well be getting a complete slate of four classic games. While FC Barcelona and Olympiacos are the heavy favorites (and, ahem, BallinEurope.com’s teams predicted to make the finals at the beginning of the 2009-10 Euroleague season), the prospective top dogs will have no easy way with it.

Case in point: Barcelona. While the Blaugrana continue to look unstoppable, coming off the decisive best-of-five Euroleague series win over Real Madrid and a historic 73-54 blowout perpetrated at Murcia in ACB play, CSKA Moscow is precisely the team they don’t want to face: The Red Army certainly has the potential to give the Barça frontcourt fits, in particular.

BiE’s informal area-by-area briefing on the first Euroleague Final Four game – together with patented BallinEurope Fearless Prediction, naturally – goes something like this.

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Nov
0

The Frank Euroleague roundup, week five

Its all good in Barcelona

It's all good in Barcelona

Once again, BallinEurope.com contributor Francesco Cappelletti weighs in on all the happenings in Europe’s top basketball league in week five of play in ruminating on just how good FC Barcelona is; on CSKA Moscow’s resurrection due to coach Pashutin and possibly the “heart of a champion”; and on a flashback to one year ago.

The perfect game
Regal FC Barcelona made easy work out of dumping Montepaschi: That was FCB’s statement game for this Euroleague season, and we have to pay attention because it arrived against a team which had deliberately risked a questionable Ksistof Lavrinovic (plagued by back spasms) in trying to keep its streak of 27 consecutive home wins alive.

But the Spanish primacy was huge. Siena couldn’t play its own game, simply because Xavi Pascual denied it. Pascual decided to take Terrell McIntyre out of the match, nearly double-teaming him on pick-and-rolls, and the choice paid large dividends: T-Mc wasn’t able to find a clean three-point shot from his preferred central position while obsessed by Rubio’s speedy hands. Meanwhile, neither Benjamin Eze or the injured Lavrinovic represented a threat in the paint, where others not involved with McIntyre rotated very well.

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