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May
1

Final Four: Real blast Barca 100-62

Real fans

Matching the hysterics, both on the court and amongst the fans, of the first game was always going to be a challenge for El Clasico. Even combined, the fanbases of Real and Barca were dwarfed by the now recovering Maccabi support. The Real support, situated mostly to the left of the upper press tribune, did their best to make some noise but this was always going to be a game where the crowd was of minimal influence.

Barca got off to the stronger start, with Marcelinho Huertas, Ante Tomic, and Kostas Papanikolaou help them into early eight point lead, forcing Pablo Laso to call timeout. A Marcus Slaughter dunk heralded the Real resurgence and they cut Barca’s lead to 13-12 before Xavi Pascual called time out. The arrival of Sergio Rodriguez made all the difference. Chacho’s three to give Real back the lead signalled the Euroleague MVP’s intent. Defensively Real started to click better after getting killed on their own glass early. RMB looked far from steady on D but they did enough to let their offensive power prove telling. At the end of the first it was all square at 20-20.

Real made the early going in the second, Rudy Fernandez giving them a four point advantage for the first time in the game. Rudy had struggled through the opening quarter but seemed to find more comfort as the play became more scrappy. Chacho hit another three and then two frees to push Real further out and with four minutes gone in the frame, Barca had yet to score. Salaj Mejri compounded the pain for Barca. Pascual called timeout with his side trailing 31-20. A three from Juan Carlos Navarro finally got the Blaugrana on the board but Felipe Reyes replied from deep immediately for Real. Rudy kept the pressure on as Real fought to maintain their double digit advantage. Brad Oleson and Tomic brought Barca back within single digits but Real looked well in charge, 45-37, at the break.
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May
3

Euroleague Final Four flashback: CSKA Moscow vs. Real Madrid, 1969

The city of Barcelona has hosted the Euroleague Final Four three times before. In 1969, 1998 and 2003; for true devotees of European basketball, the memories of these three events will be nearly as tangible as this week’s on-court action. For those who don’t (or are too young to) remember, BallinEurope this week presents looks at the competitions of Final Four past as supplied by the big league’s historians.

First, let’s go back to those halcyon times of ‘69. Then known as the European Cup, the tournament finale featured a final match in Cold War style, i.e. involving a last-second controversy, pitting Real Madrid against CSKA Moscow and starring the likes of Clifford Luyk and Vladimir Andreev…

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Oct
0

Euroleague Blowouts and better than Jordan

Phew! Hopefully people were betting big point spreads in the Euroleague’s first game day as Montepaschi Siena, Barcelona, Olympiacos and Zalgiris notched easy victories by an average of more than 27 points. More on Euroleague as well as bigger than Jordan; a new basketball film; new players soon coming to Europe; a German star talent; and why Euroleague did not want to watch Maroussi-CSKA highlights.
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Apr
6

Police expecting riots for Euroleague Final Four

Police in Berlin are planning for the worst and expect militant fans from Greece and Russia to possibly cause rioting in the German capital at the Euroleague Final Four from May 1-3.

May 1 is Labour Day in Germany, and riots traditionally break out in a number of cities throughout the country – including Berlin – as demonstrations have been known to get out of control.

Now, Berlin police officials are coming up with extra security plans for the Euroleague Final Four. And the fact that fans from Greece and Russia will be coming to the basketball spectacle has German authorities worried.

“We will have to wait and see,” police spokesman Frank Millert said in the German newspaper TAZ.

The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel said O2 World arena officials are in talks with police about extra security for the event. O2 spokesmen added that exact plans are scheduled to be completed later this week.

The Berlin paper added that the German capital could have the feeling of a big football match with a number of police officials with police dogs at train stations and on the streets, while authorities in civilian dress will be observing known hooligans. The police spokesman also said that once the final participant – Barcelona or Tau Ceramica – is known, authorities may discuss if and how foreign officials can be used in Berlin.

While Russian fans of CSKA Moscow are a cause for alarm for the German police, the biggest concern for police is Olympiacos facing fierce rivals Panathinaikos in the semifinals on May 1. Panathinaikos was fined 14,500 euros last weekend after fans lit flares inside the arena, used laser pointers and threw objects onto the court. Tagesspiegel noted that supporters of the opposing teams have not been allowed into the arenas of the rivals for security reasons for years, and that a fan died  during a game between the two clubs’ women’s volleyball teams in 2007.

Berlin on Monday night was the site of some 100 leftist extremists rioting in protest of the NATO summit with cars set afire and Molotov cocktails and stones thrown at buildings. The Berlin head of the German police union, Bodo Pfalzgraf, said he was worried about the near future, telling the Berlin Morgenpost:  “Hopefully, May 1 will not be as heated as the signs show.”

Besides the Final Four semifinals, Berlin on May 1 will also be hosting 25 events associated with May Day. Most of these are anti-right extremism or anti-capitalist in nature, including registered demonstrations with names like the “Revolutionary May 1 Demonstration” at Oranienplatz and “Capitalism is crisis and war” at Kottbusser Tor. There is also a demo registered titled “Abolish capitalism” scheduled for 2-10:30 p.m. at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, not far from the o2 World arena.

And the federal executive board of the pan-German nationalist and right extremist party NPD is planning to mobilize its members for a rally at Mandrellaplatz in Köpenick.