Sep
11

Eurobasket 2013 qualification round bullets: Picture taking shape

Everything is coming to a head as we’re finally getting a picture of Europe’s big basketball tournament. With eight teams still in the running for five spots, four of today’s FIBA EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers are potentially crucial to making up the final bracket in Slovenia: Germany at Sweden, Serbia at Estonia, Turkey at Portugal and the match of the day, Latvia at Georgia. BallinEurope takes a brief look at these games and the overall picture as the qualification tourney nears its end – bullet-style, natch, with links and YouTubes.

• The way BiE sees it, the picture looks something like the following. In/in barring epic collapse: Montenegro, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Poland, Finland, Czech Republic. All but out/out: Belarus, Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland. Why are we here: Slovakia, Iceland, Albania, Portugal, Cyprus, Luxembourg.

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Aug
37

Tanjevic: “NBA coaches don’t understand,” “Kanter has forgotten how to play”

Not to fan the flames of debate here at BallinEurope or anything … a few particularly incendiary comments made by former Limoges/Asvel Villeurbanne head coach and current Team Turkey technical coordinator Bogdan Tanjevic were first reported on Italy-based La Gazzetta dello Sport and subsequently picked up by Sportando and France-based Passion Basket, among others. We can easily surmise that Tanjevic won’t be offered a job by Utah Jazz Basketball Inc. any time soon…

On Enes Kanter not playing on the national team in 2012, Tanjevic said that “He is a great talent and we miss him a lot. He decided not to join us but honestly, he needs us more than we need him. He has not played or trained with us in the past three years. I [also] had to replace [Kerem] Gonlum, who was on holiday with his family. Without Kanter, it will be a little more difficult but I think we’ll be able to get into EuroBasket 2013.”

But Tanjevic also sees a problem with dependence on NBA stars at all – namely, the coaches. Was he surprised when Kanter declined to play with Team Turkey? “I’m not surprised at all … America is the perfect place to lose your head. Firstly, because the coaches [there] do not understand. In the NBA, there are just three or four coaches who have been there for 100 years, making billions and winning trophies. Others are weak. Including [Utah Jazz head coach] Tyrone Corbin…

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Aug
0

Turkiye’ye hosgeldiniz, Rolando Blackman!

In advance of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Team Turkey has announced the addition of a new assistant coach: long-time Dallas Maverick and Italian league titlist Rolando Blackman.

Blackman last coached with Team Germany for the 2002 Worlds and was tempted into coming out from behind his desk in the Mavericks front office to do the summer gig for one main reason. “My reason for being here is [Turkey head coach Bogdan] Tanjevic,” Blackman said, since “together we won the Italian league title.”

Fans of European basketball will recall the splash he made in 1995-96, coming over to Stefanel Milano after a half-season with Greek League championship finalist AEK Athens BC. Blackman went for 15.3 points per game that year with Milano and the team nearly completed a triple crown by taking the Italian Cup and Serie A championship, but losing in the Korać Cup to Efes Pilsen.

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Aug
18

Power rankings (already updated): 2010 FIBA World Championship

See, BiE secretly knew this would happen … you break down, make a few fearless predictions online and bam! The inconvenient fact of a loss – two losses in fact, one particularly egregious – goes down and you suddenly have to rework the whole damn post on 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings.

In the egregious loss previously referenced, the proclamation that Team Canada would “surprise a few people” proved prophetic, but not in the way assumed. Over a squad that FIBA was forced to label a “Canadian developmental team” did Spain romp for a final score of 84-38. Those who’ve doubted the star power of Team Spain can note Felipe Reyes, Rudy Fernandez and Carlos Suarez all going for double-figures in limited team plus probably with one arm tied behind their backs.

And Team Slovenia was no doubt downloading BallinEurope’s original power rankings to use as fodder to beat up on Australia, 71-60. No depth, judged BiE? “Ha!” responded the Slovenes, who brought Sani Becirovic to put up 20 points and unleashed The Dragon for Goran Dragic to add 13. (BiE told you the Aussies would never get above no. 10 for the remainder of the tournament.)

Ah no matter … we knew these things were flexible, right? Plus, BallinEurope gets to splash a big “updated” across the post, like a real cutting-edge producer of news and opinion. BallinEurope’s official 2010 FIBA World Championship Power Rankings run below the break.

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Jan
0

The Frank Euroleague roundup, week 10

¡Gracias, Ricky!

¡Gracias, Ricky!

BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti, wraps up the wrap week of the 2009-10 Euroleague regular season in discussing — among other subjects — how justice was done in the Top 16 accession, why Ricky Rubio deserves our admiration, and how the next four groups look.

Who deserves the Top 16 and who doesn’t
In the last week of the Euroleague’s first stage, many teams played not for pride, but to qualify for the next step. Strangely enough, all the verdicts are right. In Group A, Fenerbahce Istanbul closed a disastrous European season with a home loss against Zalgiris Kaunas, depleted without Travis Watson (basic against a frontline full of 6’10”-6’11” men) and with Mario Delas just landed, while forced to rely on a confused Aleksander Capin staying 22 minutes on the floor with nearly no knowledge of playbook or teammates. Anyway, the injury of Lynn Greer didn’t help Bogdan Tanjevic, whose game passed on pursuing Zalgiris, and Roko Ukic was the unexpected master of a squad wandering in search of itself.

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Jan
1

The Frank Euroleague roundup, week nine

Ataman on the hot seat?

Ataman on the hot seat?

With just one more week to go in first-round play, Francesco Cappelletti touches on some issues regarding those teams positioning themselves for the Euroleague Top 16. Also examined frankly: Ergin Ataman’s tenuous position in Turkey, Zoran Planinic and Nikos Zisis embracing their positions on potential Final Four clubs; and bucking for position on Real Madrid.

Extreme situations

Only a week remains to this Euroleague first stage, but the situations in many groups are still complicated. In Group A, Regal FC Barcelona lies in waits for Montepaschi with a +19 taken in Siena, testifying to the shape of Xavi Pascual’s players. This should be an interesting game, maybe balanced for nearly 40 minutes, but hardly vincible for the Italians. About the same men that last year started the game with a 25-3 first-quarter run for David Andersen and teammates … the final two positions have no owner.

Next week, a devastated Fenerbahce Ulker (unified against Bogdan Tanjevic: that’s the problem) hosts Zalgiris Kaunas, apparently better under new coach Ramunas Butautas; Asvel meanwhile goes to Zagreb to play a high-pressure game in which defenses are going to take control. Fenerbahce and Asvel (3-6) have one more win than Zalgiris and Cibona, but the feeling is they are not favourites to reach the Top 16.

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Nov
0

The Frank Euroleague Roundup: Week four

Maccabi: Something to cheer about. (Photo by Yaniv Ben Simon, MaccabiFans.co.il)

Maccabi: Something to cheer about. (Photo by Yaniv Ben Simon, MaccabiFans.co.il)

In the afterglow of Euroleague week four, BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti, rounds up all that was in the week that was, including the lack of upsets, a dearth of home support in Turkey, and several teams that have yet to make the leap.

Easy groups
At the day of the Euroleague draw, most of us said Group C was the toughest, with four teams able to reach last Top 16 (Caja Laboral, Lottomatica Roma, CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv) and two representatives of the fighting Balkan-Greek spirit in Maroussi BC and Union Olimpija. Group D followed C, with a combination of newly ambitious squads (AJ Milano, Real Madrid), national champions (Asseco Prokom, EWE Baskets), and the dangerous Khimki Moscow and Panathinaikos to boot.

Now that four weeks are over, it’s right to say all those forecasts have gone south, because we have not seen a surprising upset since Euroleague tipped off. Big clubs lose games only against each other, and rarely have they left points in lower courts: Among the 48 matches played thus far, we are astonished only by Lietuvos Rytas’ win against Efes Pilsen in week 1. Maroussi grazed at an upset victory in its debut but Viktor Khryapa denied them; after this … nothing.

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Sep
0

After Eurobasket, the future: Part Two

In part two of Ball in Europe’s look at Europe’s top teams following Eurobasket 2009, Francesco Cappelletti contributes his analysis of present and future for those nations who did not finish in Eurobasket’s top four. Part one, featuring looks at Spain, Serbia, Greece, and Slovenia, may be found by clicking here.

This didnt happen enough

This didn't happen enough

FRANCE
Absences: Mickael Pietrus, Yakhouba Diawara, Joakim Noah, Johan Petro.

A lot of people thought France would be a frontrunner in Eurobasket 2009, thanks to the team’s more detailed preparation thanks to qualifying round play, handily won against what remained of Italy and Belgium. In fact, France’s beginning was outstanding; OK, Group B was a joke, but many victories by slim margins (69-64 over Russia, 87-79 over Croatia, 71-69 over Greece) made us trust a very physical yet technically perfect team with teachers like Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, and Boris Diaw. Unfortunately, the improving Spain was not the team France expected after six wins in a row and France lost by 20: Come on, that’s a road accident! The confirmation came from the next games, wins against Turkey and Croatia.

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Sep
2

Youth competitions and beyond: The state of European national basketball programs

On the eve of Eurobasket 2009, Ball in Europe’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti, looks back at this summer’s youth competitions to assess where Europe’s national programs stand and where they’re headed. From where will the future be launched? Read on!

One day until Eurobasket 2009: It has been a full summer which started with three youth competitions. These are useful to frame a speech about the basketball we are now playing in Europe, in attempting to open a bigger discussion on traditions, changes and examples European schools give us from time to time.

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Nov
3

Yarone’s weekend Joints

Lots of three-ball action took place this week. Some went in with great accuracy. Others will have to pay for the rim damage. Lazos, Erceg and Childress are the most overpaid players of this week, the double OT in Istanbul had two sides, Spencer caught up, Nancy made history, Jennings made us proud, and one Emir Preldzic…

These are the stories of week 4 of Euroleague 2009.

In case you missed it… – CSKA tied the Euroleague record for most three pointers made with 18, and more amazingly they hit them at a 72% rate. Those who follow CSKA closely saw them only last week connect on 20 three pointers at 71.4% in a Russian cup game. Keep in mind that Holden and Smodis are injured and could probably add a couple more to the party. Do you still remember just a week ago the Euroleague champs scored only 58 points at Real and hit five three-balls at a poor 18.5% rate?

CSKA tied a record set by Lottomatica Roma, who went 18/34 back in December 2003, but it reminded me more of the most amazing three-ball display in Euroleague history: Efes’ unbelievable fourth quarter back in November 2006. In a home game against Olympiacos, the Jenkins-Nicholas-Erden-Haislip-Kuqo combination connected on 11 of 12 long-range shots in the final 10:04 of the game.

The Jennings report – Brandon Jennings, in one of the toughest arenas in Europe, explained why. Last week in a text written on this server, Jennings was asked, for the first time in his Euroleague career, to combine baskets inside and outside the arc, and right away he provided. The boxscore displayed 17 minutes on court, 13 points, 4-of-7 from the field, three assists and not a single turnover on the way to an index rating of 17. He played a key role in the third quarter when Tau pushed hard to take over, and made sure Roma stayed on top. Can’t ask for more from this kid.

Just imagine – Terrell McIntyre was 1-of-8 from long range in OAKA. Shaun Stonerook was 2-of-11 from the same distance, but Montepaschi still left Athens with only a five-point loss. If any of the above had shot at just a tiny bit better percentage…

Over? Under! – Four games into the Euroleague season and not only is Zalgiris Kaunas continuing to seek their first win, they’ve also failed to reach 70 points in a game: Their season high is 67 points at home, in the 26 point loss to Montepaschi. True, Kaunas lost Brown, misses Dean, and the go-to guy right now is the great Maciulis, who hasn’t fully adapted to the idea that he’s the main man this season. Nevertheless, it’s not that much we’re asking: In the next three games, Kaunas hosts Barcelona and Pao, followed by travel to Siena. None will be shocked to see them go 0-6, but if the Lithuanians can’t shoot to reach 70…

Standings – After four weeks, CSKA Moscow is the only undefeated team. Surprised? Group D, where CSKA play, is the only group in which just one team has reached three wins. Behind CSKA are four teams with a 2-2 record and in last is a team with no wins: Exactly the scenario predicted for this group from the first second after the draw. The only difference: Panionios was expected to be the winless team, while in fact it’s struggling AJ Milano.

It’s a close league after all – Four teams, one in each group, are still in search for a debut win, but that’s not a case of teams that are just too weak to win. All of them have already sensed a win in their hands at least once during the four weeks. Le Mans was close four weeks in a row, including an OT loss in Tel Aviv; AJ Milano has been in the neighborhood twice already and this week lost by a point; Olimpija lost once by a point as well and this week fell in double OT; finally, Zalgiris hasn’t been as close to success as the other three, but has lost their last two games by five points or fewer.

Index Morris – Last week, CSKA’s Terence Morris went 0-of-8 from long range in Madrid. This week he had three perfect hits from distance already after three minutes on the way to a 5-of-7 night.

Home sweetest home – 11 of the 12 games this week went in favor of the home team, including a double OT win for FenerUlker, a one-point win for Real, a two-point win for Alba and five-point wins for Nancy, Panathinaikos, Panionios and Avellino. The only team to drop the home game was Tau, considered one of the most difficult teams to beat on their home court, who lost by a small three-point margin.

Emir – If you’re a big prospect and want to make a break, then shower, shave, grab a bottle of water, some orange Tic Tacs, pack a small bag and go stand outside the house of coach Bogdan Tanjevic. Wait patiently, have some Tic Tacs and hope he’ll take you in. From there, you’re set. 18 points, more than 50% from the field, seven rebounds, five assists and just a single turnover: That’s the line Emir Preldzic produced this week. He’s playing inside Tanjevic’s system as much as a Bosnian can play inside a system, but also gets a lot of freedom from his coach to bring his skills and creativity to the floor. Follow this kid. He’s much more than just great numbers: He’s fineness and finesse.

Double OT, triple lead – The interesting thing about the game in Istanbul, only the third in Euroleague history to go 50 minutes, was that in all three crucial possessions FenerUlker were up. In regulation, it was a huge running three-pointer by Saso Ozbolt (Welcome back!) to tie the score. Then Damjan Rudez scored on a layup to force another overtime, and finally Vlado Illievski took the chance when down by two with a long distance attempt that went out.

Vlado + Saso > Europe – Olimpija’s Ilievski and Ozbolt played a double OT but still combined 79:50 minutes of play so they didn’t hold a much bigger margin on other backcourts. Nevertheless they took no less than 21 shots from long range (11 by Vlado). Those 21 attempts by only two players represented more three-point attempts than those taken by the entire teams of Panathinaikos, Panionios, Alba, Cibona, Maccabi, Barcelona, Prokom, Real, Avellino, Le Mans, Roma and Nancy this week.

Joventut > Europe – Vlado and Saso weren’t the only ones. Demond Mallet and Luka Bogdanovic of Joventut also combined for 21 attempts from long range, and they played much less obviously. Luka was on a big night hitting 7-of-12 from long distance without taking a single shot inside the arc or the charity stripe. Mallet was a tiny bit less glamour at 1-of-9 from the same distance.

Both were merely executing Joventut’s game plan, or so it seemed on the court. Rudy’s former team took 23 shots inside the arc, but no fewer than 37 outside: a huge difference that hints at a lack of guiding hand and another reason to hang a “We miss you Ricky!” sign in the lockerroom. Joventut had the last ball of the game down by two at Alba, and take a wild guess what their play was…Wrong! Pau Ribas tried to find an open man for the three, but Alba did a great job in the passing lanes, forcing the young guard to go to the rim. He added one more miss to his pocket and Alba celebrated their second win.

All Blacks – OK, the national team of New Zealand isn’t playing in the Euroleague yet, but while I was watching Nancy-Zalgiris on Wednesday night, I suddenly noticed something refreshing: With Cyril Julian out due to injury, Nancy this week was a team composed of only black players, probably the first time ever in European basketball history. Quickly, Mr. Ney was sent to check the NBA rosters and figure how many NBA teams have only black players on the roster, and his answer was one: The Philadelphia 76ers, thus making the occasion in Nancy this week very unique indeed. From the Greer duo to the promising young Zaki, it was a refreshing occurrence. The fact they have won isn’t as exciting as the happenings in Illinois not too long ago, but certainly is a happy episode.

Double OT, triple miss – While Olimpija had to come back from behind time after time in the finals seconds, the Turkish side can be happy to win a close game, but proved he can miss time after time in these situations. Devin Smith had a decent shot from the three-point corner to win the game in regulation but missed. At the end of the first OT, Fenerbache had 6.5 seconds to win the game but managed to lose the ball, while at the end of the last overtime Marque Green missed his first free throw in the final seconds, leaving Olimpija a chance to win.

Whole story in one Zoran – Olympiacos paid around <!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:”"; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> €700,000 just to buy out Zoran Erceg from FMP Zeleznik. His contract probably isn’t cheap, either, and the buyout plus contract is worth around $1.5 million easily. This is more than Maccabi’s second-highest paid player. Erceg played less than seven minutes this week, and other than pick up one foul did nothing on the court. No rebounds, no shots taken, no assists, no turnovers. His team still won by 19, the second-greatest margin of the week. His story tells the difference between Olympiacos and a second-tier Euroleague team.

Frustrated Milanese
– If you’ve ever had the chance to stop whatever it is you’re doing in your daily life and wonder what’s more frustrating, to lose a five-point lead in the last minute or a 23-point lead in the second half, well, your search for an answer is over! AJ Milano solved this riddle for you! Once again, one player shone above all: This time it was Michael Hall, who won the MVP of the week award, and once again Milano seemed on the sure path for a win. Answers shall be provided after the debut win.

Looking for Lazos – Not too long ago, in the summer of 2007, Lazaros Papadopoulos was a hot item in the market. At 210cm with post moves, decent rebounding and one of the smartest brains in the Euroleague chasing up a 14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg and a season index rating of 20.3 with Dynamo Moscow. Then came a multi-season deal with powerhouse Real Madrid, who wanted to return to greatness. On that paper, it says Lazos will make more than <!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:”"; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> €2 million per season, but he never really proved worthy of it.

His decline already began last season, when his season numbers dropped to 6.9 ppg with 3.2 rpg and season index of no more than 7.8. If someone was waiting for Lazos to come back to life this season, well…maybe later. Right now, he’s finished two games in a row with no points, something that hasn’t happened to him in a European competition since January 9th, 2003. His index ratings in the past three games were 2, -2, and 2. His minutes dropped from 20 to 12 to five. Lazos is no longer a factor. Can’t wait to have him back in shape.

Weekly battle – After Bluthenthal wrote a landslide last week, it was time for Dewarick Spencer to retort. This week, the US guard won the “let’s see who shots more” battle 15-4. Le Mans, no news, lost a close game in Italy. Overall score: Bluthenthal 2, Spencer 2.

Shooting Josh – If you think Lazos is the most overpaid player this week, well, Josh Childress is giving him good competition. The $7 million man finished the game against Maccabi with four points on 1-of-6 from the field and five turnovers. Maccabi gave him a lot of space to shoot from long range, and Josh didn’t punish. The tale from Piraeus is that after the game, while media walked around the lockerroom, looking for Childress, the US swingman went back to the court to work on his jumpshot, to make sure no team will bet on his shots again. Time will tell…

Three-ball Rawel – Cibona’s Rawel Marshall arrived to Malaga with a 7/17 ratio from long range. He finished the game 7 of 10 from that distance. Cibona scored only one additional three pointer. Unicaja combined for a team total of six three-pointers.

Marshall hit just a single bucket inside the arc. Each and every one of his long balls is worth a look. He showed great diversity making off dribble and catch and shoot attempts, eith with a hand in his face or wide open, right on the arc or a step behind…