So call BallinEurope kooky: While everyone else with an eye on basketball – even European basketball, for Arvydas Sabonis’ sake – is concentrating on the NBA free-agent market, BiE is all attention on the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Men tipping off in Turkey in August.
Naturally, bookmakers too are into it and the early odds for the FIBA World Championship are up, including props on outright winner, group winners and even game one matches available at BallinEurope.com sponsor SportingBet.
Unfortunately, the SportingBet “2010 FIBA World Championship for Men Outright Winner” prop bet is merely that; no “each way” betting allowing punters to bet on the second-place finisher: a key wager in this tourney, should you be one of the teeming majority reckoning Team USA is the prospective runaway champion of this thing. The odds table looks like the following.
On Saturday, perhaps the marquee matchup on the ACB slate – if for historical significance only – will be the FC Barcelona vs. Unicaja match. The league’s official website has quite the extensive collection of facts ‘n’ figures about this match and the 15-year record of meetings between these two clubs, of which BallinEurope attempted to extract the most useful bits.
The vital stats
The game tips off in Barcelona (you can watch it live online at ACB 360). Barça attempts to continue its home-winning streak, now at 28 games. Unicaja is riding a three-game win streak in the ACB, its second such this season.
Jimenez and Navarro: Team Spain’s last two captains face off
Carlos Jimenez passed Spain’s national team captaincy baton to former Memphis Grizzlies/current Blaugrana player Juan Carlos Navarro this past summer. With Navarro at the head, Spain took the 2009 Eurobasket title. Of course, under Jimenez, the Spainards took gold in Japan at the FIBA World Championship in 2006.
Another night of great Euroleague action featured a real thrilling victory for debutant Khimki in overtime against Real Madrid. But there was more going on as the U.S. government is looking intensely at Greek powers Olympiacos and an update has been found on American 18-year-old Jeremy Tyler at Maccabi Haifa. Continue Reading…
Ball in Europe contributor Francesco Cappelletti wraps Eurobasket 2009 with little surprise and a long view on the future of Europe’s premiere national basketball programs. Today, analysis on the tournament’s top four finishers.
It was simply a result that we could take for granted: Spain at the top of Europe, with silver medalist Serbia beaten by 22 points in the Eurobasket final, almost the same gap between Scariolo’s boys and other “pretenders” such as France (who lost to Spain in the quarterfinals, 86-66) and Greece (82-64 losers to Spain in the semifinals) were supposed to be.
It was a Eurobasket in some ways boring, featuring little advancement from the tactical perspective, with many teams focused on the abused pick-and-roll play, few squads able to run, and one team (Spain, who else?) very, very distanced from the other national teams, even just in terms of a talent base that is embarrassing to compare.
Today, with Eurobasket behind us, a look at what national teams are lacking, where they have failed, and are the scenes set for the future.
No matter how the whole Minnesota Timberwolves/DKV Joventut thing works out, the 2009-10 international basketball season will be, to some extent, The Year of Ricky Rubio.
Rubio was yesterday officially presented with the FIBA Europe award for 2008 Young Men’s Player of the Year by FIBA Europe secretary-general Nar Zanolin. Aside from bestowing Rubio with this trophy, Zanolin also gave Pau Gasol his 2008 FIBA Europe Player of the Year award. (That was a bit of a no-brainer vote for sure; is Pau to be considered the odds-on favorite for 2009 as well?)
Also presented to the general public yesterday was the squad that would represent Spain for EuroBasket 2009 and damn, is it scary. Of the twelve players named, nine have at least 46 caps to their credit, while four – Jorge Garbajosa, Paul Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Felipe Reyes – have more than 100. Start quaking now, Group C.
The Team Spain roster includes Carlos Cabezas (Unicaja), Víctor Claver (Pamesa Valencia), Rudy Fernández (Portland Trail Blazers), Jorge Garbajosa (Khimki), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), Sergio Llull (Real Madrid), Raúl López (Real Madrid), Alex Mumbrú (Real Madrid), Juan Carlos Navarro (Regal FC Barcelona), Felipe Reyes (Real Madrid), and Ricky Rubio (DKV Joventut).
(Just one thing, guys: No group pictures this time, all right?)
With the NBA playoffs at full speed in the conference finals, the playoffs in various European domestic leagues are in their decisive phase, too. And the nerves of players and fans are on edge right now, as you can see through our short notes on what has happened during the past few days.
For today’s preview on Unicaja Malaga, we are proud to have among us a writer from one of the most impressive websites about European basketball, Daniel Barranquero of acb.com. Daniel is based in Malaga and gives us his unique inside view on the regular Euroleague participant.
Overall record prediction: 6-4
It’s not common practice to talk about revolution in a team which only has bought four players and a coach. But this Unicaja is a new team. Same players, same supporters, same goals but a different style: Aito style. Aito García Reneses, the Spanish National Team head coach in the last Olympic Games, left the squad after winning the silver medal in Beijing and signed a three -year deal with Unicaja.
García Reneses has a large list of accomplishments in his 35-year career, but he still has a strong and melancholy desire. He yearns for the Euroleague title. The coach has reached the Final Four six times, but he never fulfilled his dream of raising the European trophy. In Malaga, Aito will have an ambitious team which plays its eighth Euroleague in a row and wants to grow in Europe. For this reason, Unicaja has shaped a powerful roster to be a solid contender in the best competition of the continent.
Unicaja has signed Omar Cook with the hope that the player of the Montenegro NT would be a nice complimentary, at least better than Bojan Popovic, to Carlos Cabezas. The Malaga-born point guard desires to convince his new coach that it was a mistake not to call him for the Olympic Games.
The backcourt new leader may be Thomas Kelati, a great addition who dazzled in ULEB Cup last year playing with PGE Turow. The only professional basketball player with Eritrean roots, promises defense and points and would make a great duo with Berni Rodríguez, but the international player suffers an ankle injury and faces now about three months of recovery. His replacement is the explosive Joseph Gomis, the second best scorer in ACB last season. Besides, the long-time captain of Spain Carlos Jimenez, who retired from his national team last summer, and the Czech Jiri Welsch, who needs to improve his performance in Unicaja, also guarantee defense and teamwork.
Marcus Haislip is expected to have a prominent role in the frontcourt. The dynamic power forward of Malaga is freakishly athletic, has amazed Europe with his dunks and scores easily… but he has not exploded, he´s not yet the star he was supposed to be. German Gabriel, a great promise of the “Golden Boys Generation”, is now one of the best three-point specialists of the team but he´s maybe too soft and weak on defense to play a lot of minutes with Aíto. However, the two centers of Unicaja, Robert Archibald and Boniface Ndong, assure consistency, strength and rebounds. Robert is a well-known player for Garcia Reneses (they were together in Badalona) and ‘Boni’ proved last season that he can be one of the most outstanding centers in Spain and Europe. Moreover, the promising Brazilian Vitor Faverani will try to take advantage of his opportunities.
Unicaja has the mark of Aíto García Reneses, the substitute of the successful Sergio Scariolo. The team has been the only unbeaten in the ACB preseason and its two first games in the league were wonderful, beating Real Madrid and Cajasol and playing at high level. The main goal of the squad is to leave the irregularity behind. In fact, in these last years, European fans who partipate in basketball forums talked sarcastically about “Unicajism” (“Unicajian Performance Fluctuation Syndrome: UPFS”) to describe the irregularty of team, a box of surprises capable of the best and the worst.
In short, with an accessible group, Top-16 is an obligation for Unicaja; Final Four, a possibility. The title? Just a dream, by now…
Final Four participants: Montepaschi Siena, CSKA Moscow, Regal FC Barcelona, Olympiacos