Highlights: Croatia beat Spain 80-55 in FIBA Europe U18s +++ Highlights: Serbia coast past Lithuania 83-67 at FIBA Europe U18s +++ Highlights: Greece beat Italy 85-68 in FIBA Europe U18s +++ VIDEO: Basketball World Cup of Beer – Opening Ceremony and Schedule +++ Serbia and Croatia make statements at FIBA U18s +++ Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender +++ Sarunas Jasikevičius retires, joins Zalgiris in coaching role +++ Vintage Drazen Petrovic jersey up for auction +++ Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies +++ We really need you to nominate beers +++

Kyle Singler filling Rudy Fernandez’ shoes nicely for Real Madrid

When Real Madrid’s brief affair with Rudy Fernandez ended with the dissolution of the NBA player lockout, Los Blancos looked to up-and-coming Detroit Pistons draft pick Kyle Singler to fill the Denver Nugget’s Nikes. While still adapting to Pablo Laso’s system, Singler has not disappointed thus far and has shown steady improvement through the end of last year into 2012. The Spanish-language blog Sentimiento Amarillo y Naranja today runs a piece detailing the progress of the former Duke Blue Devil in Spain and Euroleague play; an extrapolation follows.

Kyle Singler landed at Real Madrid after the departure of Rudy Fernandez, who had played the first 10 league games with Los Blancos, back to the NBA after the player lockout ended. The Real brain trust then decided to spring for the Real Madrid forward who until then had played the start of the 2011-12 season with Lucentum Alicante, contributing great performances and helping Alicante to stand firm in the top positions in the Liga Endesa.

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Final game in Spain for Fernandez, Ibaka, Splitter: Tiago goes for 19, but Real Madrid routs Valencia, 81-64

Big-name NBA refugees Rudy Fernandez, Serge Ibaka and Tiago Splitter will soon be heading back to the ‘States, thus making yesterday’s Real Madrid-Valencia Basket game the last appearance for each in Spain in 2011-12. Fernandez and Ibaka left Los Blancos in quite good position, leading the way to the 81-64 win against the short-handed Valencia before a crowd of just under 11,000; thanks to the margin of victory, Madrid is in a statistical tie with FC Barcelona atop the Liga Endesa table and is just six points behind the Blaugrana in overall point differential.

Highlights and extrapolated game summary follow.

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Rudy Fernandez and the “Canasta Imposible”

Here’s an early entrant into any unofficial “ACB Play of the Year” contest. In what would otherwise merely appear as a single-line entry in play-by-play writeups amidst Real Madrid’s 20th consecutive regular-season victory, an 81-67 victory over Blusens Monbus, Rudy Fernandez hit a “canasta imposible” in the third quarter for three points plus a foul drawn.

Check out the angle on the shot in the clip below. Check out the hang time of the ball. And check out the reaction of Carlos Suarez, who’s probably still trying to figure out the physics of it all…

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Euroleague Power Rankings: First of the Season edition

Right, then. With the last teams advancing into the Euroleague two dozen for the regular season and a break in the Kobe-to-Bologna soap opera today, BallinEurope breaks out an old favorite: power rankings!

Once again, the BallinEurope Euroleague Power Rankings are based on current trends, i.e. who’s hot, who’s not. For this edition of the list, also taken into consideration are offseason acquisitions and a dash of expectations vis-à-vis how these squads will look when the games really start to matter. Let the arguments begin!

1. FC Barcelona – Heard it before? Well, you’ve probably heard about the core of the Barca roster before, too: Juan Carlos Navarro, Pete Mickael, Erazem Lorbek, Victor Sada, Boniface N’dong, Kosta Perovic and Fran Vazquez; getting to add Chuck Eidson and Marcelinho Huertas doesn’t seem fair. In going 8-0 thus far this preseason, the Blaugrana have added to their trophy case with Lliga Catalana and Supercopa Endesa titles and Navarro in particular is still in EuroBasket form. Right now, BiE says this is the team to beat.

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El Meridiano shocks Real Madrid, 78-67: Reason for panic?

It may be slightly foolish-bordering-on-irresponsible to lament the woes of a traditional powerhouse that’s currently 5-2 overall and (at least for a few more hours) leads the ACB table, but hey. What’s up with Real Madrid?

In Tomic they trust

Yesterday saw Ettore Messina’s 4-0 Madrid visit 0-4 El Meridiano Alicante, perhaps too expectantly thinking “win.” Knee-jerk reactions from yours truly are below – but first to the video clip and translated official ACB writeup!

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First ACB video highlights for 2010-11: Asefa Estudiantes vs. Real Madrid

Spain’s ACB tipped off action last night, opening the season with Asefa Estudiantes hosting Real Madrid in front of 13,000 at Palacio De Deportes Comunidad De Madrid. The Euroleaguers emerged in “la mejor forma posible,” 84-79, after facing a knotted-up first quarter and a surprising five-point first-half deficit.

Looking for redemption after a 34-point blowout loss to FC Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup, Real Madrid was back in form last night, even if they couldn’t stop Los Estudiantes’ outside shooting in the first half.

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Team Spain beats Slovenia behind fearsome foursome, announces final roster

Barack didn't actually make the final cut...

The Spanish Basketball Federation is reporting that coach Sergio Scariolo has finalized his 12-man roster, and that Carlos Suarez has been passed over for Caja Laboral’s Fernando San Emeterio.

Scariolo informed his team of the decision after yesterday’s 79-72 win over Team Slovenia in Ljubljana; he was quoted on the Spanish Basketball Federation’s official website as saying, “We said goodbye to Carlos Suarez with the feeling that with one more year of maturity and experience, he will make a step that will allow him, in my opinion, to be a major player on this team for many years.”

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Team USA still favored in 2010 FIBA World Championship, but should they be?

Just a quick note (and link) for fans of the 2010 FIBA World Championship: Be sure to check out the excellent and extensive thoughts on Team USA by M. Haubs over at ESPN TrueHoop Network blog The Painted Area.

In “Spain, Not Team USA, Should Be Considered Favorites To Win 2010 FIBA Worlds,” Haubs makes a convincing case for the defending Eurobasket champions, who in complete contrast to the red-white-and-blues is returning much of the last FIBA tourney’s roster.

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Statistically dominant Tiago Splitter wins ACB MVP award

Congratulations to Tiago Splitter, who, to the surprise of extremely few, took home the ACB MVP title for 2009-10. Statistically, Splitter dominated the Spanish League while leading the ACB “playing ranking value” over 27 of the league’s 34 weeks. He ended up ranking first in ranking points per game (at 21.2, he blew away second-place finisher Gerald Fitch’s 17.9); sixth in scoring at 15.7 ppg; eighth in boards at 6.72 rpg; third in defensive rebounds with 4.9 per game; 14th in blocks at 0.76 per; fourth in total free-throw attempts (despite missing five games); and first in fouls drawn (with a crazy 5.72 per game).

However, it wasn’t totally about the stats, as Splitter proved himself a leader in Caja Laboral Baskonia’s second-half surge that saw his team catch up and pass Real Madrid from a four-game deficit in December to take the league’s no. 2 seed for the playoffs.

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The Spanish League explained: Part two

Ball in Europe contributor Francesco Cappelletti contributes the second part of his look at the ACB with briefs on a dozen teams who won’t exactly compete for the Spanish league title, but certainly compare with most European competition. Part one can be read by clicking here.

One step behind. These ACB teams aren’t worthy of a title drive; despite this, their value is surely greater than other European mid-level teams. With at least seven or eight really good players apiece, they’re readier to exploit every possibility than richer and more ambitious clubs can. For example, Gran Canaria 2014 is coming off a monster season in which it finished the regular season in sixth place (ahead of Valencia) and was eliminated by Unicaja Malaga in the quarterfinals. Gran Canaria is now without Carl English, Mario Fernandez and Joel Freeland, who are testing themselves in top teams; however, the newly arrived Jaycee Carroll from Teramo and Will McDonald are noticeable names for a non-Euroleague team, and they fit perfectly into this team’s scheme thanks to men very similar to them. The skeleton is nearly the same as last year: Joshua Fisher and Marcus Norris comprise a duo that provides veteran attitude and intangibles, while Melvin Sanders, Sitapha Savane and James Augustine carry a strong presence on both ends of the floor.

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