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Basketball World Cup of Beer: The Final – USA vs France +++ Tight knit Iceland too much for Great Britain +++ EuroBasket 2015: Round-up and Highlights from Wednesday’s qualifiers +++ FIBA dropped a sweet promo for the World Cup +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer – Bronze Medal Match +++ Rudy gets iced, the internet rejoices +++ FIBA World Cup Preview – Group C +++ CSKA Moscow’s Kyle Hines and Sonny Weems take the ice bucket challenge +++ Tony Parker does ice bucket challenge but his friend can’t use a camera phone +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer: Semi Finals +++
Nov
9

US Presidential Election 2012: America’s basketball diplomat hits hardwood for last-minute votes (plus Official Fearless Prediction™)

Love him or hate him after nearly four years in office, one thing is for certain: Barack Obama is the first basketball president – a fact that could curry lots of favor with Generation X and Y voters in a celebrity-charged election.

Sure, Bill Clinton was lucky enough to enjoy his home-state University of Arkansas’ 1994 victory in the NCAA Tournament and play host to the Dream Team in ’92. Sure, guys like George W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon were often more erudite when discussing sports than, you know, politics (check out “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72” for Hunter S. Thompson’s interview with Tricky Dick, an interview which Thompson was told could only be about NFL football). And the Kennedys surely won popularity points for their picturesque family touch-football games.

However, no US president has leveraged sports fandom on an international scale like Obama. (Check out BallinEurope contributing writer Enrico Cellini’s piece on his pet project, tracking Obama’s basketball diplomacy moves.) And the president’s preference for basketball represents the rise of the NBA and to some extent NCAA hopes during David Stern’s reign as the big league’s commissioner.

(Is it any coincidence that Obama came to professional prominence in that hometown of the 1990s’ Incredibulls? BiE thinks not.)

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Aug
26

US NBA stars beat Spain to take gold



(via AFP)

The United States Dream Team of NBA stars captured their second Olympic men’s basketball gold medal in a row and the 14th overall for America by beating Spain 107-100 in Sunday’s final. The US multi-millionaire lineup of NBA elite claimed their fifth crown in the past six Olympics, improving to 62-since revamping the national team program after settling for bronze in 2004.

The Americans ran through the tournament undefeated just as they did in 2008 when they defeated Spain 118-107 in the Beijing final. The latest roster had five gold winners from Beijing and five from the US 2010 world champions.…

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Aug
5

USA 59, Spain 58 after 20 minutes: Notes and such

Here we go … Team USA vs Spain for the gold! What more needs to be said?

The first hype pushed at 4pm on the NBC broadcast: Kobe vs. Pau! (Clearly, BiE’s in touch with the American broadcasters…); Kobe is 1-0 in Olympic Games, doesn’t want to lose to Pau, doesn’t want to lose at all, etc.

Key stats from the final game in the 2008 Beijing Olympics; that game saw Kobe Bryant go 7-of-14 for 20 with six assists, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 18 after struggling throughout the tournament, and 56 fouls were called.

Spain is following the Liga Endesa-prescribed plan at best as possible, forcing USA to play a very slow game. Fast break points in the first quarter went just 4-0 for Team USA, and Pau Gasol is exploiting the mismatch against Carmelo in the post when possible, though that hasn’t been often.

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Aug
4

2012 Olympic basketball: The perspective from Spain on the gold-medal game (plus really specific Official Fearless Prediction™)

Marc and Pau: So key yet again

The Liga Endesa official website editorial staff today attempts to answer the question on the mind of USA-detractors and underdog-backers, i.e. “¿What must happen for Spain to win Olympic gold?” Below runs an extrapolation of the article, featuring eight bits of advice of varying degrees of difficulty, plus BallinEurope’s own ever-lovable Official Fearless Prediction™ on the final game of the 2012 Olympics.

Team USA is transparent enough that everyone seems to know their weaknesses and how to exploit them; the blueprint is universally known, but no one is able to implement the game plan. The enormous quantity of talent on Team USA means that playing even a perfect game does not translate to a win.

“We will try not have too many possessions, not miss many shots and control the boards,” said Juan Carlos Navarro. Doing it all at the same time is difficult, but we will try. I don’t know if we’ll reach 100 points … but the points are not important. [What’s important is] to play good defense.”

What else must be done:

Limit turnovers. It is evident that the U.S. defensive pressure up top results in many steals that finish with easy baskets on the other end. Attacking with the ball and getting off to a quick start offensively is key to the USA game. And against Team USA, passes to the wing or inside expose the offensive to further losses amidst the quick hands and speed of the American defenders.

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Aug
7

On the achievements of Team USA, 2012 edition

From the pages of the Christian Science Monitor, BallinEurope this morning brings not exactly an argument-starter about Team USA 2012 vs. The Dream Team, but an interesting perspective to what this squad has achieved after a 20-year history of the relatively unloved Dream Teams II and III, the Nightmare Team and the “B Team”. BiE always hated that moniker and doesn’t exactly dig the pet name given this bunch either: “Dream Team 2.” How about “The 21st-Century Dream Team” or even “Dream Team 2.0”?
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Aug
14

2012 Olympics: Five reasons Russia will beat Spain (and one other Fearless Prediction™)

Now that BallinEurope’s personal Olympic bracket has been shot to hell, BiE will revert to the cumulative readers/contributors’ podium picks of USA-Russia-Argentina. Followers know that BiE’s ridden Russia since the opening ceremonies and the quarterfinals, despite a Spain win, only strengthened this convinction. Below, then, are five reasons why Russia will overcome the 4.5-point favorites.

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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
32

USA 100, Spain* 78: Notes, highlights, miscellany

Well, then. If not quite as emphatic as in the days of Dream Teams I through III, Team USA dispatched the world’s second-best/Europe’s best side for a 100-78 win over Spain in Barcelona. Though the notebook on the Red, White and Blues mostly accentuates the positive, one doesn’t quite need to squint to see chinks in the armor – particularly with that glaring asterisk in the box score, i.e. the absence of Marc Gasol and Sergio Rodriguez.

In an Olympic field that appears to be the strongest ever on paper, could a flawed team like this one still grab the gold? (And if flawed teams are in the running for a podium spot, is Lithuania more enthused?)

A few lines from BallinEurope’s notebook and other stuff (like highlights) follow.

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Jul
2

The BallinEurope Summer League Review: On 14 NBA aspirants from the Continent

While so much attention is paid to the upcoming Olympics and warm-up games, a number of European players have quietly gone about their business in the NBA Summer Leagues in Vegas and Orlando. BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, takes a look at an extended roster’s worth of European ballers’ performances in the Orlando and Las Vegas summer games.

Alexis Ajinca, San Antonia Spurs (2.8 ppg, 50% FG, 2.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
Ajinca is in a similar position to Ryan Richards: Both played summer league for the Spurs and turned in eerily similar numbers. However, Alexis did manage to hit at least 50% of his shots while also being a slight factor on defence (0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks) in his very low 10 minutes per game. Ajinca’s hopes for an NBA spot, like Richards’, look like a long shot and I expect him to return to France for the coming season. Although a tall and talented big man always seem to earn a roster spot, Alexis just has not developed the way teams hoped he would when he was selected 20th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.

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Jul
27

USA 86, Argentina 80: How beatable are the Yanks?

Though not actually about European basketball, last night’s USA 86, Argentina 80 pre-Olympic friendly result leads BallinEurope to put forth a few talking points from the notebook (and highlight clips, of course)…

• Perhaps slightly flawed as a whole, the truth is that Team USA still has the best three players in the world right now in Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Lebron James. The opening 16-1 run was indicative of what this trio is capable. Eschewing playing any sort of serious inside game at all in the first 10 minutes, KD and Kobe teed off enough to outscore the entire Argentine side, 22-16; Lebron meanwhile controlled the D.

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