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Feb
1

February Madness, Copa del Rey-style

“February Madness” begins this week in Europe, with a number of top domestic leagues hosting national cup tournaments; probably tops in pageantry and hype on The Continent is Spain’s Copa del Rey, a hoops bloodbath since 1984. BallinEurope this morning provides a few links, clips and whatnot in preparation for what they just had to call “96 horas de alta tensión.”

• First stop for all interested parties – and especially the Spanish-speakers among you – is the amazing 68-page Madrid ’11 Copa del Rey program guide; this is really just a swell production.

• The ACB is well-organized, Twitterily-speaking, as well. The league promises to tweet it up during the tournament and even have a hashtag (it’s #CopaACB) so that “No te pierdas ni un detalle de la Copa del Rey.”

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Feb
2

Top 100 Teams in Europe: Pre-Cups Running Over Edition

As most European domestic leagues are taking a break for a week or two for national cup and/or all-star festivities, BallinEurope crunches the numbers again to determine where the Continent’s finest stand.

Near the top, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Euroleague-side punishment of Union Olimpija shook things up a bit within the top 10 and Olympiacos reasserted its (possibly temporary) superiority over their Green rivals to swap spots in the top five.

Read on to read up on the most dominant team in Europe (they’re down there at no. 71), the worst week, the weirdest week, the re-entry of a couple old favorites on the chart and some good video embeds. As always, in a show of solidarity with those who would Back British Basketball, the current top team in Great Britain holds the number 100 spot on the list. (Sorry, Maccabi Haifa fans…)

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Jun
7

Top 10 reasons Americans should watch the ACB finals

One big reason

Yes, yes, BallinEurope realizes that U.S. basketball fandom is currently enraptured with the NBA Championship, if only to determine just which team y’all hate more. But still: A true roundball supporter wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to tune into some top-level ball, would you? As Pete Mickeal once put it, “Hey, there’s a world outside the NBA!”

Ten reasons for you to consider what those in-the-know already know: namely, that Spanish League basketball is great stuff. And no matter how this series goes, the ACB final of FC Barcelona and Caja Laboral should be one for the ages.

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May
1

The ACB point guard of the year is … c’mon, like you don’t know

Yet another anticlimactic accolade has been bestowed upon Ricky Rubio for the 2009-10 season, as Spain’s ACB League yesterday officially crowned The Human YouTube Clip/defending back-to-back FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year as Point Guard of the Year. It’s the second such nod for Rubio, who also received the award for the 2007-08 season when with DKV Joventut.

Rubio swept all four groups participating in the voting, finishing first among players, coaches, fans and media and receiving double the point total of no. 2 Sergio Llull. Finishing third was Pablo Prigioni, Llull’s teammate at Real Madrid, while fourth was Valencia’s Nando de Colo.

Rubio is currently second-high in scoring for FC Barcelona, behind only Juan Carlos Navarro, and leads his team in starts with 31 in 33 ACB games this season. Naturally, he’s also tops on the team in assists (4.33 per game) and steals (2.03), putting him at fifth and third in the Spanish league in the statistical categories. The 19-year-old’s top game this season was registered against Joventut, when he went for six points, 10 assists, four rebounds, and five steals.

And perhaps most importantly, the official FIBA writeup points out that “Rubio, in his first season with Regal Barcelona, has won the Supercopa, the Copa del Rey and the Euroleague.”

Rubio is the first player to be named to the ACB’s “Quinteto Ideal” for 2009-10. (What’s that? Is there a YouTube clip coming? You bet: Please click below the break for Rubio’s top five plays in ACB play this season.

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Apr
0

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about Barcelona vs. Unicaja (in English)

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.

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Apr
0

¡Barcelona vs. Madrid today! ¡Rubio! ¡Llull! ¡Navarro! ¡Pete Mickael! ¡Ante Tomic! ¡ACB playoff positioning at stake! ¡Messina’s nightmare continues!

“It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it? It just keeps getting worse and worse.” – Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria, The Color of Money

“I’ll be back.” – Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger, any number of movies

Here they come again: For the eighth time this season, Real Madrid attempts to defeat the beast that is 2009-10 FC Barcelona: It’s a feat the Blaugrana have resisted all but once this season on their way to their current 47-4 aggregate record. And oh yes, it gets worse.

Thus far this season, Barcelona has managed to eliminate Spain’s second-best club from Euroleague play and top Madrid in the Copa del Rey final. This week, another Barça win would knock Real’s record down to 23-6; presuming Baskonia manages to defeat 16th-place Meridiano Alicante, they would knot up Madrid in second place with six games to play thereafter.

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Mar
1

Madrid breaks through, beats Barça, creates blueprint?

Thanks to their powerful standings in European basketball, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid were guaranteed to meet at least six times in 2009-10 going into last night’s Euroleague quarterfinals game; today, that number is seven, as Madrid handed Barça a 70-63 loss, its biggest of the season thus far.

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Mar
4

The Frank Euroleague roundup: Top 16 finales

Coach Ivanovic may now exhale

Coach Ivanovic may now exhale

Better late than never (totally BiE’s fault, let me tell you) comes Ball in Europe’s dispatch from Francesco Cappelletti rounding up the week that was in Euroleague basketball. For your amusement and edification, Francesco discusses, among other topics, the Terrell McIntyre Backup Curse, which teams should sweep into the Final Four, why Maccabi Tel Aviv is so good in 2009-10 and why Cibona Zagreb should be awesome in 2010-11.

Thrilling night
When a Bojan Bogdanovic-less Cibona Zagreb was up 72-58 with three minutes to go, Caja Laboral’s nightmare was very close to become reality. Then, a 17-2 run handled by Marcelinho Huertas turned the lights out for an overtime everyone knew would not be balanced at all. Baskonia scored 24 points in five minutes to ensure a gap BC Khimki couldn’t fill. With radio and voices running, the 22 point-margin BC Khimki had over Olympiacos to begin the fourth quarter, eventually becoming a 96-83 final score, was insufficient to reach second place in Group H.

Dusko Ivanovic can breathe again now, as his team qualified for the playoffs. But we have to thank Cibona, which was able to play their game even after elimination, just for the love of the game.

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Mar
4

Copa del Rey: The documentary

Drop whatever you’re doing – when you have about 25 minutes free, that is – and head on over to the ACB’s official website for a sweet little mini-documentary on all the pageantry and play from this year’s Copa del Rey, perhaps the most exciting cup tournament in European domestic league hoops.

The Copa del Rey “docu” is mostly narration-free with smatterings of English and Spanish plus tons of that international language, basketball. Lack of drama in the final game aside, this production certainly assists in the rise of ACB.com as one of the world’s premier basketball league-based websites. Enjoy!

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Feb
3

The 2010 Copa del Rey: The YouTube recap

Familiar sight in the finals

Familiar sight in the finals

Congratulations this morning go out to Regal FC Barcelona, as the Blaugrana reaffirmed its dominant status in 2009-10 with a crushing 80-61 victory over Real Madrid.

What’s that? You say you missed out on the pageantry and action of Europe’s most exciting cup? Not surprising, seeing as how little coverage events like Copa del Rey get; oddly enough, with more folks-in-the-know than ever lining up to proclaim the ACB the world’s second-best basketball league, international TV coverage of Spanish basketball is as lame as ever. (Come on, Eurosport, surely you could have ponied up a few euros for the Copa final game at least…)

Well, thank God and/or Al Gore for YouTube! Here’s BiE’s collection of YouTubes, so eagerly posted by ACB enthusiasts – a huge thank you to all of the clip contributors, too, by the way; hope you’re reading – nearly immediately following the action. To the highlights!

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