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Fearless Predictions: 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball +++ It’s Jet-er not Jee-ter, watch Pooh get ready for the World Cup +++ EuroBasket 2015: Romania the odd team out on the final night +++ Gran Canaria gets the Phantom treatment for USA vs Slovenia +++ TrueHoop breaks down how David Blatt will work with LeBron James +++ FIBA World Cup Preview: Group D +++ BiE’s editor takes the ice bucket challenge, nominates Basketball Ireland boss +++ Žydrūnas Ilgauskas considering a comeback? Wow LeBron has power +++ The Dream Team’s children +++ Highlights: Belgium beat Belarus, Germany stay alive +++
Feb
0

The Dish: No wild cards here

Fenerbahce are in free fall while the Greens and the Blaugrana served up another gem. Take your mind off the FIBA World Cup for a minute and take in this week’s edition of The Dish.

The top two in Group E squared off in the OAKA and at half-time it looked like the Blaugrana would stroll out with an easy W. Fortunately, the fixture Panathinaikos vs Barcelona rarely serves up such straightforward fare. Dimitris Diamantidis nailed a huge three at the end of the third and we were all set for a grandstand fourth quarter. And then…nothing. In a frame low on offence, Barcelona did enough to get over the line with reasonable comfort, the Greens go down 56-63 at home.

Had this group started out differently, we’d be talking about that result as a game the Greens could really have done with winning. Instead the team in crisis is coached by the man who brought four Euroleague titles to the Athens club. Fenerbahce were first hand witnesses to EA7 Milano establishing their playoff credentials. Linas Kleiza dropped 26 for Fener but they got nothing from the bench and that lack of support cost them on the road. Fenerbahce are now bottom of Group E, two games back in the playoff race after just five games.
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Jan
1

The Dish: If it bleeds we can kill it

You’d be forgiven for thinking this week’s Euroleague slated consisted of one game and one shot, we begin with the latter.

Efes? Really Efes did this? And Planinic? Wow, it’s like all the mockery of the club and Zoran (there was plenty on Twitter through the evening) was channeled into one wild moment of positive energy. Well, that’s the most sense I can make of it. There are buzzer beaters and there are you are taking the proverbial beaters. This was somewhere north of the latter. The score obviously meant a lot to the Istanbul club but it had wide ranging implications across Group E. Let’s start with EA7 Milan, that one moment of misfortune dropped them to 2-2. That keeps them locked with Unicaja Malaga and Olympiacos and only a game clear of Efes, Fenerbahce, and Baskonia. It is, of course, a tad on the early side to start talking permutations but none of those bottom three teams needed to lose extra ground to Milan. Planinic made sure they didn’t. Now on to the title of this week’s column.
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Jan
0

The dish: A nice relaxing start

Round 1 of the Top 16 was a little crowded, we’ll get to that, but by and large it was awfully relaxing basketball.


We open with the game that closed the openung round if action. Vassilis Spanoulis went nuts in the SEF as he ripped Zedijko Obradovic a new one on the coach’s first trip to the arena as Fenerbahce coach. Obradovic brought his troops to the OAKA for warm-ups earlier in the day, a nice touch we must admit, but he couldn’t get them to fix an issue that’s hit them a few times this season. Could somebody please tell Fener to show up in the first quarter? Credit to the Istanbul club, they clawed their way back into it and made it a one-possession game going into the final minutes but then V-Span went out of this world again and the home side took the W. In a shock to no-one, Spanoulis was named MVP of the round with 28 points, 9 assists, and PIR of 39. Whatever the result when Barcelona visits Istanbul next week, a far better first frame is necessary for all of us reformed doubters to keep the faith. One final note on this game, be sure to check out Raul Jimenez’s piece on mismatches inspired by this game.

Staying in Group E and there was a good spot by Rob Scott over at ELA. The difference in offensive performance by Panathinaikos with and without Dimitris Diamantidis is frightening. They took care of business on Thursday night 73-57 at home against EA7 Milan, helped by 11 dimes from DDD. Daniel Hackett may be happy to still be in Italy but he must be guessing that his European season is going to become frighteningly irrelevant soon.
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Dec
0

Group F: The knowns and the unknowns

The slate is clean for the Top 16. We’re breaking down what we know about each team in the second phase, what we want to know, and what we think we still won’t know after 14 rounds of action. We went through Group E yesterday, now it’s time to look at Group F.

Real Madrid
What we know: They are an offensive monster. Going 24-0 in all competitions to date, this is the best start enjoyed by any Real Madrid team ever.
What we want to know: Their weaknesses. Even a team this good has to have some but nobody’s come close to testing them yet.
What we won’t know: How they handle a low-scoring match-up.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv
What we know: They are so Maccabi. This team is business-like but stops well short of flashy. Yup, sounds like what we expect from this outfit every year.
What we want to know: How they stack up to RMB.
What we won’t know: Their ceiling. This is the weaker of the two groups and a 10-4 record is possible without causing any major shocks.

CSKA Moscow
What we know: They are flawed. Talented, yes, and en route to the playoffs but inconsistency has dogged this team when it was the one aspect Ettore Messina was expected to fix this year.
What we want to know: If they can settle on their best line-up.
What we won’t know: If any of this matters. In a flip from last year’s team, the ability to get hot in a hurry may be this side’s saving grace.

Galatasaray Liv Hospital
What we know: They are weaker than their record. All statistical measures outside the W-L column point to this team being in much worse health than the regular season record indicated. Over 14 games, that’ll be tough to mask.
What we want to know: If there’s a plan longer than half a season.
What we won’t know: See above.

Zalgiris Kaunas
What we know: They are survivors. No VTB League campaign, struggling in LKL, yet here they stand in the Top 16.
What we want to know: How they are going to balance their priorities.
What we won’t know: What the long-term future is.

Lokomotiv Kuban
What we know: They are seriously motivated to make an impact in Euroleague, as evidenced by a regular season where they silenced many doubters.
What we want to know: What was on their bulletin board to get them so fired up through the autumn.
What we won’t know: Where to buy a good beer in Krasnodar.

Partizan Belgrade
What we know: They will give one of the top three teams in this group a heart attack on their home court.
What we want to know: If they can play consistent enough to mount a real challenge for the last playoff spot.
Whzt we won’t know: If this is a renaissance or a blip.

FC Bayern
What we know: They are the most dangerous looking team from the Bundesliga to enter the Top 16 in a long time, which admittedly isn’t much of an achievement.
What we want to know: If they can capitalise on a soft group and get that last playoff spot.
What we won’t know: The date at which all of Europe should realise these guys ain’t playing anymore and a real power is emerging out of the Bundesliga.

Fearless prediction: Real to take top spot, Maccabi to squeeze CSKA for second, leaving the mother of all fights for fourth. Kuban look the best bet on paper but…this is a fearless prediction so nope. FC Bayern to steal it from the cookie jar.

Nov
1

Euroleague Heats Up As Barcelona & Nanterre Record Dominant Victories

The Turkish Airline Euroleague continued as Group A and D matches were underway. The highlight came from Group A as FC Barcelona as it defeated CSKA Moscow 79 – 70 in a hard-fought game. Barcelona’s Juan Carlos Navarro was the key difference as he scored 17 of his 20 points after halftime, making 3 of 4 two-pointers, 3 of 5 threes and 5 of 5 free throws while dishing 3 assists, to secure the win.

CSKA did try to stage a comeback, reducing the gap to 8 points during the fourth quarter, but Barcelona never lost control, and made sure that there was significant distance between the two teams at the final buzzer.

In the second Group A game, JSF Nanterre dominated Budivelnik Kiev for its entire game as it recorded a comfortable 80 – 61 victory in Paris, marking the team’s first home victory in the Euroleague.

After an impressive win over FC Barcelona last week, Nanterre took control with a 17 – 3 first quarter run, controlling the game from start to finish. Thanks to some fantastic three-point shooting in the first half, the team was ahead 51 – 23 and the visitors had no response. Will Daniels scored 14 to lead a balanced Nanterre effort that saw all but one player score.

The final Group A game saw Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul continued its unbeaten run after rallying from a double-digit deficit, beating Partizan NIS Belgrade 78 – 88 and securing top spot with a 4 – 0 lead.

Partizan built a double-digit lead in the second quarter, and held a 38 – 30 halftime lead, but Fenerbahce rallied as Bojan Bogdanovic and Emir Preldzic spearheaded the offense. The duo hit back-to-back triples early in the fourth quarter, sparking a 4 – 14 spurt that put the game out of reach.

It was Bogdanovic who came out as top scorer, capping off an impressive display with 26 points on 6-on-9 three-point shooting.

In Group D, a number of exciting games took place, the most notable being Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv registering its third consecutive win by edging Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 74 – 76, Devin Smith pacing the winners with 18 points.

In the other games, Eurocup champion Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar needed Krunoslav Simon to bury the game-winner in the final second to beat Panathinaikos 69 – 72 in an exciting game, while Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade picked up its first Euroleague victory by taking down Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 63 – 73 in a tough away game.

- Quinton O’Reilly (@qoreilly)

Nov
0

Budivelnik & Nanterre record historic Euroleague victories on Halloween Night


The third series of games in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague got underway on Halloween night, but instead of frights and scares, it was a night filled with thrilling matches and shocking victories as the season gathers momentum.

Budivelnik Kiev had a night to remember as it became the first Ukranian team to win a game in the Euroleague. It thumped Partizan NIS Belgrade 74 – 69 at home in a hard fought game.

The result means that both teams are tied in Group A, each holding a 1 – 2 record. It was Darjus Lavrinovic who gave Budivelnik the edge as he provided 22 points and 8 rebounds while DaJuan Summers and Ricky Minard scored 15 and 10 points respectively. The game was also memorable for a thrilling second quarter where impressive scoring from both sides saw the half end 44 – 42

Both teams have their work cut out if they want to catch up with Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, who currently top the group. The Turkish side remain unbeaten in Group A as it thrashed CSKA Moscow 86 – 60. The hosts provided in style thanks to contributions from Bojan Bogdanovic and Bo McCalebb.

For Moscow, it was its worst loss in 16 years, meaning that the team will want to put it behind them soon when they face FC Barcelona next week.

Barcelona is another team that’s looking to forget last night as it lost to JSF Nanterre 67 – 71 at home. The game gave the French champions’ its first victory in the Euroleague and made them the first French team to win in Palau Blaugrana in more than 17 years, the last team being Asvel Basket back in 1996.

Nanterre secured the upset in the final 28.8 seconds when free throws by Victor Sada tied both sides at 67-67 before Je’Kel Foster secured the win with a layup. Juan Carlos Navarro of Barcelona had the chance to level both sides but missed from downtown at the buzzer.

The final game of the night came from Group B as Zalgiris Kaunas defeated Strasbourg 88 – 64, making it a debut to remember for Kaunas’ new head coach Saulius Stombergas.

The Lithuanian champions hit an impressive 14 triples on only 22 attempts, and was helped by Martynas Pocius who got 7 of 9 from downtown, while scoring 23 points and contributing 5 assists in only 24 minutes. The night was also notable for Sarunas Jasikevicius as he became the seventh player in history to score 300 three-pointers, scoring 13 points off the bench.

Oct
0

VTB League: CSKA cruise, more heartbreak for Neptunas

Neptunas are doing everything they can to be the lovable underdog of the VTB United League but CSKA Moscow remain the class of the league. Lietuvos Rytas meanwhile secured an important win over Lokomotiv Kuban, just four days before the sides meet again in Euroleague.

Omar Cook had 7 assists and Juan Palacios scored 12 as Lietuvos Rytas won a defensive struggle with Lokomotiv Kuban. The Krasnodar club managed to convert just 28 per cent of their shots from the field including a vile 4 of 16 from three-point range. The victory doesn’t just move the Lithuanian side to 2-0, it gives them a big mental advantage before Thursday’s clash with the same opponents in Euroleague.

CSKA Moscow, who had a lucky escape at Nanterre on Thursday, made much lighter work of Astana. A hot start meant the Russians looked to be in control but Astana dragged themselves back into the game and trailed by just a point entering the final frame. The Kazakhs however were out of gas and a 27-10 fourth quarter gave CSKA a comfortable 72-54 win. It was a balanced display but CSKA with Sonny Weems, Nenad Krstic, and Viktor Khryapa carrying the load for much of the game.

Tsmoki-Minsk won a thriller at the expense of Neptunas in the second round of action in the VTB League. The Belarus side condemned the Lithuanians to their second straight heartbreaking loss with a 91-90 win. Neptunas, who lost in overtime a week ago, trailed early but came back well to make a fight of the road contest. Martynas Mazeika, who had 17 points and 4 assists, had the chance to win the game for the visitors late but he couldn’t make the final bucket and the home side held to edge Neptunas 91-90 and take their second straight win, a remarkable early start considering they had just three wins in the league in the whole of last season.

Andrew Goodeluck was the charm for UNICS Kazan as they rolled to an 86-77 win over Enisey Krasnoyarsk. Goodeluck had 23 points and 6 assist in the win, bringing Kazan to 2-0 for the season.

Oct
0

Euroleague: Group A wins for Barcelona, CSKA, and Fenerbahce

Group A saw wins for the three favourites on Thursday night but in rather different styles. Barcelona’s woes from the free throw line saw them make hard work of Partizan, Fenerbahce won a a shootout with Budivelnik Kiew, while CSKA Moscow had to dig deep for a road win at Nanterre.


A dominant fourth quarter gave Fenerbahce Ulker a road win in Kiev on Thursday night. The home side stayed in the contest on the back of 62 points between the second and third quarters alone. This impressive streak on offence was fuelled by Janis Strelniks, 14 points and 5 assists, and Darius Lavrinovic, 21 points and 4 rebounds. The underdogs however weren’t able to contain the breadth of scoring options available to Zelijko Obradovic. Bojan Bogdanovic, 21 points and 4 rebounds, led Fener’s 7 scorers who reached double digits. Emir Preldzic chipped in with 14 points, 5 boards, and 7 assists, while Bo McCalebb had 11 points and 4 boards in a 102-84 win.
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Oct
0

Sergey Belov: A Soviet Icon

sergei-belov-lifts-euroleague-trophy-for-cska-moscow-in-1971In a guest post, Uygar Karaca reflects at length on the late Sergey Belov and his legacy in Russia and Europe.

On a recent visit to the website of Spartak St. Petersburg club, I found an interesting article with some famous names. It says that the club and players made a visit to the graveyard where legends of Russian basketball, the coach Vladimir Kondrashin and Alexander Belov lays, who died a long time ago, as a remembrance, to show respect and appreciate their contribution once again. I said to myself: I am lucky because Sergey Belov is still there, he’s alive and may be, one day I will have a chance to speak with him.

Russian basketball is still in crisis. The presidency election for the basketball federation is highly controversial and there remains a lot which stays under the carpet. They made a bold decision to replace Fotis Katsikaris with Vasily Karasev just a few weeks before the Eurobasket and the team returned with a catastropical series of results from Slovenia. The Russian media asks for the reasons although there is a variety of reasons suggested; they agreed on one thing: The team lacked a leader.

Everybody knows what a leader is. Despite that, somehow, it is confused by other qualities. Scoring all the points is not what makes a leader. It is not related with the ability to make a 360 turning dunk. It is not about being the star, the popular guy, constantly encircled by media officers, photographers. You cannot be a leader all of a sudden, for instance in a couple of tournaments. The leaders are the memories of the team. When you look at them, you remember how much the team achieved or failed. You can recall how long the team has been struggling to improve. You remember the disastrous defeats or epic victories of them. Leaders are like water to drink. When they are there, you generally do not notice their real contribution. Their true value, however, is best understood when the team lacks them. The leaders are like the older brothers of the team, they suffer the most when the team loses but the important thing is the team and the goals of the team.

Sergey Belov, at the age of 70, on the 3rd of October this year, took his last breath and left us. Was he the greatest player of the Russian or even the Soviet history of basketball? It can be questioned and discussed. Of course I did not have a chance to watch him closely, only from the old vintage records, provided by various sites, downloaded to PC. Here is my conviction: Sergey Belov, is the leader of Soviet basketball during the 70s. The Soviet Union was huge, they were capable of choosing the right player from a rich player selection options from all over the country. However, while new players coming up and older ones are going out. Belov was always there. His national team story began with 1967 and lasted until 1980s. There were new assistants for him all over the way. Zharmukhamedov, Kovalenko, Paulauskas, Edeshko, Mishkin, Belostenny, Tkatchev, Eremin, Jovaisa, Chomicius. They were all great players but always waited for the ball from Belov.
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Oct
1

GameTape: Breaking down CSKA Moscow’s 80-63 win over VEF Riga

GameTape is back with a breakdown of how CSKA Moscow overcame the challenge of VEF Riga in the opening round of the VTB United League on Sunday. The reigning champions eventually rolled to an 80-63 win over the Latvians.

  • Sasha Kaun was just plain dominant inside. Riga’s defence had no answer for the big man as he racked up 27 points on 10 of 14 shooting and added 9 boards.
  • Sonny Weems looked a little rusty early but once he got going it was a highlight reel display from Weems.
  • Viktor Khryapa was solid on the fundamentals, showing good organisation on defence as well as playing with vision and intelligence on offence.
  • VEF Riga kept this game close through three quarters on the back of superior three-point shooting but they struggled mightily against CSKA’s interior defence, shooting just 10 of 36 from two.

GameTape will be on the case for the return of Euroleague this coming week.