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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 +++ EuroBasket 2015: Wins for Macedonia, Belgium, and Georgia +++ Q&A with Alex Krstanovic on the Belgrade Trophy +++ Thomas Klepeisz shows you how to celebrate a winning bucket +++ Big jam by Giannis Antetokounmpo as Greece beat Slovenia +++ Two-time Euroleague winning coach close to Wakayama deal +++
Jan
44

On Zalgiris Kaunas and developing Clutch Identity

Zalgiris Kaunas logoAfter watching Žalgiris Kaunas stumble through heartbreakers and possible backbreakers in the Euroleague Top 16 round, BallinEurope’s agent in Lithuania, Y., couldn’t help but confirm his suspicions about the Greens’ performances in crunch time. Y. probably wasn’t, but you may be surprised at the secret culture of losing within the Lithuanian power…

It’s almost unreal, as though the Gods of Basketball had banished one green-and-white soul from Lithuania with no prospect of return, a club that should be grouped with FC Barcelona, Olympiacos Piraeus, CSKA Moscow and other teams who have a long history, produce amazing talents for national teams, lead their respective national basketball, and simply win.

Yet for some reason, BC Žalgiris seems destined to lose.

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Sep
8

Romanov hit with key Žalgiris question: “Will Plaza be sacked as quickly as Zouros?”

Tick, tick, tick…

Over at Russia-based Sport Express is a lengthy interview with Žalgiris Kaunas basketball/Heart of Midlothian football club owner Vladimir Romanov. Popularly Sometimes known as “Mad Vlad,” the Ūkio Bankas man weighed in on quite a few topics related to his basketball team, including the Sonny Weems departure, the state of Russian basketball and just what the heck happened with Ilias Zouros last season.

An English-language extrapolation of the interview follows. As of this writing, Liga Endesa-imported coach Joan Plaza still holds his position with Žalgiris, but Romanov’s evasive answer to the question of Plaza’s short-term future aren’t exactly enthusiasm-generating…

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May
9

Euroleague Final Four: The video preview

And this week … the Euroleague Final Four! To get things started, BallinEurope presents a roundup of highlight clips from the seasons-that-were of CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos.

(Wow, BiE wonders every time upon looking at that list just how the big league could have ended up with a more scintillating Final Four: You’ve got undisputed powerhouses in CSKA Moscow – the model example of how NBA refugees affected European basketball in 2011-12 – and FC Barcelona. You’ve got the defending champions with Hall of Fame coach and a nucleus of veterans on yet another title run. And you’ve got a compelling underdog story complete with the possibility of seeing the legendary Greek rivals meeting for a medal … couldn’t have written it better myself.)

First up, the favorites, namely, the big bad Red Army, 2011-12 edition. While Mikhail Prokhorov’s lot has been credited for the team’s relative resurgence at the beginning of the 2000s, CSKA Moscow has admirably continued its winning tradition after the billionaire’s jump to the New Jersey-cum-Brooklyn Nets – mostly through using the big-bucks tactics espoused by Prokhorov et al – and are poised to take a unique triple crown. Indeed, should CSKA prevail in the EL Final Four games and against BC Khimki for the Russian crown, the team will have amassed VTB, EL and PBL crowns in under two weeks of play.

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May
3

CSKA Moscow takes VTB United League title; first in history-making triple crown?

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope to the 2011-12 VTB United League champions – to the surprise of few, CSKA Moscow.

The Red Army’s 74-62 victory over Unics Kazan in a rematch of last year’s final represents not only its second VTB championship in three seasons of the league’s existence, but the first title in a potentially history-making triple crown. CSKA are big favorites to take the Euroleague title (one sportsbook with typical lines had Moscow at 3/4 odds and second-best FC Barcelona at 13/5) and are *serious* favorites (would you believe odds of 1/28?) in the PBL finals against BC Khimki after going 17-1 in the 2011-12 regular season.

(A note to the hopeful: That one CSKA loss in PBL play this season? Yep, handed to them by Khimki back in December.)

In previous VTB championship-winning seasons, CSKA has managed to herd up an impressive lot of trophies: In 2008-09, the Russian league champs were nipped by Panathinaikos in the Euroleague finals and finished a disappointing third in the Russian Cup tournament after taking the VTB United League Promo Cup. In 2009-10, CSKA enjoyed three titles – a triple crown of sorts – in winning the Russian league and cups along with the VTB title; the Red Army finished third in the EL that year.

Also adding to his CV over the course of the VTB final four tournament was Andrei Kirilenko, who was named tourney MVP.

Official league writeup follows the highlights.

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Apr
11

Kemzura releases extended Team Lithuania roster: No to Lavrinovic brothers, yes to Kleiza

Kleiza gets the call

National head coach Kestutis Kemzura has released his list of 18 candidates who could be suiting up for Team Lithuania in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers and beyond. On paper at least, the selection looks pretty good – particularly compared to the Eurobasket 2011 version of the team which included a single true no. 3 after a few early injuries took their toll. The squad includes four players from Lietuvos Rytas and five currently with Zalgiris Kaunas; among the lot, too, are five others from 2011-12 Euroleague teams and one (yes, Linas is back) from the NBA.

Notable exclusions include Darius Songalia plus Kšyštof and Darjus Lavrinovič; Songalia’s spot on the preliminary roster was filled with Mindaugas Katelynas of Lietuvos Rytas, while CSKA Moscow head coach Jonas Kazlauskas reportedly wanted Darjus to stay home and rest up this summer anyway.

On board is the young sensation Canada wants to see in Jonas Valanciunas; returning after absences in the 2011 FIBA tourney are Linas Kleiza and Jonas Maciulis; and, though he’s been remarkably tight-lipped about yet another return to the national team, good ol’ Sarunas Jasikevicius is penciled in as well.

Below runs the prospective 18; how do you like Lietuva’s chances?

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Jan
7

Euroleague Top 16, Week Two, Night One: Six games, 100 facts

Courtesy the Euroleague folks, BallinEurope brings a compendium of facts and figures spanning history and record books regarding tomorrow night’s slate of a half-dozen games – plus lines on the games and highlight clips. Enjoy!

CSKA Moscow vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
• CSKA leads the all-time series between the teams, 8-7.
• Nenad Krstic has scored in double figures in each of his last 16 Euroleague appearances dating back to the 2003-04 season.
• Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic lead the Euroleague in index rating with at averages of 27.8 and 21.5 per game, respectively.
• Kirilenko also leads the Euroleague in blocked shots (3.2 bpg).
• Milos Teodosic is ranked second in the Euroleague in assists this season with a career-high 5.6 assists per game.
• Darjus Lavrinovic needs three more blocks reach 100 for his Euroleague career. With his next block, Lavrinovic will tie former CSKA big man Terence Morris for 12th place all-time.
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Nov
3

Not exactly “no basketball anymore”: Notes on 34 pan-European games

“No basketball anymore”? Are you serious? The next two days will see some 34 games played out in the top three European basketball competitions: Euroleague, EuroCup and FIBA Eurochallenge.

Below, BallinEurope presents some links, highlight clips and like on some of the competing teams starring Igor Rakocevic, Tiago Splitter, D.J. Strawberry and that Williams guy, among others. O, if only BiE had time to properly cover all this basketball … sorry, the NB-what?

• Rod Higgins of the Basketball Post provides much food for thought going into Montepaschi Siena’s game against Unics Kazan on how Igor Rakocevic affects the Italian side’s game plan: Has Ferdinando Minucci sacrificed trademark defensive trickery at the cost of a faster game with another shooter?

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Nov
2

Surprise (not)!: Andrei Kirilenko named EL MVP for October; yes, there will be highlights

As a sportswriter in 2011, it’s getting ever less bizarre to type the words “Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow” all the time; certainly this team’s fans want the NBA lockout never to end as AK-47 is leading an impressively outfitted Red Army through early Euroleague and PBL dominance.

Kirilenko was rewarded for his individual brilliance through two EL games by taking the first Player of the Month award of 2011-12. The locked-out Utah Jazzman has been good for per-game averages of 14.5 points on 62.5% shooting, 9.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 blocks. Notes the league’s official site: “The 30-year-old Kirilenko leads the 2011-12 Euroleague in performance index rating average (30), rebounding and blocks, and is also tied for fifth place in assists.”

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Oct
8

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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Jul
5

NBA players to Europe: Weems will, Kirilenko could, Radmanovic might

Scalabrine to introduce Eurubuntu?

That rhythmic pounding you hear over the basketball world? It’s the sound of the clock ticking as many an NBA player gets antsy awaiting a seemingly unreachable resolution to the player lockout in the big league. We’re only three days into the NBA’s first work stoppage since 1998 but with European ball a much more attractive alternative to that of the ‘States than it was 13 years ago, many are looking to The Continent and a few are getting ready to join Atlantic jumpers like Nenad Krstic and David Andersen.

Last night, wires began reporting that Sonny Weems of the Toronto Raptors has already reached an agreement in Europe. Though reports “did not specify which team Weems would play for,” sources indicated that “Weems is in the process of signing a one-year contract and will remain in Europe for 2011-12, even if owners and players were to find a way to solve their differences and salvage the NBA season.”

Weems is currently in Spain with fellow Raptor Jose Calderón at a youth basketball camp, immediately leading BiE to speculate that Weems will be playing for some ACB side in ‘11 – perhaps Caja Laboral Baskonia, with whom Calderón played for five seasons…? The presence of DeMar DeRozan at said camp also makes one wonder about this possibility.

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