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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 +++ EuroBasket 2015: Bosnia, Belgium, Israel, and Latvia lock up spots +++ First Person: Follow the FIBA World Cup through BiE’s eyes +++
Aug
22

USA 107, Spain 100: Lebron James continues ownership of 2012 with pair of golden daggers

Even more than Vassilis Spanoulis and Olympiacos, 2012 in basketball has belonged to Lebron James. So it is indeed fitting that the King threw the dagger to earn his Team USA the gold.

At 97-91, a double-digit Team USA had evaporated through some sloppy turnovers in what felt like a momentum change, a Spanish charge. And then Lebron returned, getting the ball, charging through the lane while the BBC play-by-play man was reduced to “uh oh.” Slam, 99-91. “And by uh oh,” quipped BBC guy, “I meant ‘wow.’”

On the next possession, it was James for three. USA 102, Spain 93 and “hope was fading” for Los Rojos.

This after Team Spain had managed a brilliant third quarter, trading leads with the US and perhaps inducing a tiny bit of fear. In lieu of Marc Gasol, the formerly nearly-invisible Serge Ibaka had a swell third quarter, capping it with a block on Deron Williams driving to the basket which might’ve given Team USA a three-point lead to end a quarter in which Spain shot 60% overall – and no threes.

Wire writeup to be posted later, but for now kudos to Lebron James, high-scorer Kevin Durant and Team USA for taking the gold, and to Team Spain for fighting adversity, wear and tear for the silver.

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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
18

Imagery of the 2012 Olympics, as tweeted by basketball stars

Between the amazingly-named US women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo calling out Olympic TV commentator/former Team USA star Brandi Chastain in the 141-character format and the nasty little bugger who shall not be named here (not to mention the censorship of a British reporter critical of NBC coverage of the ‘Games), Twitter is having a bad Olympics.

But perhaps this will make up for things a bit … the folks at image-sharing site Pixable have put together the widget embedded below, a continually-updated real-time slideshow composed of photos and images uploaded unto Twitter by basketball Olympians. Amid the personal shots players posing with family members, fellow athletes or, in one case, Prince Harry himself, are some quite nice in-game shots – and one of handball by loyal tweeter Pau Gasol.

Also lending their photographic efforts and/or retweeting skills are Lebron James, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, Rudy Fernandez, Swin Cash, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Émilie Gomis and Deron Williams’ shoe.

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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
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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Jul
18

USA 118, Britain 78: Notes, Mensah-Bonsu quotes, highlights, upcoming games

So the USA-Britain meeting in yesterday’s friendly turned out to be something described with words like “blowout,” “thrash,” “humiliate” and “eviscerate.” The last lead Team Britain had in the Red-White-and-Blues’ 118-78 win in Manchester was at 2-0, and the Brits resumed a discouraging tendency from the Eurobasket 2011 tournament, mentally lapsing and collapsing in head coach Chris Finch’s estimation, to be outscored 63-39 in the second 20 minutes.

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Jul
34

Who can stop Team USA?

This one goes out by request to BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y. … with Team USA coming together to play the Dominican Republic today – with or without Chris Paul – BiE tries to answer the question “Who [if anyone] can beat Team USA?”

Good one.

A few gauntlets have been thrown by the Americans already, the least of which is certainly not the roster itself. That roster, one more time, is the following.

Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
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Jun
3

Besiktas 80, Anadolu Efes 76: The BallinEurope review of a triple-crown season

Besiktas introduces Deron Williams: It seems like so long ago...

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope to Beşiktaş Milangaz, who capped a fascinating whirlwind run last night with an 80-76 victory over Anadolu Efes in game six of the TBL championship series. The Black Eagles may add the trophy to their Turkish Cup and FIBA Eurochallenge title in 2011-12, certainly the most successful – and among the most bizarre – seasons the club has ever experienced.

Beşiktaş’ season, like any power in club hoops, began in the summer. All they did to top last year’s high-profile signing of the ultimately marginal Allen Iverson was ink Deron Williams, a franchise guard at his peak, to the biggest contract in European basketball with an NBA out-clause when the player lockout was to be settled.

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May
5

D-Will meets with Prokhorov in Istanbul, snaps in-game pic of Kirilenko

As has been widely reported, a big powwow in Istanbul is currently going on while the 2012 Euroleague Final Four plays out: The meeting of the minds (and money) features Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, team general manager Billy King and prospective free agent Deron Williams.

While Prokhorov checks out his former charge Andrei Kirilenko during the games – quite probably with the ultimate goal of signing up the AK-47 for the Nets – he and King apparently are attempting to sweet-talk D-Will into reupping with his 2011-12 team. Though Williams has pointedly noted his dissatisfaction with the team and his intention to bolt once the free-agency period has officially begun, at the beginning of this month, CBS Sports quoted a source as stating that he was “leaning toward re-signing with the Nets.”

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