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Former Galatasaray baller Jamont Gordon talks about the road to recovery +++ FIBA Europe Under 20 final highlights and top plays +++ VIDEO: Ettore Messina’s coaching philosophy +++ The 24 must-see regular season games in 2014/15 Euroleague +++ Until it matters, it won’t matter +++ Watch all 40 of Angela Salvadores points against USA +++ LeBron, another sign that David Blatt just keeps on winning +++ Better know a Euro – Alessandro Gentile +++ Better know a Euro – Ioannis Papapetrou +++ Better know a Euro – Nemanja Dangubic +++
Apr
2

Panathinaikos vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv: Official BallinEurope (and other) Fearless Predictions™

With the last 2011-12 Euroleague Final Four spot to be decided in tonight’s climactic game five between Panathanikos and Maccabi Tel Aviv, BallinEurope takes a look at some recent prognostications by experts and observers – plus a modicum of analysis as to how well some have done. O, and of course, the official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™ for the game…

• Before the Euroleague Playoffs tipped off, Pini Gershon told Greece-based Eurohoops.net that “[Sarunas] Jasikevicius is the key for the Greens and Sofo is [...] for Maccabi. There is a difference in the playing style of Maccabi when Sofo is the court and a different style when [Richard] Hendrix is playing. Panathinaikos still relies on the pick-and-roll. Hendrix is a better defender than Schortsanitis, but [Schortsanitis] is in very good condition lately.”

At least in terms of the Greek side, Gershon appears dead on: After tormenting Maccabi in the game one win, Saras was indeed crucial in PAO’s stay-alive game four win. Oftentimes sharing the floor with Diamantidis, the pair went 7-of-13 for 25 points. DD racked a nice 19 performance index rating but Jasikevicius was at his best for the nth time in his long championship-laden career in orchestrating the half-court offense.

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Feb
3

National Cups: Real Madrid ends 19 years of futility; Beşiktaş, Chalon take first-ever titles; Montepaschi Siena continues dominance

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope today to a quartet of national Cup holders in Real Madrid, Beşiktaş Milangaz, Chalon-sur-Saone and Montepaschi Siena. The former three victories are set to be particularly noted in club annals: Real ended a 19-year drought while Beşiktaş and Chalon both bagged their first-ever championships in their respective national cup tournaments after each were runners-up in 2011. Below run game wraps and highlight clips.

In Spain, Madrid won their first Spanish Cup since Arvydas Sabonis was on the team with a convincing 92-74 victory over FC Barcelona on the Blaugrana home court. Twenty-three was the magic number for Los Blancos, as Madrid took its 23rd such title behind 23 points from tournament MVP Sergio Llull. An extrapolation from the Liga Endesa’s official site goes something like the following.

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Feb
4

Euroleague Power Rankings: Do-or-die Week Edition

The key word in week three of the 2011-12 Euroleague Top 16 round: Blowout. The closest game was decided by eight points (Bennet Cantù 82, Maccabi Tel Aviv 74) and the average match showed a 16-point differential as certain teams (CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena) asserted their superiority, a couple of sleeping giants (Olympiacos, Panathinaikos) stirred, and two (Unicaja Malaga, Emporio Armani Milano) firmly established themselves as this stage’s busts.

Going into tonight’s games four, nothing has changed within the elite, though mid-pack much jostling for position may be seen. With the group leaders all in excellent position to at least solidify a strong hold on a semifinals berth, this could prove to be a make-or-break week for no fewer than those nine sides in the scrum.

The key word for week four, then, in BallinEurope’s estimation: Injuries. The ‘bug is truly hunkering down amid some Euroleague teams, and one could build a pretty decent roster from those who are out, questionable or hampered this week. Potential difference-makers who will be sitting include, among others, Viktor Khryapa (CSKA); Ante Tomic (Real Madrid); Omer Onan, Marko Tomas (Milano); Kerem Gonlum, Ermal Kuqo (Anadolu Efes); Steven Smith (PAO); and Shawn James (Maccabi Tel Aviv).

Below run another edition of the BiE power rankings as we enter this decisive week. Once again, please note that these rankings are an indicator of how teams are trending, with some consideration given to play in other leagues and heavy emphasis on Euroleague results.

Without further ado, then, onto the rankings! Go ahead, you can guess the first four, surely…

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Apr
6

Euroleague Playoffs: Games four highlights

And suddenly, the Spanish influence on the Euroleague has been reduced to just one team in the final four – exactly as many squads as Greece, Israel and Italy’ll have. Caja Laboral in the end just didn’t have enough answers for Maccabi Tel Aviv’s depth and star power, while Panathinaikos displayed the blueprint for taking out FC Barcelona in dominating the baseline and constantly playing the aggressor in driving time and again to the basket. (Of course, it helps if you have Dimitris Diamantidis in the lineup as well…)

And kudos to Montepaschi Siena for successfully shrugging off a horrible game one loss in what might have been a disaster for morale while reestablishing the hyperquick-moving, high-scoring offense that had faltered a bit in the Top 16 round.

Real Madrid hosts Power Electronics Valencia on “Wednesday or Thursday” to determine the last entry into the Euroleague Final Four, and – BiE’s repeating it here out of shock – España’s only team to go this far.

Highlights from last night’s games, as well as the officially-selected top five plays, follow.

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Mar
0

On the map, in the news: Maccabi Tel Aviv legend Tal Brody

One old-timer’s name popping up in the news lately is former Maccabi Tel Aviv/Team USA great Tal Brody.

Actually, to define Brody as “great” in his years with Maccabi is overwhelming understatement, as the man’s career has weaved a thread through the club’s and, to an arguable extent (and o, it will be argued; see below) Israeli basketball history. A brief retelling of the man’s career highlights, then.

Though drafted by the Baltimore Bullets, Brody never played in the NBA and instead got with Maccabi Tel Aviv for the 1966-67 season. Maccabi immediately ascended to the European Champions Cup final four round with Brody starting in the shooting guard spot. Military commitments returned Brody to the ‘States for a couple of years and he played with on fifth-place Team USA at the 1970 FIBA World Championship.

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Mar
4

Euroleague playoffs: Notes, videos and Fearless Predictions™

Here it comes: a full slate of four games to tip off the Euroleague Playoff Round tonight. And how could BallinEurope miss another chance to post more Fearless Predictions™? Below, a brief take on each game plus videos and those ever-popular prognostications. Enjoy the games!

• Caja Laboral Baskonia vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv – BiE’s been waiting for confirmation one way or another on this: Is Maccabi the second-best team in Europe right now or not? They seem to be bringing The Continent’s second-most name players into the Baskonia matchup…

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Jan
7

Euroleague Top 16 round: 10 must-see games (plus Fearless Predictions™)

Eliyahu's ready to go

With another week to kill before the Euroleague Top 16 round begins, BallinEurope is marking up the calendar to note must-see teevee for January to March, getting out the red pens and awaiting the following matchups.

January 19: Real Madrid vs. Partizan Belgrade

January 19: Efes Pilsen Istanbul vs. Montepaschi Siena. Wow, Group G is awesome. Seeded with perhaps the best from each position – no. 1 seed MPS, currently BiE’s top team in Europe; no. 2 Read Madrid, from whom we still haven’t seen the best work in 2010-11; no. 3 Efes Pilsen, inconsistent but talented enough to have taken out Union Olimpija plus Panathinaikos in Greece; and fourth-seed Partizan Belgrade (!), always a tough play in half the games. These opening-day games will already put pressure for the losers, and just imagine how tight this group instantly gets if both away teams win…

January 20: FC Barcelona vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv. Of all the sweet matchups in Top 16 week one, the league has chosen this as “Game of the Week” – and why not? Playing shorthanded for most of the 2010-11 season (they’ll still be without BiE fave Pete Mickael in this game, too, dammit), Barça is nevertheless 19-6 in ACB and Euroleague play after the Saturday win over fellow Euroleaguers Unicaja Malaga. (Video below.)

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May
0

A look at Gilil/Gilboa’s stunning Israeli championship win

In an upset some are calling “history-making” while others (okay, Pini Gershon) grouse about the Israeli league playoff format, Galil/Gilboa pulled off the big upset away over Maccabi Tel Aviv, 90-77. This marked the second time in three years that Maccabi lost in the single-game final after having taken the previous 36 of 37 national titles.

More impressively, Galil/Gilboa thwarted the yellow side amidst this sort of support:

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Mar
0

The Frank Euroleague Roundup: Top 16, week five

Scariolo: No, really, i can explain everything...

Scariolo: No, really, i can explain everything...

With one more week of Euroleague play to go before the field of viable contenders officially shrinks again, Ball in Europe contributor Francesco Cappelletti wraps the round that was in the big league. In this week’s roundup, Signor C. laments Montepaschi Siena’s fate, Sergio Scariolo’s precarious position and the reason Olympiacos might yet give Barca a workout before all is said and done (Hint: It starts with “Linas” and ends with “Kleiza”).

Group F focus
Oddly, the group which could have been in doubt until the buzzer of Week 6 suddenly has two qualified teams after five weeks: These are Real Madrid and Maccabi Tel Aviv, teams which will meet next Thursday at Palacio Vistalegre to define a first place currently in possession of the Israeli side for their 81-76 victory of February 4.

Montepaschi Siena was shocked by a 43-point fourth quarter scored by Alan Anderson and teammates. OK, take out the final (meaningless) 10 points, and 33 remain on the back of the Italian champions. How was this possible? MPS had recovered during the third period thanks to big hearted Terrell McIntyre and bad offensive decisions from previously unstoppable Doron Perkins, but, I mean, if you play with six men (seven minutes of nothing for Nikos Zisis in crisis, Ksistof Lavrinovic plagued by back spasms), and you enter the final fraction with a 3-point advantage at Yad Eliyahu, well, you know your destiny.

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Feb
3

The Frank Euroleague roundup: Top 16, week four

Not this year

Not this year

The critical week four of Euroleague Top 16 action is in the books, but Ball in Europe’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti, is still musing on the shifts ‘n’ events thanks to these eight games. This week’s frank roundup wishes Panathinaikos bye-bye, gives mucho deserved props to Pini Gershon, and bestows an “accolade” upon Zabian Dowdell. Read on!

Goodbye Panathinaikos
Before this week, it seemed nearly impossible that Panathinaikos would put itself again on the road to the playoffs. The evidence for the Greens’ struggle weren’t in the numbers which still didn’t damn the defending champions, but somehow it was all in the body language, the play expressed by a group which showed complacency and an unwillingness to fight, to get their hands dirty.

Maybe Zelimir Obradovic thought his men would have woken up when it counted; instead, even against Regal FC Barcelona, into an in-and-out game whose content must recall for Mike Batiste and his teammates remember not-so-faraway times, PAO looked like the same squad devoid of motivation, tactical themes, and unselfishness that appeared during the first phase. FC Barcelona simply had to stay close to the Greens until the final moments, when it was cleared which was the real united group and which was a jumble of overpaid men – though not overrated, be careful – unable to unify.

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