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Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender +++ Sarunas Jasikevičius retires, joins Zalgiris in coaching role +++ Vintage Drazen Petrovic jersey up for auction +++ Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies +++ We really need you to nominate beers +++ Mykhailiuk operating almost under cover +++ Nando de Colo has the best location for a basketball camp +++ Ireland end famines with two slices of Danish bacon +++ Former Galatasaray baller Jamont Gordon talks about the road to recovery +++ FIBA Europe Under 20 final highlights and top plays +++
Mar
5

Infographic: 2012-13 Miami Heat vs. 2004-05 CSKA Moscow – Who’s more impressive?

As the Miami Heat look to add another W to their ongoing historic 23-game streak when playing at the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, here’s a nifty little argument discussion starter put together by BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y.

Sure, the Heat’s run is mighty impressive, but just look at what CSKA Moscow did to the competition in both Euroleague and Russian play in 2004-05: The Dusan Ivkovic-led side featuring all-time greats Theo Papaloukas and J.R. Holden strung together 42 consecutive wins over a six-month period for a record that may never be broken. The team ultimately took the Russian League and Cup titles, but fell in the Euroleague Final Four. (An ominous sign for King James & Co.?)

So see below and/or click on the image for larger version and tell BiE: In the parlance of our times, who’s the “more dominant”? (Y.’s title for the infographic may have been ironic…)

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Sep
46

What’s wrong with team Serbia? Coach Duda’s confession

Those who tuned into David and Davis’ podcast over at heinnews this week and/or have been reading the rants posted on BallinEurope on Milos Teodosic’s play in the recent FIBA EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers know that BiE fears something is amiss in Serbia. BallinEurope’s contributing writer from over there, Marko Savkovic, today tells us that head coach Dušan Ivković attempted to address some of the issues dogging his Team Serbia yesterday. Did Duda succeed in his explanation? You be the judge…

Team Serbia walked a very thin line last Tuesday, narrowly escaping elimination from EuroBasket 2013. Three days later, its coach Dušan “Duda” Ivković faced the press.

Yes, Israel was beaten fairly convincingly on Tuesday evening. If it hadn’t been for a couple of late three-pointers from Guy Pnini, Omri Casspi’s strong 1-on-1 display and some staunch 4th quarter defense, Serbia would have won by a margin far greater than 19 points necessary to finish second in the group. Belgrade’s Pionir Arena welcomed home team’s rise from the state of complete disarray into which it had fallen in after its disgraceful loss to Estonia. Yet the smiles and cheers were those not so much confidence or gratitude, but of relief. Relief for a nation which – you have to compare – 10 years ago celebrated its last world championship.

On Friday, coach Duda spoke to the press.He accepted part of the blame for the team’s abysmal showing in the EuroBasket qualifiers, but also argued that “we [Serbia] are not a team going about to disgrace our nation.”

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Sep
9

Good Milos vs. Bad Milos: Is Teodosic the problem for Team Serbia?

The two sides of Milos Teodosic

The increasingly good Bball Headlines reported on a little high-profile commentary from the peanut gallery recently, quoting former Team Serbia head coach Zoran Slavnic in singling out Milos Teodosic as central to the current team’s woes in EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers.

“Some of the players that I called up to the national team for the first time five years ago have not made any progress. One could say they have even declined. I am very disappointed with the game of Milos Teodosic as well as with his behavior. His game doesn’t involve his teammates even if he is the most creative player in Europe of the past ten years.

“It is really amazing that his [coaches have] failed to teach him his role on the team and to play as a point guard. He is the main culprit in the recent losses and is still behaving very irresponsibly. He is the best point guard in Europe, but he hasn’t shown it in the national team.”

But can Teodosic, the former European Player of the Year, Euroleague MVP and FIBA World all-tournament member, really deserve such blame for Team Serbia right now? Come to think of it, does Team Serbia actually have great problems? Okay, so they failed to qualify for the Olympics from a tough EuroBasket 2011 crowd. And right now they’re no mighty Montenegro, the 6-0 side Serbia faces in Podgorica tonight.

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Aug
15

Eurobasket 2013 qualification round bullets – plus Official Fearless Predictions™

With 13 games to play tonight in the EuroBasket 2013 qualifying round, BallinEurope takes a quick look around the blogosphere regarding a few subplots, storylines and players to watch. We’ll do this in the time-honored tradition of the ESPN TrueHoop Network, i.e. bullet-style.

● Some in the Spurs Nation were enthused with Davis Bertans’ play for Team Latvia against Romania and Adam Hanga for Hungary generally.

● Team Israel’s Yogev Ohayon is playing like he did in high school

● …while Guy Pnini “defended his performance” in the first three games by nailing a clutch three in his side’s upset of Serbia, though the woeful shooting continued with a 1-of-5 line.

● After Jonas Jerebko, Detroit Pistons fans will also want to keep an eye out for Slava Kravtsov, described as “dominant” for Team Ukraine against Hungary – after all, team executives are.

● Speaking of Jerebko, *still* no word on whether he’ll be suiting up for tonight’s home game against Bulgaria, but Team Sweden head coach Bradley Dean asserts that “we have no excuses and we don’t want any.”

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Jul
1

Twenty years ago today: Champions in Europe and USA, 1992

In celebration of certainly still the most significant year in international basketball history, BallinEurope today begins the “Twenty years ago today” series in which we’ll peer back in time through the lens of YouTube to that era of morphing European national teams and Dream Team dominance.

In the wake of that Greatest Basketball Team Ever Assembled, much of the 1991-92 professional seasons themselves get the short shrift in the history books, but some quite interesting stuff was nevertheless happening on the Continent.

• The Euroleague boasted a cliffhanging thriller in Partizan Belgrade vs. Joventut Badalona. Badalona brought Harold Pressley (with averages of 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per EL game) and Rafael Jofresa, while the Black-and-Whites boasted local products Predrag Danilovic and Aleksanda Djordjevic. It was the latter who’d deliver the European championship to the storied franchise for its first and, to date, last such title ever.

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Jun
0

Quiz: The NBA- and Euro-centric year in basketball, 2011-12

2011-12: The year of Spanoulis?

Quick! Before those memories of basketball championships European and NBA fade completely, take a brief look back at the season that was – one crazy one on The Continent that began with Tony Parker, Ty Lawson and Mehmet Okur playing over here and concluded with titles taken by King James and Emperor Spanoulis. Get out those pencils and take the BallinEurope quiz…

1. The 2011-12 Euroleague season:
a) was one of the greatest ever
b) was the greatest ever
c) proved Jordi Bertomeu’s contention that “we don’t need NBA imports to be a top-quality competition
d) was awesome, but man, i’m jonesing. When does the season start?

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Jun
13

Olympiacos wins! Olympiacos wins! Olympiacos wins! (a.k.a. *The* European basketball story of 2011-12)

Let’s put this into perspective. The last time Olympiacos took the Greek national title, they were led by David Rivers and Dragan Tarlać. Vassilis Spanoulis was 15 years old and not near professional club play. Dejan Bodiroga was in the middle of his career and Mirsad Turkcan had just turned 21.

Across the pond, Lebron James was 13; Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and *those* Chicago Bulls were about to earn their fifth rings; Kobe Bryant had just become the NBA record-setter as youngest NBA starter ever. In international play, Team USA still wore an aura of invincibility. The World Trade Center was still standing and the European Union was optimistically looking forward to including former communist-led countries as member states.

It seems like a dream to BallinEurope, so one can only goggle at how Olympiacos fans must be feeling today (aside from hungover, that is). Yes, the Reds in the decisive game five of the national championship series took the 82-76 victory over rival Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, nine-time consecutive champions and typically previously perpetual Olympiacos nightmare this time of year.

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May
66

On Olympiacos Euroleague championship: From crises emerge heroes

Printezis: Hero of the day

European basketball fans know that history was made with Olympiacos’ stunning victory in the 2012 Euroleague championship. And so BallinEurope contributor, the self-proclaimed hoops history junkie Uygar Karaca looks back with perspective on the title bid, reaching all the back to the Great Depression of 1929 through the collapse of the Soviet Union and into today’s European Union crises. Whether or not God Himself played a role, the importance of the Reds’ win, as Karaca sees it, is history repeating itself. Gloriously.

This is how things have worked throughout history: From crises emerge heroes. And heroes create the losers. Sometimes underdogs have more advantages simply because they have nothing to lose. It’s not unusual that we see situations like a 10-man football team winning against a stronger side. Sometimes having options confuses minds, creates problems in concentration and ambiguity in methodology. Those who have no real options perhaps have just one way and they become focused on the goal, which brings about greater optimization and efficiency.

I was thinking like this before the match: “If CSKA wins, there will be not many stories but in case of Olympiacos winning, there will be a variety of options in exposing the classical underdog story with many different perspectives. I hope Olympiacos wins.”

The day before the Euroleague final, I was at Abdi İpekci Hall to see some action in the Nike International Junior Tournament. There I saw Stevislav Pesic, also one of the greatest coaches in European basketball, the man who famously brought a European title to both Germany and Alba Berlin, who were real underdogs. I thought that it would be a great idea to take some predictions from him. Said Pesic: “I was not suprised when Olympiakos won against Barcelona, because Barcelona changed its game this year and were somewhat inconsistent throughout the season, whereas Olympiakos improved much compared to the beginning of the season.”

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May
3

Kirilenko on playing for Utah Jazz, CSKA Moscow: “It’s hard to compare”

How Andrei Kirilenko handles reporters – just kidding

Amid a crowd of athletes well-versed in jockspeak, Andrei Kirilenko is a breath of fresh air. Though no controversy-stirrer on the Charles Barkley level (and who is, really, aside from Sir Charles himself), Kirilenko is personable, patient, friendly and fluent in two languages in the interview milieu.

Kirilenko arrived late to “open media” session after yesterday’s CSKA Moscow practice and quickly drew a crowd for the seven or so minutes he spoke to reporters in advance of the Red Army’s title quest tonight.

On the other side of the floor tonight will be Dusan Ivkovic, a man quite familiar with Kirilenko stretching back to the days when AK-47 was not quite the automatic weapon he is today. When asked who wins the battle between player and coach, Kirilenko deferred a bit, stating that “He knows me and Milos [Teodosic], so we won’t surprise him.”

When it was pointed that CSKA had beaten Olympiacos twice this season already, Kirlenko refused to acknowledge his side’s standing as heavy favorites in tonight’s game. “Look at Panathinaikos. We beat them twice this season, too. It doesn’t mean anything” in what is “not a playoff series in which you have a chance to have a mistake.”

Did Kirilenko have expectations going into this season after jumping from the NBA? Would anything less have been a disappointment? Well, said Andrei, “I’m very happy with this season, no matter how the final goes … I’m already happy with this season, because I had a great chance to play for the Russian fans. I had a great chance to play in front of a lot of my friends [and] family. It was a great season; we have a great team.”

Along similar lines, Kirilenko stated only on the inevitable NBA/Euroleague comparison question simply that “It’s a different game” – Perhaps he’s been reading BallinEurope and didn’t seek to start another comment war – and as for playing with the Utah Jazz as opposed to CSKA Moscow, “It’s different. It’s hard to compare. I played 10 years for Utah and I know everyone in that organization … it’s like a second home in the ‘States, but here you get back to the team where you started your career and you still recognize the guy who met you at the train station when you were 19 years old…”

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May
1

Jonas Kazlauskas vs. Dusan Ivkovic: Euroleague history will be made

It’s a trivia question with an expiration date – and that date is tomorrow. To wit: “Which head coach holds the record for longest time between Euroleague titles?”

For the next, what, 26 hours or so, the answer is “Alexander Gomelsky.” Most well-known as the Team USSR coach, the Naismith/FIBA Hall of Famer took the Euroleague title in 1960 with ASK Riga and would return to take the championship with CSKA Moscow in ’71.

But this year’s matchup of CSKA and Olympiacos automatically changes that. Featuring coaches Jonas Kazlauskas and Dusan Ivkovic, the record will be rewritten at tomorrow night’s Euroleague championship. Kazlauskas was handed an all-star lineup with Moscow this year to return to his first EL Final Four – never mind the championship game – since 1999; in that season, he brought a Žalgiris squad which included the likes of George Zidek, Thomas Masiulis, Saulius Štombergas and Tyrus Edney to the top.

And though Ivkovic has been more of a presence in Euroleague play since the 90s, the coach’s title drought is even longer than that of Kazlauskas, having taken the championship with Olympiacos back in the Reds’ only triple crown season of 1997.

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