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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
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
5

2012 Olympic basketball: Rising and falling stock after the first round

While we’re a little ways away from actually awarding medals for 2012 Olympic basketball, the first round showed international hoops fans quite a lot. Though the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, reputations have changed over the past five games to cause some individual and/or teams losses beyond these Olympics. BallinEurope today takes a look at those whose stock has risen and those who’ve fallen in the early going of the London Games.

Rising
Lebron James. Yeah, like this guy needs a further upward trend in his already all-time lofty-looking career. Four years ago, ESPN’s Bill Simmons proclaimed (correctly, in BiE’s opinion) that in 2008 ‘Games crunch time, “everyone deferred to Kobe, who made some monster plays to clinch it. Know that in the history of the NBA we have never had the best-player-alive argument resolved so organically.” In 2012, King James has proven himself to be the best player on the best team in this Olympic tournament.

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Jul
26

Seven (or eight) games on which 2012 Olympic basketball will turn

BallinEurope’s Official Fearless Predictions™ for 2012 Olympic basketball will be posted tomorrow, but with the 2012 Olympics opening ceremonies taking place tonight and the men’s competition tipping off on Sunday, BiE got out the virtual calendar to make time for the following seven (or eight) games, matches that should fundamentally shape the greater 30-game picture, the subsequent knockout tournament and the OFPs™ themselves. BiE’s keeping eyes peeled for…

Argentina vs. Lithuania, July 29. The Olympic schedulers decided to place a couple of dandies on day one of men’s basketball play in a pair of games that will send two Group A teams scrambling immediately. Argentina looked impressive in friendlies in general and against Team USA, but this team’s weakness in 2012 is a traditional Lithuania strength. Continue Reading…

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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Apr
180

Why Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow must win the Euroleague

Regular readers of BallinEurope may recall a similarly entitled writeup on Montepaschi Siena on these pages from a long time ago – actually two weeks, but already it *feels* like quite a spell. Contributing writer Enrico Cellini was as surprised as any of us when Olympiacos began Siena’s ejection from the tournament, Facebook-messaging BiE with the note that “Siena is trying its best to prove me wrong…”

But this post doesn’t concern BiE’s now-busted bracket, a frustrating finish to what had been a good-looking campaign for Montepaschi Siena, or even the Final Four surprise Olympiacos. Nope, we’re talking CSKA Moscow and that individual symbol of all of international basketball in 2011-12, Andrei Kirilenko.

In fact, why waste time? BallinEurope gets right down into an even 10 reasons why CSKA and the AK must win the 2012 Euroleague title.

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Mar
1

How good is Nikola Vucevic? Very.

Not long ago, BallinEurope handed out mid-season grades for NBA players representing The Continent; rookie Nikola Vucevic was awarded a solid 3 out of 5 – a 3.5, really, if only this self-imposing grading system weren’t so harsh. BiE assessed that “subjectively speaking, Vucevic has been particularly impressive for the surprisingly impressive Philadelphia 76ers; if he were getting more playing time, there might be mutters about the former USC Trojan vis-a-vis Rookie of the Year honors.”

Today, Sam Chadwick takes a look at Vucevic in the form of a “draft review” column and, crunching a few numbers, echoes BiE’s contention. Chadwick deduces that the sky’s the limit for this rookie who could in fact become a top-level NBA big. How good is Nikola Vucevic? How about Dwight Howard-level good?

Name: Nikola Vucevic
Country of birth: Switzerland
Nationality: Montenegro
College: University of Southern California
Position: PF/C
Height: 7’0” (2.13 meters)
Age: 21 (born October 1990)

Vucevic quietly made a name for himself at the University of Southern California, where he had career averages of 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists across three years while shooting 51% from the field and 30% from three-point range. He made the All-Pac 10 second team in his second season and All-Pac first team after averaging 35.0 minutes, 17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in his junior year. His junior year also saw him make the Fox Sports All-American third team and become the first player to lead the Pac 10 in rebounds in consecutive years.

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Jan
1

Magic-Lakers-Nets three-way blockbuster trade: Why wouldn’t this work?

Ever since the Los Angeles Lakers’ dreary loss to the Orlando Magic last Friday and straight through to yesterday’s brickfest in a loss to the Indiana Pacers, this fan’s thoughts are turning to – OK, now nearly obsessed with – making a trade to shake things up.

First and foremost, BallinEurope feels for Pau Gasol. While the Lakers’ game right now might best (and most charitably) be described as “disorganized,” particularly in the offensive sets where The Triangle is no more, it *feels* like Kobe is subtly, slowing freezing out Gasol.

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Jan
3

Real Madrid wins 81-80 on clutch shot by Nikola Mirotic (or, Sheesh, more good news for Chicago Bulls fans?)

With an league-best 13-3 record, all signs pointing to a deep run in the NBA playoffs and a pleased-as-punch fan base that has long forgotten about the non-acquisition of Dwight Howard, it’s not like the Chicago Bulls need more positivity. Regardless, BallinEurope’s gonna give it to them; as it turns out, their brightest European prospect can play in the clutch as well.

Prospective Bull/Euroleague “Rising Star” Nikola Mirotic again came to the fore last night to prevent an upset of his Real Madrid at Unicaja Malaga. In Los Blancos’ 81-80 victory, Mirotic played 25 minutes to help matters with six rebounds, two blocks and 6-of-9 shooting for 12 points, none as important as his clutch shot in the final second.

Below the break, watch how Mirotic burns Jorge Garbarosa and Luka Zoric on the way to the hole to throw in a buzzer-beating runner off the glass with 0:00.5 or so remaining in the game – dagger!

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Dec
10

The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Eastern Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

While basketball lovers are getting something of a Christmas gift this season in the December 25 NBA opening day – BiE says “something of” there because this belated debut is kinda like your parents saying, “Well, we’ll just give you your birthday gift at Christmas.” When your birthday’s in October – BallinEurope would like to add to the virtual bounty under the tree with our annual Eurocentric NBA preview.

Here’s BallinEurope’s predominant working theory for at least the first two months of this season: The teams with more critical players who did a stint in Europe (or South America, for that matter) during the lockout will jump out to the best starts. And with a shortened season increasing the importance of every individual game, imagine what a, say, 17-5 could mean in the long-term – for a European equivalent of this model, how ‘bout that CSKA Moscow turbo boost?

So Kevin Garnett’s complaining that the preseason is too short … guys like Deron Williams have already been in real-game situations. Manu Ginobili is well rested but not “in basketball shape?” The Danilo Gallinaris, Mehmet Okurs and even the Gasol Brothers of the basketball world are set to go. More back-to-back games than ever before in NBA history? Hey, perhaps those two-a-days European coaches are so notorious for assigning will have readied these NBAers well more than the fortnight many of their colleagues are getting.

BiE would even argue that latecomers such as Tiago Splitter and late-peakers like Serge Ibaka are surely few steps ahead of the many American ballers who did not take Continental clubs up on even the most outrageous of offers. It is with this dictum in mind that this preview and Official Fearless Predictions™ were written. Today, the Eastern Conference.

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Apr
4

NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: The Eurocentric View

With the NBA playoffs starting today, BallinEurope takes another brief look at the matchups drawing our attention for the next 137 months or so. Unlike the Western Conference half of the bracket, Eastern teams are disappointingly low on European players stocking their rosters. No matter: We’ve still got the FIBA Bulls and the Big Z to pull for on this side – and BiE’s got musings, meanderings, YouTube clips and those Fearless Predictions™. Today: the Western Conference matchups.

Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks
After years of an all-American lineup, the Celtics started the season with one European and (somewhat inexplicably) ended up with two, thanks to the Kendrick Perkins trade – but Sasha Pavlovic and Nenad Krstic will surely be non-factors in this series.

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