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Joakim Noah wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year +++ Swee’ Pea makes the cut – Reaches Funding Target +++ The Dish – Too Rude for Masai Uijiri +++ The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++
Jun
1

Reports: Ettore Messina to return to CSKA Moscow [Updated]

Yesterday, due to an interview in Spain-based Jot Down, BallinEurope speculated a bit on Ettore Messina potentially leaving the Los Angeles Lakers. At least two sources today are saying that the coach of legend will in fact be returning to Europe to coach … CSKA Moscow, if you can believe it.

Talk Basket reported that “There are several teams in Europe already making offers to [Messina] but it seems that he will return to familiar surroundings. … CSKA Moscow are the favourites to bring back Messina who led the Russians to four straight Euroleague finals and two titles in 2006 and 2008.”

Soon after this article’s publication, man-in-the-know Yarone Arbel reported via Twitter about 15 minutes as of this writing that “…I pretty much got a confirmation on Messina to CSKA. That’s what it looks like.

Of course, after last week’s terse statement from CSKA officials regarding coach and player hires, no official statement has been made from the club yet.

Update: Sportando and Draft Express (the latter of whom is “Sitting here next to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak”) have confirmed that Messina-to-CSKA is a done deal. Welcome back to Europe, then, coach!

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Jun
5

Ettore Messina one and done with Los Angeles Lakers?

Javier Gómez of Spain-based “contemporary culture mag” Jot Down recently sat down with Ettore Messina to discuss a wide range of topics from Italian politics to Euroleague basketball to Jeremy Lin over some aubergine busiati and swordfish (nice) in quite an extensive interview with the coach of legend.

Messina is of course known for his legendary coaching in European basketball which saw him guide three different clubs to four Euroleague titles up to 2010-11, when he took a consulting job with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In describing his inaugural year with the Lakers, Messina says that the experience took him back 23 years, “back to square one.” And he ultimately takes pride in Kobe Bryant’s contention that Messina brought some European strategy to his game. While Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak reportedly told the Italian that “I’ve only heard good things about you. I’ve seen you work and we’d like you to return next year to work with us,” Messina says at present he’s unsure about his 2012-13: “I’ve never had so many job opportunities.”

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May
4

Ramunas Siskauskas: The BallinEurope video tribute

On Monday, European basketball great Ramunas Šiškauskas announced his retirement from the game: A story that was noteworthy enough for even North Korean sports fans to be notified. In his official statement, Šiškauskas said that he’d “made my choice in the middle of the season. It was not connected with anything specific – I just feel I should stop. I can only be excited about my career” and that “I am glad I was able to quit as a significant player, playing for such a great team and organization as CSKA Moscow.”

At 33 years of age, Šiškauskas put together a 16-season career with BC Sakalai Vilnius, Lietuvos Rytas, Benetton Treviso, Panathinaikos and CSKA Moscow plus seven years with Team Lithuania in FIBA and Olympic play – good for a gold and two bronzes.

And in that decade and a half, Šiškauskas amassed just under 1,500 points in seven Euroleague seasons on 49.8% shooting including 42.3% on threes. His back-to-back EL titles earned in 2007 and ’08 are among his many individual-career and team highlights … aw, hell. Let’s dispense with further formalities and get to the Ramunas Šiškauskas career tribute in traditional BallinEurope fashion, i.e. with lots of YouTube clips! We’ll miss ya, Ramunas…

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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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May
2

Eclipse watching: All-time records under threat at Euroleague Final Four 2012

Siskauskas seeks title, free throws

For all the history/stat junkies out there – including myself, as BiE readers know – BallinEurope today takes a look at what all-time Euroleague Final Four records might fall this year … and some that seem unbreakable.

• Under assault could be the all-time free-throw mark of 56 held by Nikos Galis. Galis set this individual mark in just four games in the 1988 and 1990 tournaments with Aris BC and Panathinaikos, respectively, in performances that set all sorts of EL Final Four marks. However, Ramunas Siskauskas has amassed 45 over the years with PAO and CSKA Moscow; at an average of four trips to the FT line per game in 2011-12 Euroleague play, Siskauskas could squeak into the record books in 2012 – and he’s currently a bit better in accuracy than Galis was, at 78.6% to 74.6%.

• Now 34 years old and the senior member of a seriously veteran-laden Panathinaikos team, Mike Batiste doesn’t have too much time left to run up his numbers. While his 41 two-pointers are a far cry from Galis’ ridiculous 87, the Arizona State University alum could jump from his current no. 9 standing on the EL Final Four all-time two-pointer table to no. 4, passing Dejan Bodiroga with just six more buckets. After that, the targets would be no. 3 Theo Papaloukas’ 53 and no. 2 David Andersen’s 57.

• Batiste is also 17 rebounds behind Matjaz Smodis’ lifetime mark of 73; Viktor Khryapa may be destined to become no. 1 before all is said and done, with 54 to his credit already.

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May
4

Revealed: The EuroChallenge championship curse

(image courtesy Hurriyet Daily News)

Yes, but *should* they be celebrating?

Winning the EuroChallenge title is a good thing, right? After all, it’s typically the first Continental trophy to display on the mantelpiece and the champions label wins the club to right to play in the more prestigious (and more big-bucks) Eurocup competition the following season.

Well, Uygar Karaca may convince believers otherwise. In the first of a two-part series for BallinEurope.com, Karaca flips through the pages of recent EuroChallenge history to reveal the success – or lack thereof – championship clubs have experienced directly following a title bid. Hint: It’s pretty bleak stuff after 2004. Sorry, Beşiktaş

Winning a competition, especially on the Continental level, is a great achievement. However, titles come with a price. When success exposes players to the market, for example, clubs with better offers take the stars away. Alternatively, in order to get a trophy, clubs sometimes spend more than they can afford, which triggers the process of eventual financial collapse.

In this article, I tried to see whether winning the FIBA EuroChallenge tournament signals brighter days for the club or rather indicates a peak with the way forward pointing downward. Continue Reading…

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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Mar
13

Lakers scout: “Germany biggest hope for European basketball”; L.A. interested in Maik Zirbes?

Former Real Madrid/current Los Angeles Lakers scout Antonio Maceiras visited Germany last week, including a stop in Bamberg to watch Brose Baskets destroy TBB Trier (no, seriously: Just look at this box score). Naturally, this gave BallinEurope contributor David Hein the opportunity to chat with the man about working for the Los Angeles Lakers and with his old compadre Ettore Messina; the state of European basketball; and what the Lake Show might do about that bugaboo of a no. 3 spot, among other topics.

Most significantly from BiE’s perspective, however, was Maceiras’ take on Germany’s ambitious Bundesliga. From a European hoops expert’s standpoint, his quote was intriguing indeed.

Said Maceiras: “When I was coming to the gym [tonight], I was thinking Germany is really the biggest hope for European basketball, if not the latest hope. I think the organization here is great. The teams are real professional organizations and very consistent. And this is the biggest market in Europe. And also the ethics of the German people is great for basketball. The combination is excellent. It’s just a matter of keeping the development that German basketball started some years ago. I think the league is getting better all the time. The teams are good and the organization of the games is good. The attendance is good. And I think this Bayern Munich project is something that can really push not just German but European basketball. So, in my opinion, they are going in the right [direction], and if they keep going how they are going then they have all the tools to become the best domestic league in Europe.”

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Jan
4

What makes the Partizan “system” of basketball?

BallinEurope today welcomes Marko Savkovic into its corps as the Serbia-based writer takes a look at just what has made Partizan Belgrade basketball tick through its many years of success…

In December, Armani Jeans Milano denied Partizan Belgrade from playing in its sixth consecutive Top 16 phase of the Euroleague. And yet again, in what is now considered a trademark display of affection, fans continued singing to their players and the team they love after the buzzer. They were grateful for what they considered a memorable season in which their team again defeated the likes of Maccabi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid.

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Dec
0

Ettore Messina “curious and worried” about life with Los Angeles Lakers

Coming to America

From BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini: In an interview to be published in major Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Ettore Messina summarizes his coaching experiences around Europe and talks about his forthcoming adventure as the Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach.

Messina began his career in Italy but then started “to feel uneasy” with his native basketball environment. “Moscow was the place where I felt the best,” he explains. In Russia, we won championships on the road, celebrated on the court with rival fans applauding us. In Italy, this would be inconceivable. In Spain, they are passionate, too, but for sure there is not the acrimony we have in Italy.”

Though, even Spain was tough sometimes to digest: “I wasn’t happy with basketball matters and I felt like a stranger. I was bothered by the fact that when we won, I was Ettore Messina. When we lost, I was ‘the Italian’.”

On the NBA, Messina’s future home: “I am curious and worried. Curious to experience the day-to-day life of the NBA, to coach great players. Worried because I hope I get accepted by others. I hope I’m ready – we’re finally getting started.”

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