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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
1

Spartak St. Petersburg: The Hunger of Experienced Rookies

In the leadup to the 2011-12 Eurocup Final Four tournament beginning on Saturday, Eurosport Turkey basketball commentator Uygar Karaca contributes a series of previews on the remaining quartet entitled “Four Teams, Four Stories” to BallinEurope.

Today taking a look at one of the two remaining Russian sides, Karaca writes “Zenit St. Petersburg reached its zenith when they managed to grab the UEFA Cup. Now, president Igor Lypsky, former deputy manager of Gazprom, has the same ambition. Isn’t it time for their citizens to win a European competition in basketball?

Talking about Spartak St. Petersburg is talking about history. Founded in 1935, the club stands as the oldest among the Eurocup Final Four competitors. However, as this marks the first time that Spartak has reached this level of competition, I think we can call St Petersburg experienced Eurocup rookies.

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Apr
3

Lietuvos Rytas: Stable in Motion (and Jonas Valanciunas, too)

In the leadup to the 2011-12 Eurocup Final Four tournament beginning on Saturday, Eurosport Turkey basketball commentator Uygar Karaca contributes a series of previews on the remaining quartet entitled “Four Teams, Four Stories” to BallinEurope. Today, Karaca takes a look at Lietuvos Rytas – and the club’s amazing ability to continually come back and adapt.

Valencia is not alone in its ambition for the third crown. Their opponent in the semifinals, Lietuvos Rytas, for the last five seasons has demonstrated the model on how to come back again the damage they have suffered. Nobody can deny that L. Rytas is a difficult place to work for coaches, but somehow, with different players and different head coaches, this club has managed to book a ticket for the final four of Eurocup in Khimki.

It seems Lietuvos Rytas has a similar scheme although the names change: One US-based star and three domestic leaders. Recall 2005, when they got their first crown in the ULEB Cup. Coach Vlade Djurovic left mid-season and Tomo Mahoric, the young Slovenian coach, led them to victory against Makedonikos in the finals with players like Delininkaitis, Stelmahers, Robertas Javtokas and Tyrone Nesby.

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Apr
2

Valencia: Another Title for Another Ex-Yugoslavian?

In the leadup to the 2011-12 Eurocup Final Four tournament beginning on Saturday, Eurosport Turkey basketball commentator Uygar Karaca contributes a series of previews on the remaining quartet entitled “Four Teams, Four Stories” to BallinEurope. Today, Karaca takes a look at Valencia BC.

Of course, we have to mention brilliant coaches like Luis Casimiro, Paco Olmos and Fotis Katsikaris when we talk about Valencia. However, it is very obvious that some ex-Yugoslavian coaches will always have a special place in the hearts of Valencians.

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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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Feb
2

Buzzer-beater of the week: Benetton’s Jobey Thomas launches a three to nip Lokomotiv Kuban, 71-70

You want a buzzer-beater? BallinEurope’s got your buzzer-beater right here, courtesy of Benetton Basket’s Jobey Thomas.

First, to set the table a bit for the thriller-capping final bucket in this week’s Eurocup match between the visiting Italian side and Lokomotiv Kuban: Benetton had trailed throughout the Group L matchup before finally putting together a 14-1 run to close out the third quarter and enter the final ten minutes up 55-53.

After some nip-and-tuck, Benetton found itself with a two-point deficit with 3.4 seconds remaining on the game clock. Taking the ball out of bounds after a timeout, Sani Becirovic appeared to have been ordered to look for a game-winning shot opportunity. (Gutsy call by coach Aleksandar Djordjevic; while common wisdom says to play for the win on the road, still. Gutsy.)

With 19 points already to his credit, Thomas broke free from his defender thanks to beautiful pick by Benjamin Ortner and found an open spot on the left side beyond the arc. Though Ali Traore came over to defend Thomas, well, just recall that old basketball axiom about never leaving your feet too soon…

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Jan
2

Love, justice, and now Drazen Petrovic, are blind

Here’s a bizarre image from Zagreb, where a mystery person or persons made a slight temporary addition to the statue outside the Drazen Petrovic Memorial Museum. Big deal; BallinEurope bets he still made the shot.

(Tip of the hat to Eurostep for uploading the pic.)

Update: Savas Birdal over at Eurostep reveals that the handiwork was perpetuated by Cibona Zagreb fan or fans, who also left a note at the scene reading ”Kapetane, ne gledaj ovo” (or “Captain, don’t watch this”) in reference to the last season and a half of dismal play from Petrovic’s former club. Cibona Zagreb is 7-6 in Adriatic League play thus far in 2011-12 and did not advance to the Top 16 round of Eurocup play after going 0-6 in the first round.

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Jan
0

11-for-11: BallinEurope’s Most 11 popular stories from 2011

So 2011 may have been few people’s favorite year personally, European basketball fans have certainly got to be taking solace in the fact that the past 12 months featured a seriously great run of Continental-flavored hoops.

To wit, in 2011, we enjoyed:

• an exciting round of Euroleague playoffs which included FC Barcelona’s surprising tournament-round exit and culminated in storied franchise Panathinaikos bagging its third EL trophy in five years;

• in domestic leagues, another weird Bundesliga playoff tournament, another controversial Greek tourney, and from Italy and Spain second-place shockers Bennet Cantù and Bizkaia Bilbao Basket advancing;

• lots of European superstars battling it out in the NBA playoffs, particularly on the Western Conference side, with Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and of course Dirk Nowitzki proving so key to their teams’ successes (or lack thereof);

the Eurobasket 2011 tournament hosted in the world’s basketball-maddest country which ultimately inspired Team Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic to opine that “this has been the strongest European Championship in history…” (and, judging only from the star content alone, BiE would probably agree, despite a general loathing for such hyperbole directly after an event);

• some awesome schadenfreude-laced moments as NBA refugees came to play on the Continent during the player lockout, plus all the incredibly amusing speculation on names beginning with Kobe Bryant; and finally

• the close to the 2011-12 Euroleague regular season with a week 10 that featured some crazy dogfights for entry and positioning in the Top 16 round, including a great do-or-die game between Emporio Armani Milano and Partizan Belgrade.

Olympic Games or no, how can basketball year 2011 be topped? On the first day of the new year, BallinEurope takes a last brief look back at the most popular stories we ran in 2011. Relive one killer 365 days of European roundball once more below.

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Dec
9

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

Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.

*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).

As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.

To BiE, it looks something like this.

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Dec
13

The official BallinEurope ballot for FIBA Europe Men’s Players of the Year: Nowitzki, Navarro and…?

BallinEurope just loves season- and year-ending polls, and every December FIBA Europe offers hoops devotees the opportunity to participate in the naming the Continent’s Players of The Year. And while the winner of the award for 2011 – a.k.a. the Year of Dirk – is surely a no-brainer, the FIBA ballot calls for electors to award a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place vote from among 10 nominees; BiE is finding that no. 3 spot a real mind-bender. If someone can provide a nice salient argument for the final spot, that person will have BiE’s undying admiration.

The process of elimination went the following way, in reverse order of finish, and garnishing with highlight clips.

10. Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos. Yes, Double-D was the Euroleague MVP and the Euroleague Final Four MVP for 2010-11. Yes, he thus established himself as one of the five or six greatest of the EL modern era. But Diamantidis did not play any international ball, whereas all other nine nominees participated in Eurobasket 2011 and most where instrumental to their team’s successes. Dimitris simply has the shortest CV of a very talented ten.

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Dec