Jul
2

The 24 must-see regular season games in 2014/15 Euroleague

Euroleague-Maccabi-Win

Week by week, day by day, we try to forecast the ‘must-watch’ games in the Euroleague Regular season for 2014/15. If you are feeling particularly evil, feel free to bookmark this and come back to mock us after Week 10.

The rules here are pretty simple. I get to pick one game for each night of Euroleague play this year except for Round 10 where I pick one for each group as the dates aren’t decided yet. Priority on how it will affect qualification placing trumps clash of big clubs, and I need to avoid reverse fixtures wherever possible. Let’s do this.

Round 1
16 October – Valencia vs Olympiacos
I was tempted to herald the return of Limoges here seeing as they are taking on the reigning champs but this is a game between an established power in Olympiacos and a team that won EuroCup last season and is trying to establish itself as a legitimate third force in Spain.

17 October – Fenerbahce vs Olimpia Milano
On the one hand we have a team that enters every year with a heap of expectation and tends to under-perform. On the other a team that exceeded expectations, fell away in spring, and just about managed to take its domestic title. Fener have reloaded, as per usual, Milano appear to have done the opposite. This game could set an early tone.

Round 2
23 October – CSKA Moscow vs Maccabi Elektra Tel Aviv
Because, well, duh.

24 October – Limoges vs Cedevita Zagreb
Eugh this was a tough day to call and not because of an abundance of hot match-ups. Limoges make their home return to EL action, Cedevita should prove interesting and a road win would be big for them here.
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May
1

Final Four: Maccabi beat Real Madrid 98-86 in OT to become champions of Euroleague 2013/14

Maccabi tifo

Rarely has a title game at any level seen so many lead changes as Maccabi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid served up a thriller at the Assago Forum in Milano. Emmet Ryan reports on an all-time classic Euroleague final.

It took them a little longer to fill the arena than Friday night but once again Maccabi Tel Aviv’s supporters made sure this was anything but a neutral site game. Real Madrid’s players were greeted with a chorus of boos for warm-ups and it only got louder when the players were introduced. Once more Maccabi sought to pull off an upset but this time they had to contend with an offensive force that has dominated the continent all season.

Rudy Fernandez kicked off the scoring with a three. Sofoklis Schortsantidis opened Maccabi’s account. Sofo takes down Rudy hard up the other end and the battle was on. Yogev Ohayon gave the Tel Aviv club it’s first lead of the game and it was oh so physical. Maccabi’s plan was to punch Real in the nose and keep punching. Both teams struggled from the field early but Maccabi had no desire for this to be a shootout. At 8-5 with just over 5 minutes gone, the first timeout was called. A chance for Real’s players to catch their breath and re-focus. Ioannis Bourousis immediately ran into a double team. He drew the foul but did it the hard way. Maccabi weren’t letting up. Every stop by Maccabi was cheered like a three up the other end. Devin Smith stretched the lead to 6 with a mid-ranfe jumper before Rudy finally responded from deep. Sergio Rodriguez sat ready to come in as Felipe Reyes put Madrid back in front. Chacho returned to his seat. The Euroleague MVP wouldn’t see any action in the first quarter. Real ahead by the narrowest of margins, 16-15, going into the second frame.

Chacho came in to start the second quarter. Rudy leapt in like a madman for a board. He was nowhere near it but he sent the message, if Maccabi were going to be physical so would he. Fernandez picked up two boards either side of a bucket before Chacho landed a three. Real were now up 6 and Maccabi called timeout. Felipe Reyes started to have his way with Maccabi’s D, the faster pace of the quarter suiting his game. Maccabi’s offence had no answer and Real knew they had a chance to make a dent in the Tel Aviv team’s confidence. Marcus Slaughter pushed the lead to double digits briefly before David Blu finally opened Maccabi’s account in the second quarter after nearly four minutes. Reyes hurt Maccabi again on the inside, pausing to make room before hitting the lay-up, then adding another in similar style on Real’s next possession. Blu was the one man keeping Maccabi in it and the veteran reeled Real in again. It could have been a bloodbath at the break, instead Blu nailed a three on the buzzer that meant Maccabi only trailed 35-33 at half-time.
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May
1

Devin Smith: “We can compete with anybody”

devin-smith-maccabi-electra-eb13

Devin Smith of Maccabi Tel Aviv spoke with BallinEurope’s Emmet Ryan ahead of Friday’s Euroleague semi final with CSKA Moscow.

Devin Smith told Ballineurope.com that he was confident in Maccabi’s shooting options ahead of their clash with CSKA but that the team as a whole needs to succeed more on the glass.

“We have different players who step up for every game. That allows us to spread the floor and make shots for everybody,” said Smith.

“Rebounding has been a weakness of ours throughout the season. In this type of situation it comes down to the effort and the will to get the ball. Everybody has the fight and determination to make up for that.”

Smith made the comments at Thursday’s practice ahead of Friday’s Final Four game with CSKA Moscow. Smith said the team’s test in the playoffs against Milan would stand to them on Friday night.

“We hit a little rough patch in the Top 16 but we finished in a great position. We matched up with Milan pretty well. Winning one game here allowed us to go back to Israel pretty confident on our home court,” said Smith.

“It helped us grow as a team. Coming here and winning in this building, I don’t know if Milan lost many game here. Some of our players really grew from that situation, Alex [Tyus], Tyrese [Rice], really became a part of our team in that playoff series.”

Smith said the underdog label was fine with the Maccabi side but that his team has the talent to go all the way this weekend.

“Maybe we’re not favourites but when we play our type of basketball we can compete with anybody. It comes down to how much we want it and how hard we play,” said Smith.

“We’re going to have a lot of supporters here. They’ll want to see us fight, battling for the ball. Maccabi’s fans travel well and they are really excited to be here to support us,” he said.

“The best motivation is lifting that trophy. This is what we work for all year, to be the top team in Europe. You can’t really add anything else to that.”

For regular updates of all the action in Milan, follow BallinEurope on Twitter.

May
1

Jackson: “It’s all business”

aaron-jackson-cska-moscow-eb13

BallinEurope’s Emmet Ryan caught up with CSKA Moscow’s Aaron Jackson at Thursdwy’s practice in Milano to get his thoughts on Friday night’s big game.

“Since we got here it’s all business. This year we communicated much better about the pressure [on us]. We knew who had pressure but we didn’t communicate well. Now we know the people on the team feeling pressure and we let them know we have their back,” Aaron Jackson of CSKA Moscow told BallinEurope.com.

Jackson made the comments at Thursday’s practice session before Friday’s Euroleague semi-final with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Jackson said talk of coach Ettore Messina possibly leaving CSKA for the NBA hadn’t distracted the team.

“He’s still 100 per cent focussed on the team and on what we need to do to win. He’s been really professional in dealing with the rumours he had bern hearing and he’s doing a really good job.”

Jackson said that going the full five games with Panathinaikos and closing the series out in Moscow would stand to his side this weekend.

“That was an elimination game, there was a lot of pressure, we were playing against a legendary team with legendary players. It was just a tough battle going through that series and it showed that, as a team, we can stick through it together,” said Jackson.

“My job is to just do whatever it takes, whatever coach needs me to do. I keep it simple and I’m real proud. It would be real sweet to end it with a championship this weekend.”

For regular updates of all the action in Milan, follow BallinEurope on Twitter.

Nov
0

Madrid continues unbeaten Euroleague run with dominant win over Milan


As the season heads into the winter months, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague is hotting up with some cracking games as the campaign gathers pace in Group B and C.

The showcase match for Group B came courtesy of Brose Baskets Bamberg who edged past Anadolu Efes Istanbul 88 – 86 in a thrilling game that went right down to the wire. There was only 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock when Casey Jacobsen clinched it for the winners. He scored 23 points overall and was helped by Anton Gavel who scored 17 points, Jamar Smith put 14 points on the scoreboard while John Goldsberry contributed 8 assists for Bamberg.

Efes made it difficult for Bamberg by being incredibly effective when on the offense. A scoring rate of 15-of-21 two-point shots and 5-of-7 three-pointers before halftime meant that the team took a 44-51 lead at the break as well as extending the margin to 52 – 66 midway through the third quarter. However, Bamberg didn’t give up and thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Jacobsen, the team started a 20 – 2 run that saw Bamberg lead 70 – 66 with nine minutes to go.

The lead was increased to 84 – 77, but Efes’ Kostas Vasileiadis singlehandedly brought the team back to life. The decider came at the final minute as a jumper by Jamon Gordon gave Efes a 85 – 86 lead with 6.8 seconds left. Bamberg called timeout and Jacobsen rounded off an impressive game by scoring the winning shot with only a second to spare.


The other Group B game that night saw Real Madrid continue a dominant start to its campaign by defeating EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 93 – 74 at home. The win meant that Madrid remains the only unbeaten team in the group while Milan dropped to fourth place.

Leading for the entirety of the match, Madrid were in total control thanks to Sergio Rodriguez who finished the first half on a 22 – 5 spurt, ensuring the score was 52 – 31 during the halfway mark. Nikola Mirotic scored 15 of his total 19 points in the first quarter alone, Rudy Fernandez tallied 16 points during the game, while Felipe Reyes bagged himself 14 points and 9 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Group C saw Stelmet Zielona Gora making history by securing its first ever victory in the Euroleague by beating Montepaschi Siena 73 – 65. Led by Lukasz Koszarek and Vladimir Dragicevic, Zielona Gora stayed in contention before Przemyslaw Zamojski secured the win with 7 points in the final half minute.

Nov
0

Budivelnik & Nanterre record historic Euroleague victories on Halloween Night


The third series of games in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague got underway on Halloween night, but instead of frights and scares, it was a night filled with thrilling matches and shocking victories as the season gathers momentum.

Budivelnik Kiev had a night to remember as it became the first Ukranian team to win a game in the Euroleague. It thumped Partizan NIS Belgrade 74 – 69 at home in a hard fought game.

The result means that both teams are tied in Group A, each holding a 1 – 2 record. It was Darjus Lavrinovic who gave Budivelnik the edge as he provided 22 points and 8 rebounds while DaJuan Summers and Ricky Minard scored 15 and 10 points respectively. The game was also memorable for a thrilling second quarter where impressive scoring from both sides saw the half end 44 – 42

Both teams have their work cut out if they want to catch up with Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, who currently top the group. The Turkish side remain unbeaten in Group A as it thrashed CSKA Moscow 86 – 60. The hosts provided in style thanks to contributions from Bojan Bogdanovic and Bo McCalebb.

For Moscow, it was its worst loss in 16 years, meaning that the team will want to put it behind them soon when they face FC Barcelona next week.

Barcelona is another team that’s looking to forget last night as it lost to JSF Nanterre 67 – 71 at home. The game gave the French champions’ its first victory in the Euroleague and made them the first French team to win in Palau Blaugrana in more than 17 years, the last team being Asvel Basket back in 1996.

Nanterre secured the upset in the final 28.8 seconds when free throws by Victor Sada tied both sides at 67-67 before Je’Kel Foster secured the win with a layup. Juan Carlos Navarro of Barcelona had the chance to level both sides but missed from downtown at the buzzer.

The final game of the night came from Group B as Zalgiris Kaunas defeated Strasbourg 88 – 64, making it a debut to remember for Kaunas’ new head coach Saulius Stombergas.

The Lithuanian champions hit an impressive 14 triples on only 22 attempts, and was helped by Martynas Pocius who got 7 of 9 from downtown, while scoring 23 points and contributing 5 assists in only 24 minutes. The night was also notable for Sarunas Jasikevicius as he became the seventh player in history to score 300 three-pointers, scoring 13 points off the bench.

Oct
1

Podcast: Featuring interview with Indiana Pacers director of international scouting Pete Philo

Taking the Charge podcast seriesEpisode #59 of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now available online or via iTunes.

Co-host David Hein and BallinEurope’s Os Davis have a good one for the NBA fans out there, particularly those backing the Indiana Pacers. Joining us as guest on the show is new Pacers director of international scouting Pete Philo. Philo brings an impressive resume to the club which not only includes a nice stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves as a talent scout, but also an executive position with China’s national program and status as cofounder of the Eurocamp youth program in the 1990s.

Continue Reading…

Oct
1

Podcast: Examining Euroleague week one, predicting week two, speaking with Kenan Sipahi, boxing with robots

Episode #58 (alternatively “Volume II, Episode 6”) of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now available online or via iTunes.

So you may have heard about the wacky Euroleague thing starting last week and tipping off another slate tonight. David Hein and BallinEurope’s Os Davis weigh in on the week one results, 18-year-old wunderkind/EL debutant Kenan Sipahi of Fenerbahçe Ülker appears in brief interview form, and o boy you bet Official Fearless Predictions™ are dispensed.

The sports movie review of the week focuses on the pleasantly surprisingly good Academy Award-nominated (for visual effects, but still) Real Steel, a story of a down-and-out dude, his estranged son and their massive fighting robots.
Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter http://heinnews.com/feed/taking-the-charge/ into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.

Continue Reading…

Oct
0

San Antonio Spurs beat CSKA Moscow 95-93 In Overtime

Much like their previous game against the Timberwolves on Monday, CSKA Moscow’s second U.S. tour match went into overtime again, but unfortunately, it was San Antonio Spurs who came out on top 95-93 in a thrilling finish.

The former two-time Euroleague champions fought well and almost clinched the game, but were undone by a Aron Baynes tip-in scored with only 0.5 seconds remaining in normal time.

Baynes came off the bench and added 12 points to the team’s overall tally, keeping them in the game. However, it was Manu Ginobili led the scoring for the Spurs, securing 14 points, five rebounds and four steals in the game, while Patty Mills added 14 points as they opened their preseason.

While the result was disappointing for CSKA, the team had a lot to be positive about as Jeremy Pargo scored 20 points while Sonny Weems accumulated 16 points over the course of the match.

For the majority of the game, it was the Spurs who held the advantage as they led 51-49 at half-time. By that point, Ginobili had added 11 points with three steals and one turnover. The Spurs had led by as many as 10 points during the second quarter, but CSKA reduced the deficit thanks to a 57 percent scoring rate. In comparison, The Spurs were shooting 48.7 percent.

As the third quarter went underway, the two sides tied twice at 51-51 and 61-61, but the Spurs began to pull away by scoring 15 straight points thanks to Danny Green to make it 76-61. Aaron Jackson ended CSKA’s drought from the line, but another Mills basket meant that the Spurs led 78-61 going into the final quarter.

Those at the AT&T Center would have been forgiven for expecting a straightforward finish, but CSKA has other ideas as they rediscovered their shooting form. The comeback began with a three-pointer from Pargo, before an offensive rebound by Kyle Hines led to another three-pointer by Vitaly Fridzon.

Once that happened, CSKA roared into life as they scored 17 points without reply, giving them a 82-85 lead. The Spurs fought back and it was Baynes’ last gasp contribution that leveled the two sides 86-86, keeping the Spurs in contention.

Overtime proved to be just as dramatic and Mills scored seven more points during this period. As Fridzon secured a triple for a 92-93 lead with 24.1 seconds to go, the Spurs called timeout, got the ball to Mills and he scored a three-pointer to make it 95-93.

With only 11.2 seconds left on the clock, CSKA called timeout and got the ball with Khryapa for a jumper to tie it. However, it bounced out meaning that it was San Antonio’s victory.

- Quinton O’Reilly (@qoreilly)

Oct
0

Euroleague: Preview – Lietuvos Rytas vs EWE Oldenburg and Banvit Bandirma vs Telenet BC

Things are really beginning to heat up in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds as each team fights for a place in next season’s Euroleague. Tuesday saw Lithuanian side Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius defeat a resilient VEF Riga side 80-71 in Siemens Arena. They will be hosting German side EWE Baskets Oldenburg, who edged Cimberio Varese 74-79 in a tight match.

Both sides will be eager to return to the Euroleague. Rytas will want to make up for last year’s finish when it missed out on the top 16 while Oldenburg last taste of the top league was back during the 09-10 season.

Both teams will hope to continue on the momentum from their first game. Rytas will take encouragement from a strong team performance, despite needing a late triple from Omar Cook to secure the win. Cook accumulated 7 points and 7 assists throughout the match but it was Juan Palacios who was the most prolific, collecting 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Martynas Gecevicius bagged 11 points and 8 rebounds.

EWE Baskets on the other hand had a tight finish as the two sides tied 70-70 with two minutes to go. Julis Jenkins netted 18 points off the bench while Chris Kramer’s contribution was critical, proving 15 points 5 rebouns and 5 assists throughout the game.

Wednesday night’s games were just as eventful as Banvit Bandirma saw off CEZ Basketball Nymburk 78 – 87. Keith Simmons spearheaded the Banvit attack as he scored 3 three pointers while E.J. Rowland provided 13 assists to help secure the win.

But the greatest shock came courtesy of Telenet BC, who defeated Khimki Moscow Region 79 – 90. Having been tied at 64 – 64 with a little over seven minutes left, Telenet secured the win thanks to Pierre-Antoine Gillet who scored 5 three-pointers, finishing with 16 points, while Ryan Thompson scored 19 points.

Having never been in the Euroleague before, Banvit will hope that there won’t be another shock when the two sides meet. Telenet BC, however, will be eyeing a return to Euroleague after a ten-year absence.

The sides who are unsuccessful in Thursday’s encounter will be entered in the draw for EuroCup in the last line. The draw will take place on Friday.

- Quinton O’Reilly