Has it really been almost two months since the Euroleague Final Four? And when did the seasons in Spain, Greece, Italy and the NBA finish up? Time gets exceedingly relative and outright bendy once offseason transactioneering begins as memories of the previous year are quickly disposed for a look to the next and the money starts flying around.
Last week was a particularly noteworthy, headline-making span, particularly over here in Europe and especially if you’re interested in any player not named Dwight Howard. Here are BallinEurope’s five favorite moves of the previous seven days. (Is it wrong to say BiE already can’t wait for October?)
• Adam Hanga to Laboral Kutxa Baskonia. The career arc of the player destined to become Hungary’s all-time greatest continues: After developing in the Hungarian league followed by two seasons with Manresa of Liga Endesa, Hanga is set to make his Euroleague debut at age 24½ with Baskonia – and seems certain to surprise those not in-the-know with his across-the-board contributions; while Hanga will be having some minor surgery this week, he expects to miss no regular-season games. The four-year contract with Baskonia may yet keep Hanga here in Europe and out of San Antonio for a bit longer, which can be construed as good news (certainly for Continental ball followers) or bad (for the NBA supremacists).
The Red Army is coming to the US as part of the always fun and interesting Euroleague American Tour 2013: Euroleague and NBA officials today announced that in October, CSKA Moscow’ll be taking on a couple of teams with nice Continental/ international ties in the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs. No word yet on whether a second Euroleague side might also be making the trip, as is customary on the ‘Tour, but the schedule for NBA team appearances in Europe is set.
Official press release on CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague American Tour 2013 and the schedule for the NBA Global Games follows.
(Euroleague) – Euroleague Basketball and the NBA today announced that CSKA Moscow will make its third trip to North America in the past five seasons this October when the team headlines the Euroleague American Tour 2013. The Russian champion and 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague semifinalist will play games in the U.S. against the 2013 Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves.
On October 7, CSKA will travel to Minneapolis to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose 2012-13 roster included former CSKA star and Euroleague MVP Andrei Kirilenko, former CSKA player Alexey Shved, as along with former Euroleague champions Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio. On October 9, CSKA will visit San Antonio to face the Spurs, whose 2012-13 squad included another former Euroleague champion, Manu Ginobili, and three-time All-Euroleague selection Tiago Splitter among six Euroleague alumni.
This will be the third trip for CSKA Moscow to the United States and Canada to play preseason games. In 2008, the team Russian powerhouse played against the Orlando Magic and the Toronto Raptors.
In 2010, CSKA crossed the pond again to played games against the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers. CSKA’s victory in Cleveland made it the first European team to have ever beaten an NBA team on United States soil.
Okay, below runs the highlight clip European basketball fans traditionally look for this time of year – namely, the Top 10 Plays of the past Euroleague season. And while BallinEurope just as traditionally questions the pecking order of these things, BiE’ll have to admit the big ‘league pretty much nailed it this year right up to no. 1.
Said top play comes from the Olympiacos-Real Madrid final and justifies (BiE believes) this media partner’s vote for EL Final Four MVP in and of itself. As BiE always says, when an audible collective gasp swamps the press section, you know you’ve got a moment for the ages…
Is Vassilis Spanoulis throwing down a gauntlet? As the Euroleague official website leads its interview with The Captain by describing him as having “taken his place among the all-time greats of basketball by leading Olympiacos Piraeus to just the second Euroleague repeat title in the last two decades,” the below picture appears on the site’s front page.
Given that Olympiacos’ trophy was taken in Britain, does anyone else sense a subliminal message here, perhaps to the rest of the ‘League…?
The entire interview with Spanoulis may be found here.
Days after Olympiacos made European basketball history, we’re still amazed by another incredible run by the Reds and so discuss the context of this back-to-back title victory. Also up for discussion are reasons why Real Madrid and FC Barcelona should be proud and CSKA Moscow a bit ashamed. And what about that Red Army side? Will they blow up the team? What is the future of Ettore Messina, Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic with the club after a most disappointing Euroleague finish?
We also weigh in on the results and performances of the Nike International Junior Tournament, with particular reference to the finalists, champions Club Joventut Badalona and runners-up FC Barcelona – an extreme contrast in styles vis-à-vis club development within the economic realities of European sport in the 2010s.
Of course, this show’s highlight is the brief interview with none other than The Human YouTube Highlight Clip himself, Ricky Rubio. In remarkably succinct fashion, La Pistola weighs in on this year’s Euroleague Final Four, the past frustrating season with the Minnesota Timberwolves (and the importance of Nikola Pekovic) and the possibilities for Team Spain in the upcoming Eurobasket 2013 tournament.
Finally, our sports movie review of the week focuses on the 2008 film The Wrestler featuring Mickey Rourke in an outstanding tour de force career-comeback performance.
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.
No matter which way this year’s Euroleague championship played out, history would be made with Olympiacos chasing a repeat championship and Real Madrid its first in 18 years. And as it turns out, fate’s scribe was writing with Red(s) pen: Once again, tournament underdogs Olympiacos ended up EL alpha dogs with a 100-88 win over Real Madrid for only the third repeat title of the last 25 years.
Olympiacos: They are the champions — again
Real Madrid jumped out to an early lead as All-Euroleague first teamer Rudy Fernandez accounted for six points and two assists on his team’s first 10 points, finding Sergio Llull again and again; the two would combine for 16 in the first quarter alone. Los Blancos’ 27-10 lead after the opening stanza might have been considered enough against an ordinary team – but Europe’s comeback kids are hardly ordinary.
Pero Antic’s three to start the scoring in the second quarter got the Olympiacos fans back to their feet –more importantly triggering a 13-2 run with contributions from Kyle Hines and Kostas Sloukas to bring the Reds to within seven at 29-22. And highlight-reel Reyes-to-Slaughter alley-oop dunk aside, the Reds fairly well owned the second 10 minutes, outscoring Real 27-14
Of particular note in the second 10 minutes was Stratos Perperglou stifling Fernandez, limiting him to just two points on free throws; in fact, Perperglou’s defensive play was representative of Olympiacos’, as nearly half of the Madrid points (six) in the quarter were made at the line, while six Real turnovers were forced.
Vassilis Spanoulis, remarkably quiet for so long, finally broke his personal cold streak with a three after the first minute of the third quarter and a subsequent three would give Olympiacos its first lead at 48-45 – must’ve been something concocted at halftime … another run – this one 15-5 – appeared to have Real on the ropes in the third, but Los Blancos weren’t finished yet, momentarily retaking the lead at 56-55 after a pair of jumpers from Fernandez.
Among the highlights in a pressure-packed final five minutes of the third were two consecutive stops of Fernandez after he’d run up seven in the stanza already; among the lowlights, Sloukas assessed for a technical after flopping. Nikola Mirotic, uncharacteristically plagued with foul trouble earned his fourth PF – one of 10 committed by three members of the Real frontcourt – late in the third quarter as well. After 30 minutes, it was a new ballgame: 61-61.
With 90 seconds gone, Spanoulis reentered the court to palpable tension. A section of Reds fans maintained their trademark noise, but many were strangely silent while the Madridistas clung to edges of their seats.
The death blow may have come on a hidden play, as Acie Law forced Llull to bounce a dribble off his foot and into the backcourt – Spanoulis’ followup three would ultimately seal the deal from 70-62:
While Law and Sloukas and Georgi Shermadini went on to score from various spots on the floor, Jaycee Carroll’s three-pointer – just one of three Madrid shooting attempts in the fourth quarter’s first five minutes – stood alone as a Real success from the floor. By that time, the Reds’ lead had ballooned to 82-70 and the Spanish side simply did not have an Olympiacos-like miracle comeback in ‘em.
BiE’s got enough time to throw these out there, so here goes nothing … since in this debacle, we went with a final score of 72-60 – albeit with way wrong finalists picked – we’ll run with it: Olympiacos 72, Real Madrid 60, to complete the amazing back-to-back. And your Euroleague Final Four MVP will be … Kyle Hines.
(Regular readers of this ‘site of course realize what this likely means: Los Blancos take their first EL title since ’95 and, say, Felipe Reyes will take the individual award; wager accordingly.)
The last time Real Madrid and Olympiacos met in a Euroleague final? The last time Los Blancos won it all, in fact: 1995. The Euroleague’s official writeup of that year’s playoffs runs below the highlight clip, but more importantly check out the legendary legend Arvydas Sabonis putting in 23 points and grabbing seven boards in his last season before jumping the puddle to join the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA…
(Euroleague.net) — In the summer of 1994, Zeljko Obradovic left Joventut due to financial reasons despite having won the European title in Tel Aviv. Real Madrid took the chance to sign the young coach everybody was talking about, owner already of two titles with two different teams: Partizan in 1992 and Joventut. The move proved providential for Madrid, since the Spaniards ended second in their group (9-5), only after Panathinaikos (10-4), and in front of CSKA Moscow and Scavolini, both with 9-5. In the other group, Limoges was first (10-4), Olympiakos second (9-5) Cibona and Buckler Virtus third and fourth (both 8-6). In the quarterfinals, only Real managed to sweep, beating Cibona 2-0, while Panathinaikos (vs. Buckler), Limoges (vs. Scavolini) and Olympiakos (vs. CSKA) each needed three games to advance.
In the Final Four, played again in Zaragoza, Spain, Olympiakos won the Greek semifinal for the second year in a row, while Real Madrid did not have any problems downing Limoges. In the final there were no doubts: Real Madrid was ahead by 10 points at halftime (38-28) and maintained its clear lead until the end, 73-61. Arvydas Sabonis, in his third and last year with Real before going to the NBA, finally won the European title that had escaped him at two previous finals: in 1986 with Zalgiris and in 1992 with Real Madrid. Now, the team which still has the most European titles, had its first title in 15 years.
BallinEurope weighed in on the question of Euroleague Coach of the Year for 2012-13 earlier, so now it’s your turn: Who do you like for the honor? (This poll will remain open for a day after the championship game, should your decision hinge on the outcome…)
Who is the 2012-13 Euroleague Coach of the Year?
Georgios Bartzokas, Olympiacos (69%, 36 Votes)
Argiris Pedoulakis, Panathinaikos (13%, 7 Votes)
other (10%, 5 Votes)
Zan Tabak, Baskonia (8%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 52
Did/will the outcome of the Olympiacos-Real Madrid game affect your vote?