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Jun
2

A Different Perspective for Euroleague

FC Barcelona Regal v Laboral Kutxa Vitoria - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16

While the world still awaits Google Glass hitting the mainstream, Europe’s top basketball league is already finding ways to help it change the game.

Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv took the Euroleague title, basketball’s answer to the Champions League, in thrilling fashion against Real Madrid last month. The under-card game that preceded the epic final may however prove more important for the future of the sport.

The third place playoff, a game widely ignored by fans and with little interest from players, was used as a staging ground for Euroleague’s second in-game test of Google Glass. “We’re always looking for new ways of integrating new technologies in the league. We want to find new ways to get more insight from using new content for our fans and on the other side to find tools for basketball professionals that can be useful for their day-to-day work,” said Alex Ferrer, communications director with Euroleague.

“We have a partnership with the University of La Salle in Barcelona and we learned that they were official testers of Glass in Spain. We started brainstorming to see what we could do with the technology this season,” said Ferrer.

Prior to the third place playoff test, Euroleague had a field test of the technology during an earlier stage of the season in a game between Barcelona and Laboral Kutxa. “We did a couple of tests in a Top 16 game and these tests were mostly related to producing content for the fans. The next step is to see how this can also be used to provide data to professionals to be used in real time to make decisions on the court,” said Ferrer.

“We released a clip that the fans loved for the Barcelona-Laboral Kutxa game. It was with the players and coaches and referees wearing them. It truly provided a different view, a unique view that we couldn’t experience before so we are planning to do more in the future and also to find other ways because it’s not the only thing you can do with this device.”

For the third place playoff last month, Euroleague equipped a referee with Glass for the game between Barcelona and CSKA Moscow. The league also got players to wear the device during practices before their games. The video the players recorded was used as part of two mini-movies released by Euroleague from the finals weekend. Ferrer said the players enjoyed helping to create content for the fans.

“Everybody loves it when you give it to them. Players and coaches love it. It’s a new thing so they like to experiment with it. In the beginning, it’s a little strange because you have something in your eye that you’re not used to but after a few seconds you get used to that and it’s only a very small screen on the top of your vision,” he said.
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Jun
0

Marcelinho Huertas one-legged buzzer beater to beat Valencia

Well that was one of the most dramatic finishes in a while. Barcelona beat Valencia 77-75 to progress to the ACB Finals but they needed an incredible floater to take the final W. Enter Marce…

The win gave Barcelona a 3-2 series win. The Blaugrana now progress to take on reigning champions Real Madrid in the ACB Finals.

May
2

Final Four: Barcelona beat CSKA Moscow 93-78 in third place game

CSKA-Barcelona-third-place-game

It’s the game nobody wants to play in and few want to watch but at least it featured a milestone for Juan Carlos Navarro and quality minutes for Mario Hezonja. After the devastation of defeat in Friday’s semi finals, CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona trotted out for the Euroleague third/fourth place decider.

A faint CSKA cheer greeted the opening tip with the drummer trying to rally the supporters in an arena that was at best a fifth full. Sonny Weems nailed his first shot, after his horrible evening on Friday it was of little consolation. CSKA raced into an 8-2 lead, forcing Xavi Pascual to call timeout early. Much to the chagrin of those present, this gave the MC from last year in London a chance to get on the mic. At least he was second fiddle to the main MC and there was comfort in knowing he would be drowned out by Maccabi fans in a few hours. Sasha Kaun was dominating the opening quarter, much as he did against Maccabi, scoring 8 points in the first three minutes of action. The scoring was fast but it was hardly a surprise given how easy both sides were going on defence. Milos Teodosic dropped a Navarro-esque floater, then the Barcelona guard responded in kind following his own introduction. At the end of the first, CSKA led 24-21.

Maciej Lampe opened the second quarter with back-to-back threes to remind us that yes, he is indeed still alive despite sitting the full 40 minutes on Friday night. Barca moved into a 34-28 lead on the back of Lampe’s efforts. Alex Abrines added another three and the Catalan back-ups were having a good frame. CSKA however were still finding plenty of room up the other end of the floor as Kaun moved to double digits on the scoresheet with a dunk. An alley-oop slam by Joey Dorsey drew a gasp from the crowd as Barca stretched their lead to 9. Mario Hezonja entered the game and certainly looked eager but had limited opportunities as the half drew to a close. Barcelona took a 50-47 lead into the break.

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May
0

Final Four movie…good job Euroleague

This is actually pretty great. Euroleague has put together a short film following all four Final Four teams through Thursday and Friday. Gives a great look inside the game and is really well produced. Take 9 minutes to check it out.

May
0

The Ballin After: Blatt on that miracle

Emmet Ryan looks back on Real Madrid’s dominant display against Barcelona and we hear from David Blatt about Maccabi’s miracle against CSKA.

May
1

Pullen: Pascual has taught me a lot

jacob-pullen-barcelona

Ballineurope’s Emmet Ryan caught up with Brad Oleseon, Erazem Lorbek, Jacob Pullen, and Joey Dorsey of FC Barcelona at Thursday’s Final Four practice.

“They are a very dangerous team in transition. When they get out in transition they get confidence and make threes,” Brad Oleson told BallinEurope.com.

He made the comments at Thursday’s practice ahead of Friday’s Clasico, a Euroleague semi-final with Real Madrid. Oleson said Barcelona’s recent win over Real Madrid in ACB could play a psychological factor in the games.

“When losing, teams tend to get focussed, when winning teams tend to relax a little bit. Hopefully we didn’t relax too much these last five days,”

Erazem Lorbek said the win had given his team a mental boost ahead of Friday’s game. “It’s a big game, every year we play them many times, and it’s always difficult against Real Madrid. They have beaten us many times but we got the last win, which we wanted, hopefully it will help us,” said Lorbek.

“We are pretty confident that we can do it, we are very focused but we will see tomorrow on the court. The game will be tough.”

Despite the win in their most recent clash with Real, Joey Dorsey said there is still room for him to improve on his performance.

“Coming into the game, the guys have got confidence. The biggest thing is coming to the Final Four with a lot of confidence. I know in the last game they beat us on offensive rebounds so it’s my job to take care of that,” said Dorsey.

Jacob Pullen said working with Xavi Pascual had helped him develop his game this season. “He does a great job of teaching, he’s taught me a lot. He’s also asked a lot of me and when I wasn’t able to do as much he made sure I knew that he still believed in me,” said Pullen.

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

Apr
8

Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs

BallinEurope only went 6 of 8 in picking the teams to make the post-season and one of those sides we didn’t have faith in won’t be happy with how we see the playoffs shaping up. It’s fearless prediction time.

Barcelona vs Galatasaray

Pick: Barca in 3.

So we didn’t think Galatasaray would make it this far and now we’re saying there roll a doughnut in the post-season. Harsh? Perhaps but we’re standing by it. Barcelona’s slump at the end of the Top 16 can’t disguise a 22-0 start to Euroleague this season. This team is going to Milan, the question is how many games it will require. Much as Galatasaray deserve credit for holding their nerve in the wild battle for fourth in Group F, they look to have drawn a pairing suited to exploit them. If it’s any comfort, we seem to have given Pops Mensah-Bonsu some added motivation.

Real Madrid vs Olympiacos

Pick: RMB in 4.

This was a tough call to make and not for the reason you might think. Real Madrid look to have the most complete team in Europe this season. If they weren’t utterly unbackable, I’d take RMB to walk into a 2-0 series lead without blinking. The question in my mind is whether they will be able to finish the Reds off quickly or if it will require them going back to Madrid. In the end I split the difference and called it Real in a 3-1 win.

CSKA Moscow vs Panathinaikos

Pick: CSKA in 5.

Honestly, this was the easiest call of the lot. You could slot in any opponent and I’d have trouble believing this CSKA team would take care of business the easy way. It’s just not been their style all season. If any series goes the max, this will be it. Panathinaikos still look capable of taking care of business back home but neither of the Greek giants looks like final four material this year.

EA7 Milano vs Maccabi Elektra Tel-Aviv

Pick: Milano in 4.

This is about as good a style match-up as Milano could have hoped for. They have the weapons to hurt Maccabi and to do so repeatedly. Home court in the final four isn’t something that comes around every year and that’s plenty motivation for Milano. It could have been a source of nerves but the maturity this outfit showed in the Top 16 makes me think otherwise. For the first half of that phase Milano kept stumbling, not quite doing enough to convince skeptics like me (who said they wouldn’t make the post-season) of their worth and then boom they caught fire. The Barca win is what most remember but the change had already happened. They had evolved from could-bes to probablys.

So where have I gone horribly wrong? Please vent your frustrations in the comments.

Feb
0

The Dish: No wild cards here

Fenerbahce are in free fall while the Greens and the Blaugrana served up another gem. Take your mind off the FIBA World Cup for a minute and take in this week’s edition of The Dish.

The top two in Group E squared off in the OAKA and at half-time it looked like the Blaugrana would stroll out with an easy W. Fortunately, the fixture Panathinaikos vs Barcelona rarely serves up such straightforward fare. Dimitris Diamantidis nailed a huge three at the end of the third and we were all set for a grandstand fourth quarter. And then…nothing. In a frame low on offence, Barcelona did enough to get over the line with reasonable comfort, the Greens go down 56-63 at home.

Had this group started out differently, we’d be talking about that result as a game the Greens could really have done with winning. Instead the team in crisis is coached by the man who brought four Euroleague titles to the Athens club. Fenerbahce were first hand witnesses to EA7 Milano establishing their playoff credentials. Linas Kleiza dropped 26 for Fener but they got nothing from the bench and that lack of support cost them on the road. Fenerbahce are now bottom of Group E, two games back in the playoff race after just five games.
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Jan
0

The dish: A nice relaxing start

Round 1 of the Top 16 was a little crowded, we’ll get to that, but by and large it was awfully relaxing basketball.


We open with the game that closed the openung round if action. Vassilis Spanoulis went nuts in the SEF as he ripped Zedijko Obradovic a new one on the coach’s first trip to the arena as Fenerbahce coach. Obradovic brought his troops to the OAKA for warm-ups earlier in the day, a nice touch we must admit, but he couldn’t get them to fix an issue that’s hit them a few times this season. Could somebody please tell Fener to show up in the first quarter? Credit to the Istanbul club, they clawed their way back into it and made it a one-possession game going into the final minutes but then V-Span went out of this world again and the home side took the W. In a shock to no-one, Spanoulis was named MVP of the round with 28 points, 9 assists, and PIR of 39. Whatever the result when Barcelona visits Istanbul next week, a far better first frame is necessary for all of us reformed doubters to keep the faith. One final note on this game, be sure to check out Raul Jimenez’s piece on mismatches inspired by this game.

Staying in Group E and there was a good spot by Rob Scott over at ELA. The difference in offensive performance by Panathinaikos with and without Dimitris Diamantidis is frightening. They took care of business on Thursday night 73-57 at home against EA7 Milan, helped by 11 dimes from DDD. Daniel Hackett may be happy to still be in Italy but he must be guessing that his European season is going to become frighteningly irrelevant soon.
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Dec
0

Group E: The knowns and the unknowns

The slate is clean for the Top 16. Today and tomorrow we’ll break down what we know about each team in the second phase, what we want to know, and what we think we still won’t know sfter 14 rounds of action. We start with the eight participants.

Fenerbahce Ulker
What we know: This is an Obradovic team. They’ve pulled out wins they would have lost a year ago and show a level of organisation to match their talent.
What we want to know: Can they do enough to get home advantage in the playoffs.
What we won’t know: If home advantage in the last eight will have any real impact in their Final Four hopes.

Olympiacos Piraeus
What we know: Even with heavy losses in the off-season, this is still a team that is built for one-and-done play. They waltzed through the regular season and should make the quarter finals with ease.
What we want to know: How they will manage their roster over the meat of their schedule with an eye to keeping their best players fresh down the stretch.
What we won’t know: Their ability to hold up over a Best-of-5 situation.

EA7 Milano
What we know: Coming second in an awful group has its rewards but there’s a limit given the opponents they face.
What we want to know: The ability of a relatively thin roster to handle a heavy schedule.
What we won’t know: Their chances in LegABasket, yeah they ain’t making the playoffs.

Saski Baskonia
What we know: They have the capacity to force the best out of anyone but not necessarily make the opponent pay.
What we want to know: If the long format will improve their playoff chances.
What we won’t know: If they can mount a serious threat in the playoffs…okay, we’ll know if they don’t make it.

FC Barcelona
What we know: They have scorers and can and wil use them to great effect.
What we want to know: If they can show more innovation in creating opportunties when the going gets tough.
What we won’t know: Their health.

Unicaja Malage
What we know: This remains an intelligent ball club with a veteran style against the relative upstarts of Euroleague.
What we want to know: Will they benefit from playing 9 games of 14 in Spain, significantly reducing travel (naturally applies to Barca and Baskonia too).
What we won’t know: Like Baskonia, if they make the post-season we still won’t be sure how they’ll handle a Best-of-5 situation.

Anadolu Efes
What we know: This team is not as strong as last year’s line-up but has the same functional issues.
What we want to know: If greater organisation in the Top 16 can make up for that drop in overall quality.
What we won’t know: Who they will sign next year to make up for missing out on the playoffs.

Panathinaikos
What we know: They took the thin part of their name by its English meaning this year a large part of the regular season and decided to play fast and loose with their progress.
What we want to know: If they are, in simple terms, the team that started the regular season, the team that finished, or a better version of both.
What we won’t know: What they can do if DDD isn’t there to save them. For the time being at least, he makes them a threat in any situation.

Fearless prediction: To me there are three teams fighting for the top two and three more for the last spot. I’m going Olympiacos and Barcelona in that order with Fener third but it goes to the final game. Panathinaikos to take fourth and, this is the fearless bit, in far more comfortable fashion than anyone expects.