And here’s one more for you from BallinEurope’s friends at Germany-based Sport Eagle TV: The totally tired Emir Preldzic weighs in briefly on a few topics, including a fearless prediction on Fenerbahçe Ülker’s finish in Euroleague 2012-13 – and check out how much he’s looking forward to playing the Boston Celtics as part of the NBA Europe Live Tour in September…
One of the forgotten casualties of the 2011 player lockout was the NBA Europe Live Tour bringing top teams from North America to Euroleague arenas – and sometimes vice versa. The NBA Europe Live Tour 2011 was cancelled due to the labor issues, but happily EL officials announced at about noon CET today that the tour is back on for 2012.
Official press release follows, but BallinEurope’ll tell you straight up front that the games on the NBA Europe Live 2012 tour include: Boston Celtics vs. Fenerbahce Ulker on October 5; the Dallas Mavericks vs. Alba Berlin on Oct. 6; Celtics at Emporio Armani Milano on Oct. 7; and, presumably the Mavs against that unnamed Liga Endesa team soon thereafter.
Beşiktaş’ season, like any power in club hoops, began in the summer. All they did to top last year’s high-profile signing of the ultimately marginal Allen Iverson was ink Deron Williams, a franchise guard at his peak, to the biggest contract in European basketball with an NBA out-clause when the player lockout was to be settled.
Olympiacos wins! Olympiacos wins! Olympiacos wins! (a.k.a. *The* European basketball story of 2011-12)
Let’s put this into perspective. The last time Olympiacos took the Greek national title, they were led by David Rivers and Dragan Tarlać. Vassilis Spanoulis was 15 years old and not near professional club play. Dejan Bodiroga was in the middle of his career and Mirsad Turkcan had just turned 21.
Across the pond, Lebron James was 13; Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and *those* Chicago Bulls were about to earn their fifth rings; Kobe Bryant had just become the NBA record-setter as youngest NBA starter ever. In international play, Team USA still wore an aura of invincibility. The World Trade Center was still standing and the European Union was optimistically looking forward to including former communist-led countries as member states.
It seems like a dream to BallinEurope, so one can only goggle at how Olympiacos fans must be feeling today (aside from hungover, that is). Yes, the Reds in the decisive game five of the national championship series took the 82-76 victory over rival Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, nine-time consecutive champions and typically previously perpetual Olympiacos nightmare this time of year.
Yesterday, the basketball-centered bit of the Twitter universe was centered in two real-life locales: New York City and Barcelona. Topics in play were the falling of ping-pong balls in New York City and Euroleague’s incipient decision on the construction of Euroleague 2012-13. Hopefully, BallinEurope will get something together on the former later, but for now, BiE’ll attempts a quick look at the roster of teams for the upcoming season.
The three-year A-licenses are currently under review, but you gotta figure Caja Laboral Baskonia, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, Anadolu Efes, Fenerbahçe Ülker, CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Montepaschi Siena and Žalgiris Kaunas are in. Asseco Prokom Gdynia is in the second year of its license, making them the 12th of the 24 teams.
Also up for review is Unicaja Malaga. While Spain is still even officially considered *the* best domestic or regional league in Europe (more on this momentarily), the big league could certainly defend a yanking of the license based on the team’s bottom-half finish in the Liga Endesa and consistently better recent performance by Valencia BC.
Virtus Roma is the only original A-license team to have been removed from the EL roll call, getting its placement in Euroleague ball “suspended for having finished in the bottom half of its national competition.” Unicaja might easily find itself on the Eurocup level for 2012-13; let’s just say a *lot* of things would have to happen to even get the team into the EL qualifiers.
NIJT wrap: Lietuvos Rytas takes title; plus, BiE’s nine European (and one Chinese) prospects to watch
Now that the proverbial fat lady has sung, BiE goes through 10 names European basketball and NBA fans might want to keep track of in the medium-term future – some of these guys are certainly destined for international stardom before decade’s end. Please note that the following are not necessarily the best players in the tournament, but rather those who BiE believes have the most upside or could simply surprise those not in-the-know once they’ve risen to the next level.
BiE’s “Who’s Who” from the 2012 NIJT includes the following.
Just completed was the deciding game in Group A of the Nike International Junior Tournament – and for Crvena Zvezda the results were ugly indeed.
While Dusan Ristic had his now-standard killer game for the Croatian side with 21 points and 10 rebounds, the tenacious play of the Lithuanians (clearly still rolling from their incredible second half against FC Barcelona yesterday) resulted in a huge 105-69 victory for Lietuvos Rytas. Augustinas Jankaitis chased his double-double of 16/13 yesterday – and augmented his chances of ultimately being named MVP of this tourney – with an amazing 30-point, 11-rebound performance.
Once again, Crvena Zvezda appeared to consciously eschew a physical game, a style which this Lithuanian side is not at all afraid to play. L. Rytas won the battle of the boards handily, with 39 against the Red Star’s mere 26.
• Early on, Crvena Zvezda appeared intimidated by Anadolu Efes, a much more physical team than the previous day’s opponent, FC Barcelona – but somehow while the Red Stars mostly shied away from going inside and gave up turnovers by the bundle, big man Marko Tejic somehow amassed three fouls in less than three minutes.
• In the first half, Crvena Zvezda showed their fantastic wiles with tight defensive rotations and traps, though proving susceptible on the baseline; this allowed the larger frontcourt of Efes to score essentially every time a guard managed to find his man there.
• Speaking of those Efes guards, BiE’s eye was caught by the play of Furkan Bayrak and particularly Cedi Osman. Both showed nice game-management skills and in fact the Efes lead began to noticeably crumble when Bayrak and Osman both sat for a spell, allowing Crvena Zvezda to knot things up at 22 in the second quarter.
As befits tradition, the 2012 Nike International Junior Tournament is running in parallel with the Euroleague Final Four competition in Istanbul. Eight youth league teams are competing for the grand prize – and, individually speaking, to garner some attention from club scouts as each player’s career burgeons on the big stage.
In the bigger picture, the NIJT games (and introductory qualifying tournaments) also serve as a handy barometer of club play on the national level. After day one, then, it’s good news for Croatia and Lithuania, whose homegrown squads swept, and bad news for Turkey, as powerhouses Fenerbahçe Ülker and Anadolu Efes both lost. And what’s up with FC Barcelona…?
KK Zagreb 79, Fenerbahçe Ülker 76
As though The Next Big Thing Out Of Croatia, a.k.a. 2011 NIJT MVP Dario Saric, weren’t enough, NIJT competitors will also apparently now have to take notice of Dominik Mavra as well. While Saric put in a ridiculous man-among-boys performance of 26 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and five steals, Mavra “added” 30 points and six boards as the pair consistently foiled any attempt by Fenerbahçe to establish their tempo: Each went to the free-throw line 12 times in the game and accounted for over 70% of the Croatian side’s points.
Crvena Zvezda 86, FC Barcelona Regal 77
The much-touted Blaugrana suffered a disappointing performance against Crvena Zvezda to take a nine-point loss after going up 18-12 in the first quarter and 20-15 after 10 minutes of play. Worse for Spanish basketball, Barcelona’s main contributors were foreigners Ludde “El Matador Sueco” Hakanson, Nick Spires and Alexandr Zhigulin. Crvena Zvezda’s big men pretty much had their way with Barça’s – even Spires’ 13 points belies his frustrating 4-of-15 overall shooting – as Serbia’s Dusan Ristic put in a crushing 23-point, 12-rebound (including six offensive) show.
In this second piece of a two-part series, sportswriter/commentator Uygar Karaca again considers the EuroChallenge Championship Curse, with special reference to this year’s champions, Beşiktaş; unfortunately for the Eagles, Karaca feels a distressing amount of déjà vu…
In this article, I will try to answer the question as to whether Beşiktaş Milangaz fits into the framework of the “EuroChallenge Championship Curse.” Just to reminder for readers: A few days ago, I compiled a list of teams who won the FIBA EuroChallenge trophy and what happened to them thereafter. Many of these team’s fates were not very nice and unfortunately, one can fairly claim that Beşiktaş is walking a similar path.