Joakim Noah: “Not quite ready” for Olympics, but “time is on our side”

In his first media appearance since the Chicago Bulls were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers, Joakim Noah assessed his chances of suiting up for Team France in the 2012 Olympics.

“Still a little sore” from his most recent ankle injury, Noah stated from Los Angeles that “I’m not quite ready. I will discuss all this with [national team coach Vincent] Collet. For now, it’s necessary that I focus on rehabilitation.

Putting something of a more positive spin on things, Noah went on that state that “I prefer to stay positive and tell myself that time is on our side. We’ll see how it turns out. We’ll know more in two or three weeks […] when I can join the French team. The Olympics is also a goal in my season, but I want to return to France in shape. I want to be there, but at 100%.”

The NBA club has not given word on whether Noah will be discouraged or prohibited from playing in the Olympics.

For Les Bleus in FIBA Eurobasket 2011, Noah contributed a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game over the tournament to go with 9.0 ppg and 0.9 spg.

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On the Road to London: Zinedine Zidane, Yannick Noah ♥ Tony Parker

Now available online at YouTube and DailyMotion – not to mention embedded below – is episode three of the short documentary series “On the Road to London” featuring Team France in the runup to the 2012 Olympics.

Le troisième épisode is entitled “La Star,” which might perhaps be best translated as “Tony Parker: The Love Fest.” In a six-minute cruise through Parker’s career lots of praises are sung for the Spur, kicked off with a few telling shots of San Antonio for appropriate atmosphere.

While Nicolas Batum and Ronny Turiaf are predictably effusive about having a true NBA superstar leading Les Bleus – the former correctly assesses that “we won the silver medal [at EuroBasket 2011] mainly because of him” – the bon mots worth watching for are kicked in by all-time great French athletes Zinedine Zidane and Yannick Noah.

On the negative side, BallinEurope notes the disappointing paucity of NBA, Eurocup, LNB or international tournament footage. If you don’t look away for too long, however, you’ll catch a sliver of action from Tony at the 2000 Nike Hoop Summit.

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Kemzura releases extended Team Lithuania roster: No to Lavrinovic brothers, yes to Kleiza

Kleiza gets the call

National head coach Kestutis Kemzura has released his list of 18 candidates who could be suiting up for Team Lithuania in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers and beyond. On paper at least, the selection looks pretty good – particularly compared to the Eurobasket 2011 version of the team which included a single true no. 3 after a few early injuries took their toll. The squad includes four players from Lietuvos Rytas and five currently with Zalgiris Kaunas; among the lot, too, are five others from 2011-12 Euroleague teams and one (yes, Linas is back) from the NBA.

Notable exclusions include Darius Songalia plus Kšyštof and Darjus Lavrinovič; Songalia’s spot on the preliminary roster was filled with Mindaugas Katelynas of Lietuvos Rytas, while CSKA Moscow head coach Jonas Kazlauskas reportedly wanted Darjus to stay home and rest up this summer anyway.

On board is the young sensation Canada wants to see in Jonas Valanciunas; returning after absences in the 2011 FIBA tourney are Linas Kleiza and Jonas Maciulis; and, though he’s been remarkably tight-lipped about yet another return to the national team, good ol’ Sarunas Jasikevicius is penciled in as well.

Below runs the prospective 18; how do you like Lietuva’s chances?

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Why Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow must win the Euroleague

Regular readers of BallinEurope may recall a similarly entitled writeup on Montepaschi Siena on these pages from a long time ago – actually two weeks, but already it *feels* like quite a spell. Contributing writer Enrico Cellini was as surprised as any of us when Olympiacos began Siena’s ejection from the tournament, Facebook-messaging BiE with the note that “Siena is trying its best to prove me wrong…”

But this post doesn’t concern BiE’s now-busted bracket, a frustrating finish to what had been a good-looking campaign for Montepaschi Siena, or even the Final Four surprise Olympiacos. Nope, we’re talking CSKA Moscow and that individual symbol of all of international basketball in 2011-12, Andrei Kirilenko.

In fact, why waste time? BallinEurope gets right down into an even 10 reasons why CSKA and the AK must win the 2012 Euroleague title.

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Serge Ibaka serves notice to Dallas Mavericks, NBA with 10 blocks

Team Spain’s controversial Eurobasket addition truly teed off the Dallas Mavericks last night on the other side of the pond. Serge Ibaka contributed an awesome double-double (okay, so the 2-of-8 shooting wasn’t so impressive, but still) of 11 rebounds and 10 points in the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder’s 95-86 win over the defending NBA champions. The Thunderer is now third in the league in total blocked shots and blocks per game; Ibaka has recorded at least one block in 19 of 20 games played in 2011-12.

But hey, don’t stop at the brief text description. See below the break for a compilation of all 10 swats, and repeat after BiE: “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-block-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

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Euroleague Top 16, Week Two, Night One: Six games, 100 facts

Courtesy the Euroleague folks, BallinEurope brings a compendium of facts and figures spanning history and record books regarding tomorrow night’s slate of a half-dozen games – plus lines on the games and highlight clips. Enjoy!

CSKA Moscow vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
• CSKA leads the all-time series between the teams, 8-7.
• Nenad Krstic has scored in double figures in each of his last 16 Euroleague appearances dating back to the 2003-04 season.
• Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic lead the Euroleague in index rating with at averages of 27.8 and 21.5 per game, respectively.
• Kirilenko also leads the Euroleague in blocked shots (3.2 bpg).
• Milos Teodosic is ranked second in the Euroleague in assists this season with a career-high 5.6 assists per game.
• Darjus Lavrinovic needs three more blocks reach 100 for his Euroleague career. With his next block, Lavrinovic will tie former CSKA big man Terence Morris for 12th place all-time.
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