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The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++ Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen +++ The Dish: Can I play with Madness? +++ Just point out the bounce +++
Mar
0

Even inaction is political for FIBA in Ukraine

The last thing on most people’s minds when it comes to the crisis in Crimea is basketball. FIBA Europe don’t have that luxury. Emmet Ryan says that whatever call FIBA makes on EuroBasket 2015, they will suffer for it.

The road to EuroBasket 2015 had been rocky enough already before last weekend. The Crimea crisis has escalated matters and there are many furrowed brows in FIBA Europe’s headquarters in Munich right about now. Ukraine is set to host the continent’s premier basketball competition next year, that presents a political nightmare for the basketball body.

Let’s look at the options facing FIBA. Only two really matter, keep the tournament in Ukraine or move it. The former requires no new action from FIBA Europe, the latter most certainly does. Neither is pleasant.

The lone upside to keeping the tournament in Ukraine is that FIBA Europe technically isn’t making a political statement if it proceeds with the plan. There’s just a slight problem, if Russia says it’s a political statement then it might as well be. Russia could pull out of the tournament, removing every Russian eyeball and the TV money that goes with it. More importantly, it’s a blatant opportunity for Vladimir Putin to grandstand. And all of this while FIBA Europe does literally nothing to change its current course of action. The financial hit is one the body could take in the short-term but pissing off a big market isn’t advisable beyond it.

Removing the tournament from Ukraine has obviously negative implications from a face-saving point. It’s basically a continent-wide governing body saying Kthanxbai and leaving a member hanging. Whatever your views on the political administration in Ukraine, their governing body of basketball is hardly one to shoulder the blame here. What no-one else will say is that if Ukraine loses the tournament, the only nation likely to boycott is Ukraine. Many more will cluck but they’ll still show up to ball.

The only way FIBA Europe gets out of this jam easily is if Ukraine becomes unviable as a host for the tournament. There are two ways this could happen. Political instability is the less pleasant option. Should matters escalate, and it’s safe to say that’s not a good thing, then FIBA can cite safety concerns but it would really wish it didn’t have to. The second is infrastructure. Does Ukraine still have the physical infrastructure and financial resources to deliver EuroBasket? It’s not exactly a nice idea either but infrastructural concerns, especially substantial ones, would be by far the easiest option for FIBA Europe to use to abandon Ukraine.

Whatever way it pans out, FIBA Europe is going to take an absolutely beating in the press. There are often fair and reasonable reasons to mock the governing body. This really isn’t one of them but it will be one of the more visible and it will end badly for them.

EuroBasket 2015 isn’t the first potential clash of politics and basketball in this crisis. With Ukraine’s Budvielnik Kiev and Khimik Yuzhne still in EuroCup, along with Russian outfits Khimki Moscow Region, Unics Kazan, and Nizhny Novgorod, the competition could yet deliver a match-up where politics takes precedence over basketball.

There’s also the small matter of the VTB United League. The next game scheduled between teams from both nations is between Triumphy Lyubertsy and Azovmash Mariupol. Given Mariupol’s home game with Russia’s Khimki was postponed on 23 February, it’s safe to say that games between Russian and Ukrainian sides in the league are likely to go unplayed for the foreseeable future.

Feb
1

Team Russia to be AK-less for Eurobasket as Andrei Kirilenko announces retirement

Kirilenko in 2008

But what a way to go out, eh…?

Russia-based Sport Express and FIBA are this morning reporting what many have suspected all along what was inevitable: That Andrei Kirilenko is to retire from international play. Kirilenko explained that he’d already recently discussed the possibility with Russian Basketball Federation president Alexander Krasnenkov and that he “didn’t want to keep everyone in suspense for long.”

Citing common concerns among international players about fatigue and personal life, Kirilenko told Sport Express that “I’m not ready to spend most of the summer with the team and not with the family.” He hopes that the fortunes of Team Russia remain high and that he wishes to “transfer the authority and responsibility to” the younger generation of national teamers.

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Nov
27

FIBA’s new international tournament rules: Capitulation, silent collusion or just plain selling out?

Apologies from BallinEurope for not weighing in on this … thing until this morning, but after rereading it for the nth time, BiE felt the rant building but wanted to avoid posting an overly emotional response. Perhaps a day and a good night’s rest would temper my viewpoint; maybe upon waking this morning, we’d all discover after logging in to FIBA.com that the Eurobasket manipulation had all been a smokescreen for the hiring of Mike D’Antoni. Or something.

Or does one…?

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Sep
13

EuroBasket 2013 draw seedings: Some thoughts

Exactly what the title says then – BallinEurope takes a look at the seedings for the EuroBasket 2013 draw and riffs a bit. As we know, the six groups from which the final divisions will be comprised look as follows.

No. 1 seeds: Spain, France, Russia, FYR Macedonia

No. 2 seeds: Lithuania, Greece, Slovenia, Great Britain

No. 3 seeds: Italy, Croatia, Germany, Montenegro

No. 4 seeds: Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina

No. 5 seeds: Georgia, Belgium, Latvia, Turkey

No. 6 seeds: Czech Republic, Serbia, Israel, Sweden

Mulled-over reactions follow.

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Mar
13

Lakers scout: “Germany biggest hope for European basketball”; L.A. interested in Maik Zirbes?

Former Real Madrid/current Los Angeles Lakers scout Antonio Maceiras visited Germany last week, including a stop in Bamberg to watch Brose Baskets destroy TBB Trier (no, seriously: Just look at this box score). Naturally, this gave BallinEurope contributor David Hein the opportunity to chat with the man about working for the Los Angeles Lakers and with his old compadre Ettore Messina; the state of European basketball; and what the Lake Show might do about that bugaboo of a no. 3 spot, among other topics.

Most significantly from BiE’s perspective, however, was Maceiras’ take on Germany’s ambitious Bundesliga. From a European hoops expert’s standpoint, his quote was intriguing indeed.

Said Maceiras: “When I was coming to the gym [tonight], I was thinking Germany is really the biggest hope for European basketball, if not the latest hope. I think the organization here is great. The teams are real professional organizations and very consistent. And this is the biggest market in Europe. And also the ethics of the German people is great for basketball. The combination is excellent. It’s just a matter of keeping the development that German basketball started some years ago. I think the league is getting better all the time. The teams are good and the organization of the games is good. The attendance is good. And I think this Bayern Munich project is something that can really push not just German but European basketball. So, in my opinion, they are going in the right [direction], and if they keep going how they are going then they have all the tools to become the best domestic league in Europe.”

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Feb
28

Shocker (not): FIBA Europe names Dirk Nowitzki player of the year; Navarro, McCalebb runners-up

To no one’s surprise – certainly not BallinEurope’s, in any case – FIBA Europe today announced its men’s player of the year award would go to the longtime Team Germany/Dallas Mavericks superstar. Less than suspenseful, too, were the results of the top five finishers: Behind Dastardly Dirk came Juan Carlos “La Bomba” Navarro, Bo McCalebb, Pau Gasol and Andrei Kirilenko.

Official FIBA Europe press release and highlights follow.

(FIBA Europe) – FIBA Europe announced on Tuesday that Dirk Nowitzki of Germany has been voted the 2011 European Player of the Year.

Nowitzki was the winner of the expert panel vote ahead of Spain captain/EuroBasket 2011 MVP Juan Carlos Navarro, while he placed fourth in the public voting.
It is the second time Nowitzki lands the coveted FIBA Europe award, as he was the winner of the first edition, in 2005. He was also named 2011 Germany’s Athlete of the Year last December.

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Jan
11

Dirk Nowitzki: “Angela Merkel is nice”; “I want to top Sabonis.”

Surely to no one’s surprise, Gazzetta dello Sport gave its prestigious Euroscar Player of the Year Award to Dirk Nowitzki, he of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Clearly the favorite to take FIBA Europe’s equivalent award, the Mav was bestowed with the honor on the same night he collected his bling-bling title ring in Dallas.

Enrico Cellini has gathered a few choice quotes from la Gazzetta’s interview with Nowitzki, including the German’s thoughts on his favorite Italian player, meeting Angela Merkel and topping Arvydas Sabonis.

On January 27, Dirk Nowitzki did not play for the Mavericks against the Minnesota Timberwolves but still brought home two interesting souvenirs from American Air Center. As you are reading BallinEurope, you don’t probably care too much about the diamond-encrusted $40K NBA championship ring (courtesy of Mark Cuban) that Dirk received in a touching ceremony (courtesy of Rick Carlisle), do you? Instead, what’s worth reporting about that night is the fact that Wunder Dirk also received the Europlayer 2011 award, an acknowledgement assigned by Italian Gazzetta dello Sport to the best European basketball player of the season.

You may see the ceremony here.

All right, so it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the ring ceremony but still …

Gazzetta dello Sport later published in its printed version an interview with Nowitzki, in which Würzburg’s finest touched on several topics.

Said Dirk on the loss in the 2005-06 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat: “That experience actually helped me – it made me improve: Now I handle the fourth quarter with more intelligence.”

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Dec
13

The official BallinEurope ballot for FIBA Europe Men’s Players of the Year: Nowitzki, Navarro and…?

BallinEurope just loves season- and year-ending polls, and every December FIBA Europe offers hoops devotees the opportunity to participate in the naming the Continent’s Players of The Year. And while the winner of the award for 2011 – a.k.a. the Year of Dirk – is surely a no-brainer, the FIBA ballot calls for electors to award a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place vote from among 10 nominees; BiE is finding that no. 3 spot a real mind-bender. If someone can provide a nice salient argument for the final spot, that person will have BiE’s undying admiration.

The process of elimination went the following way, in reverse order of finish, and garnishing with highlight clips.

10. Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos. Yes, Double-D was the Euroleague MVP and the Euroleague Final Four MVP for 2010-11. Yes, he thus established himself as one of the five or six greatest of the EL modern era. But Diamantidis did not play any international ball, whereas all other nine nominees participated in Eurobasket 2011 and most where instrumental to their team’s successes. Dimitris simply has the shortest CV of a very talented ten.

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Dec
0

Sans D-Will, Beşiktaş wins at Armia anyway, clinches Eurochallenge Group B first place

Deron who?

Okay, so BallinEurope wouldn’t go that far; after all, we’re talking about a player of retired-jersey status here. Regardless, Beşiktaş Milangaz began the post-Deron Williams Era with a 77-75 win at Armia in FIBA Eurochallenge play, thanks to a David Hawkins jumper in the waning seconds…

Official FIBA writeup follows.

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Nov
0

Parting shots, part one: Okur throws dagger; Splitter near double-double; D-Will’s jersey retired (no, really)

A few players returning to the NBA made expected final appearances with their European clubs last night as the mass departure to the ‘States begins. BallinEurope runs down a handful of individual performances from Adriatic League, Eurocup, and FIBA Eurochallenge games.

• Big shot of the night, NBA-related or no, was certainly Mehmet Okur’s three-point dagger to give Turk Telekom the 83-81 win over Pinar Karsiyaka. Reports FIBA Europe in part: “With Turkish basketball still talking about the 50-point explosion by Okur’s former Utah Jazz teammate Deron Williams for Beşiktaş last week, Okur capped another solid performance with a long-range shot that gave the Ankara team an 83-81 triumph on Tuesday.

“Utah Jazz big man Okur, like New Jersey Nets guard Williams, is to soon head back to the United States following Saturday’s announcement that the lockout is set to end this week.

“Okur had 14 points and 10 rebounds in Izmir against Karsiyaka. … His free throw had given Turk Telekom an 80-79 advantage with 31 seconds to go, but Karsiyaka went back out in front when Alper Saruhan landed a jumper.

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