Euroleague Power Rankings: 2012-13 Opening Day Edition

All right, it’s that time again! With hours to go before the 2012-13 Euroleague season tips off, BallinEurope breaks out its first power ratings for the big league.

Whereas normally a disclaimer to the effect of “the following ratings are based on current trending only and are not necessarily based on the overall quality of the teams” runs here, this year BiE’s switching things up a bit. To wit: For this edition of Euroleague power rankings, the teams *will* be run based on BallinEurope’s totally subjective viewpoint. (Mainly because BiE couldn’t figure out what to do with Barcelona…)

Get your arguments ready and read on for this season’s first power rankings, with Official BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™ for the upcoming season peppered throughout. Enjoy the games!

The favorites
1. Olympiacos Piraeus. The usual reserved spot for the defending champion comes with some justification this year, as Vassilis Spanoulis & Co. show no signs of letting up on their 2011-12 season-ending 22-4 run. In the off-/preseason, Olympiacos’ foursome of Spanoulis, local hero Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou and Evengelos Mantazaris suited up for a disappointed Team Greece – all but Mantazaris acquitted themselves nicely, with 50-of-89 (56.2%) overall shooting and Spanoulis dishing out just under six assists per game in three Olympic qualifiers.

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FC Barcelona tops Real Madrid, 73-69, to take Spanish title; MVP Lorbek, Mickeal, Vazquez lead way

Congratulations this morning go out to FC Barcelona, winners of the fifth and final game in the Liga Endesa championship, 73-69, over Real Madrid. In yet another cliffhanger, Los Blancos “died with their boots on” as the official league writeup would have it, while the Blaugrana were led by Pete Mickeal (17 points, nine rebounds, 23 performance index rating), Frán Vazquez (16 points, eight boards, four blocked shots) and prospective San Antonio Spur/series MVP Erazem Lorbek (10 points, six rebounds).

Highlights and extrapolated game report follow.

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Revealed: The EuroChallenge championship curse

(image courtesy Hurriyet Daily News)

Yes, but *should* they be celebrating?

Winning the EuroChallenge title is a good thing, right? After all, it’s typically the first Continental trophy to display on the mantelpiece and the champions label wins the club to right to play in the more prestigious (and more big-bucks) Eurocup competition the following season.

Well, Uygar Karaca may convince believers otherwise. In the first of a two-part series for BallinEurope.com, Karaca flips through the pages of recent EuroChallenge history to reveal the success – or lack thereof – championship clubs have experienced directly following a title bid. Hint: It’s pretty bleak stuff after 2004. Sorry, Beşiktaş

Winning a competition, especially on the Continental level, is a great achievement. However, titles come with a price. When success exposes players to the market, for example, clubs with better offers take the stars away. Alternatively, in order to get a trophy, clubs sometimes spend more than they can afford, which triggers the process of eventual financial collapse.

In this article, I tried to see whether winning the FIBA EuroChallenge tournament signals brighter days for the club or rather indicates a peak with the way forward pointing downward. Continue Reading…


Euroleague Power Rankings: First of the Season edition

Right, then. With the last teams advancing into the Euroleague two dozen for the regular season and a break in the Kobe-to-Bologna soap opera today, BallinEurope breaks out an old favorite: power rankings!

Once again, the BallinEurope Euroleague Power Rankings are based on current trends, i.e. who’s hot, who’s not. For this edition of the list, also taken into consideration are offseason acquisitions and a dash of expectations vis-à-vis how these squads will look when the games really start to matter. Let the arguments begin!

1. FC Barcelona – Heard it before? Well, you’ve probably heard about the core of the Barca roster before, too: Juan Carlos Navarro, Pete Mickael, Erazem Lorbek, Victor Sada, Boniface N’dong, Kosta Perovic and Fran Vazquez; getting to add Chuck Eidson and Marcelinho Huertas doesn’t seem fair. In going 8-0 thus far this preseason, the Blaugrana have added to their trophy case with Lliga Catalana and Supercopa Endesa titles and Navarro in particular is still in EuroBasket form. Right now, BiE says this is the team to beat.

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Euroleague Playoffs: Games four highlights

And suddenly, the Spanish influence on the Euroleague has been reduced to just one team in the final four – exactly as many squads as Greece, Israel and Italy’ll have. Caja Laboral in the end just didn’t have enough answers for Maccabi Tel Aviv’s depth and star power, while Panathinaikos displayed the blueprint for taking out FC Barcelona in dominating the baseline and constantly playing the aggressor in driving time and again to the basket. (Of course, it helps if you have Dimitris Diamantidis in the lineup as well…)

And kudos to Montepaschi Siena for successfully shrugging off a horrible game one loss in what might have been a disaster for morale while reestablishing the hyperquick-moving, high-scoring offense that had faltered a bit in the Top 16 round.

Real Madrid hosts Power Electronics Valencia on “Wednesday or Thursday” to determine the last entry into the Euroleague Final Four, and – BiE’s repeating it here out of shock – España’s only team to go this far.

Highlights from last night’s games, as well as the officially-selected top five plays, follow.

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Sunday viewing: The week in basketball videos online

What else are you doing on this Sunday (BiE means between this afternoon’s ACB games and tonight’s domestic league action, that is)…? Check out a few videos posted to the ‘net this week, courtesy (mostly) of YouTube and BallinEurope…

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February Madness: Rounding up the cups, serving up some highlights

Can it all be over so quickly? February Madness peaked this weekend in Europe, with several domestic cup tournaments being played out and celebrations aplenty. BallinEurope this morning provides a rundown of the action – and, naturally, video clips. Without further ado, then, let’s look in on the insanity.

• To no one’s surprise, Spanish superpowers FC Barcelona and Real Madrid indeed met in the Copa del Rey final with La Blaugrana overcoming their rivals playing on their home court, 68-60. Check out, as the league’s official website, says a collection of clips including “Alley oops terribles de [Boniface] N’Dong y [Fran] Vázquez, mate furioso de Clay Tucker, D’Or Fischer que pone el candado a su aro … ¡Mucha diversión en la Final!”

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The Frank Euroleague roundup, week two

Maric a true big man

Francesco Cappelletti’s regular column with BallinEurope is back as our man in Italy takes a look at the after-effects of Euroleague week two action. This time out, Francesco sees European basketball history returning to the old days on the Continent while Balkan squads fight economic problems but dispatch Western European teams anyway. And early on, what have proven to be the better Euroleague transactions involving big names and bigger contracts? Read on!

The *big* problem
The recent history of European basketball shows an amazing evolution to starting fives full of dynamism and athleticism, but not weight – even in the 5 position, originally land of real big men limited in the paint. We were used to having pick-and-rolls, then pick ‘n’ pops. Now it seems it’s time to go back to the old traditions.

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Frank answers to four burning Euroleague questions

He’s back! Emerging out of hiding (or perhaps digging himself out of work with youth squads plus Italian-language sports media) is BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti. As the season progresses, Cappelletti will be opining as to what really went down in a week’s worth of Euroleague matches. Today, four key themes that will be threading their way through the 2010-11 season – and the frank take on ‘em.

Welcome back Euroleague … erm … Turkish Airlines Euroleague! Someone just said you look like the poorest edition in recent years and that your groups are less competitive than Eurocup’s, but we love you just the way you are anyway.

What do you offer for 2010-2011? Yeah, the unbeatable Regal Barcelona and the usual group of pretenders, divided between those for whom spending money is no problem even amid civil disorder (for information, phone Athens) and teams able to hide behind the justification of cycles coming to an end just to put some money away waiting for financially better times: That’s the case of Montepaschi Siena and CSKA Moscow.

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Perovic: No Gasol is the difference for Spain

Perovic: No Gasol, no easy win for Spain

When Serbia and Spain meet tonight to determine which of the European powers will advance to the 2010 FIBA World Championship final four, it will mark the third time the squads meet in one year – in fact, it’s been 366 days since the relatively unheralded young Serbs surprised the sluggish Spaniards in their Eurobasket 2009 opening game.

And the two Eurobasket 2009 games in which the teams faced off is hardly history: 17 of the 24 players on the teams’ rosters have returned for this tournament. It is, however, one of Team Spain’s two absentees that will make the difference in the rubber match tonight, in Kosta Perovic’s opinion: Pau Gasol.

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