EuroBasket 2015: No Vesely no problem and Gentile steps up

It was another busy night in the second qualifying round for EuroBasket 2015, with Russia dropping their second straight while Germany and the Czech Republic bounced back.

In case you need a re-cap on what the teams involved need to do to qualify, the seven group winners progress to EuroBasket 2015 along with the top six second-placed teams from the seven qualifying groups.

As reported earlier on BiE, Bosnia and Herzegovina won their opening game in Group A 80-67 against Great Britain in London, on the back of 25 points from Mirza Teletovic of the Brooklyn Nets. The defeat leaves Team GB at 0-2 and in need of help to stay in the competition. Bosnia will host Iceland on Sunday.

Group B saw Bulgaria push Montenegro to overtime before eventually succumbing in overtime 70-64. The win, a second in OT in as many games, leaves Montenegro top of the group at 2-0. Israel bounced back from their loss to the group leaders with a 66-57 win over the Netherlands in Groningen. Guy Pnini was top scorer for Israel with 16 while Omri Casspi, most recently waived by the New Orleans Pelicans, had 9 points and 8 rebounds. That result leaves both sides on 1-1, with Israel holding second on tie-breakers.
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Highlights: Turkey secure back to back titles at FIBA Europe U18s

Turkey became the first team since Yugoslavia in 1986 and 1988 to win consecutive titles at the FIBA Europe Under 18 men’s championships. The home side, buoyed on by a raucous crowd in Konya, topped Serbia 85-68 in Sunday’s final. The victory also makes Turkey the first nation since Spain in 2011 to win the European Under 18 and Under 20 titles in the same year. Egumen Guven was named MVP and here’s the team of the tournament.

And for the final time this week, meanwhile in Sofia…
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Highlights: Turkey stun Croatia 74-67, Germany promoted

Turkey will get their shot at winning back-to-back FIBA Europe Under 18 men’s titles after beating Croatia 74-67 in front of 7,000 fans in Konya. A win for Turkey against Serbia on Sunday would make it the first time since 2011 that the same nation won the Under 20 and Under 18 titles in the same year along with the first time a nation won back to back Under 18 crowns since Yugoslavia in 1986 and 1988.

James Weldon, in town for the FECC had the best take on this one:
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Highlights: Turkey beat Latvia 78-53 at FIBA Europe U18s

Turkey locked up the fourth and final spot in today’s FIBA Europe Under 18s men’s semi finals with a convincing 78-53 win over Latvia. After a tight first quarter, the hosts pulled away in Konya. Furkan Korkmaz led Turkey in scoring with 22 points and 6 rebounds, as Turkey took a commanding 14 point lead into the final frame before closing the game out with a 19-8 fourth quarter.

In the classification games there was finally some good news for England who recorded their first win of the tournament, beating Poland 83-74. Aaron Menzies had 17 points and 15 boards while Jules Dang Akodo socred 18 points, had 8 assists, and 4 steals, as England kept their survival hopes alive. Poland are relegated to Division B as a result of this defeat while England must win one more game on Sunday, against either Czech Republic or Belgium to survive.

Finally, in Division B BiE’s home team Ireland lost their final game of the tournament 64-63 to Switzerland to finish in 22nd and last place. The semi-finals of the tournament take place later today in Sofia with Ukraine taking on Finland and Sweden playing Germany.


Serbia and Croatia make statements at FIBA U18s

It’s nearing the business end of the FIBA Europe U18 men’s championships and two teams stood out above all on Wednesday.

Serbia and Turkey were locked in a tight battle for most of their clash in Konya before the Serbs stepped up a gear in the second half to beat the hosts on a convincing 82-62 scoreline. That win secured top spot for Serbia in Group F, with Turkey having to settle for second. Spain and Greece booked their passages to the knockout stages with wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Croatia however remain the team to beat in these championships. Italy gave them a good test in the battle for top spot in Group E but, as has been the case throughout this tournament, they had to lean too much on the Mussidori. Federico Mussini and Diego Flaccadori accounted for 38 of Italy’s 65 points with no other Italian player breaking double digits. Croatia’s greater depth proved telling in the second half, as even on a quiet (by his standards) day for Dragan Bender they were able to score at will. Marco Arapovic had his third 20 point game of the tournament as Croatia eventually coasted to victory 81-65.
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FIBA Facing World Cup Wild Card Dilemma

Greece’s double-overtime loss to Croatia compounded a problem that has been growing for FIBA since the continental tournament season began. Who gets the four wildcards?

Who says you can’t get too much of a good thing? FIBA has four World Cup wildcard slots to award and plenty of willing suitors. Whatever happens, somebody is going to be upset. The headache for FIBA began at the FIBA Asia Championship where China, went out in the quarter finals to Chinese Taipei. That made on of the big draws in world basketball and immediate front runner for a wildcard spot.

Fast forward a few weeks to the FIBA AfroBasket and two of last year’s Olympic participants, Nigeria and Tunisia, failed to secure a bid for the World Cup. As it stood there was actually a reasonable chance that one of these sides would get a wildcard. There just needed to be no major upsets in the Tournament of the Americas or EuroBasket.

Yeah about that. Brazil went 0-4 in Venezuela, leaving the 2016 Olympic hosts in need of a wildcard to make the World Cup. Canada, with a NBA stacked roster, almost did FIBA a solid. The Maple Leaf nation looked on course to secure an automatic spot but lost its last two games to come fifth, one place short of an automatic ticket to Spain next year. So far so crazy but it took EuroBasket to turn this into a full-on migraine.

The first round saw Germany, Russia, and Turkey, all fall. Turkey hosted the last World Cup and Turkish companies, Beko and Turkish Airlines most notably, provide major sponsorship to the sport in Europe. Russia is Russia and Germany’s Bundesliga has brass across the world excited by its development. Things were pretty bad as they stood before Monday. Then Greece lost in double overtime to Croatia, ending their involvement in EuroBasket. With that defeat, the Greeks joined the list of teams FIBA would like in the World Cup that failed to qualify automatically. Let’s go through these teams in the order they fell to see their shot at earning a reprieve.
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Kobe says Dirk best non-US player ever; BallinEurope respectfully disagrees

No disrespect to Dirk Nowitzki and what he’s accomplished in his 15 NBA seasons and international play, but BallinEurope felt obliged to respond to a 141-character length injustice this afternoon.

Said Kobe Bryant, via FIBA:

But BiE begs to differ. Again, no disrespect.

BallinEurope suspects a few readers might agree. Of course, there’s also…

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Eurobasket 2013: Which NBA players are in, which are out?

Because it’s never too early to start looking ahead to Eurobasket 2013 – wait a minute, there’s only 11 weeks left until tipoff? Definitely not too early, then, to take a look at the formative rosters for the big Continental tournament.

While only a few national teams (Croatia and Lithuania among them) have released preliminary rosters at this point and a few major leagues still playing (Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, etc.), we can at least deduce which NBA players will or won’t be playing. After all, the rosters of 93.3% of NBA teams have finished their 2012-13 season – and the Miami Heat have no Europeans!

Below is a rundown of each team and the status of their potential NBA players. A few high-profile draft choices and rights-owned guys expected to jump over soon are also peppered in, along with links to appropriate sources. If you find/hear of anything relevant to the list, please comment below.
And we’ll do this group by group…

Group A
Belgium –
no current NBA players

France – Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards) is out for ’13 but hints he’ll be back in the future.

Ten days ago, based on a L’Equipe report, website Catch-and-Shoot described Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)’ Eurobasket status as *très incertain*, and after another punishing NBA season seems unlikely.

No official word on Nicolas Batum (Portland), though the Trail Blazers reportedly be “watching Batum’s injury” this offseason. Perhaps some discouragement is forthcoming…?

France-based media outlet Figaro reported back in May that Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers) and Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers) would play; this may have been speculation based on prior results, but Turiaf’s presence on Les Blues for this tournament has been on coach Collet’s mind for a while.

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Weekend tipoff for Reality Check streetball tournament in Frankfurt

Fans of streetball in Germany will want to mark Saturday, June 15, in their calendars: In Frankfurt that day the annual Germany’s Reality Check tournament tips off with a qualifying round tournament to compete in July’s finals in Cologne.

The upcoming tournament will represent the sixth edition of the professional streetball competition which draws teams from all over The Continent – and produces some pretty swell highlight clips; see below. The second round of qualifiers happens the following Saturday, June 22, in Düsseldorf.

For more information on Germany’s Reality Check, visit

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Podcast: Interview with Larry Gordon of Bundesliga Cinderella story Phoenix Hagen (plus Euroleague patter and review of Rollerball)

Larry GordonEpisode #28 of the heinnews/BallinEurope co-produced podcast series is now available online. This week, we’re proud to have as a guest Larry Gordon, currently starring for upstarts Phoenix Hagen of the German Basketball Bundesliga. A product of NCAA Division II college Cal Poly Pomona, Gordon not only brings his electrifying spark plug of a game to Hagen but also makes for a nice symbol of his team’s recent fortunes.

After something of a troubled early upbringing, Gordon only took up basketball at about age 12 but his natural gifts (among them incredible leaping ability) got him a starting spot on the (Calif.) Montclair High School varsity team, with whom he’d average 24.6 points and 13.2 rebounds per game.

He then went on to play at Cal Poly after receiving offers from a handful of Division II schools; though his alma mater could be considered the go-to choice for a local boy, Gordon put a little more thought into his decision with an eye on the future: “I didn’t want to rebuild,” he explained, “I wanted to be in a team that was already good and bring what I have to make them even better.”

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