Despite a whole lot of genuinely interesting things happening in the world of basketball right now, it’s a tough time to manage a NBA social media account. Most free agents are signed, the summer league is long over, and there’s still a good chunk of time until pre-season. Throw all that together and NBA Twitter accounts start getting silly. On Wednesday the theme was #NBASweets and Euro ballers in the association didn’t get left out of the nonsense.
After the disappointment of Wednesday night’s quarter final loss, the Dragic brothers had huge games for Slovenia to beat Serbia and book their tickets to Spain next year.
Listen to the good Vibrations! Do you hear the crazy Game? Do you smell the scent of Glory? Do you feel the hug of fame?
Slovenia booked their place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup with a comprehensive 92-74 victory over Serbia in Ljubljana on Thursday. The classification round will decide which of the four losing quarter finalists won’t make it to the World Cup next year. From the start Slovenia decided they weren’t going to wait around for the win or go home game. A 30-16 opening quarter set the tone and it was the Dragic brothers who drove the offence.
Come and feel Slovenian Fire, feel the passion of our Song! We enjoy the same Desire, don’t think twice, just sing along!
Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns scored 15 points, collected 4 boards, and dished a game-high 5 assists. Not to be outdone, Zoran Dragic led the game in scoring and rebound with 23 and 9 to go with his 4 assists. Barely 16 hours after their quarter final loss to France, the home side roared out the gate. By half time the lead had grown to 53-35. Much like the day before, Serbia had been shocked by the hot start of their opponents and were struggling just to stay competitive at the break.
I feel Power in my Soul. My Heart beats for Basketball. Hear the proud Slovenian call. Feel the heartbeat of us all.
Whatever hopes of a comeback Serbia held were quickly dashed. The Serbs delivered their most productive quarter of offence but Slovenia were canny enough to keep the margin wide. Dusan Ivkovic’s charges needed a big run to give the hosts doubts but Jaka Blazic, with 15 points and 5 rebounds, and Mirza Begic, with 10 points and 6 boards, meant Serbia had more than Goran and Zoran to worry about. There was only one way this was going.
We’re united in our Passion! We’re united in the Pride! We’re united in one Colour! Join us on the winning side!
So it wasn’t the medal Slovenia wanted but securing a place in Spain next year is a solid consolation prize. Serbia, who had impressed greatly before the knockout stages, now need to regroup. They have one more game, one final shot, at making it to Spain. With an ever-crowded field seeking wild cards, Ivkovic will want to take care of business and not leave anything to chance. Twice in two days his young side has suffered. A third straight defeat would mean more than just a bad end to this tournament.
Three more teams will book their place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Thursday as the quarter finals of EuroBasket 2013 conclude. Here’s are take and picks on both games as well as the classification game between Slovenia and Serbia where the winner books a ticket to Spain.
Croatia lost their first game in Slovenia and then rattled off seven straight wins to secure a favourable draw in the last eight. The Croats have power inside and will look to dominate on the glass, where they have averaged 43.1 rebounds per game. After beating Ukraine home and away in the qualification round last year, it’s hardly a surprise to see Croatia as favourites for this game. This is a team however which is almost addicted to making life difficult irrespective of the opponent. Only one of Croatia’s run of victories came in a manner that could remotely be described as comfortable. Every other game was a battle often of the Croats own doing. This will give hope to Ukraine which will rely heavily on three-point shooting to keep the game competitive and make the favourites nervous. Mike Fratello’s team lives and dies by how Pooh Jeter plays. What Croatia do to shut down the world’s biggest fan of borscht could prove decisive. The bookies have Croatia down as -8 favourites. That looks about right to me. Croatia to advance.
The second quarter final today sees Italy take on Lithuania. Raptors Republic is calling this tournament JonasBasket and while there’s an element of insular thinking there, for one evening they may have a point. Lithuania can bang hard with anybody and Jonas Valanciunas will have an important role to play in this game. Italy’s struggles inside hurt them in the second stage and they will need Alessandro Gentile to match his big display against Spain for this game to be competitive. There’s certainly talent on the Italian roster, with Marco Belinelli and Gigi Datome both impressing at this tournament. What the duo needs most is help. I expect a heavy emphasis on defence from Lithuania early to try and frustrate Italy before the favourites look to punch a big hole on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Lithuania are favoured by 5.5 points and again this looks about right. Power inside will make the difference. Lithuania to win.
Before today’s quarter finals take place, the first of the classification games will see Slovenia take on Serbia. The home side lost to France in a contest that took a while to get going last night while the Serbs were swept aside by Spain. The emotional energy spent by Slovenia is a big concern going into this game. While Serbia will have been shocked by the way they were manhandled by Spain, it’s easier to get back mentally after a laugher than the type of draining game Slovenia played. I’m going for the slight upset here and picking Serbia.
Lithuania may want to consider giving Jonas Valanciunas more minutes after checking out this chart. The Toronto Raptors big man leads all centers in points per possession (PPP).
This chart by Simon Jatsch of In-the-game.org shows, unsurprisingly, that Valanciunas does most of his work around the rim. The “Rest Two” category relates to jump hook shots and other close range efforts that are not strictly jump shooting. Valanciunas has yet to record an assist in the tournament and his total shots per game ranks relatively low among big men. Much of this can be attributed to Valanciunas playing mostly off the bench for Lithuania through the tournament. Serbia’s Nenad Krstic leads all centers in shots created with 5.5 per 28 minutes.
Israel’s Afik Nassim is the only player with a higher PPP than Valanciunas, at 1.226. Greece’s Kostas Papanikolaou, currently with FC Barcelona and whose NBA rights are held by the Portland Trail Blazers, has matched Valanciunas 1.189 PPP.
Goran Dragic is by far the most pass happy point guard in the tournament with 49.6 per cent of his possessions turning into assists.
Simon has produced 50 charts covering the most interesting players in the tournament, including most of the top 10 at every position. Check them out here.
We know half of the teams through from Group F after a wild Saturday. Two Balkan teams locked up their places in the quarter-finals with wins today while Spain cruised to their first win in the second phase.
Damn that crowd makes a difference. Slovenia and Greece delivered one of the ugliest first quarters of offence we’ve seen all tournament but the home team was perfect from the line to move into a 13 point lead after the first frame. That lead grew to 26 points before the inevitable Greek fight-back. Greece knocked 20 off the lead to make it a two possession game inside the final two minutes. Slovenia dug deep yet again, with the Dragic brothers combining for 39 points, 10 boards, and 6 rebounds en route to a 73-65 victory. It was a nervous finish but the win puts the home team top of the group and safely through to the last eight. Continue Reading…
Italy have been quiet from beyond the arc in Eurobasket 2013 so far but their success rate means they might want to go deep more often.
Simon Jatsch of In-the-game.org has publish five charts on Twitter today with some fascinating stats on EuroBasket 2013. The number that jumps out is Italy’s success from three-point range despite taking the second fewest attempts in the tournament.
Italy are converting 46.8 per cent of their shots from beyond the arc but only 28.5 per cent of their shots have been threes. Only Israel have taken fewer three-point attempts. On the opposite end of the scale Finland are one of three teams to have taken over 40 per cent of their chances from long range but are in the bottom four for the tournament in conversion rate. Of the medal contenders, the team with the biggest opportunity to break out looks to be Serbia. With 29.9 per cent of threes converted, the Serbs need to raise their game to stay amongst the medal contenders. They are however playing smart and limiting their efforts from long range while they work out the kinks, taking just 32.7 per cent of their shots from beyond the arc.
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…
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.
Goran Dragic only appeared in 55 games with Shaquille O’Neal in the 2008-09 season, but it appears he learned a lesson pointed enough to be well summarized in 141-character Twitter length. And here it is:
“@espo: @goran_dragic What was the best lesson @shaq taught you?” Be your self and always pass him the ball:) lol
BiE likes to write up this particular roundup at year’s end for a couple of reasons: Firstly as a thank you to the readers who check out BallinEurope however frequently; like they say in sports, this website wouldn’t exist without the audience.
Secondly, a look back at which BallinEurope stories drew the most attention provides a nice microcosm of what was most of the minds of European basketball. Yes, national heroes playing in the NBA still reign supreme, but international tournaments happily still get ample due here on The Continent.
So without further ado, here are the stories that you, the readers, decided were the true headline-grabbers in 2012.
1. Splitter opines Adelman key to Rubio’s success; Ginobili says “impressive”
When Ricky Rubio finally eked his way into the Timberwolves’ starting lineup, the results were immediate and positive. Of course, those of us who’ve been following The Human YouTube Highlight Clip since his days as the youngest-ever player for Barcelona could sit back and say “I told you so” – like Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili did.