We did a round-up of last night’s EuroBasket 2015 second qualifying round action but here are some of the best bits from Wednesday’s games starting, above, with Czech Republic’s win over Portugal.
Episode #19 of the BallinEurope/ heinnews co-hosted “Taking the Charge” podcast is now online. Bearing a nice Hungarian accent, our centerpiece interview this week will be of great interest to Spanish basketball fans, San Antonio Spurs nation and NBA prospect-watchers, as Team Hungary’s Adam Hanga joins David Hein and yours truly for a solid 20 minutes or so of chat on all manner of subjects.
After wowing international scouts attending the 2009 Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso and announcing his jump from Hungary’s domestic league to the Liga Endesa with Manresa for 2011-12, Hanga became the first-ever Hungarian national to be drafted in the NBA when the Spurs chose him at no. 59 in 2011.
BallinEurope is changing – but only slightly. After a long period of static design and linkage, BiE finally managed to find some time to add a few tweaks that will hopefully augment the whole reader-experience, social-networking thing.
First, a bit of sad news for some. The image-based logo featuring cartoon Ramunas Siskauskas tipping off against the guy we’ve informally called “Pau”, created back in 2008 by Matt Dyck, will most likely be retired from prominent use on the BallinEurope website. This has less to do with a tobacco-puffing European feeling outdated – Hey, when a country like Hungary bans public smoking, you know the Continent is seriously ciggie-free, this writer excepted – but more to do with the pragmatic issue of download times. This site’s technical consultant (BiE thinks of him as “Merlin the magician”) suggests that loading BallinEurope pages would become noticeably faster with what is, unfortunately, a rather “heavy” background.
Today, then, a brief look at the 13 Europeans participating in today’s first round action.
Headlining the Europack is definitely Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor. Hailing from Norrkoping, Sweden, the junior averaged a fantastic line of 15.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 stocks (steals plus blocks, stat category courtesy Bill Simmons) – all career highs excepting the boards – while representing the centerpiece of the Commodores’ offense after packing 25 pounds on during the offseason.
Worse yet for Vandy opponents Richmond: Local media covering the SEC tournament report that Taylor has found “a part of his game that has been missing at times this season,” namely aggressiveness – to the tune of 20.66 points per in three tourney games on 19-of-27 shooting on twos. “I think before [the SEC Tournament], I kind of faded in and out of aggressiveness,” the Swede was quoted as saying. Said aggression would prove useful in the bigger tournament: Vanderbilt has run up a record of 17-3 this season when Taylor scores 15 points or more.
And how was your weekend? BallinEurope was able to check out quite a few matches from The Continent and ‘States this weekend, but as they say, too much is never enough. Right, so let’s get the week started with a handful of video clips and story links from around the basketball universe.
• Starting with the stunner, BiE links to the headline story over at the ACB official ‘site. You don’t need high-level Spanish knowledge to understand, “El Fuenlabrada inflige al Regal FCB su primera derrota de 2011.”
That’s right: Eighth-place Fuenlabrada defended home court against King Juan Carlos and Barcelona, 69-66, to hand the Blaugrana its first loss of 2011. The defeat came despite Navarro’s 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Huge for Fuenlabrada was Gustavo Ayón, who dominated the Barça bigs for 24 points and eight rebounds.
The interviews, as always, seem to be coming out of the virtual woodworks online these days. BallinEurope below rounds up some links featuring recent words of wisdom straight from the warriors’ mouths – though BiE forgives you if you skip directly to Charles Barkley’s bit at the end.
The Pride of Hungarian Basketball was recently spotted in Lithuania, where he was doing scouting work for the Phoenix Suns. Former Žalgiris Kaunas big man/Hungary’s first-ever NBA player Kornél Dávid sat in on the Caja Laboral Baskonia game in Kaunas last week and afterwards granted an interview to Žalgiris radio.
(Naturally, Dávid doesn’t give name names or spill any Suns secrets, but BiE believes Phoenix must be taking a gander on Martynas “Air” Pocius, a potentially brilliant fit for the system there…)
The native of Nagykanizsa (for those not in-the-know, for some reason this town of about 50,000 produces disproportionate numbers of athletes) came up through the Hungarian League ranks with Honvéd Budapest where he’d ultimately help the top club top the championship in 1994. Dávid moved on to Albacomp Székesfehérvár and led that team to the 1997-98 title.
So began Dávid’s boomeranging between Hungary and the United States, as he played out a number of short-term contracts between 1997 and 2001 with the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors (inevitably) and Detroit Pistons.
In 2001, the Hungarian was back in Europe for good, first getting with IC Strasbourg in that year. His 2002-03 season with Žalgiris, which delivered an LKL championship, won Dávid the esteem of Greens fans forever; finally, he spent the remainder of his playing days in the ACB with Baskonia and Gran Canaria.
Below runs a version of the interview. An audio recording is available here, though unfortunately for Anglophones the English-language speech is overdubbed with Lithuanian. (It’s kinda too bad they used English; surely a running Lithuanian-Hungarian interpretation would be one of the great intellectual feats in recent history.)
From Allen Iverson on down, here’s a story from Australia that should turn off basketball players from outside The Continent to play in Europe … at least in certain countries (ahem).
Australian news outlet WA Today this morning carries a story by Matt Knight, now with the Perth Wildcats, about his travails last season with the Soproni Sördögök of the Hungarian basketball league.
Marvel at the apathy and incompetence as Knight details stories about lazy players, needle-happy doctors and 10-hour bus rides (BiE doesn’t really know how that’s possible from within Hungary, but hey).
The first week of play in the Adriatic League (a.k.a. the NLB Liga ABA) was capped yesterday with KK Zagreb’s 82-76 home-opener win over Radnički despite an amazing performance by Michael Lee – and just check out who’s atop the standings.
Lee, a two-sport star at St. Bonaventure who was with the Hungarian league’s Albacomp for 2009-10, played all 40 minutes and contributed 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including a lights-out 100% on his five three-point attempts.
FIBA Europe has released the list of participating teams for the 2010-11 edition of Euroleague Women. Defending champions Spartak Moscow region received an automatic entry, while 21 spots are allocated based on national federation rankings and three-year performance of the clubs in pan-European tournament play.
Two “wild card” bids were also allocated: These were won by USO Mondeville of France and last season’s Euroleague Women sensation Wisla Can-Pack Krakow.