A rough week doesn’t get any easier for Ratiopharm Ulm in its inaugural Eurocup Last 16 game tonight, with the Bundesliga side playing host to Red Star Belgrade after losing an 80-78 heartbreaker to FC Bayern Munchen on the weekend.
Sport Eagle TV got a few minutes with Ulm head coach Thorsten Liebenath and player Philipp Schwethelm after the Munich game to discuss the prospects of taking on one of this season’s European success stories; naturally, the focus is on Igor Rakočević, who was good for 18.7 points per game in the first phase of Eurocup 2012-13.
BallinEurope’s man in Serbia, Marko Savanovic, brings us another preview of an Adriatic League power: Today, Marko takes a look at Crvena Zvezda (a.k.a. Red Star Belgrade) to assess the team’s chances in 2012-13 after a sloppy 0-2 start and the quick sacking of coach Milivoje Lazic, plus offers an Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™…
Now here’s an argument starter for you … with much debate perpetually going on among European basketball fans vis-à-vis the influence of American and/or NBA players on the Euroleague, BiE decided to take a look back at the 2011-12 season in hopes of drawing some comparison on an individual, player-by-player level.
Below, then, runs four all-star squads based on play in this season’s edition of the big league; for convenience and competition’s (rather than geopolitics’) sake, players from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and FYR Macedonia will be virtually suiting up for the “former Yugoslavia” team.
With the Euroleague quarterfinals tournament beginning later this month, many are penciling in either CSKA Moscow or FC Barcelona as 2011-12 title holders. (Indeed, the odds at a representative sportsbook have the former at 4/5 and the latter at 5/2.) Meanwhile, relative dark horse Montepaschi Siena (running, with shortest odds, at 11/1) may be under the most pressure to finally win this ever-elusive championship.
BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini, tells us of the overwhelming importance of this year’s tournament for the dominant Serie A club – and why you shouldn’t go to sleep on these guys despite the presence of monster teams in the final four round…
It must have happened to everyone, regardless of the sport you’ve played in your life. You were once a player or part of a team that was way better than anyone else in your school, league or even playground. After winning it all at home, you get a pass to the next level and have the chance to compete on faraway stages.
The first thing you realize as soon as you leave your habitat is that there are far too many guys who are taller, bigger and, ultimately, better than any opponent you’ve been used to.
Yeah, kicking ass at your old playground is still cool, but you now have some bigger butts to aim at. You can’t really call yourself satisfied as long as you get out-bullied by someone every time you move away from home.
This is exactly how Montepaschi Siena feels right now: For the Siena organization, status as a juggernaut at home makes any Euroleague failures even harder to digest.
In the last five years, head coach Simone Pianigiani’s team has won pretty much everything winnable in Italy (five national championships, four national cups, five national super cups) while never giving any other team a real chance to disturb the dominance.
When it comes to the Euroleague though, Siena has historically missed that little something to step up and make it to the highest spot on the podium, settling for third place in 2011 and 2008, and consecutive fourth-place finishes when Pianigiani was assistant coaching in 2003 and 2004..
Year after year, Siena has added new guns to a solid core of reliable veterans, accumulating experience as well as distress at the lack of results. The lingering fear is that Montepaschi is becoming a Maccabiesque team, namely an undisputed monopolist of a declining national league – notwithstanding, the Italian league remains more challenging than the Ligat Ha’Al –that strives to compete with the other European elite teams.
But how could you possibly improve more than Siena has season after season? What else can you bring to the table with the budget of a small and young reality? Siena president/general director Ferdinando Minucci has won on lots of gambles (e.g. Terrell McIntyre, Romain Sato, Bo McCalebb) and never resisted efforts every year to improve a team dominating the national league on a regular basis.
Now, Siena has the depth and consistency to beat Olympiacos in a best-of-five showdown and is equipped with a number of high-inflammable talented scorers (McCalebb, Igor Rakocevic, Pietro Aradori, Ksistof Lavrinovic) who can make the difference in no-tomorrow games in the Istanbul Final Four.
The feeling is that Siena is already set to win the Euroleague and just needs that extra sparkle, that unnamed little something, to finally ignite the last momentum. There is little time left to wait: Should the title not arrive in Istanbul, it may become necessary to revolutionize the current team and start a new project.
Courtesy of a group of players led by Sarunas Jasikievicius at the peak of his career, Maccabi Tel Aviv finally broke the European spell and brought home a couple of Euroleague titles back in 2004 and 2005. After the back-to-back wins, Saras crossed the ocean and sought fortune in the NBA.
Enrico Cellini is lifelong basketball fanatic and a long-time sportswriter with a focus on Italy and Spain. He was born among European hoops, was raised watching the NBA, and thinks choosing between American and European basketball is like choosing between one’s mother and father. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Italian-language blog Hoop Addicted.
Courtesy the Euroleague folks, BallinEurope brings a compendium of facts and figures spanning history and record books regarding tomorrow night’s slate of a half-dozen games – plus lines on the games and highlight clips. Enjoy!
CSKA Moscow vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
• CSKA leads the all-time series between the teams, 8-7.
• Nenad Krstic has scored in double figures in each of his last 16 Euroleague appearances dating back to the 2003-04 season.
• Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic lead the Euroleague in index rating with at averages of 27.8 and 21.5 per game, respectively.
• Kirilenko also leads the Euroleague in blocked shots (3.2 bpg).
• Milos Teodosic is ranked second in the Euroleague in assists this season with a career-high 5.6 assists per game.
• Darjus Lavrinovic needs three more blocks reach 100 for his Euroleague career. With his next block, Lavrinovic will tie former CSKA big man Terence Morris for 12th place all-time. Continue Reading…
February will see Turin playing host to the Coppa Italia, a grueling four-day tournament featuring Italy’s top eight teams. With the matchups now determined, BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini, provides a brief preview of the competition.
The first half of Serie A season is over and the table is set for a little appetizer to the final playoffs. In Turin, from February 16th to 19th, the top eight teams of the 2011-12 season’s first half will play each other in elimination games to conquer the Coppa Italia, the second-most important national trophy and litmus paper of each team’s ambitions.
The teams and matchups are as follows.
Montepaschi Siena (1) vs Banco di Sardegna Sassari (8)
EA7 Milano (4) vs Canadian Solar Bologna (5)
Scavolini Siviglia Pesaro (2) vs Umana Venezia (7)
Bennet Cantù (3) vs Sidigas Avellino (6)
Will this be an opportunity for Montepaschi Siena to reassert its dominance after a few unexpected losses or a chance for rampant new challengers to prepare for an assault on the throne?
Get ready for phase two of the 2011-12 Euroleague season, as today league officials will be determining the groupings for the Top 16 round. BallinEurope will be watching the live stream over at Euroleague.tv, though quite a few nations — Spain, Greece, and Israel among them — have local sports stations shows the draw as it happens as well.
Logo at left will be that of the 2012 Euroleague Final Four, just released/announced in the runup to the draw this afternoon.
The groups in the quest for that EL Final Four bid will be comprised as follows.
“No basketball anymore”? Are you serious? The next two days will see some 34 games played out in the top three European basketball competitions: Euroleague, EuroCup and FIBA Eurochallenge.
Below, BallinEurope presents some links, highlight clips and like on some of the competing teams starring Igor Rakocevic, Tiago Splitter, D.J. Strawberry and that Williams guy, among others. O, if only BiE had time to properly cover all this basketball … sorry, the NB-what?
• Rod Higgins of the Basketball Post provides much food for thought going into Montepaschi Siena’s game against Unics Kazan on how Igor Rakocevic affects the Italian side’s game plan: Has Ferdinando Minucci sacrificed trademark defensive trickery at the cost of a faster game with another shooter?
You know who benefits from the NBA player lockout? Twitter, that’s who. The website has become an endless source of interest as each event/non-event transpires in the NBA lockout soap opera. Minute to minute, commentators, players, pundits and rumormongers pithily weigh in and/or report on the immediate future of professional basketball in America…
…and Europe! The Continent-centric BallinEurope has unabashedly become addicted to the little birdie’s ‘site, and yesterday proved quite fruitful for those anxiously awaiting more imports into top pan-European and domestic leagues. After the dismal news of Monday and impending dissolution of the players’ union plus imminent anti-trust lawsuits, more and more stars are finally willing to cut the cord to the NBA, bite the bullet and, you know, try that whole European basketball thing.
Below run the results what BiE’s Twitter scorecard from yesterday; stars include the Gasol Brothers, Kevin Durant, Jan Vesely, Joakim Noah, Tiago Splitter, Kyrie Irving and many more.
Just two games are in the books in the 2011 Türkiye Kupasi, but certainly the shocker of the tourney has already been played: Last night in Kayseri, the scoreboard read “Beşiktaş Cola Turka 57, Efes Pilsen Istanbul 55.
In what was not exactly a shooting clinic – Beşiktaş (10-7 in TBL play in 2010-11) collectively was “good” for 35% overall shooting on 20-of-57 while Efes Pilsen (13-4) managed 37.5%, including a woeful 4-of-15 success rate on threes – the Eagles did not miss their American headliner, who will be sidelined for some time yet by injury.
Team Australia’s A.J. Ogilvy contributed one of his best games in weeks with a 19-point, 11-rebound effort for Beşiktaş, while the only other double-digit scorer was the Brewers’ Igor Rakocevic with 12 points.
In today’s matches, it’ll be Galatasaray Café Crown (13-4) vs. Olin Ederne (9-8) and Fenerbahçe Ülker (15-2) vs. Banvit (14-3), the latter of which features the top two teams in Turkish basketball. Beşiktaş will square off against Trabzonspor in the ‘Cup quarterfinals tomorrow night.