Shades of Vince Carter were shown by Maccabi Rishon’s Willie Warren, who pulled off one of this season’s most incredible dunks anywhere in his team’s 88-82 defeat of Bnei HaSharon on Sunday. Check out the closest approximation to Carter’s infamous “Dunk of Death” we’ve seen since originally pulled off at the 2000 Olympics. Fulfilling the Fred Weis role is Jumaine Jones.
Taking a look at this year’s roundup, we note that 53 Europeans have been named to NBA clubs’ 15-man roster, just beating the pace of the 52 listed in 2010-11. (BiE didn’t take the tally for last season because, you know, things were kinda confusing during the lockout and all…)
And quite a few teams have seriously European-tinted rosters: Five teams go into the 2012-13 NBA season with four Continental players – and of these 20 players, perhaps only Sasha Pavlovic and Evan Fournier are marginalized at the lower end of the 15-man rosters. If one includes Ty Lawson as an honorary Lithuanian (for at least one more season), the Denver Nuggets could put an all-Euro squad on the floor with Lawson heading up an admittedly odd lineup of Fournier, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov.
The team-by-team breakdown goes as follows.
Off the wire are a few details from an interview former Team USA/Philadelphia 76ers head coach Larry Brown gave to Israel Sports Radio earlier this week. Hired by Southern Methodist University for the 2012-13 season, Brown revealed that he had considered an offer to coach the Maccabi USA basketball team before the SMU deal came through – and that he won’t be leaving the game any time soon.
Europe represents at FIBA 3×3 World Championship: Serbia, France take medals; Czech, Estonian wins skills contests (with lotsa highlight clips)
The FIBA 3×3 World Championship wrapped yesterday with championship games in the men’s, women’s and mixed categories – and European basketball fans will be pleased to note The Continent’s success in the young event. With 15 of the tournament’s 24 men’s and women’s sides and 11 of the 16 mixed teams from Europe, The Continent did well in establishing itself in the world-level event.
In the second running of the 3×3 men’s competition, Serbia first took out the USA in the quarterfinals before ultimately outlasting France for a 16-13 win in the championship game for the gold medal.
Despite some sordid (and reportedly not exactly consistent) allegations against him, former longtime Syracuse University assistant coach Bernie Fine has found employment in Israel. Marc Stein of ESPN is this morning reporting that Fine has been hired by Maccabi Haifa BC as a consultant to the team. The decision is expected to be announced today.
Fine, whose professional career in basketball coaching goes back to 1970, ultimately specialized in working with big men for Syracuse. Notable names emerging from his tutelage include Rony Seikaly and John Wallace, the latter of whom European basketball fans may recall from his season with Panionios. The coach’s resume also includes a World Maccabiah Games title earned in 1993 with that tournament’s Team USA squad.
Wow, we’re really already talking about the 2012-13 free-agency period? And now that Maccabi is up two games to one on Panathinaikos in their playoff series they’re reading to sever ties with a key component?
Apparently, both bylines may be true, as sports talent agency/advisory firm You First Sports announced last night that “Andy Miller, Richard Hendrix’s agent, would like to communicate that from today the negotiations talks between Hendrix, his agent and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv are broken and that from now on we will evaluate Richard’s options when he becomes a free agent after this season.”
BallinEurope wonders what bridges were burned there…
Spain-based Blog de Basket takes the story and runs with it a bit more, claiming Hendrix has gotten offers from big clubs in Europe, including Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
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.
McCalebb, currently the most dominant point guard in Europe by far, declared he won’t go to the NBA next season. Is he waiting to pull of a back-to-back Maccabi-like trick?
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.
With semesters coming to a close in European universities (well at least here in BallinEurope’s Budapest headquarters), BiE’s mind turned to the U.S. college game and specifically the European ballers playing in the NCAA. Below therefore runs some recent news – and video clips, natch – on 12 players plying their wares in the ‘States this season; starring Elias Harris, Denis Kilicli, Patrick Heckmann, Brice Massamba and more.
• Patrik Auda, Czech Republic; Seton Hall. In his sophomore year, Auda has earned the starting lineup for the 7-1 Pirates to produce an impressive 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game; in early December, Auda went for a career-high 17 points – all in the second half – against Auburn.
Auda has fit perfectly with the Seton Hall speedy offense this season, though it must be said that the Czech and his teammates haven’t met a true test against an NCAA superpower yet: That’ll come on December 28 when visiting current no. 1 Syracuse.
Parting shots, part one: Okur throws dagger; Splitter near double-double; D-Will’s jersey retired (no, really)
A few players returning to the NBA made expected final appearances with their European clubs last night as the mass departure to the ‘States begins. BallinEurope runs down a handful of individual performances from Adriatic League, Eurocup, and FIBA Eurochallenge games.
• Big shot of the night, NBA-related or no, was certainly Mehmet Okur’s three-point dagger to give Turk Telekom the 83-81 win over Pinar Karsiyaka. Reports FIBA Europe in part: “With Turkish basketball still talking about the 50-point explosion by Okur’s former Utah Jazz teammate Deron Williams for Beşiktaş last week, Okur capped another solid performance with a long-range shot that gave the Ankara team an 83-81 triumph on Tuesday.
“Utah Jazz big man Okur, like New Jersey Nets guard Williams, is to soon head back to the United States following Saturday’s announcement that the lockout is set to end this week.
“Okur had 14 points and 10 rebounds in Izmir against Karsiyaka. … His free throw had given Turk Telekom an 80-79 advantage with 31 seconds to go, but Karsiyaka went back out in front when Alper Saruhan landed a jumper.
BallinEurope welcomes another NBA player to the Continent this afternoon with the long-awaiting signing of Omri Casspi with Maccabi Tel Aviv today reportedly a reality, according to the Cleveland Plains-Dealer.
The locked-out Cavalier first expressed frustration with the NBA Players’ Union this weekend and took Israel’s Euroleague club up on its longstanding offer. Writes Tom Reed: “Cavaliers swingman Omri Casspi has opted to play overseas until the NBA lockout ends. … Casspi, acquired from the Sacramento Kings in the offseason, has been long rumored to return to Israel during the work stoppage. He also had been considering a team in Italy. … Kyrie Irving is believed to be weighing his international options, as well.”