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Tight knit Iceland too much for Great Britain +++ EuroBasket 2015: Round-up and Highlights from Wednesday’s qualifiers +++ FIBA dropped a sweet promo for the World Cup +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer – Bronze Medal Match +++ Rudy gets iced, the internet rejoices +++ FIBA World Cup Preview – Group C +++ CSKA Moscow’s Kyle Hines and Sonny Weems take the ice bucket challenge +++ Tony Parker does ice bucket challenge but his friend can’t use a camera phone +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer: Semi Finals +++ EuroBasket 2015: Wins for Macedonia, Belgium, and Georgia +++
Aug
0

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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Aug
0

Highlights: Serbia overcome Greece 60-55, Ukraine promoted

Serbia outlasted a gritty Greek team in the first of Saturday’s FIBA Europe Under 18 men’s semi finals. Neither team did well from beyond the arc but Radovan Djokovic’s pair of treys gave Serbia some breathing room in the fourth before Greece rallied. The victory secured Serbia’s place in the final for the first time since 2011.
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Aug
0

Highlights: Greece beat Italy 85-68 in FIBA Europe U18s

Greece survived a Federico Mussini inspired rally from Italy to comfortably progress to the semi-finals of the FIBA Europe Under 18 men’s championships. Greece were in control for most of the game before the Muss in #Mussadori exploded in the second half. Mussini finished with 24 points and 5 boards, while his cohort Diego Flaccadori had 11 and 4. As ever, it was Italy’s lack of depth that was their undoing and the Greeks found an answer to Mussini’s charge:

Giorgios Papagiannis finished with 14 points and 8 boards, one of five Greeks to score in double-digits. The most outstanding display came from Vasileios Charalampopoulos who had 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Jul
4

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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Jun
2

Siena out of Euroleague and LegaBasket Serie A

Mens-Sana-Basket-Siena

The fall was expected for some time but now it has formally been confirmed. Mens Sana Basket Siena will not only exit Euroleague next season but also the top flight of Italian Basketball, LegaBasket Serie A.

It’s been quite the fall for the side which has claimed the past seven Italian titles and reached the Euroleague Final Four as recently as 2011, taking third place.

Reports suggest the club will re-enter Italian basketball at the fourth tier, a stunning fall from grace for a team which could call on talents such as Bo McCalebb and Bobby Brown in recent seasons.

Last night Siena lost Game 1 of the Italian league finals 74-61 to Olimpia Milano. Irrespective of what happens in this series, Siena will have to start once more from the bottom in 2014/15.

Sep
1

EuroBasket: Early run drives Serbia to 2014 FIBA World Cup

A stunning start for Serbia proved decisive as Dusan Ivkovic’s charges won the win or stay home World Cup decider with Italy 76-64.

It took Italy a full quarter to realise the importance of this game and they were left with too deep a hole to get out of. Serbia, who suffered horrible starts in their previous two games, came out hot. Leading by 13 with possession at the end of the first, Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a three at the buzzer to give Serbia a 27-11 lead. It was Serbia’s inside play that pushed them ahead. The Serbs utterly dominated on the boards, with Nemanja Bjelica grabbing 10 rebounds and Bogdanovic 9. With the loser joining the long, looooooong, queue for wild cards at next year’s FIBA World Cup, Serbia had struck a vital blow early.

Italy tried to counter but Marco Belinelli was still suffering from the horrid shooting stretch that plagued him against Ukraine. With Belinelli’s offensive impact limited, Gigi Datome and Alessandro Gentile carried the load as Italy tried to chip away at the deficit. By half-time the gap was down but by just 2 points to 41-27. The Italians were getting the better of Serbia but they weren’t able to put together an extended streak to pressure their less experienced adversaries.

Serbia, who had been shellacked in their last two games, were given the hairdryer treatment by Ivkovic throughout. Duda had to be gentle as his side struggled against Spain and Slovenia but now it was time to get his men hot. The third quarter saw the lead cut down again but once more Italy couldn’t make a significant dent. At 55-44, Serbia could manage the clock and play smart ball. Italy needed to take risks but the options simply weren’t there.

With his side holding a 64-54 lead and just over 3 minutes remaining, Nikola Kalinic landed a three. Stefan Markovic added another to push the lead to 16 points. The game was won and Serbia could look forward to Spain next year. Considering the way in which the previous two games had gone for the young Serbs, with 9 players making their first appearance at a major tournament, the character they showed on Saturday bodes well for the future. Whoever leads this side to Spain will have a battle-hardened and talented outfit at his disposal. Ivkovic isn’t confirmed for the trip but it’s hard to think of a more suitable man for the job.

In addition to missing out on next year’s World Cup, this defeat means Italy must now qualify for EuroBasket 2015.

Sep
0

Pooh Jeter, Ukrainian hero

Ukraine’s hopes in EuroBasket 2013 hung on how Pooh Jeter played. When it mattered most, the borsht lover delivered.

Let’s compare two players at EuroBasket 2013.

Player A: 7.25 PPG, 2.75 APG, 2.25 RPG

Player B: 18 PPG, 5 APG, 4.2 RPG.

Unless you didn’t read the title of this column you’ll have guessed that both players are Eugene ‘Pooh’ Jeter. Player A is Jeter’s worst four games in the tournament. Player B is his best six. Both samples are tiny but within them lies the story.

Just like Bo McCalebb’s amazing run with Macedonia in 2011, a nation’s hopes and dreams rested on the shoulders of an import guard. Like McCalebb, Jeter sees Ukraine as more than just a route to a European passport. He has embraced the national team and played his heart out for his adopted home. It’s quite an evolution for the former Portland Pilot.

Jeter never tasted success in NCAA ball. No trips to the big dance or even the NIT. He’s bounced around Europe and China, finding work. Sometimes with big teams, sometimes not so much. It’s the connection he made with BC Kyiv during his career that has brought him to this new height. As Flinder Boyd said in his great column on McCalebb, it’s easy for an American to just take the passport and phone it in with his new national team. It’s entirely on the player if they decide to do something with it.

That’s what we saw from Jeter in EuroBasket 2013. He’s far from the perfect guard but when he is on, Pooh has the ability to dominate. After a quiet start to the tournament he exploded against Germany and France. In stage two it was Jeter who came up big again with 20 points in an upset of Serbia. It was that result that, eventually, put Ukraine into the quarter finals.

Jeter’s off days have made his big outing all the more extraordinary. Latvia shut him down, Great Britain’s rag-tag line-up limited him. When Jeter’s game was off, Ukraine were lost. Jeter didn’t have good days and bad days. He had everything and nothing days. On Friday Jeter didn’t just bring the solo show, he brought the best out of those around him.

Facing Italy for a place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Jeter nailed 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting. The guard grabbed 4 boards, all on the defensive end, as Ukraine restricted their more noteworthy opponents to just 24 points in the second half. Around Jeter there were Ukrainian men standing up and believing. Sergii Gladyr, Maxim Korniyenko, and Viacheslav Kravtsov grabbed 6 rebounds each. Ihor Zaytsev added 5 more. Individually no Ukrainian could deliver on Jeter’s level, collectively they refused to lose. Having never made it passed the first stage of EuroBasket before, Ukraine will finish at worst sixth this year. Pooh Jeter will finally go to the big dance only it won’t be in March. Next autumn in Spain, he’s going to carry his new home’s hopes once again.

Sep
1

EuroBasket Power Rankings: Spain rise to the top

Just in time for today’s semi finals to prove us completely wrong, here’s our updated Power Rankings for EuroBasket 2013 after the quarter final round.

1. Spain. It’s a what have you done for me lately business and nobody has done more than Spain. They leap Croatia on the back of an utter rout of Serbia.

2. Croatia. A second quarter spurt against Ukraine gave the Croats a decisive lead that they never gave up. This team has now won 8 straight.

3. Lithuania. Total coin toss between Lithuania and France following the quarter finals, the Lithuanians greater consistency in round two means they stay ahead for now.
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Sep
0

Preview: Clash of the stars as Spain play France in semi final

It’s a rivalry that’s been bubbling for years. Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, and Boris Diaw lead France against Spain’s Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon, and the bearded might of Sergio Rodriguez. Only one will advance to the final of EuroBasket 2013.

Whatever we thought of Spain before the quarter finals was quickly swept aside on Wednesday. They didn’t beat Serbia; they ignored their very presence on the court. Spain played like their roster looked on paper. Deep in the back court, weapons everywhere, and with one of the most imposing presences in the world at center. The Serbs were sent packing in an utterly humiliating 90-60 defeat. France for their part stayed largely to type in the quarter final. The talent was there to see, they picked up the win, but they left the court with questions still abounding. One stood out above all others. Why do they look so beatable?

The stats certainly don’t paint the French as an easy side to conquer. They lead the tournament offensively and have a variety of options, with Parker, Batman, and Alexis Ajinca all proving tough match-ups. Parker leads EuroBasket in scoring but can disappear for minutes at a time. This is unlikely to be an issue today, not against a team France has lost twice to in major tournaments over the past two years. Normally I shun the eyeball test but it’s near impossible to ignore when France play. For all the things they do right, they always look like they need to find another gear.

The most consistent element of this match-up promises to be decisive. Even when their scoring has been off, Spain have been consistent on defence. If any team can corral France, it’s the Spaniards. Scoring will be high but Spain have enough to take the win. Spain to advance.

World Cup spot

Italy and Ukraine clash in Friday’s first game with a place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup at stake. This is a huge game for both sides as neither will want to see Serbia in the match-up for the final spot. Win today and you are on the plane to Spain. Ukraine fought gamely against Croatia and won’t suffer much inside against the Italians. The options for Italy on offence look to be key here. Gigi Datome and Marco Belinelli have been the engines for Italy throughout this tournament and the duo should have enough to pull through. Italy to win.

Sep
1

EuroBasket: Lithuania beat Italy 81-77 in a classic

Lithuania and Italy served up the quarter final we had been waiting for in EuroBasket 2013. A battle down to the wire where Lithuania finally pulled through to book a date with Croatia.

Finally a game worth killing for. The quarter finals were lacking something up until this point. We needed joie de mort. Where the end of a team’s quest for the title actually caused us to feel it inside. That is what Italy, unwillingly no doubt, delivered on Thursday. The underdogs were dominated on the boards, as any observer no doubt expected, but Marco Belinelli and Alessandro Gentile wouldn’t let that stop them. For all his issues winning rebounds, Gentile delivered offensively with 15 points in the losing effort. Belinelli, ever the stoic operator, was a one man army for the Italians. His haul of 22 points and 2 steals dared the Lithuanians to match him.

In Mantas Kalneitis he had a worthy adversary. It’s easy for Lithuanians to say none of their guards are Saras but for once Kalneitis forced the doubters to be silent. He led the team with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. In Ljubjana he stood on the floor and demanded respect. Renaldas Sebuitis match Kalneitis in scoring and added 6 rebounds too. This was a team that could match the Italians outside as they sought victory on the interior.

This night however was not one for Jonas Valanciunas. The fearsome big man was quiet all evening, only featuring for 11 minutes, as his team mates carried the load. Trailing 58-57 going into the final frame, Lithuania broke for home with a 15-0 run that would have ended the battle of a lesser foe.

Credit therefore to Italy who battled gamely to the death. One would expect no less from Gigi Datome but to see those around him fight hard was inspiring. Reeling in Lithuania was always going to be unlikely after that run but there was no quarter given by the Italians down the stretch. The preceding quarter finals had been about progression. This game was one of survival.

Italy’s mettle was not enough to take the day but proved their character. They now enter the classification round where they take on Ukraine to lock up a place in the FIBA World Cup next year. Lithuania’s 2014 qualification is assured with this victory. That won’t be on their minds tonight. This is an evening for resting and refocusing. The greater challenge awaits on Friday. Croatia and a place in the final of EuroBasket 2013.