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Sep
0

Preview: EuroBasket Quarter Finals – Croatia vs Ukraine and Lithuania vs Italy

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.

Sep
5

EuroBasket Power Rankings: And then there were eight

Where once there was 12 now stand 8. The quarter finals are set so it’s time to update our Power Rankings.

There are some radical changes but I still expect plenty of you will be upset. Take aim in the comments.

1. Croatia (4-1). It was really tough to decide between first and second here. Three straight wins in the second round, including that unreal 2OT win over Greece on Monday, were just enough for them to get top slot. 

2. Serbia (4-1). So that ranking of 9 was harsh. Serbia still clearly have a lot of work to do but their win over France was particularly impressive.

3. Slovenia (3-2). The home team is really getting the crowd involved in their games. Their win over Italy exposed some of the latter’s failings. Following that up with a heart-stopper over Greece was enough to take third here. We’re not counting what was clearly a nothing game against Finland against them.
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Sep
3

EuroBasket 2013 Quarter Final pairings set

The last game in stage two has yet to start but the four quarter final pairings for EuroBasket 2013 are set. Here’ are the pairings.

Serbia vs Spain

Lithuania vs Italy

Croatia vs Ukraine

Slovenia vs France

The first two games on Monday set the slate in stone. Greece lost any hope at making the quarter finals with their double overtime 92-88 loss to Croatia. Italy and Spain were left to decide the order of the top two quarter finals, with the loser getting Group E winner Serbia. Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies led the game in stats with 32 points and 10 rebounds but Alessandro Gentile made up for his lacklustre display against Croatia with 25 points and 7 boards. New San Antonio Spur Marco Belinelli had another good outing for Italy, with 16 points and 8 rebounds before fouling out while Marco Cusin, who also fouled out, put up 4 points and 11 boards. It took overtime to decide it but Italy took the win 86-81. Now all they have to do is repeat that success on the inside to lock up a place in the FIBA World Cup next year. Against a Lithuanian team that can bang hard, that’s no easy ask.

We’ll have previews up for the quarter finals later this week but bear in mind that the placement games in this tournament also matter. With Spain already having their place in the World Cup secure, all but one of the other quarter finalists will be making the trip next year. Tell us who you think misses out in the comments.

Sep
2

Eurobasket: Slovenia and Croatia progress, Spain win

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.
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Sep
0

Eurobasket: Lack of inside penetration costs Italy against Croatia

Midway through the second quarter Italy looked on course for an upset of Croatia. Then everything fell apart as Croatia won 76-68.

After their comfortable win over Finland on Wednesday, Croatia looked to have finally hit their stride. Not so fast my friend. For the sixth time in seven games at EuroBasket 2013, the Croats made life hard for themselves. Trailing by 13 at one point against Italy on Saturday, Croatia were the makers of their own misery. They started an ugly 5 of 23 from the field as the Italians took charge with an exceedingly simple offence.

So simple that even Croatia couldn’t find a way to mess this up. Yes, for 15 minute the Croats played ugly basketball but eventually Roko Ukic realised that he needed to take on the load and start creating. Once he did Croatia became far less predictable and quickly gobbled up the deficit. The really staggering part of the game was how slow Italy were to try and counter. Leading by 5 at the half, Simone Piangiani knew his side was going to be under pressure early after the break. The one thing Italy’s offence had lacked in the first half was inside pressure. The shot chart for the third quarter shows just how slow Italy were to try and fix that issue.
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Sep
0

Maybe Italy should start jacking up 3s and Dragic loves his bro

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.

In-the-game.org's stats on three point shooting at Eurobasket 2013
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.

In addition to threes, Simon has put together four other charts. Check out this great graphic of where assists leader Goran Dragic drops his dimes. Here’s a look at Alessandro Gentile’s off-dribble scoring. Unsurprisingly his brother Zoran has been one of the chief beneficiarys. Bosnia’s Zack Wright leads under-sized rebounders, and it turns out Russia were rather good in steals and blocks.

Sep
0

Open Thread: Eurobasket Group F gets under way

The second day of action in stage two sees the Group F teams take centre stage. Here’s the docket for today and our picks.

Finland (1-1) vs. Croatia (1-1) – 14.30

Greece (0-2) vs. Spain (1-1) – 17.45

Slovenia (1-1) vs. Italy (2-0) – 21.00

The bookies favour Croatia (-4.5), Spain (-6.5), and Slovenia (-3.5). BiE’s power rankings stirred some controversy as we rated all six Group F teams in our top eight of the tournament so far. Two of these teams however aren’t going to be hanging around. In terms of need, Slovenia knows an early start is big so I’m going with the home team to win. Spain’s number looks about right and I like them too. Finland and Croatia looks made to go down to the wire. I’m picking Croatia but to win by less than the bookies say.

Give us your picks in the comments.

Jul
3

Back to the NBA? Bobby Brown works out with Knicks

Wishes of good luck go out to Bobby Brown today, but BallinEurope must say the electrifying point guard would be missed in Euroleague 2013-14 should his current plan be successful.

Yahoo Sports reports this morning that the PG, with Montepaschi Siena last season, was given a workout session with the New York Knicks yesterday; the team is reportedly interested in a third point guard to be slotted on the depth chart behind Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. Marc Stein of ESPN reported two weeks ago that the Knicks were among three teams possibly interested in Brown, with the others listed as the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.

In scoring 18.8 points in 24 Euroleague games, Brown won the EL’s Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy; in acknowledging his award-winning season, the big league noted that “He scored in double figures in 22 of his team’s 24 Euroleague games, reached the 20-point mark on 10 occasions and got to 30 points twice. As a crowning moment, Brown tied the Euroleague’s single-game scoring mark for the century with 41 points in a come-from-behind 92-98 victory over Fenerbahçe Ülker Istanbul early in the Top 16 round.” Brown also dished out 5.3 assists per game.

In Italy in 2012-13, Brown helped lead Siena to another Serie A title with averages of 17.3 points and 3.5 assists per over 49 total games.

In a European career starting in 2007, Brown has had stints with Alba Berlin, Asseco Prokom, Aris Thessaloniki and EWE Baskets Oldenburg before coming to Siena. He last played in North America in 2010 with the Clippers.

Can’t wait to see how he gets on with Metta World Peace, eh…?

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Jun
11

Eurobasket 2013: Which NBA players are in, which are out?

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…

Group A
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.

No official word on Nicolas Batum (Portland), though the Trail Blazers reportedly be “watching Batum’s injury” this offseason. Perhaps some discouragement is forthcoming…?

France-based media outlet Figaro reported back in May that Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers) and Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers) would play; this may have been speculation based on prior results, but Turiaf’s presence on Les Blues for this tournament has been on coach Collet’s mind for a while.

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Jun
4

Thrilla in Siena: Montepaschi-Cimberio Varese Serie A semifinal game four

Game of the week last week? How about last night’s game four of the Montepaschi Siena-Cimberio Varese semifinals series in Italy’s Serie A? National powerhouse and this tournament’s no. 5 seed Siena found themselves nearly on the ropes at 10 minutes to play before slowly coming back with a 24-13 run. With 60 seconds left, it was the visiting no. 1 seed from Varese up, 75-74.

As you’d imagine, Bobby Brown and quarterfinals hero Daniel Hackett played key parts for the defending champs down the stretch … though perhaps not *quite* in the way you’d imagine.

Courtesy Basket Inside – and kudos to them for posting – here’s that how that final 60 seconds of game clock played out.

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