Infographic: 2012-13 Miami Heat vs. 2004-05 CSKA Moscow – Who’s more impressive?

As the Miami Heat look to add another W to their ongoing historic 23-game streak when playing at the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, here’s a nifty little argument discussion starter put together by BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y.

Sure, the Heat’s run is mighty impressive, but just look at what CSKA Moscow did to the competition in both Euroleague and Russian play in 2004-05: The Dusan Ivkovic-led side featuring all-time greats Theo Papaloukas and J.R. Holden strung together 42 consecutive wins over a six-month period for a record that may never be broken. The team ultimately took the Russian League and Cup titles, but fell in the Euroleague Final Four. (An ominous sign for King James & Co.?)

So see below and/or click on the image for larger version and tell BiE: In the parlance of our times, who’s the “more dominant”? (Y.’s title for the infographic may have been ironic…)

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J.R. Holden: “In 10 years, I see myself possibly being a GM in Europe”

Sure, BallinEurope will promote this one. If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check out a good long interview with retired Team Russia/CSKA Moscow guard J.R. Holden by Erildas Budraitis over at Real GM. Holden, who BiE believes will someday be enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame, manages to touch on just about every single memorable point of his career in the piece, talks about “what if” and the future.

A few highlights … On first arriving in Latvia, he says “My goodness…” (No, really, J.R. Holden says “My goodness”) “…it was a scary time for me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had no idea where Riga, Latvia was located in the world. I was a little worried I wasn’t good enough to be a professional basketball player in Europe. It was so far away from home and my comfort zone…”

On The Shot of 2007, J.R. jokes that “Spanish people love me now and I love them too.”

But the real note of interest to Continental fans is the capper: “In 10 years, I see myself possibly being a General Manager for a team in Europe.”

The entire interview runs here; swell highlight clip runs below. And yes, the shot (seriously remixed).

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Eclipse watching: All-time records under threat at Euroleague Final Four 2012

Siskauskas seeks title, free throws

For all the history/stat junkies out there – including myself, as BiE readers know – BallinEurope today takes a look at what all-time Euroleague Final Four records might fall this year … and some that seem unbreakable.

• Under assault could be the all-time free-throw mark of 56 held by Nikos Galis. Galis set this individual mark in just four games in the 1988 and 1990 tournaments with Aris BC and Panathinaikos, respectively, in performances that set all sorts of EL Final Four marks. However, Ramunas Siskauskas has amassed 45 over the years with PAO and CSKA Moscow; at an average of four trips to the FT line per game in 2011-12 Euroleague play, Siskauskas could squeak into the record books in 2012 – and he’s currently a bit better in accuracy than Galis was, at 78.6% to 74.6%.

• Now 34 years old and the senior member of a seriously veteran-laden Panathinaikos team, Mike Batiste doesn’t have too much time left to run up his numbers. While his 41 two-pointers are a far cry from Galis’ ridiculous 87, the Arizona State University alum could jump from his current no. 9 standing on the EL Final Four all-time two-pointer table to no. 4, passing Dejan Bodiroga with just six more buckets. After that, the targets would be no. 3 Theo Papaloukas’ 53 and no. 2 David Andersen’s 57.

• Batiste is also 17 rebounds behind Matjaz Smodis’ lifetime mark of 73; Viktor Khryapa may be destined to become no. 1 before all is said and done, with 54 to his credit already.

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Euroleague Top 16, Week Two, Night One: Six games, 100 facts

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.
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Jaycee Carroll, Nik Caner-Medley: Proud to be Azerbaijani?

One hot-button topic in the European basketball world got a bit more heated yesterday: Word has it that The Azerbaijan Basketball Federation has opened talks that would install American-born players Jaycee Carroll and Nik Caner-Medley on the men’s national team in preparation for Eurobasket qualifiers.

Twitter tremors on the acquisitions – and let’s just call them acquisitions, shall we? It’s just business, after all – are still occurring, but the overriding sentiment only with an interesting bit of information was perhaps best summed up by Sportando’s tweet:

Jaycee Carroll has the same agent as Nik Caner-Medley who got as well passport from Azerbaijan. Europe, where fake passports happen.

As for BallinEurope, yes, we’re addressing the topic. Enrico Cellini weighs in on the subject below.

Suppose you are the head of a basketball federation in a tiny state with little tradition in the sport and must prepare for the Eurobasket 2013 qualification round. You would:

A) Hire a foreign coach with long European Basketball resume;

B) Invest in young players that could turn out to be good in the future; or

C) Just do like everyone else and grant national passports to American players so they can play in your national team.

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CSKA Moscow-Zalgiris Kaunas: The history, the highlight clips

Though CSKA Moscow and Žalgiris Kaunas have never met on a opening day before, this matchup of perpetual Continental powers makes for an appropriate inauguration for the 2011-12 Euroleague season.

Since the 2001-02 edition of the big league, both sides have appeared in Europe’s top basketball competition, building up something of a rivalry (albeit a bit of a one-sided one) over the past ten seasons over eight EL meetings and a handful of others in various pan-European competition.

On this opening day, BallinEurope takes a brief look back at previous clashes between these two clubs.

• In the modern era, things began for these teams in 2003-04. That memorable season saw Arvydas Sabonis suiting up for Žalgiris for a third go around and bagging the league MVP award despite his advanced age of 39 and the Lithuanian side’s bouncing from the Top 16 round.

CSKA would meet Žalgiris in week seven of the old 14-game pool-play format that season; the old warrior Sabonis played limited minutes in battling a flu bug, yet still went for 19 points and eight rebounds. (See video below for an admirable display of Sabas’ range and general dominance – who’d’ve known he was virus-laden?) Moscow emerged as winners anyway, with J.R. Holden unstoppable from outside and Marcus Brown, he who would a few years later become Kaunas’ favorite adopted son, each putting in 21 points for CSKA in the fast-paced 90-81 victory.

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Eurobasket 2011: BallinEurope podcasts, makes Official Fearless Predictions™

As BallinEurope gets ready to hit the road for Lithuania – Panevezys, specifically, where BiE’ll be covering EuroBasket Group A action – there’s just enough time for a shameless plug and Official Fearless Predictions™.

Last week, BiE guested on podcasts with the indomitable Freaknick over at the always fun and insightful Euroleague Adventures. We spent more than enough time going over each of the groups and expounded on various related (and not necessarily so related) topics related to EuroBasket 2011, so links are provided for when you want to kill a little have some time to listen in.

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Coming to Europe: The top five most influential American players of all-time

With seemingly no end in sight to the NBA lockout situation forthcoming, BallinEurope has to admit to enjoying the schadenfreude of the situation … just a bit. Even more exciting than the day-to-day speculation as more and more players from the big league consider their Continental options are the possibilities for the future: History has shown that inclusion of one American player can change the entire course of clubs, domestic leagues and even national programs.

While living in the present, BiE takes a look at the past with a virtual all-star team of guys from the ’States who have been great for the European game in one way or another. This quintet was chosen not necessarily for their skills and greatness, but for their impact on the game itself both in Europe and America – at least until Kobe Bryant decides to hop the Atlantic, heh heh…

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CSKA Moscow takes Russian championship; J.R. Holden announces retirement

The 2010-11 champion has been named in Russia and for the ninth consecutive season, it is CSKA Moscow. Along with the exultation of the Red Army’s 74-63 victory over BC Khimki, however, came the sad (if inevitable) news that longtime Muscovite J.R. Holden would be retiring from professional basketball.

Playing nearly the entire game, Holden’s 25-point, four-steal swansong led his team to the series capper. Series MVP Viktor Khryapa contributed 12 points and four rebounds in the win.

But then, the announcement. Russia-based RIA Novosti today reports that after the game, Holden told his teammates that “This was probably my last basketball match. I’ve decided to end my career.” As for whether the naturalized citizen will play for Team Russia in FIBA Eurobasket 2011, Holden stated to the media that he’d promised coach David Blatt to participate and “I plan to keep my word, [but] so far I can’t say exactly if I’ll play in the European championship or not. I still have a week to think about it.”

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Euroleague Final Four, 2011: Some trivia and factoids on this year’s tourney

As with any major sport tournament these days, the informational factoids flow freely through fandom, giving both typical fans and stat addicts extra stuff to look for in the games ahead … and who is BallinEurope to buck such a habit? Below run a few interesting milestones, achievements and straight-up trivia about the 2011 Euroleague Final Four clubs, players and coaches with which to impress your fellow enthusiasts. Enjoy! (And damn, is Derrick Sharp *really* that old…?)

• Real Madrid has played in an all-time record 14 Euroleague title games and eight titles – yet hasn’t even been to a Final Four since 1996, when some guy named Arvydas Sabonis was running things. Maccabi Tel Aviv is second in the record books, having appeared in 13 title games.

• Derrick Sharp will be playing in his seventh Final Four – all with Maccabi Tel Aviv – one ahead of Tal Burstein for most with the club. At eight, Fragiskos Alvertis, J.R. Holden and Theo Papaloukas are the only Euroleague ballers to have appeared in more Final Four tournaments than Sharp. Eight players have won four European titles previously; both Sharp and Burstein are looking to join that elite group.

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