Nike International Junior Tournament: Day three roundup

(Marc Garcia image courtesy Euroleague)

Garcia: Again the top-scorer for Barca

Just over two hours remain before Spain’s Europe’s top youth teams face off in the Nike International Junior Tournament championship game, and so follows a recap of yesterday’s action which ultimately saw FC Barcelona and Joventut Badalona advance, as provided by Net Scouts. The shows that these teams put on in facing a variety of styles – particularly impressive was Joventut, who handled defensive-minded Lietuvos Rytas, shut down the often dominant Dusan Ristic and Crvena Zvezda/Red Star Belgrade, and kept pace with a hustling Team China – are a true testament to the quality of these youth programs…

Joventut Badalona had little trouble with China (1-2), forcing the Chinese into 25 turnovers which resulted in Joventut taking 22 more shots in the game. Joventut maintained a double-digit lead for much of the contest. 6’8” Jose Nogues led the winners with 21 points, shooting 8-of-13 on two-pointers. 6’4” Agusti Sans finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists while 6’5” Alberto Abalde scored 16 and hit three three-pointers. 6’5” Jinglong Li was the only player in double-figures for Team China with 14 points. Joventut came back from a two-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to score 25 in the second to take a ten-point halftime lead.

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Cup finals highlights: Barca dominates Valencia; Siena squeaks past Cinderella; PAO bests “club of filth” Olympiacos; Korac Cup final postponed

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this morning to FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena and Panathinaikos, perhaps each respectively their nation’s top basketball club, for taking domestic cup titles this weekend.

In Spain, FC Barcelona showed no letup after outlasting Real Madrid in Thursday’s barnburner from the Copa Del Rey quarterfinal round and cruised through Valencia BC in the finals, 85-69. Nice to note that BiE fave Pete Mickael snagged this year’s MVP award from within a relentless and balanced Blaugrana attack.

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What every young player needs: Playing time

Even in these days of internationalism, certain constants remain in European basketball vis-à-vis player development. BallinEurope’s Marko Savkovic takes a brief look at the current situation in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, with particular reference to Partizan’s Danilo Andjusic and Nemanja Nedovic of Red Star Belgrade.

Ask any coach what a young player needs to develop, and he will answer: “playing time.” Readiness to open the floor to skinny teenagers in order to gradually turn them into match winners used to be one of defining features of ex-Yu ball. Coaches were not advised only by their instinct. The talent pool was wider and deeper. The league was more competitive. Local teams were built on youth systems and were proud of the talent in store. Due to restrictions, these teenagers were not sold abroad early, while guys with more experience were kept on the roster. What was the end result? When one team that was neither from Belgrade or Zagreb – namely, Jugoplastika Split – achieved its unforgettable threepeat.

Two decades later, things have changed dramatically. There are fewer players to choose from. Many youth systems have collapsed due to lack of funding. Yet, teams still must win in order to attract publicity and sponsorships. In doing this, defense is the key. Points are built on discipline, patience, positioning and calculated aggression: This in turn translates into fewer minutes for the youngsters who must learn fast and impress quickly or leave.

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Vlade Divac: The BallinEurope/YouTube career retrospective

BallinEurope sends out hearty congratulations to Serbian great Vlade Divac on his nomination for possible entry into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s “Class of 2012.”

While Divac may be known as a famous trivia answer (“Who was traded for Kobe Bryant?”) or by the dreaded “F-word” (i.e. “flopper” as used in – really – this Los Angeles Times blog entry detailing the story of Vlade’s honor), this nomination shows a lifetime of accomplishment on the basketball court. Heck, in the NBA alone, Divac topped 13,000 points, 9000 rebounds, 3000 assists and 1500 blocked shots over 16 seasons. And then there were those “Dream Team” years with Team Yugoslavia and the glorious early days with KK Partizan in the 1980s, highlighted by Korać Cup titles and Divac’s “Mr. Europa” trophy.

Today, BallinEurope pays tribute to a personal favorite on the occasion in the best way possible: With a YouTube-laden rundown of his long and memorable career! Check out Divac’s progress through turns with Partizan Belgrade, the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, the “Dream Team” Yugoslavian squads, and of course KK Crvena Zvezda during the 1999 NBA player lockout…

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Return of the Bulldog: Adam Morrison goes for 30 against Union Olimpija

When was the last time Adam Morrison went for 30 points on any level of basketball?

The former Gonzaga Bulldog has been making waves in the European game since joining KK Crvena Zvezda (a.k.a. Red Star Belgrade). Morrison’s most recent effort wasn’t against just any bunch of slouchers, either: The long-locked one totaled his 30 on 12-of-19 overall shooting in a 101-93 Adriatic League loss to Euroleague side Union Olimpija. After three games, the ex-Zag is averaging 18.7 points per game, good for fifth-best in ABA ball thus far.

Below runs the highlight reel from the Olimpija game, just in case this sounds too unbelievable to be true.

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NLB wrap: Zagreb bests Radnicki, Buducnost upsets Partizan, CEZ Nymburg no. 1

The first week of play in the Adriatic League (a.k.a. the NLB Liga ABA) was capped yesterday with KK Zagreb’s 82-76 home-opener win over Radnički despite an amazing performance by Michael Lee – and just check out who’s atop the standings.

Lee, a two-sport star at St. Bonaventure who was with the Hungarian league’s Albacomp for 2009-10, played all 40 minutes and contributed 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including a lights-out 100% on his five three-point attempts.

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Official BallinEurope Euroleague Power Rankings: The preseason

Since BallinEurope’s Official Power Rankings were so, um, popular during the FIBA World Championships, today we’re kicking off the same schtick for the upcoming Euroleague campaign.

The rules, again: These rankings are basically purely subjective (at this point; once the games are played, actual wins and losses will be figured in) but are based loosely on last season’s performance, Euroleague seedings before the draw, transactions made in the offseason, and performances in preseason games. (Olympiacos fans, you might want to look away right now.)

Today, the EL according to BiE looks something like the following.

1. FC Barcelona – Early on, it looks like business as usual for the side that dominated European club basketball in 2009-10 (well, until that gnarly showing in the ACB Finals, that is). In the off-season, Barça mostly stood pat while adding “only” Kosta Perovic; this weekend, the Blaugrana pummeled Euroleague contenders Real Madrid and Power Electronics Valencia by 172-118 to cruise to the Spanish Super Cup. Perhaps *this* will be the year Barcelona takes a quadruple cup, eh?

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