Rumor: Anadolu Efes to pay for, transfer Saric to KK Split

Now here’s an encouraging rumor about Dario Saric’s potentially disastrous contract situation: According to Euro-Step, one team which can afford to do so will step up to foot the €550,000 transfer fee demanded by KK Zagreb to release the Croatian wunderkind.

As rumor has it, “Nikola Vujcic is acting as an intermediary” in a deal which would have “Saric sign[ing] with Anadolu Efes before joining KK Split on loan.”

Saric has reportedly been working out with Split for the month he’s been in contract limbo. Originally slated to play for Bilbao Basket of the Liga Endesa this season, the transfer was stopped when the now-second division Zagreb club demanded at least €1 million to win the prospect’s services. FIBA arbitrators ruled that the price would be €550,000.

Hopefully things will work out for The Next Big Thing Out of Croatia, who had been looking at the prospect of a Kanteresque sat-out season as Saric looks to continue moving up his basketball career ladder.

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Twenty Years Ago Today: A European Dream Team for 1992

When basketball fans look back on the 1992 Olympic Games, the top three topics are the awesomeness of the Dream Team, the success of Lithuania playing its first Olympic hoops as an independent nation, and the success of Croatia playing its first Olympic hoops as an independent nation.

Fair enough, BiE supposes, but what about those other NBA-level and/or Euroleague-dominating players in the Barcelona tournament? And what about the historical story surrounding Europe’s other three teams in those ‘Games? Herewith, a European Dream Team of sorts for the ‘92 Olympics plus a tiny bit of backstory and lotsa highlight clips.

As host nation, Team Spain received an automatic bid to the Barcelona Games. Though no slouches in Olympic play – Los Rojos had earned a spot in five of the six previous tournaments, including a silver-medal finish in the Soviet boycott Games of 1984 – history shows that more important in the bigger picture was that 12-year-olds such as Juan Carlos Navarro and Pau Gasol were watching and gaining inspiration.

Spain finished in ninth place after going 1-4 in group play (including a 122-81 drubbing at the hands of the Dreams) and were led in ’92 by long-time national team stars Jordi Villacampa

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Who needs the Adriatic League?

With the recent announcement that the 2011-12 champions won’t in fact be seeking a second go-around in the Adriatic League and hard economic realities facing many Serbian and Croatian clubs, BallinEurope contributor Marko Savkovic today asks the hard question about one of Europe’s most prestigious associations.

Something is always up in the Adriatic League. After Maccabi Tel Aviv informed the league about its decision not to participate in next year’s competition, sportswriters started looking for a replacement but one announcement caught everyone’s attention: ULEB, it seems, has considered cutting number of teams entering the competition directly to just two. Therefore, whoever finishes third will go to qualifications. If agreed upon, this decision will become effective beginning in the 2013-14 season.

This is yet another blow to a proud basketball nation, since Belgrade powerhouse Partizan has failed – once again – in its efforts to receive a Euroleague’s “A” license.

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On Olympiacos Euroleague championship: From crises emerge heroes

Printezis: Hero of the day

European basketball fans know that history was made with Olympiacos’ stunning victory in the 2012 Euroleague championship. And so BallinEurope contributor, the self-proclaimed hoops history junkie Uygar Karaca looks back with perspective on the title bid, reaching all the back to the Great Depression of 1929 through the collapse of the Soviet Union and into today’s European Union crises. Whether or not God Himself played a role, the importance of the Reds’ win, as Karaca sees it, is history repeating itself. Gloriously.

This is how things have worked throughout history: From crises emerge heroes. And heroes create the losers. Sometimes underdogs have more advantages simply because they have nothing to lose. It’s not unusual that we see situations like a 10-man football team winning against a stronger side. Sometimes having options confuses minds, creates problems in concentration and ambiguity in methodology. Those who have no real options perhaps have just one way and they become focused on the goal, which brings about greater optimization and efficiency.

I was thinking like this before the match: “If CSKA wins, there will be not many stories but in case of Olympiacos winning, there will be a variety of options in exposing the classical underdog story with many different perspectives. I hope Olympiacos wins.”

The day before the Euroleague final, I was at Abdi İpekci Hall to see some action in the Nike International Junior Tournament. There I saw Stevislav Pesic, also one of the greatest coaches in European basketball, the man who famously brought a European title to both Germany and Alba Berlin, who were real underdogs. I thought that it would be a great idea to take some predictions from him. Said Pesic: “I was not suprised when Olympiakos won against Barcelona, because Barcelona changed its game this year and were somewhat inconsistent throughout the season, whereas Olympiakos improved much compared to the beginning of the season.”

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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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Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar seek to join elites in 2012

Sasha? Really?

It’s perhaps the most famous Euroleague-related trivia question, and this season sees two more players in a quest to join the likes of a noted half-dozen, including some of the game’s all-time greats – would you believe that duo seeking to join this elite are named Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar?

The €20,000 question is of course, “Which players have won both Euroleague and NBA titles?” Hint: There are six in total, and two are Americans. Guess before clicking “Read More…” to test your skills – BiE’s trusting you to stay away from Google searches and Wikipedia…

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Curtis Stinson, formerly of Split, Aris, wins D-League MVP: What does it mean?

The tweet from Draft Express rang out at 4.30am CET and posed quite the complex question. To wit: “What does Curtis Stinson – a guy no team in the NBA or Europe has any interest in – winning MVP of the D-League, say about the D-League?

Such consternation clearly comes from one with an encyclopedic memory, because even for hoops diehards outside of Iowa, the man’s name will mostly elicit an answer of “huh?”

After writing his name throughout the Iowa State Cyclones record book, Stinson went undrafted in 2006 and could not stick with the Golden State Warriors after playing summer league ball with them. And so Stinson took a route familiar to many such players post-NCAA: He sought a job in Europe.

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Notes on Panathinaikos-Olympiacos, most important game of 2010-11

Spanoulis drives the Big Red Machine...

If tonight’s Panathinaikos-Olympiacos match isn’t the most important game thus far in the 2010-11 basketball season in Europe, BiE can’t think of what would be. Of no little significance in this clash of the titans, too, is its status as the first meeting between the teams since the 2009-10 EΣAKE championship final game, a.k.a. “The Night of Shame.”

Since closing out last season with the forfeit, the franchises have taken different paths in 2010-11, but are enjoying most enviable success in pursuit of both Greek and Euroleague titles: The Greens and Reds have turned in identical records in Greek League play at 11-0 (though Panathinaikos is listed atop the table with its superior +32.5 *per game* point differential against Olympiacos’ +20.4) as well as mirror 7-3 marks in the EL. They’ll be playing tonight not to break the tie in the EΣAKE, but also their no. 2 standing in BiE’s Top 100.

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NY Phantoms Braunschweig signs nasty dunksmith Tony Skinn

Countdown to liftoff...

Well-traveled American/Nigerian guard Tony Skinn has signed with New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig to complete the Bundesliga squad’s roster. Skinn brings a nice set of leadership abilities and playmaking skills to the Phantoms, but he’ll always be a BallinEurope favorite for those incredible hops that once led to the nastiest dunk of all-time.

After finishing up his playing at George Mason University in 2006, Skinn has gone on to stints with KK Split, Stade Clermontois Basket Auvergne, Gravelines Dunkerque and Carmatic Pistoia. With Lega due’s Pistoia last season, Skinn contributed 15.8 points per game, 2.2 steals per game and career-high field-goal shooting of 54.5%.

“In Tony Skinn,” said Braunschweig club director Oliver Braun, “we have found another guard to complement Kevin Hamilton and who understands how to run plays.”

Note to Skinn’s Bundesliga competition: Just watch the ‘jewels when you’re defending the lane against this guy…

And here’s one more look at the infamous jam:

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Euroleague Final Four history by the numbers

Toni Kukoc: All over the Euroleague record books

Attention, all statistics addicts! With the time to tipoff running down steadily, BallinEurope this morning puts things into a little numerical perspective. Which players, coaches and teams will forever be immortalized in the record books when all is said and done at the 2010 Euroleague Final Four? Some measuring sticks for would-be heroes are listed below. Let the countdown begin!

12: Number of free throws made – in 13 attempts – by Manu Ginobili for Kinder Bologna in a losing effort back in 2002. The trips to line helped produce 27 points for Ginobili, which tied the modern-era mark for scoring in a Euroleague final, matching … Manu Ginobili of 2001. Antoine Rigaudeau also scored 27 for Zalgiris (ironically against Bologna) in 1999 while going 5-of-7 on threes; Zoran Savic in 1991 and Dejan Bodiroga in 2001 also accomplished the feat.

11: Number of blocks registered by then-named Pop 84 Split, including four by Kukoc and three from Avy Lester, in a 70-65 finals win over Barcelona in 1991. The victory completed back-to-back-to-back Euroleague titles for Split, a feat never matched.before or after. In fact, the sole back-to-back Euroleague champion since ’91 was Maccabi Tel Aviv, with consecutive rings won in 2004 and 2005.

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