Sarunas Jasikevičius retires, joins Zalgiris in coaching role +++ Vintage Drazen Petrovic jersey up for auction +++ Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies +++ We really need you to nominate beers +++ Mykhailiuk operating almost under cover +++ Nando de Colo has the best location for a basketball camp +++ Ireland end famines with two slices of Danish bacon +++ Former Galatasaray baller Jamont Gordon talks about the road to recovery +++ FIBA Europe Under 20 final highlights and top plays +++ VIDEO: Ettore Messina’s coaching philosophy +++

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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Drazen Petrovic: The video homage to a too-short career

Once again on June 7, BallinEurope takes a look back at one of the all-time greats, without whom the game of basketball would not be the same: Dražen Petrović. The man is still missed.

An entire generation has entered basketball since his untimely passing and while ever-growing numbers of NBA and European stars who have never seen him play emerge, all owe a debt to Dražen Petrović.

It was on this day in 1993 that the only man who realistically could have held claim to the sobriquet of “the European Michael Jordan” was killed in a car accident in Germany. As detailed in the excellent ESPN “30 for 30” documentary “Once Brothers,” Petrović was a fearless, proud player with Team Yugoslavia and later Team Croatia in international play; was on the verge of entering the prime of a Hall of Fame-level career with the New Jersey Nets.

Petrovic' grave site, 7 June 2012

For those of you who never saw Petrović play, do yourselves a favor and take some time to watch below. For those of us fortunate enough to remember this European pioneer blazing trails all over the world, it’s a welcome (if slightly meandering) trip down memory lane. We still miss you, Dražen.

History has been unkind to Petrović vis-à-vis his NBA battles with that 1990s uber-phenomenon, i.e. Michael Jordan. Surely many Nets and Chicago Bulls fans remember the battles between these two powers which were mostly, as they say these days, “epic.”

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The EuroChallenge Championship Curse: What of Beşiktaş’ future?

In this second piece of a two-part series, sportswriter/commentator Uygar Karaca again considers the EuroChallenge Championship Curse, with special reference to this year’s champions, Beşiktaş; unfortunately for the Eagles, Karaca feels a distressing amount of déjà vu…

In this article, I will try to answer the question as to whether Beşiktaş Milangaz fits into the framework of the “EuroChallenge Championship Curse.” Just to reminder for readers: A few days ago, I compiled a list of teams who won the FIBA EuroChallenge trophy and what happened to them thereafter. Many of these team’s fates were not very nice and unfortunately, one can fairly claim that Beşiktaş is walking a similar path.

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Serbian Cup final: Partizan Belgrade domination continues

Speaking of national cups, Serbia’s tournament also went down this weekend, with Partizan enjoying a 64-51 win over Red Star Belgrade. Win the win, the perpetual Euroleague side once again reasserted its supremacy back home and are on a title run longer than Montepaschi Siena’s. BallinEurope’s man in Serbia, Marko Savkovic, analyzes the keys to victory and of course provides highlight clips. Congratulations to Partizan!

Five in a row! In hard-fought, super emotional finale of the Serbian National Cup, Red Star Belgrade (a.k.a. Crvena Zvezda Beograd) surprised many by staying competitive well until the fourth quarter. Then trusted veteran Dusan Kecman – Who else would it be, after all? – scored his first triple, giving Partizan a 54-44 lead to put them well beyond their rivals’ reach. As an intentional foul was called on Omar Thomas with two minutes remaining, the celebration could begin. And it was well deserved, as Partizan clinched its 15th trophy (yes, you read it correctly) in three years, including Serbian League, Serbian Cup and Adriatic League titles. So what won the game for Partizan?

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Searching for Milos Vujanic (or, Where have all the sharpshooters gone?)

Who is today's Vujanic?

In Serbia, it’s Korac Cup time, leading BallinEurope’s Marko Savkovic to contemplate changes in European basketball since the days of Milos Vujanic; specifically, new expertise on defense and subsequent de-emphasis of raining three-pointers. Savkovic tells us who to seek out in the 2012 tourney in terms of long-ball shooting while name-dropping Drazen Petrovic, Magic Johnson and Dejan Bodiroga along the way…

As the Korac Cup gets underway in Nis this weekend – with no surprises yet so far – it’s worth reminding just how many recognized sharpshooters are entering this Final 8 tournament … And, well, there are none.

Bearing in mind the multitude of players from the former Yugoslavia who became known for their shooting skills, this seems hard to believe. Some ten years ago, players like Milos Vujanic – voted by fans onto the Euroleague All-Decade Team – were famous for their ability to teardrop three-pointers in succession. Today, the team he used to play for and the Cup’s strongest contender – Partizan – favors a radically different game. So what has changed?

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What good can Dominic James bring to Partizan?

Welcome to Partizan Belgrade, Dominic James! “Now,” wonders the Grobari fan, “what can he do for us?” BallinEurope’s man in Serbia, Marko Savkovic, takes a look at the former Marquette Golden Eagle vis-à-vis Dragan Todoric’s master plan for the club.

In our praise of Partizan’s system of basketball, we’ve stated how this team’s success has turned it into a hot destination for American players looking to improve their careers. Since Bo McCalebb broke into big time two years ago, quality players from overseas have been offered contracts by Dragan Todoric, the Belgrade club’s perennial sporting director.

Take Lawrence Roberts: He was brought into shape for the first time since his college career thanks to Partizan’s conditioning routine. Or James Gist: a versatile power forward who is now one of players that Fenerbahçe Ülker has built its game around. Both found their game in Belgrade. Todoric has chosen wisely, one might say. Which is why Acie Law’s hiring might be counted as a mistake.

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Radnicki’s Scott and Simon: How two Americans are changing the game in Kragujevac

The hottest team in Europe right now (not named CSKA Moscow, that is)? BallinEurope figures Radnički Kragujevac could be in the discussion. After stumbling to a dismal 1-6 start in Adriatic League play, the recently reformed club has enjoyed a complete about-face and is clawing its way back up the ABA table, currently sitting in seventh place at 9-8. Back home in Serbia, they’re considered one of the favorites (behind Partizan Belgrade, that is) in February’s Serbian National Cup tournament.

Marko Savkovic today takes a look at Radnički’s comeback, particularly in light of exciting things from American players David Simon and Michael Scott.

“Until one’s star fades the other does not begin to shine,” goes a well known Serbian proverb. While news of the week depicted Hemofarm’s imminent collapse, the players of Radnički Kragujevac meanwhile reserved their time under the spotlight. After a disappointing start, they have beaten the likes of Red Star Belgrade, Cibona Zagreb and Partizan, to mention just a few, and are a strong – some even argue the strongest – contender ahead of the Serbian Korac Cup.

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Crisis at KK Hemofarm Vrsac: Coach resigns, sponsor pulls out, six players declared free agents

The ongoing financial crisis in Europe has claimed its first victim in the basketball world in 2012: KK Hemofarm Vrsac officials informed players Nikola Otašević, Alexei Nesovic, John Maras, Mladen Pantic, Marko Šutalu and Mladen Jeremic that they could now consider themselves free agents – though they’re reportedly welcome to stay aboard – as the club dissolves like its Adriatic League chances in a pool of financial problems. Rumor has it that the team’s main sponsor has pulled its financial backing as well.

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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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The BallinEurope tribute to all-time Euroleague great Marcus Brown

Marcus Brown retired from professional basketball this week as the Euroleague’s modern-era top scorer (with 2,715 total points to his name) and with a CV of success the envy of many. After getting drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1996 and playing sparingly there for a season, Brown jumped the puddle to embark on a 12-year European career that saw him play for eight teams in seven countries – and bring hardware home to most of them.

Though a Euroleague championship would elude him, Brown’s aforementioned career résumé includes nine domestic titles, three EL Final Four appearances, four national cup wins, a Korac Cup title, and three Baltic Basketball League championships. Personal accolades include six domestic-league MVP nods, one EL first-team and two second-team inclusions, and two domestic-league final MVP awards.

Today, BallinEurope pays tribute to Brown the best way possible: With YouTube clips!

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