Round-up: Nanterre perfect, Siena can shoot, Neptunas fall in OT

Reigning champions Nanterre maintained their perfect start in France. In Italy, Montepaschi Siena showed they won’t lose many games for lack of shooting and in the VTB United League it was a heartbreaking debut for Lithuania’s Neptunas.

They were the Cinderella story of European Basketball last year but JSF Nanterre has begun the 2013-14 LNB season like seasoned champions. Having won the title as 8th seeds in the playoffs last year, Nanterre now hold a 3-0 record in domestic action on the back of an impressive 85-58 home win over Olympique Antibes. Xavier Corosine led the Euroleague newcomers in scoring with 18 points. Elsewhere in France, Vincent Collet’s Strasbourg topped Elan Chalon 78-68 on the back of 16 points and 8 boards from Alexis Ajinca.

Last year Montepaschi showed there was life after Bo McCalebb. This season they seem intent on proving they can keep on scoring after losing Bobby Brown. The reigning LegaBasket champions had five players in double digits as they rolled to a 97-82 win over Cremona. Spencer Nelson had 12 points and 15 rebounds for Siena while Karl English led all scorers with 22. Milan will have plenty to worry about due to the manner of their 88-80 loss at Brindisi. Milan were wholly dependent on Keith Langford (29 points, 7 rebounds) and David Moss (19 points, 7 rebounds) on offence as a more balanced Brindisi side took the win.

Game Tape focussed on the VTB United League yesterday where CSKA Moscow got off to a winning start with an 80-63 win over VEF Riga. Neptunas, the new arrivals in the league, came close to taking a win in their first outing. The Lithuanian side eventually succumbed to Avomash Mariupol of Kazakhtan in overtime, going down 96-86. Lietuvos Rytas fared better in their opener with a 70-66 win at Novgorod.


Round-up: Siena take Supercoppa, fight in Lithuania, Nanterre and Strasbourg squeeze out wins

Four Euroleague teams returned to domestic action on Tuesday night. In Italy, Montepaschi Siena took the Supercoppa, while there were league wins for JSF Nanterre and Strasbourg IG in France. Lietuvos Rytas also won in the LKL but their victory at Juventus was marred by a brawl.

After a one and done display in the Euroleague qualifiers, Cimberio Varese looked to get one over on Italian kingpins Montepaschi Siena in the Supercoppa on Tuesday night. The EuroCup outfit managed to hold a one point lead at the break. Aubrey Coleman, 23 points and 7 rebounds, and Achille Polonara, 17 points and 7 rebounds, did the heavy lifting for Varese but they lacked the strength in depth to stay in the contest down the stretch.  Siena bust them open with a big final quarter. That 29-19 final frame turned a competitive clash into a comfortable 81-66 victory for the Italian champions. Joshua Coleman led Siena in scoring with 18 points and picked up 4 boards while Daniel Hackett had 14 points and 6 rebounds.

There was no drama on the scoreboard, although plenty on the floor, as Lietuvos Rytas blew out Juventus in the LKL. Fresh off their success in the Euroleague qualifiers, the Vilnius club stormed to a 15 point lead by the end of the first quarter and the gap had grown to 47-27 by half-time. Dirk Bauermann’s side eventually secured a 92-67 road win but not before this went down…

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Cinderella story in France as no. 8 seed JSF Nanterre wins LNB title, 2013-14 Euroleague spot (theoretically)

Nanterre celebrates winBallinEurope’s favorite European domestic-league champion this season? It’s gotta be JSF Nanterre, yesterday’s crowning of whom as French LNB kings has surely guaranteed who will be the underdog of all underdogs for the 2013-14 Euroleague season.

Backing into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak to squeak in by dint of tiebreaker with a regular-season record of 15-15, Nanterre proceeded to 7-1 in the tournament, sweeping top seeds Gravelines Dunkerque and defending champions Elan Chalon before winning a concluding game four in the best-of-five championship series against Strasbourg, 83-77.

In yesterday’s final match, Ohio State alum David Lighty again led the way for Nanterre, with this third 20-plus point game of the playoffs, notching 21 to top-score for the upstarts – but perhaps the most kudos should go to coach Pascal Donadieu, who faced Team France/Strasbourg’s Vincent Collet with the pragmatic attitude that got his team through the playoffs: Against Gravelines, [the game plan] was to neutralize [Dwight] Buycks. Against Chalon, [Blake] Schilb; and against Strasbourg, [Alexis] Ajinça.”

Indeed, in game four, Ajinça’s influence was limited to just 12 points and six rebounds, both below his season averages.

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Evan Fournier on the difference between dream and goal

Whoa, this guy Evan Fournier’s got some confidence, eh? Just months after the 19-year-old parlayed his 2011-12 LNB Best Young Player award into a no. 20 overall NBA Draft selection by the Denver Nuggets, surprising many observers and pundits.

But Fournier wasn’t surprised at all, according to Eurohoops.net. The ‘Hoops have got Fournier quoted as stating before the draft that he would “be surprised if I don’t get picked in the first round,” later saying “it’s never been a dream. Only a goal. I always knew I was going to make it.”

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Euroleague 2012-13: An attempt to deduce the composition (plus Official Fearless Prediction™)

At least this much is clear...

Yesterday, the basketball-centered bit of the Twitter universe was centered in two real-life locales: New York City and Barcelona. Topics in play were the falling of ping-pong balls in New York City and Euroleague’s incipient decision on the construction of Euroleague 2012-13. Hopefully, BallinEurope will get something together on the former later, but for now, BiE’ll attempts a quick look at the roster of teams for the upcoming season.

The three-year A-licenses are currently under review, but you gotta figure Caja Laboral Baskonia, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, Anadolu Efes, Fenerbahçe Ülker, CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Montepaschi Siena and Žalgiris Kaunas are in. Asseco Prokom Gdynia is in the second year of its license, making them the 12th of the 24 teams.

Also up for review is Unicaja Malaga. While Spain is still even officially considered *the* best domestic or regional league in Europe (more on this momentarily), the big league could certainly defend a yanking of the license based on the team’s bottom-half finish in the Liga Endesa and consistently better recent performance by Valencia BC.

Virtus Roma is the only original A-license team to have been removed from the EL roll call, getting its placement in Euroleague ball “suspended for having finished in the bottom half of its national competition.” Unicaja might easily find itself on the Eurocup level for 2012-13; let’s just say a *lot* of things would have to happen to even get the team into the EL qualifiers.

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On the Road to London: Zinedine Zidane, Yannick Noah ♥ Tony Parker

Now available online at YouTube and DailyMotion – not to mention embedded below – is episode three of the short documentary series “On the Road to London” featuring Team France in the runup to the 2012 Olympics.

Le troisième épisode is entitled “La Star,” which might perhaps be best translated as “Tony Parker: The Love Fest.” In a six-minute cruise through Parker’s career lots of praises are sung for the Spur, kicked off with a few telling shots of San Antonio for appropriate atmosphere.

While Nicolas Batum and Ronny Turiaf are predictably effusive about having a true NBA superstar leading Les Bleus – the former correctly assesses that “we won the silver medal [at EuroBasket 2011] mainly because of him” – the bon mots worth watching for are kicked in by all-time great French athletes Zinedine Zidane and Yannick Noah.

On the negative side, BallinEurope notes the disappointing paucity of NBA, Eurocup, LNB or international tournament footage. If you don’t look away for too long, however, you’ll catch a sliver of action from Tony at the 2000 Nike Hoop Summit.

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National Cups: Real Madrid ends 19 years of futility; Beşiktaş, Chalon take first-ever titles; Montepaschi Siena continues dominance

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope today to a quartet of national Cup holders in Real Madrid, Beşiktaş Milangaz, Chalon-sur-Saone and Montepaschi Siena. The former three victories are set to be particularly noted in club annals: Real ended a 19-year drought while Beşiktaş and Chalon both bagged their first-ever championships in their respective national cup tournaments after each were runners-up in 2011. Below run game wraps and highlight clips.

In Spain, Madrid won their first Spanish Cup since Arvydas Sabonis was on the team with a convincing 92-74 victory over FC Barcelona on the Blaugrana home court. Twenty-three was the magic number for Los Blancos, as Madrid took its 23rd such title behind 23 points from tournament MVP Sergio Llull. An extrapolation from the Liga Endesa’s official site goes something like the following.

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Posters absoluts & Monsterdunken: The Eurocentric slam dunk of 2011 – plus 25 others

Before BallinEurope signs off for 2011, let’s give a late Christmas gift to the dunkaholics out there, shall we? Below runs a collection compiled through the year featuring dunks by Europeans, on Europeans or perhaps simply in Continental games.

The first 20 will listed by competition, followed the top five runners-up and the champion jam of the year. Who will be no. 1? Read (and watch) on to find out…

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Ooh la la! D-League champ Dar Tucker prepares for LNB dunk contest, French-style

What’s the difference between American and European dunk contests? The preparation! Check out this LNB-produced video of former New Mexico Thunderbird/current Aix-Maurienne player Dar Tucker, who could achieve a rare double championship on December 30 when the French league’s all-star festivities go down. Early this year, Tucker repeated as champion of the NBA D-League dunk contest with the winning jam posted below; BallinEurope suspects this baller may be enjoying the French style vis-a-vis “prépare le concours de dunks…”

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NBA Nuclear Winter settling in; Twitter bursts with news of player exodus

You know who benefits from the NBA player lockout? Twitter, that’s who. The website has become an endless source of interest as each event/non-event transpires in the NBA lockout soap opera. Minute to minute, commentators, players, pundits and rumormongers pithily weigh in and/or report on the immediate future of professional basketball in America…

…and Europe! The Continent-centric BallinEurope has unabashedly become addicted to the little birdie’s ‘site, and yesterday proved quite fruitful for those anxiously awaiting more imports into top pan-European and domestic leagues. After the dismal news of Monday and impending dissolution of the players’ union plus imminent anti-trust lawsuits, more and more stars are finally willing to cut the cord to the NBA, bite the bullet and, you know, try that whole European basketball thing.

Below run the results what BiE’s Twitter scorecard from yesterday; stars include the Gasol Brothers, Kevin Durant, Jan Vesely, Joakim Noah, Tiago Splitter, Kyrie Irving and many more.

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