Nov
1

Podcast: Interviews with Draft Express guru Jon Givony, “Best Unsigned Basketball Player” Dre Baldwin; paean to Obama; The Great White Hype reviewed

Another week, another podcast. The latest episode of the “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now live over at heinnews; this time, Germany-based sportswriter David Hein and BallinEurope run the following gamut.

• A quasi-obligatory nod to the recent W notched by Barack Obama, significantly the US’ first unabashed basketball fanatic in the Oval Office;

• The typical rundown/running on about past and upcoming Euroleague matches, plus how ready Os-as-Los-Angeles-Lakers-fan is to hit the panic button;

• An interview with Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, certainly one of the – if not *the* – authority website on basketball prospects throughout the world. Definitely stay tuned to this portion of the ‘cast to find out who the youth guru identifies as the second coming of Lynn Greer(!);

• An interview with Dre “All Day” Baldwin, who’s currently promoting himself as “The Best Unsigned Basketball Player Alive Today”; and

• A review of the criminally underrated Ron Shelton-penned boxing movie, “The Great White Hype.” (Incidentally, for little good reason aside from basic awesomeness, the trailer for said flick runs under the page break.)

Enjoy the show and, as always, talk to you next week!

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May
3

CSKA Moscow takes VTB United League title; first in history-making triple crown?

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope to the 2011-12 VTB United League champions – to the surprise of few, CSKA Moscow.

The Red Army’s 74-62 victory over Unics Kazan in a rematch of last year’s final represents not only its second VTB championship in three seasons of the league’s existence, but the first title in a potentially history-making triple crown. CSKA are big favorites to take the Euroleague title (one sportsbook with typical lines had Moscow at 3/4 odds and second-best FC Barcelona at 13/5) and are *serious* favorites (would you believe odds of 1/28?) in the PBL finals against BC Khimki after going 17-1 in the 2011-12 regular season.

(A note to the hopeful: That one CSKA loss in PBL play this season? Yep, handed to them by Khimki back in December.)

In previous VTB championship-winning seasons, CSKA has managed to herd up an impressive lot of trophies: In 2008-09, the Russian league champs were nipped by Panathinaikos in the Euroleague finals and finished a disappointing third in the Russian Cup tournament after taking the VTB United League Promo Cup. In 2009-10, CSKA enjoyed three titles – a triple crown of sorts – in winning the Russian league and cups along with the VTB title; the Red Army finished third in the EL that year.

Also adding to his CV over the course of the VTB final four tournament was Andrei Kirilenko, who was named tourney MVP.

Official league writeup follows the highlights.

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Jan
7

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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Jan
1

Unics Kazan 76, Fenerbahçe Ülker 71: Impressions, highlights

Right, now we’re into it! BallinEurope was naturally pleased to see his dark horse elite-eight candidate Unics Kazan defend home court against Fenerbahçe Ülker on opening night of the 2011-12 Euroleague Top 16 round, 76-71 – though it sure wasn’t easy for Unics after they generously spotted the Turkish side a 17-point lead at halftime. A few talking points for you, then … and BiE’ll go ahead and do this bullet-point style.

• This game was quite the textbook example of the 13th man’s value to Kazan, as the second half was all Unics riding the home support after a disastrous second quarter.

• What was the deal with the Unics bench? Is coach Evgeny Pashutin simply unwilling to go seven deep with this side? Pashutin looked to be running his preferred quintet into the ground as Nathan Jawai, in for about 11 minutes, proved the only viable substitute for the Russian team last night. Terrell Lyday, Vladimir Veremeenko, Petr Samoylenko, Henry Domercant, and Mike Wilkinson all went for 28 minutes or more to score 68 of the team’s 76 points. Yes, Jawai had the other eight.

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Oct
7

Euroleague 2011-12: BallinEurope Official Fearless Predictions™ – in haiku form!

Right, then: It’s finally time. The top professional basketball league in the world (Now that bears some thinking about now, dunnit?) tips off its 2011-12 regular season tonight as Žalgiris Kaunas hosts AK47-armed, Teodosic-toting CSKA Moscow.

Almost as anticipated as the actual Euroleague opening game is of course another round of BallinEurope’s Official Fearless Predictions™ for the season. (Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.) In a shameless ripping off of an homage to BiE’s favorite regular column on anything in any media, namely ESPN.com’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback – it’s true; BiE is a closet (American) football junkie – BallinEurope presents the first-ever Euroleague regular-season predictions in haiku form.

So without further ado … to the Fearless Predictions™!

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Oct
8

Euroleague Power Rankings: First of the Season edition

Right, then. With the last teams advancing into the Euroleague two dozen for the regular season and a break in the Kobe-to-Bologna soap opera today, BallinEurope breaks out an old favorite: power rankings!

Once again, the BallinEurope Euroleague Power Rankings are based on current trends, i.e. who’s hot, who’s not. For this edition of the list, also taken into consideration are offseason acquisitions and a dash of expectations vis-à-vis how these squads will look when the games really start to matter. Let the arguments begin!

1. FC Barcelona – Heard it before? Well, you’ve probably heard about the core of the Barca roster before, too: Juan Carlos Navarro, Pete Mickael, Erazem Lorbek, Victor Sada, Boniface N’dong, Kosta Perovic and Fran Vazquez; getting to add Chuck Eidson and Marcelinho Huertas doesn’t seem fair. In going 8-0 thus far this preseason, the Blaugrana have added to their trophy case with Lliga Catalana and Supercopa Endesa titles and Navarro in particular is still in EuroBasket form. Right now, BiE says this is the team to beat.

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Nov
4

Iverson watch: Tough test in Fenerbahçe Ülker today, change of venue for Eurocup game Tuesday

So Allen Iverson acquitted himself reasonably (though nowhere near perfectly) well in his debut match for Beşiktaş Cola Turka; to riff on the old cliché, however, today is the first day in the rest of Mr. Answer’s European career.

In Türkiye Basketbol Ligleri play today, A.I. and the Eagles today draw none other than defending champions Fenerbahçe Ülker. Going back to last season’s TBL championship tournament, Fenerbahçe is enjoying a 19-3 run against Turkish and Euroleague teams; until Wednesday, the champions were the sole remaining undefeated team in the big league as well.

As it stands, Beşiktaş is a respectable 3-2 through five TBL games; on points, the record ranks them at no. 10 but an upset today would put the Eagles as high as fourth on the table.

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Nov
3

Euroleague week three talking points, part II

Five Euroleague games are to be played tonight, each bearing a number of scintillating storylines – well, okay, maybe not the nearly history-bereft Cholet-Lietuvos Rytas matchup, but you get the point.

For your perusal, then, a few factoids, bites of information and videos in the leadup to tonight’s action. Enjoy the games, and best of luck to Union Olimpija; BiE thinks they’re gonna need it.

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Jan
0

The Frank Euroleague roundup, week 10

¡Gracias, Ricky!

¡Gracias, Ricky!

BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti, wraps up the wrap week of the 2009-10 Euroleague regular season in discussing — among other subjects — how justice was done in the Top 16 accession, why Ricky Rubio deserves our admiration, and how the next four groups look.

Who deserves the Top 16 and who doesn’t
In the last week of the Euroleague’s first stage, many teams played not for pride, but to qualify for the next step. Strangely enough, all the verdicts are right. In Group A, Fenerbahce Istanbul closed a disastrous European season with a home loss against Zalgiris Kaunas, depleted without Travis Watson (basic against a frontline full of 6’10”-6’11” men) and with Mario Delas just landed, while forced to rely on a confused Aleksander Capin staying 22 minutes on the floor with nearly no knowledge of playbook or teammates. Anyway, the injury of Lynn Greer didn’t help Bogdan Tanjevic, whose game passed on pursuing Zalgiris, and Roko Ukic was the unexpected master of a squad wandering in search of itself.

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Jan
5

Fantasy tips from the Euroleague boss, week 9

Woods: The boss main man

Woods: The boss' main man

Hello and Happy New Year everybody! This is once again Javier Gancedo of Euroleague basketball, hoping that 2010 brings you happiness, fun and a lot of great hoops in Europe’s marquee club competition. I’ve been on holiday for the best part of the Euroleague break and right now I’m very busy. You good people out there can imagine that one of the busiest times of the season for us is the end of the Euroleague and Eurocup regular seasons with signings, possibilities and so on.

Plus these days, we also have the Ciutat de L’Hospitalet junior tournament, co-organized by Euroleague Basketball. I can proudly say that Cajasol made it to the final, which will be played this afternoon. You can congratulate me if you read this after 8pm on Wednesday – if we won, of course. We have a star point guard in Ricardo Pampano: Remember you heard the name first in this Fantasy Challenge column. [At BallinEurope.com, of course –Ed.]

Quite a bizarre place to read it, isn’t it?

Anyway, my team Meet The Boss didn’t do well before the holiday break. I scored 152.8 points, rank 1329th overall and seventh in the BallinEurope Invitational Challenge private league. Since I am in a bit of a rush, I will keep this short. Also, this week’s trades are very easy to do: First, Ramunas Siskauskas is injured, so he’s gone already; second, Oguz Savas was a gamble that went wrong, so he’s off the team, too; third, Chuck Eidson has had physical problems throughout the week, so that completed my trades this week.

Easy, huh? Well, that is never, ever a good sign…

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