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Tight knit Iceland too much for Great Britain +++ EuroBasket 2015: Round-up and Highlights from Wednesday’s qualifiers +++ FIBA dropped a sweet promo for the World Cup +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer – Bronze Medal Match +++ Rudy gets iced, the internet rejoices +++ FIBA World Cup Preview – Group C +++ CSKA Moscow’s Kyle Hines and Sonny Weems take the ice bucket challenge +++ Tony Parker does ice bucket challenge but his friend can’t use a camera phone +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer: Semi Finals +++ EuroBasket 2015: Wins for Macedonia, Belgium, and Georgia +++
May
0

Highlights: Top five plays from VTB United League quarterfinals

Flawed, top-heavy and not exactly consistent in attendance it may be, but the VTB United League still garners BallinEurope’s attention – particularly come playoff time when ages-old rivalries add new chapters to stories first begun in the days of the Soviet Union.

Besides, who needs an excuse to run another YouTube highlight clip…?

From the VTB folks, then, running below are the top five plays from the recently-completed quarterfinal round, starring Unics Kazan’s Mire Chatman, Zalgiris Kaunas’ Robertas Javtokas, Lokomotiv Kuban’s Mantas Kalnietis, BC Khimki’s Sergey Monya and CSKA Moscow’s Anton Ponkrashov. Three-pointers, blocks, alley-oops – they’re all here. Enjoy!

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Aug
18

Is Jonas Valanciunas the problem for Team Lithuania?

And here’s a second question: Shall composition of the requiem for Lietuva’s 2012 Olympic bid begin now? Sadly, it doesn’t look good for our heroes with Team USA on the slate tomorrow and a first-round date with presumably Spain or (BiE’s pick) Russia in the knockout stage – and this in the 20th anniversary year of the country’s greatest-ever Olympic performance.

But first things first. Jonas Valančiūnas. Let’s just get right to the stat lines.
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Jul
28

Plan Y for Team Lithuania (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Skyped BiE today with two words on his mind: “Lithuania’s doom.”

“Today?” BiE countered.

“No, it already happened two days ago,” said Y. and he was off with a prescient, simple formula for success after the 23-point blowout at the hands of Argentina.

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Jul
7

God, please give us victories!

In advancing to the 2012 Olympic Games, Team Lithuania has written itself into the record books. BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y. wants you to understand just how important this achievement is to the people of that basketball-adoring country…

“God, please give us victories. Some people don’t understand: This is all we have left. Basketball is the only thing that is keeping Lithuania together. The cheering, the singing, the same colors, all of this is what reminds me of who we are. We are a union, a family and some stupid Lithuanians make me forget that all the time. But when I look at our amazing team, who put their last efforts into winning, I cannot be happier. So God, please give us victories, all we want is to stay a country.” –L. Hasai in “And you? Are you aware of what this means for Lithuania?” the video celebrating the 2010 edition of the Lithuanian national team

Go and ask anyone who understands. It was a question of life or death for Lithuanian basketball last week in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela.

As soon-to-become four-time Olympian Šarūnas Jasikevičius drove past Puerto Rico’s Daniel Santiago with 31 seconds to go in the quarterfinal matchup, the country’s entire basketball chronicle flashed in the minds of every green-and-white fan. Lithuania, down one, was perhaps one failed possession away from losing an opportunity to reach London 2012.

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Jul
61

Upset in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament today: What are the chances?

Right, so BallinEurope has already publicly logged Official Fearless Predictions™ for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament knockout stage in bracket format. Europe’s four representatives – group winners all – take on some decent African and North American competition, but nevertheless the bookies like an all-Europe final four in Venezuela.

Indeed, there’s a high probability that none of these favorites will be eliminated today. In Groups B and D produced a fair number of underdog victories in round-robin play: Venezuela over Nigeria, Nigeria over Lithuania, New Zealand over Angola, and (BiE maintains) Angola over FYR Macedonia. In contrast, the quite-predictable 2008 version of this tourney included zero upsets in round-robin play and really only one that might be called at least moderately surprise: Puerto Rico over Slovenia.

So which European teams should be worried about the upset today/tonight (tomorrow morning CET)? From least to most? BiE would say the list looks like this…

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Jul
0

2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Preview: Lithuania

The 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men tips off in Venezuela today at 11am local time (11.30am EST, 5.30pm CET) with the Russia-South Korea match. Of the 12 national teams competing, four are European. The last of BallinEurope’s previews of these qualifiers features an assessment of Lithuania.

Roster: Tomas Delininkaitis, Paulius Jankūnas, Mantas Kalnietis (Žalgiris Kaunas); Deividas Dulkys (Florida State University); Simas Jasaitis (Lokomotiv Kuban); Šarūnas Jasikevičius (Panathinaikos); Adas Juškevičius (BC Rūdupis); Rimantas Kaukėnas, Jonas Mačiulis (Montepaschi Siena); Antanas Kavaliauskas (VEF Rīga); Linas Kleiza (Toronto Raptors); Martynas Pocius (Real Madrid); Darius Songaila (CB Valladolid); Jonas Valančiūnas (Lietuvos Rytas); head coach Kęstutis Kemzūra (Team Lithuania)

How they got here: As hosts of Eurobasket 2011, expectations in hoops-mad Lithuania were high for the home side. Right from the pre-tournament friendlies, however, the roster appeared weird at best and utterly out of sync at worst.

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Apr
11

Kemzura releases extended Team Lithuania roster: No to Lavrinovic brothers, yes to Kleiza

Kleiza gets the call

National head coach Kestutis Kemzura has released his list of 18 candidates who could be suiting up for Team Lithuania in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers and beyond. On paper at least, the selection looks pretty good – particularly compared to the Eurobasket 2011 version of the team which included a single true no. 3 after a few early injuries took their toll. The squad includes four players from Lietuvos Rytas and five currently with Zalgiris Kaunas; among the lot, too, are five others from 2011-12 Euroleague teams and one (yes, Linas is back) from the NBA.

Notable exclusions include Darius Songalia plus Kšyštof and Darjus Lavrinovič; Songalia’s spot on the preliminary roster was filled with Mindaugas Katelynas of Lietuvos Rytas, while CSKA Moscow head coach Jonas Kazlauskas reportedly wanted Darjus to stay home and rest up this summer anyway.

On board is the young sensation Canada wants to see in Jonas Valanciunas; returning after absences in the 2011 FIBA tourney are Linas Kleiza and Jonas Maciulis; and, though he’s been remarkably tight-lipped about yet another return to the national team, good ol’ Sarunas Jasikevicius is penciled in as well.

Below runs the prospective 18; how do you like Lietuva’s chances?

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Mar
33

On the demise of Lithuanian Basketball

Jasikevicius: The long-term leader

BallinEurope is not exactly sure what led our man in Lithuania, the enigmatic Y., to contemplate the fortunes of his country’s national team … but who are we to question a Lietuva hometowner when it comes to basketball? Y. goes back eight years to figure out where things went so terribly wrong and unfortunately finds little hope for Team Lithuania’s future – even with the likes of Jonas Valančiūnas and Donatas Motiejūnas aboard…

Underachievement of a previous generation
The 2004 Olympic Games were a huge disappointment for Lithuania. As EuroBasket 2003 champions, the team was one of main favourites for silver (the fall of the “Dream Team” was still unimaginable). Lithuania, however, that year finished fourth: one step short of the prize it had collected in every Olympiad since the country’s independence.

This was the beginning of the demise of what was a top national team in the world. Players’ refusal to participate, retirements, injuries and an underachieving new generation – all these aspects contributed to Lithuania’s fall from basketball superpower levels to status as a regional great, capable of reaching a medal stage in the right circumstances.

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Sep
10

Official Fearless Predictions™: Spain vs. Slovenia, Lithuania vs. FYR Macedonia

Now things are getting interesting. Eight teams remain in EuroBasket 2011, and tonight two will be eliminated from contention for the European championship. These teams will join with the losing teams of Thursday play in a playoff round to determine the all-important no. 5 and no. 6 finishers; this two sides will join nos. 3 and 4 in a qualification round for the 2012 Olympic Games.

And BallinEurope will perhaps make things a bit more contentious with not just one, but two sets of official Fearless Predictions™ as BiE’s U.K. compadre Sam Chadwick gets in on the fun in forecasting tonight’s games. Neither writer read the other’s opinion before posting.

Also provided strictly for the reader’s edification are some lines from the sportsbook, in this case Sporting Bet. As BiE argues, whether gambler or no, it pays for the fan to know the bookie’s stand; after all, these guys have the most to lose financially if they get it wrong. (Sheesh, talk about your fearless predictions…)

Plus, YouTube clips!

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Aug
26

Eurobasket 2011 Power Rankings: First take

As just nine days remain until Eurobasket 2011 tips off in Lithuania, BallinEurope today takes a look back at the performances of the two dozen teams slated to compete in the big tournament and deploys some good old power rankings – and lotsa highlight clips from friendlies and tourneys played throughout The Continent.

Once again, a reminder to readers: These ratings are based only on how the teams are trending and are no indication of prognostication for Eurobasket. (The BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™ will be released soon enough…)

1. Spain – Yes, they lost to Lithuania in the grand opening of Kauno Arena, but BiE is sticking with Team Spain in the top spot. As defending Eurobasket champions, this team is chasing history and public perception has them on the rise, i.e. “El rival de España en el Eurobasket es España.” Plus, the side got back on track in tournament warmups, dispatching Slovenia on Sunday despite shooting 2-of-10 on threes and under 66% (21-of-32) from the free-throw line.

2. Greece – What controversy? Team Greece is up to their old tricks in European play – with or without Ioannis Bourousis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis – going 3-0 at the BEKO Supercup tournament over Turkey, Belgium and Germany; earning a like mark against Russia, Israel and Poland in the European Basketball Tour 2011 in Cyprus; and finishing 2-1 in the Trofeo Tassoni against Bosnia & Herzegovina, Italy and Poland. This is an interesting Greek team, with more of an emphasis on speed than in recent years, but they look just as good early on.

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