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Highlights: Croatia beat Spain 80-55 in FIBA Europe U18s +++ Highlights: Serbia coast past Lithuania 83-67 at FIBA Europe U18s +++ Highlights: Greece beat Italy 85-68 in FIBA Europe U18s +++ VIDEO: Basketball World Cup of Beer – Opening Ceremony and Schedule +++ Serbia and Croatia make statements at FIBA U18s +++ Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender +++ 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 +++
Nov
0

EURO-NBA: Parker strikes gold, Jonas dunks on LeBron, Schroeder’s 7 dimes


Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 points in a losing effort for the Raptors last night but none of his buckets stood out quite like the one above as the big Lithuanian posterised the best player in the game. Valanciunas added 9 boards for his trouble but it wasn’t enough as LeBron James scored 35 points, grabbed 8 boards, and disheed 8 assists in a 104-95 win for the Heat.

Tony Parker had a big night in Denver. Parker went 9-13 from the field as he scored 24 points and had 6 dimes in a 102-94 win for the Spurs. Parker’s French national team-mate Boris Diaw chipped in with 9 points and 8 boards in 26 minutes of play while Italy’s Marco Belinelli had 4 points, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 10 minutes off the bench. Timofey Mozgov had 11 points and 6 rebounds for the Nuggets in 21 minutes of action while Evan Fournier had a minor impact off the bench, grabbing 2 boards and 1 assist in his 9 minutes of action.

Dennis Schroeder continued his impressive start to life in the NBA as he dished 7 assists in Atlanta’s 105-100 win at Sacramento. The German guard added 6 points and 2 boards but managed to pick up 4 fouls in just 19 minutes of game time. Pero Antic matched his career high, admittedly it’s been a four-game career, with 5 points for the Hawks. The Macedonian also snagged a rebound. Most promising for Antic was the trust placed in him on Tuesday night as he got 16 minutes, the most in any of his outings so far, on the floor.

The good news for Mirza Teletovic is he played 12 minutes and the Nets won. The bad news is he shot 0-5, managing just 1 point from the charity stripe, and had 1 rebound. #FreeMirza and bring him home. Andrei Kirilenko scored 6 points and grabbed 5 boards in 17 minutes for Brooklyn as they beat the Jazz 104-88. Enes Kanter scored 21 points and grabbed 8 boards but the Turkish big had 7 turnovers in the loss. Rudy Gobert grabbed 11 boards in 16 minutes off the bench.

Omer Asik had 8 points and 5 assists in Houston’s 116-101 win in Portland. Nicolas Batum had 13 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 boards in a losing effort for the Blazers. Spain’s Victor Claver saw just a minute of court time.

Ian Mahinmi (Pacers) and Gigi Datome (Pistons) both had quiet nights as Indiana rolled to a 109-100 win in Detroit.

Andrea Bargnani scored 6 points and grabbed 2 boards as the Knicks fell 102-97 to the Bobcats.
EDIT: Thanks to the guys at Swedish Basketball for pointing out that Jeff Taylor had season highs of 13 points and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes for Charlotte.

Ukraine’s Viacheslav Kravtsov scored 3 points off the bench as the Suns beat the Pelicans 104-98.

And finally, two of Europe’s most storied ballers clashed in Dallas on Tuesday night. Dirk Nowitzki took the W over Pau Gasol as the Mavs beat the Lakers 123-104. Dirk had 11 points, 8 boards, and 4 assists for Dallas while Pau scored 10, had 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Spain’s Jose Calderon had a good night for the Mavs, with 12 points, 5 assists, and 4 boards.

Oct
2

BallinEurope’s Top 10 Euro-centric storylines in NBA 2013-14 season

Pero Antic: Ready for his (NBA) closeup

Though the NBA’s opening night went down yesterday (North America time), the far majority of teams in the Association has yet to tip things off. What better time then, to enumerate 10 or so storylines BallinEurope will be following in 2013-14?

(That was a rhetorical question.)

Right, then. Here’s what we’re looking at in the NBA season to come.

• Tony Parker and his French Foreign Legion. The San Antonio Spurs, who first dipped into international talent when they drafted that guy from the Virgin Islands back in 1999, added yet another non-North American this offseason to go with Parker, Nando de Colo, Boris Diaw, Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter et al in Marco Belinelli. The thought here surely is for the Western Conference champs to supplement shooting off the wing and supplement they shall.

Meanwhile, pundits aplenty (all the way up to Bill and Jalen” over at Grantland.com) wonder openly about the psychological effect of heartbreaking losses in game six and seven of last year’s finals. BiE’d say that this ain’t no ordinary team and despite never having been in this position (i.e. as the previous year’s runner-up) to start a season, the Spurs’ll shrug it off. What cannot be so easily brushed aside is ol’ Father Time, who’s clearly gaining on Ginobili and surely must be sneaking up on Tim Duncan…

• Marcin Gortat’s fortunes on the Wizards. As part of an all-out – and possibly bald-faced – salary dump/preparation to tank for the draft lottery, the Phoenix Suns dumped The Polish Hammer in the eleventh hour to a suddenly impressive-looking Washington side. Continue Reading…

Sep
1

EuroBasket: Early run drives Serbia to 2014 FIBA World Cup

A stunning start for Serbia proved decisive as Dusan Ivkovic’s charges won the win or stay home World Cup decider with Italy 76-64.

It took Italy a full quarter to realise the importance of this game and they were left with too deep a hole to get out of. Serbia, who suffered horrible starts in their previous two games, came out hot. Leading by 13 with possession at the end of the first, Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a three at the buzzer to give Serbia a 27-11 lead. It was Serbia’s inside play that pushed them ahead. The Serbs utterly dominated on the boards, with Nemanja Bjelica grabbing 10 rebounds and Bogdanovic 9. With the loser joining the long, looooooong, queue for wild cards at next year’s FIBA World Cup, Serbia had struck a vital blow early.

Italy tried to counter but Marco Belinelli was still suffering from the horrid shooting stretch that plagued him against Ukraine. With Belinelli’s offensive impact limited, Gigi Datome and Alessandro Gentile carried the load as Italy tried to chip away at the deficit. By half-time the gap was down but by just 2 points to 41-27. The Italians were getting the better of Serbia but they weren’t able to put together an extended streak to pressure their less experienced adversaries.

Serbia, who had been shellacked in their last two games, were given the hairdryer treatment by Ivkovic throughout. Duda had to be gentle as his side struggled against Spain and Slovenia but now it was time to get his men hot. The third quarter saw the lead cut down again but once more Italy couldn’t make a significant dent. At 55-44, Serbia could manage the clock and play smart ball. Italy needed to take risks but the options simply weren’t there.

With his side holding a 64-54 lead and just over 3 minutes remaining, Nikola Kalinic landed a three. Stefan Markovic added another to push the lead to 16 points. The game was won and Serbia could look forward to Spain next year. Considering the way in which the previous two games had gone for the young Serbs, with 9 players making their first appearance at a major tournament, the character they showed on Saturday bodes well for the future. Whoever leads this side to Spain will have a battle-hardened and talented outfit at his disposal. Ivkovic isn’t confirmed for the trip but it’s hard to think of a more suitable man for the job.

In addition to missing out on next year’s World Cup, this defeat means Italy must now qualify for EuroBasket 2015.

Sep
1

EuroBasket: Lithuania beat Italy 81-77 in a classic

Lithuania and Italy served up the quarter final we had been waiting for in EuroBasket 2013. A battle down to the wire where Lithuania finally pulled through to book a date with Croatia.

Finally a game worth killing for. The quarter finals were lacking something up until this point. We needed joie de mort. Where the end of a team’s quest for the title actually caused us to feel it inside. That is what Italy, unwillingly no doubt, delivered on Thursday. The underdogs were dominated on the boards, as any observer no doubt expected, but Marco Belinelli and Alessandro Gentile wouldn’t let that stop them. For all his issues winning rebounds, Gentile delivered offensively with 15 points in the losing effort. Belinelli, ever the stoic operator, was a one man army for the Italians. His haul of 22 points and 2 steals dared the Lithuanians to match him.

In Mantas Kalneitis he had a worthy adversary. It’s easy for Lithuanians to say none of their guards are Saras but for once Kalneitis forced the doubters to be silent. He led the team with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. In Ljubjana he stood on the floor and demanded respect. Renaldas Sebuitis match Kalneitis in scoring and added 6 rebounds too. This was a team that could match the Italians outside as they sought victory on the interior.

This night however was not one for Jonas Valanciunas. The fearsome big man was quiet all evening, only featuring for 11 minutes, as his team mates carried the load. Trailing 58-57 going into the final frame, Lithuania broke for home with a 15-0 run that would have ended the battle of a lesser foe.

Credit therefore to Italy who battled gamely to the death. One would expect no less from Gigi Datome but to see those around him fight hard was inspiring. Reeling in Lithuania was always going to be unlikely after that run but there was no quarter given by the Italians down the stretch. The preceding quarter finals had been about progression. This game was one of survival.

Italy’s mettle was not enough to take the day but proved their character. They now enter the classification round where they take on Ukraine to lock up a place in the FIBA World Cup next year. Lithuania’s 2014 qualification is assured with this victory. That won’t be on their minds tonight. This is an evening for resting and refocusing. The greater challenge awaits on Friday. Croatia and a place in the final of EuroBasket 2013.

Sep
0

Preview: EuroBasket Quarter Finals – Croatia vs Ukraine and Lithuania vs Italy

Three more teams will book their place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Thursday as the quarter finals of EuroBasket 2013 conclude. Here’s are take and picks on both games as well as the classification game between Slovenia and Serbia where the winner books a ticket to Spain. 

Croatia lost their first game in Slovenia and then rattled off seven straight wins to secure a favourable draw in the last eight. The Croats have power inside and will look to dominate on the glass, where they have averaged 43.1 rebounds per game. After beating Ukraine home and away in the qualification round last year, it’s hardly a surprise to see Croatia as favourites for this game. This is a team however which is almost addicted to making life difficult irrespective of the opponent. Only one of Croatia’s run of victories came in a manner that could remotely be described as comfortable. Every other game was a battle often of the Croats own doing. This will give hope to Ukraine which will rely heavily on three-point shooting to keep the game competitive and make the favourites nervous. Mike Fratello’s team lives and dies by how Pooh Jeter plays. What Croatia do to shut down the world’s biggest fan of borscht could prove decisive. The bookies have Croatia down as -8 favourites. That looks about right to me. Croatia to advance.

The second quarter final today sees Italy take on Lithuania. Raptors Republic is calling this tournament JonasBasket and while there’s an element of insular thinking there, for one evening they may have a point. Lithuania can bang hard with anybody and Jonas Valanciunas will have an important role to play in this game. Italy’s struggles inside hurt them in the second stage and they will need Alessandro Gentile to match his big display against Spain for this game to be competitive. There’s certainly talent on the Italian roster, with Marco Belinelli and Gigi Datome both impressing at this tournament. What the duo needs most is help. I expect a heavy emphasis on defence from Lithuania early to try and frustrate Italy before the favourites look to punch a big hole on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Lithuania are favoured by 5.5 points and again this looks about right. Power inside will make the difference. Lithuania to win.

Before today’s quarter finals take place, the first of the classification games will see Slovenia take on Serbia. The home side lost to France in a contest that took a while to get going last night while the Serbs were swept aside by Spain. The emotional energy spent by Slovenia is a big concern going into this game. While Serbia will have been shocked by the way they were manhandled by Spain, it’s easier to get back mentally after a laugher than the type of draining game Slovenia played. I’m going for the slight upset here and picking Serbia.

Jul
1

From the free-for-all: Last week’s top five Euroleague acquisitions (plus one from the NBA)

Has it really been almost two months since the Euroleague Final Four? And when did the seasons in Spain, Greece, Italy and the NBA finish up? Time gets exceedingly relative and outright bendy once offseason transactioneering begins as memories of the previous year are quickly disposed for a look to the next and the money starts flying around.

Last week was a particularly noteworthy, headline-making span, particularly over here in Europe and especially if you’re interested in any player not named Dwight Howard. Here are BallinEurope’s five favorite moves of the previous seven days. (Is it wrong to say BiE already can’t wait for October?)

• Adam Hanga to Laboral Kutxa Baskonia. The career arc of the player destined to become Hungary’s all-time greatest continues: After developing in the Hungarian league followed by two seasons with Manresa of Liga Endesa, Hanga is set to make his Euroleague debut at age 24½ with Baskonia – and seems certain to surprise those not in-the-know with his across-the-board contributions; while Hanga will be having some minor surgery this week, he expects to miss no regular-season games. The four-year contract with Baskonia may yet keep Hanga here in Europe and out of San Antonio for a bit longer, which can be construed as good news (certainly for Continental ball followers) or bad (for the NBA supremacists).

Continue Reading…

Jun
11

Eurobasket 2013: Which NBA players are in, which are out?

Because it’s never too early to start looking ahead to Eurobasket 2013 – wait a minute, there’s only 11 weeks left until tipoff? Definitely not too early, then, to take a look at the formative rosters for the big Continental tournament.

While only a few national teams (Croatia and Lithuania among them) have released preliminary rosters at this point and a few major leagues still playing (Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, etc.), we can at least deduce which NBA players will or won’t be playing. After all, the rosters of 93.3% of NBA teams have finished their 2012-13 season – and the Miami Heat have no Europeans!

Below is a rundown of each team and the status of their potential NBA players. A few high-profile draft choices and rights-owned guys expected to jump over soon are also peppered in, along with links to appropriate sources. If you find/hear of anything relevant to the list, please comment below.
And we’ll do this group by group…

Group A
Belgium –
no current NBA players

France – Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards) is out for ’13 but hints he’ll be back in the future.

Ten days ago, based on a L’Equipe report, website Catch-and-Shoot described Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)’ Eurobasket status as *très incertain*, and after another punishing NBA season seems unlikely.

No official word on Nicolas Batum (Portland), though the Trail Blazers reportedly be “watching Batum’s injury” this offseason. Perhaps some discouragement is forthcoming…?

France-based media outlet Figaro reported back in May that Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers) and Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers) would play; this may have been speculation based on prior results, but Turiaf’s presence on Les Blues for this tournament has been on coach Collet’s mind for a while.

Continue Reading…

Nov
2

On Barack Obama and basketball diplomacy

Note: This piece was first published in February 2012.

Hosting dignitaries and politicos from Italy this week, U.S. president/basketball devotee Barack Obama recently gave an interview to the visiting media as well, naturally taking time to praise Italia’s representatives in the NBA. As self-proclaimed scholar of basketball diplomacy – perhaps the only one on the planet – Enrico Cellini has noticed that Obama’s effusive acclaim for Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli is in fact quite similar to the prez’s gushy quotes on Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur back in 2009…

In a rare interview between an American president and an Italian newspaper, Barack Obama went through a wide variety of topics ranging from the state of the current Euro Crisis, through the turmoil in Syria to the importance of Italian-Americans in US society: “Italy can be proud that its sons and daughters continue to make invaluable contributions to the success of the United States and to our bilateral partnership”.

Of course, Obama didn’t miss the chance to deploy his trademark basketball diplomacy and dropped the following grand finale for the interview: “Of course, I have to add that guys like Danillo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli bring some pretty good game to the NBA, too.

Continue Reading…

Oct
8

The BallinEurope Eurocentric NBA preview: 25 storylines to watch

Storyline #15

BallinEurope’s said it before and fully expects to say it again: Better late than never. Stuff like podcast recording, the day job and, you know, life, has delayed the release of this season’s “Eurocentric preview.” BiE figures he’s morally convinced, since 80% of the NBA hasn’t tipped off as of this writing.

We’re doing something slightly different for 2012-13; rather than a team-by-team breakdown of the NBA and its 50-plus Europeans in the rolls, BiE instead presents the 25 storylines this website will attempt to keep tabs on as the 2012-13 edition of the NBA enfolds. Enjoy the season (unless you’re in the Twitter Airlines NBA fantasy league, in which case BiE’ll attempt to seek misplaced vengeance for his general incompetence in the Euroleague game…)!

Continue Reading…

Oct
36

Taking stock of European players in the NBA, 2012-13

Koufos one of four Euronuggets

BallinEurope will be celebrating NBA Opening Day with lots of stuff centered on the big league; firstly, BiE takes stock of Continental ballers in the ‘States.

Taking a look at this year’s roundup, we note that 53 Europeans have been named to NBA clubs’ 15-man roster, just beating the pace of the 52 listed in 2010-11. (BiE didn’t take the tally for last season because, you know, things were kinda confusing during the lockout and all…)

And quite a few teams have seriously European-tinted rosters: Five teams go into the 2012-13 NBA season with four Continental players – and of these 20 players, perhaps only Sasha Pavlovic and Evan Fournier are marginalized at the lower end of the 15-man rosters. If one includes Ty Lawson as an honorary Lithuanian (for at least one more season), the Denver Nuggets could put an all-Euro squad on the floor with Lawson heading up an admittedly odd lineup of Fournier, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov.

The team-by-team breakdown goes as follows.

Continue Reading…