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
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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May
66

On Olympiacos Euroleague championship: From crises emerge heroes

Printezis: Hero of the day

European basketball fans know that history was made with Olympiacos’ stunning victory in the 2012 Euroleague championship. And so BallinEurope contributor, the self-proclaimed hoops history junkie Uygar Karaca looks back with perspective on the title bid, reaching all the back to the Great Depression of 1929 through the collapse of the Soviet Union and into today’s European Union crises. Whether or not God Himself played a role, the importance of the Reds’ win, as Karaca sees it, is history repeating itself. Gloriously.

This is how things have worked throughout history: From crises emerge heroes. And heroes create the losers. Sometimes underdogs have more advantages simply because they have nothing to lose. It’s not unusual that we see situations like a 10-man football team winning against a stronger side. Sometimes having options confuses minds, creates problems in concentration and ambiguity in methodology. Those who have no real options perhaps have just one way and they become focused on the goal, which brings about greater optimization and efficiency.

I was thinking like this before the match: “If CSKA wins, there will be not many stories but in case of Olympiacos winning, there will be a variety of options in exposing the classical underdog story with many different perspectives. I hope Olympiacos wins.”

The day before the Euroleague final, I was at Abdi İpekci Hall to see some action in the Nike International Junior Tournament. There I saw Stevislav Pesic, also one of the greatest coaches in European basketball, the man who famously brought a European title to both Germany and Alba Berlin, who were real underdogs. I thought that it would be a great idea to take some predictions from him. Said Pesic: “I was not suprised when Olympiakos won against Barcelona, because Barcelona changed its game this year and were somewhat inconsistent throughout the season, whereas Olympiakos improved much compared to the beginning of the season.”

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Sep
5

Eurobasket 2011: News, notes and clips going into day five

After a bit of a free day (not 100%, though, BiE can assure you) for BallinEurope, we get back in the game – so to speak – with a few notes, links and of course YouTubes for your perusal before FIBA EuroBasket games tip off today.

• BiE’s games of the day? Today, Spain-Lithuania; tomorrow, Serbia-France. All four squads are undefeated through three and only Lithuania has truly been tested in any game thus far (BiE’ll discuss Serbia’s illusorily close win over Israel below). Beyond this fact, these games are also key to the next round and ultimately to the final elimination bracket round.

In the top-heavy groupings for EuroBasket 2011, the three survivors of Groups A and B will meet for five games in reformed Groups E and F. This half-dozen appears to be set as comprised of Lithuania, Spain and Turkey from Group A, and France, Serbia and Germany from Group B. Plus, both of these matchups will be repeated in Group E games, thereby utterly determining the final bracket.

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Sep
3

Reflections after EuroBasket day one

Though only one day of the 2011FIBA EuroBasket tournament is in the books, it’s never too early to make some kneejerk reactions, right? While a few suspenseful games played out last night, most prognosticators were certainly able to score a 12-0 record in picking winners in first-day games. (BallinEurope went 11-1, but that’s only due to his disgusting man crush on Bo McCalebb and his FYR Macedonia side.) Herewith, a few reflections on the initial happenings of the year’s biggest basketball tourney.

• Tony Parker is the single most important player in the tournament. (Yes, even moreso than Dirk Nowitzki or Pau Gasol.) One could argue that the dagger was applied to the now corpsified Team Latvia by Nicolas Batum, whose three-pointer put the game out of reach at 75-70 with 4:33 left in the fourth quarter, but it was the San Antonio Spur single-handedly willed his side to victory last night.

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Aug
3

Live blogging Eurobasket 2011: Great Britain vs. Lithuania

So, what to look for in this game? BallinEurope sat in one some of the Great Britain practice session today and must say the team looked pretty loose, but will imperviousness to pressure be enough? After all, the specter of the missing Ben Gordon (and, as Ogo Adegboye pointed out to BiE yesterday, Pops Mensah-Bonsu) is certain to haunt everything Britain does — or doesn’t — achieve in this tournament.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what the frontcourt-heavy Team Lithuania does against a team which doesn’t truly match up with big men like a Spain or Turkey. The home side brings an incredible five bigs (Paulius Jankunas, Ksistof Lavrinovic, Marijonas Petravicius, Jonas Valanciunas, Robertas Javtokas) and just two true forwards (Darius Songaila, Simas Jasaitis) to the tournament, which should create some interesting rotations to say the least. One thing is for certain: A packed, heavily partisan house. Click below the break to follow the live blogging and enjoy the game!

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Jun
1

Kestutis Kemzura names 20 to preliminary Team Lithuania roster

He's baaaa-aaaack!

Team Lithuania coach Kestutis Kemzura this morning named 20 players to his preliminary squad in advance of the Eurobasket 2011 tournament. The home team will be returning seven players from the side that took bronze in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and including one NBAer – but not Linas Kleiza.

Returning from the surprise of 2010 are Robertas Javtokas, Mantas Kalnietis, Martynas Pocius, Tomas Delininkaitis, and Paulius Jankunas of Zalgiris Kaunas, plus Martynas Gecevicius and Simas Jasaitis of Lietuvos Rytas. Also named to Kemzura’s preliminary squad is Zalgiris’ Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who was a reserve for the 2010 Team Lithuania.

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Oct
2

The Italian League explained: Part one

Some consider Serie A to be the second best European league behind (and I mean, kilometers behind) only the ACB, others consider the league’s unstoppable decreasing level which began at the beginning of new millennium. Anyway, between clubs which fail year by year, rules about US and EU players never staying consistent for more than one season, and continual delusions of grandeur about the national team, there is one certainty that still stands before us atop this crisis. That certainty is called Montepaschi Siena and, honestly, it’s the only reason why Serie A could keep on attracting attention from every angle of Europe. After its threepeat, Siena goes for number four in 2009-10, and it seems it will be another easy ride.

A look at Siena and this rest of the top six in Serie A follows.

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Sep
5

Eurobasket 2009 fearless predictions VIII: Titanic vs. Hindenburg headline matchup

Team Spain photo for Eurobasket 2009

Team Spain photo for Eurobasket 2009

If you had told a basketball fan about today’s Spain-Lithuania Eurobasket second-round matchup two weeks, he/she might have figured it to be one of the tournament’s most interesting games.

It still is, of course, but for the exact opposite reason one may have expected.

In one corner is Team Spain, a bunch of household names with an insane inability to finish games. Against Turkey on Saturday, it was a ho-hum, more-of-the-same performance from the Spanish defense which allowed easy point after easy point in the paint. Ersan Ilyasova, Omer Asik and Semih Erden all contributed to beating that Lakers dude and the rest underneath, tuckering out the team enough to allow Turkey’s guards to put Spain away in the fourth quarter – another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

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