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 +++

Sam vs. the Future: Basketball predictions for 2012

It’s always a good time for some predictions, eh? Sam Chadwick, Ball in Europe’s man in the UK, today dusts off the Official BallinEurope Crystal Ball in looking forward to another year of top-quality basketball in the world’s top competitions. Who does Sammy like in the NBA, Euroleague, college ball and the Olympics? Read on to find out (and see plenty of highlight clips).

This year sees the London Olympic games, a shortened NBA season, another year of Euroleague basketball and the NCAA Final Four – what more could we possibly ask for? Happy new year…

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The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Western Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.

*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).

As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.

To BiE, it looks something like this.

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The official BallinEurope ballot for FIBA Europe Men’s Players of the Year: Nowitzki, Navarro and…?

BallinEurope just loves season- and year-ending polls, and every December FIBA Europe offers hoops devotees the opportunity to participate in the naming the Continent’s Players of The Year. And while the winner of the award for 2011 – a.k.a. the Year of Dirk – is surely a no-brainer, the FIBA ballot calls for electors to award a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place vote from among 10 nominees; BiE is finding that no. 3 spot a real mind-bender. If someone can provide a nice salient argument for the final spot, that person will have BiE’s undying admiration.

The process of elimination went the following way, in reverse order of finish, and garnishing with highlight clips.

10. Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos. Yes, Double-D was the Euroleague MVP and the Euroleague Final Four MVP for 2010-11. Yes, he thus established himself as one of the five or six greatest of the EL modern era. But Diamantidis did not play any international ball, whereas all other nine nominees participated in Eurobasket 2011 and most where instrumental to their team’s successes. Dimitris simply has the shortest CV of a very talented ten.

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Watching the Las Vegas Superstar Challenge online

In the wake of the NBA lockout, those players from the big league not hawking their wares in Europe or elsewhere overseas are looking to schedule alternative games. Though a big-name international tour appears to be stalling at present, this weekend will see quite an exhibition in the four-team “Las Vegas Superstar Challenge” headed up by former Beşiktaş signee Allen Iverson.

While the game apparently won’t be broadcast on television, an outfit called is offering folks worldwide a chance to see the games involving names like Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Amare Stoudemire and Andre Iguodala online. See below for the press release detailing the deal; in short, $4.99 (just over €3.50 by today’s exchange rate) before Friday will get you a pass to see the Vegas games.

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The Gallinari Dilemma: So good you don’t want to get addicted

Sportswriter Enrico Cellini joins the BallinEurope team officially today with his thoughts on the tricky difficulties Emporio Armani Milano and its mastermind Sergio Scariolo may be facing in assimilating quite probably the top player in Italian professional basketball, Danilo Gallinari.

Coach Sergio Scariolo recently won a European championship with the Spanish national team. He then moved to Milan where major stylist and basketball owner Giorgio Armani welcomed him with a renewed and ambitious roster of elite Euroleague players. Then the NBA lockout went south and Danilo Gallinari decided to bring his talents back to the Milan Cathedral (kinda).

A blessing for Emporio Armani Milan? No doubt. Best-case scenario for coach Scariolo? Not really…

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NBA Draft expansion: What does it do to/for Europe?

Sports media and the blogosphere blew up a couple days ago, as the possibility of adding a third round to the NBA draft was reported to have been discussed as part of the ongoing labor negotiations. By day’s end Wednesday, some had publicly opined that this idea could be the “Best Thing To Come From [the] Lockout.”

Of course, here are BallinEurope, we basically had one question: How does this affect The Continental game?

Below, BallinEurope UK guy Sam Chadwick takes a look at some of the pros and cons – or rather the Massive Benefits and Consequences of an NBA Draft round three – vis-à-vis European basketball. Plus, there’s some stuff about Darko Milicic.

So how many rounds is too many? The current NBA Draft has two rounds, two picks per team with a total of 60 players making the grade to join the world’s most elite league.

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Greatest of all-time: Yugoslavia or Spain?

An interesting exchange of tweets went down last Friday (yes, minus points for untimeliness, but on another job BallinEurope thought deep into the matter all weekend) between HoopsHype/ESPN Deportes writer Jorge Sierra and Team Australia/Milwaukee Bucks big man Andrew Bogut.

Things started innocuously enough, with Sierra plugging a Spanish-language piece he’d written for Deportes: “An article I penned about Pau Gasol’s Spain potentially being the best non-American team ever,” the HoopsHype tweet read.

To which Bogut shot back with, “@hoopshype Yugoslavia of the late 80s might disagree.”

Retorted the ‘Hype: “@AndrewMBogut Gasol has a better record with Spain (2003-2011) than Petrovic with Yugoslavia (1984-1990).

And finally the exchange ended with Bogut’s terse tweeting of “@hoopshype didn’t say Petro. Said teams. Petro, Divac, Kukoc, Radja etc. I know who i’d take…

It’s an interesting debate, particularly for those who remember actually seeing Drazen and the guys play in international competition. (Bogut was four years old in 1988 – November 1988 – and there’s no telling on Sierra. BiE was … well, let’s just say “old enough to have seen Team Yugoslavia.”) In fact, BallinEurope took on a similar subject a while back and decided that the post-communist Team Yugoslavia of 2001-02 captained by aging Vlade Divac was superior to any Spanish side since the decade turned – but that’s just one opinion…

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Pop Quiz: The Euro-/NBA-centric year in basketball

For bonus points, identify this player

Just because the NBA Draft is over, the big league is heading toward a lockout, and the top European teams are thick into the wheeling/dealing of off-season acquisitions with an eye to 2011-12, that’s no reason to forget your history. Were you paying attention this season? Test your knowledge with the official BallinEurope 2010-11 season-ending pop quiz. (And you thought your semester was over…)

The quiz is multiple choice and is European- and NBA-centric in topic. It is multiple guess choice, and so choose the one answer that best completes the phrase or answers the question. You may use any writing implement at your disposal to fill in the answers – as long as you don’t mind marking up your screen, that is. Good luck. You may begin the exam now.

1. In the 2010-11 season, Dirk Nowitzki became most known for:
a) Being a clutch player, despite an arguably disappointing past history.
b) Entering the conversation as one of the NBA’s top 20 players of all-time.
c) Passing 22,000 career NBA points.
d) Take Dat Wit Chew.

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Video clips: Unics Kazan wins, Real Madrid loses, and YouTube shows how not to dunk

While much of the basketball-loving world was distracted by the squall of opening-round NBA playoff games, the roundball game nevertheless played on in leagues throughout Europe and beyond. Of course, this lead-in mainly serves as an excuse to justify running the below handful of highlights, links and pithy bon mots to (help you waste some time on Monday morning) get your week started correctly (and by “correctly,” BiE means in part ignoring that 109-100 win by the New Orleans Hornets).

• First up, congratulations from BallinEurope go out to Unics Kazan, who became the first unlicensed team to officially join the 2011-12 Euroleague ranks with a decisive 92-77 victory over Cajasol Sevilla in the ULEB Eurocup championship match. Maciej Lampe contributed a huge effort with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Kelly McCarty went for 18 and Terrell Lyday put in 15. But it was Marko Popović who was named MVP for dishing out a Eurocup championship record 11 assists to go with his 18 points.

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NBA Western Conference Playoffs: The Eurocentric view

Rumor has it that across the ocean, this basketball league called the NBA is about to begin its playoffs. With the 2010-11 regular season behind us, BallinEurope takes a present-and-future look at the playoff-bound Europeans in the American league series by series, together with musings, meanderings, YouTube clips and those Fearless Predictions™. Today: the Western Conference matchups.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets
Could it be that someone in the Oklahoma City front office just lost faith in Nenad Krstic? The Serbian was dealt in a second when Kendrick Perkins arrived; now the Thunder has the huge presences of Perkins – now armed with reputation as clutch playoff performer – and Serge Ibaka plus Tibor Pleiß waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, BiE anticipates the possibility of another throwdown between Krstic and Sofoklis Schortsanitis in Eurobasket…

The real European plus for OK City in 2010-11 was Thabo Sefolosha. Averaging between 20 and 30 minutes per game depending on roster health, the pride of Switzerland enters the playoffs shooting 58.3% for April – could Sefolosha be the Goran Dragic of this year’s tournament?

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