EuroBasket 2015: Romania the odd team out on the final night +++ Gran Canaria gets the Phantom treatment for USA vs Slovenia +++ TrueHoop breaks down how David Blatt will work with LeBron James +++ FIBA World Cup Preview: Group D +++ BiE’s editor takes the ice bucket challenge, nominates Basketball Ireland boss +++ Žydrūnas Ilgauskas considering a comeback? Wow LeBron has power +++ The Dream Team’s children +++ Highlights: Belgium beat Belarus, Germany stay alive +++ EuroBasket 2015: Bosnia, Belgium, Israel, and Latvia lock up spots +++ First Person: Follow the FIBA World Cup through BiE’s eyes +++

Podcast: Lots of talk on Lithuanian basketball; musing about Euroleague, Lakers, Timberwolves; loving Jennifer Lawrence

Taking the Charge, episode 20: Lithuanian basketballEpisode #20 of the heinnews/BallinEurope co-produced Taking the Charge podcast is now available online. This week, that hardworking David Hein and yours truly natter on a bit about recent Euroleague developments (poor, poor Maccabi Tel Aviv!), the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers before finally finding some focus in Lithuania.

As BiE continuously says, something’s always happening in Lithuanian basketball and recent times are no exception. Freelance hoops writer/BallinEurope agent in Lietuva, Karolis Jankus gives us a little inside dope on topics including:

Zalgiris Kaunas and the strange culture of losing theorized about on BallinEurope earlier in the week;

Team Lithuania head coach Jonas Kazlauskas and the strange events which led to his current gig in the CBA with Boss Wang’s Guangdong Southern Tigers;

• Lithuania Basketball Federation secretary-general Mindaugas Balčiūnas, currently under house arrest while prosecutors “are carrying out a pre-trial investigation into alleged jobbery, fraud, document forgery and [...] illegal use of municipal funds for the reconstruction of the Hotel Romantic” in connection with Eurobasket 2011;

• the perhaps unfairly languishing Donatas Motiejunas, who at least must be praised for attitude and work ethic while running up the DNPs; and

Lietuvos Rytas’ recent victory in its Nike Invitational Junior Tournament bracket, tourney MVP Edvinas Seskus and other Lithuanian prospects.

And our sports movie review of the week is all about the Academy Award-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper, Chris Tucker, Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence (swoon). Tangentially related to sport at best (Philadelphia Eagles worship colors the reels), hey, it still has Jennifer Lawrence.

The entire podcast may be heard here. Thanks for listening and talk to you next week!

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Surprise! With five weeks to play, Lithuanian league reduces playoff tournament

Only in Lithuania? In what is surely perceived of by fans of Lithuanian teams such as Pieno žvaigždės, KK Baltai, Kėdainiai and Juventus as (an unwelcome slap in the face) a controversial decision, LKL officials have decided today (!) to reduce the league’s playoff tournament from eight to six teams.

Yesterday, league commissioner Mindaugas Balčiūnas announced today’s meeting, all but stating then the surprise chance would take place. The move is designed to shorten the season out of deference to Team Lithuania players, who will in theory get more time to prepare for the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament. Further, Balčiūnas noted that the Russian PBL also shortened its post-season with this motivation – though not nearly at this late state of the season.

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Romanov’s “dream”: that Marcus Brown coach Žalgiris Kaunas (Huh?) [UPDATED]

You want *me* to coach game four?

What’s the word for “beyond crisis”? Whatever it is, that’s the word for what’s going on at Žalgiris Kaunas.

No coach – again, that would be coach no. 4 this season – has been named as of yet, while Žalgiris fights for the LKL title against perpetual rival Lietuvos Rytas. But Žalgiris owner Vladimir Romanov was this morning quoted in the Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas (o yes) that he prefers player Marcus Brown to coach the team.

Audaciously calling it his “dream,” Romanov cited Brown’s “high basketball IQ” and “years of experience.” (Ahem, though none of it coaching, cough cough…)

As for why he fired Zalgiris’ most recent victim head coach Darius Maskoliunas, Romanov stated that he did it “for a brighter future for the club,” specifically “There is a club development strategy which all club members must follow. Maskoliunas [...] did not.”

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Coaching shakeups: Paulauskas leaves Team Lithuania and Vilnius, Akkaya on hot seat in Besiktas?

Some news from the women’s coaching ranks today for you, with one definitive career move and one seat rumored to be getting hotter.

In Lithuania, Team Lithuania/TEO Vilnius coach Rutenis Paulauskas has relinquished both duties in the hopes of taking his career to the men’s game. The national women’s team was a bit disappointing at Eurobasket 2009, managing just a 1-5 showing.

The resignation was announced after Paulauskas met with Mindaugas Balčiūnas, secretary-general of Lithuanian basketball governing body LKF.

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