Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this morning to FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena and Panathinaikos, perhaps each respectively their nation’s top basketball club, for taking domestic cup titles this weekend.
Check out Montepaschi Siena’s Daniel Hackett living up to the “Tornado” sobriquet in his team’s unfortunate Serie A loss to Enel Brindisi on Monday night: After full-body checking an inopportunely-positioned cameraman after a hard and-one drive, referees and others rush to assistance while Hackett stays frosty and focused on getting back into the game … ouch.
“In the future, everyone will be famous for one news-cycle” — that’s how BallinEurope would update Andy Warhol’s well-worn line for the 21st century. Until the story’s been beaten to death (and the public consciousness’ short-term fascination ends) on Friday, everyone gets a turn in the media spotlight: Honey Boo Boo, McKayla Maroney’s face, UFO landing strips in China … the list goes on.
Bobby Brown has enjoyed a nice run this week in his alloted personal media cycle to culminate in his surprising Montepaschi Siena’s game against sharp-looking BC Khimki Moscow Region tonight. Brown went viral thanks his record-tying 41-point teeing off last week against Fenerbahce Ulker, ironically the team for whom Brown’s predecessor Bo McCalebb eschewed Siena. Speculation snowballed until millions of Americans who’d forgotten the NBA journeyman of 2008-10 rediscovered the Cal State Fullerton product thanks to a piece from Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, who recalled the days of 19th-century sports journalism in referring to the “Euro League”.
As The Continent has bid adieu to eight teams’ Euroleague bids for 2012-13, BallinEurope looks back briefly to take a brief look back at the regular season’s best – not to mention spindly some quality time outside the mall and in front of the YouTube.
The BallinEurope 2012-13 Euroleague Regular Season All-Star Team looks as follows.
• Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos. It’s almost getting difficult to find new ways to trumpet Olympiacos’ success and Spanoulis’ outstanding leadership in calendar year 2012. (They haven’t lost a game in two months? Whoa! Oops, sorry.) Sheer numbers fail to tell the entire story of the Reds’ leader’s first 10 EL games this season, but we love the stats here, so boggle away: How about 16.0 ppg on 46.6% overall shooting to go with 5.9 assists, 1.0 steals and *1.77 blocks* in 28½ minutes per game? BiE reckons Spanoulis was regular-season MVP, an idea backed by Euroleague Adventures’ Sam Meyerkopf in the latest episode of the heinnews/BallinEurope co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series. (Shameless self-promotion over.)
It’s never too late for the ‘Hangover (or so BiE’s telling himself). Excuses aside, following are a few Eurocentric impressions, notes, highlight clips – and the no. 1 reason why Barack Obama is thrilled the Los Angeles Lakers went down in the playoffs last season…
• Power vacuum in Italy? Coming into 2012-13, most pundits in the European basketball sphere reckoned Montepaschi Siena was due for an off year after an off offseason which saw them downgrade at several positions. And while it appears that Siena won’t be giving up its stranglehold on the Italian national title easily (they’re currently at 4-1; more on this shortly), the team’s dismal Euroleague play indicates this isn’t a Montepaschi team in the mold we’ve become accustomed to.
All right, it’s that time again! With hours to go before the 2012-13 Euroleague season tips off, BallinEurope breaks out its first power ratings for the big league.
Whereas normally a disclaimer to the effect of “the following ratings are based on current trending only and are not necessarily based on the overall quality of the teams” runs here, this year BiE’s switching things up a bit. To wit: For this edition of Euroleague power rankings, the teams *will* be run based on BallinEurope’s totally subjective viewpoint. (Mainly because BiE couldn’t figure out what to do with Barcelona…)
Get your arguments ready and read on for this season’s first power rankings, with Official BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™ for the upcoming season peppered throughout. Enjoy the games!
The favorites 1. Olympiacos Piraeus. The usual reserved spot for the defending champion comes with some justification this year, as Vassilis Spanoulis & Co. show no signs of letting up on their 2011-12 season-ending 22-4 run. In the off-/preseason, Olympiacos’ foursome of Spanoulis, local hero Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou and Evengelos Mantazaris suited up for a disappointed Team Greece – all but Mantazaris acquitted themselves nicely, with 50-of-89 (56.2%) overall shooting and Spanoulis dishing out just under six assists per game in three Olympic qualifiers.
The past three days saw five cross-continental club games play out in Europe and the US in the 2012 Euroleague American and NBA Europe Live tours. And, hey, it’s Monday, so let’s just roll the highlight clips!
• Naturally, the biggest news was all about the lone upset among the games: Fenerbahçe Ülker’s 97-91 toppling of the Boston Celtics in Turkey. Bo McCalebb added to his already-heavy personal highlight film with several sweet plays and incredible speed. (Seriously, is he getting faster?) Directly below, he bamboozles Pierce (“Damn, he’s quick,” The Truth was surely thinking), blows past Rajon Rondo and finds Oguz Savas for an easy two after getting Brandon Bass to leave his feet…
BallinEurope today wishes a fond sayonara to longtime Montepaschi Siena staple Shaun Stonerook, who today announced his retirement from Euroleague basketball. Stonerook played in some 113 games for the Italian powerhouse and enjoyed two EL Final Four runs with the team. And so, as is the fashion here at BiE, today we present our YouTube-centric tribute to “Il Capitano.”
From last year, here’s a nice look at Stonerook’s life and times produced by the club itself; the video contains a mixture of Italian- (the commentary) and English-language (Stonerook himself) dialogue, but certainly worth a look by anyone not necessarily fluent in two tongues.
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.
Just one more day (or so, CET) until the heartily-named 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men tips off in Venezuela. BallinEurope continues with previews of the four European qualifiers with an assessment of Greece, a.k.a. Olympiacos and a bunch of other guys.
Roster: Vassilis Spanoulis, Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou, Kostas Sloukas, Evangelos Mantzaris (Olympiacos); Ioannis Bourousis, Antonis Fotsis (Olimpia Milano); Nikos Zisis (Montepaschi Siena); Nick Calathes, Kostas Kaimakoglou, Ian Vougioukas (Panathinaikos); Dimitrios Mavroeidis, Kostas Vasileiadis (Gescrap Bilbao Basket); and Michael Bramos (Gran Canaria); head coach Ilias Zouros (Anadolu Efes)
Notable no shows: Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos retired from national team play, returning that all-important starting point guard role to Vassilis Spanoulis – not a bad trade off this year … also out are Kostas Koufos (Denver Nuggets) and Sofoklis Schortsanitis (Maccabi Tel Aviv) due to injury.
How they got here: In Eurobasket 2011, a hot start saw Team Greece winning five of the first six games, only to drop three of the final five with losses to Russia, France and Lithuania in the placement game. In the penultimate match, however, Hellas put together its best game of the tournament in topping Serbia, 87-77, to earn a spot in these qualifiers.