Basketball World Cup of Beer: The Final – USA vs France +++ 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 +++

Twenty years ago today: The greatest in his greatest season

Drazen Petrovic: The name is always mentioned in any discussion of all-time greatest European player, his effect inestimable, his ultimate greatness unknowable. BallinEurope has waxed poetic on the Basketball Mozart innumerable times already, but must say that lost in the general hoopla of the Dream Team in 1992 was the fact that one of the world’s top three or four players at that time (BiE’d put him with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen) wasn’t on Team USA.

Following a year which saw the dissolution of his Team Yugoslavia and the finalization of his demanded trade to the New Jersey Nets, Petrovic’s brilliant 1991-92 season earned him a deserved reputation among the NBA elites. The stats say the Croat led the Nets in points (20.6 per game), shooting percentage (50.8%), three-point percentage (44.4%) and minutes played (36.9 per game with appearances in all 82 games), but they just called him team MVP.

Along with Derrick Coleman, Petrovic helped the Nets to a 14-win increase over 1990-91 and the playoffs, racking up some amazing individual performances such as the 29 he dropped on the Boston Celtics early in that season…

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The BallinEurope video tribute to Anthony Parker

For those not necessarily in the know about European basketball, the announcement of Anthony Parker’s retirement from professional hoops today may not have exactly made most sit up and take notice – just another Cleveland Cavalier gone, right?

Except that Parker’s six-year European CV is loaded with team accomplishments and individual accolades, bringing Maccabi Tel Aviv a superpower’s worth of trophies in the mid-2000s. His brief run earned him a spot on the “50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors” list in ’08 – just one of 35 players and one of five Americans – after racking up consecutive EL MVP awards, one EL Final Four nod and three European rings (two EL, the other the 2001 FIBA SuproLeague title).

BallinEurope today posts its traditional tribute to retiring greats, i.e. career rundown plus YouTube clips! To get started, then…

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Besiktas 80, Anadolu Efes 76: The BallinEurope review of a triple-crown season

Besiktas introduces Deron Williams: It seems like so long ago...

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope to Beşiktaş Milangaz, who capped a fascinating whirlwind run last night with an 80-76 victory over Anadolu Efes in game six of the TBL championship series. The Black Eagles may add the trophy to their Turkish Cup and FIBA Eurochallenge title in 2011-12, certainly the most successful – and among the most bizarre – seasons the club has ever experienced.

Beşiktaş’ season, like any power in club hoops, began in the summer. All they did to top last year’s high-profile signing of the ultimately marginal Allen Iverson was ink Deron Williams, a franchise guard at his peak, to the biggest contract in European basketball with an NBA out-clause when the player lockout was to be settled.

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Drazen Petrovic: The video homage to a too-short career

Once again on June 7, BallinEurope takes a look back at one of the all-time greats, without whom the game of basketball would not be the same: Dražen Petrović. The man is still missed.

An entire generation has entered basketball since his untimely passing and while ever-growing numbers of NBA and European stars who have never seen him play emerge, all owe a debt to Dražen Petrović.

It was on this day in 1993 that the only man who realistically could have held claim to the sobriquet of “the European Michael Jordan” was killed in a car accident in Germany. As detailed in the excellent ESPN “30 for 30” documentary “Once Brothers,” Petrović was a fearless, proud player with Team Yugoslavia and later Team Croatia in international play; was on the verge of entering the prime of a Hall of Fame-level career with the New Jersey Nets.

Petrovic' grave site, 7 June 2012

For those of you who never saw Petrović play, do yourselves a favor and take some time to watch below. For those of us fortunate enough to remember this European pioneer blazing trails all over the world, it’s a welcome (if slightly meandering) trip down memory lane. We still miss you, Dražen.

History has been unkind to Petrović vis-à-vis his NBA battles with that 1990s uber-phenomenon, i.e. Michael Jordan. Surely many Nets and Chicago Bulls fans remember the battles between these two powers which were mostly, as they say these days, “epic.”

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Euroleague Final Four: The video preview

And this week … the Euroleague Final Four! To get things started, BallinEurope presents a roundup of highlight clips from the seasons-that-were of CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos.

(Wow, BiE wonders every time upon looking at that list just how the big league could have ended up with a more scintillating Final Four: You’ve got undisputed powerhouses in CSKA Moscow – the model example of how NBA refugees affected European basketball in 2011-12 – and FC Barcelona. You’ve got the defending champions with Hall of Fame coach and a nucleus of veterans on yet another title run. And you’ve got a compelling underdog story complete with the possibility of seeing the legendary Greek rivals meeting for a medal … couldn’t have written it better myself.)

First up, the favorites, namely, the big bad Red Army, 2011-12 edition. While Mikhail Prokhorov’s lot has been credited for the team’s relative resurgence at the beginning of the 2000s, CSKA Moscow has admirably continued its winning tradition after the billionaire’s jump to the New Jersey-cum-Brooklyn Nets – mostly through using the big-bucks tactics espoused by Prokhorov et al – and are poised to take a unique triple crown. Indeed, should CSKA prevail in the EL Final Four games and against BC Khimki for the Russian crown, the team will have amassed VTB, EL and PBL crowns in under two weeks of play.

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Bundesliga weekly recap reveal: Jared Jordan a more valuable playmaker than Nash, Rondo?

It’s time for another BallinEurope shameless plug. Contributing writer David Hein has produced yet another great writeup over at the German Bundesliga’s official website. Check out a column chock full of videos and recaps, including the now semi-obligatory update on Team Zimbabwe/BG Göttingen’s Vitalis Chikoko.

BiE can’t help but spill the beans on one scintillating item in the piece, though: Just take a look at how much former Marist College/Lietuvos Rytas point guard Jared Jordan means to Telekom Baskets Bonn below – “playmaker,” indeed.

For comparison’s sake, below run some of the top assist guys in the NBA and their ratios of contribution to their teams’ success.

Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns: 26.61%
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: 26.48%
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: 22.26%
John Wall, Washington Wizards: 21.96%
Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: 21.26%
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors: 20.63%

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Why Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow must win the Euroleague

Regular readers of BallinEurope may recall a similarly entitled writeup on Montepaschi Siena on these pages from a long time ago – actually two weeks, but already it *feels* like quite a spell. Contributing writer Enrico Cellini was as surprised as any of us when Olympiacos began Siena’s ejection from the tournament, Facebook-messaging BiE with the note that “Siena is trying its best to prove me wrong…”

But this post doesn’t concern BiE’s now-busted bracket, a frustrating finish to what had been a good-looking campaign for Montepaschi Siena, or even the Final Four surprise Olympiacos. Nope, we’re talking CSKA Moscow and that individual symbol of all of international basketball in 2011-12, Andrei Kirilenko.

In fact, why waste time? BallinEurope gets right down into an even 10 reasons why CSKA and the AK must win the 2012 Euroleague title.

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First half report cards for European players in NBA

At the halfway point of the crazy fast 2011-12 NBA season, BallinEurope flexes the university professor muscles a little bit this morning with midterm assessments of individual performance by the big league’s Continental Players. We’ll be using the European grading system, with 5 being the top score possible and 1 the lowest; the Americans may consider the numbers roughly equivalent to the A-F system of U.S. high schools.

Listed along with the player’s name and team are a few metrics employed in handing out the marks, chief among these current Player Efficiency Ratings as devised by ESPN’s John Hollinger.

Now, class. Ready for the second half…?

5. Head of the class
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors (22.1 PER, 23.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (19.23 PER, 15.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 1.0 spg, 38.1 mpg)

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (22.32 PER, 19.4 ppg, 8.1 apg, 1.1 spg)

Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves (22.38 PER, 12.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 0.7 spg, 24.4 mpg; in February, 17.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 0.8 spg, 32.2 mpg)

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“Sinister”: Zalgiris Kaunas owner to form political party, fight for “sport, culture, art”

Would you buy a used Lada from this man?

What’s up with the bizarre mix of politics and basketball going on in Europe? While Barack Obama butters up Italia with references to Danilo Gallinari and Marco Bellinelli, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is stumping in Russia on an apparently futile bid for the presidency there. And now … well, let’s just say Lithuania better brace themselves for weirdness in the political arena.

For those of you wondering why Vladimir “Mad Vlad” Romanov has been relatively quiet lately vis-à-vis his formerly incessant tinkering, toying and messing around with his professional sport teams, Žalgiris Kaunas basketball and famed Scottish football club Heart of Midlothian among them, this may be the answer. As it turns out, Romanov will be forming his own political party, one that will “fight for the country’s sport, culture and art,” as “these areas have been abandoned.”

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Prokhorov to sell New Jersey Nets? Wellllllllllllllllllllll…

At first, the headline is one hell of a stopper: Basketball writer Chris Sheridan tops his latest piece with “Prokhorov to sell Nets, donate fortune.” No, wait, it continues. “…if elected president of Russia.”

Ah, well, then. At present, Prokhorov is in Russia in an effort to win votes for his liberal, pro-business Right Cause party with few delusions of actually, you know, becoming Russian president; the Washington Post states that “his main goal at the moment is to force a second round, by keeping Putin under 50 percent and emerging as the second-place finisher.”

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