May
1

NIJT: Crvena Zvezda beat Real Madrid 55-42

Crvena Zvezda NIJT 2014 champions

Crvena Zvezda claimed the NIJT title for 2014, comfortably disposing of Real Madrid in Sunday’s final in Milano. Emmet Ryan reports.

I had really planned on going to most of the NIJT this year. Unfortunately I slept in for three days straight. On the fourth and final day I got up on time, only to find how poor the train service is in Milan on a Sunday. Still, BiE managed to make it to the final with 2 minutes left in the opening period,

The tone of the game was already set. Real had one way to score and one way only. Willie Niang was the beginning, middle, and end of their offence. It was depressingly one dimensional but Crvena Zvezda took the guts of two quarters to punish them. Once they did, it was obvious that Real wouldn’t get back into it.

Aleksandar Arantiovic was the most outstanding player for Zvezda as they pushed ahead to leave little doubt entering the final frame. The final 55-42 margin was, if anything, kind on Madrid who lacked zest on offence throughout.

May
1

Podcast: Interview with Ricky Rubio; wrapping the 2012-13 Euroleague season, NIJT; reviewing The Wrestler

Taking the Charge podcast seriesEpisode #35 of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Talking the Charge” podcast series is now available online and is downloadable from iTunes – and o boy, it’s a good one.

Days after Olympiacos made European basketball history, we’re still amazed by another incredible run by the Reds and so discuss the context of this back-to-back title victory. Also up for discussion are reasons why Real Madrid and FC Barcelona should be proud and CSKA Moscow a bit ashamed. And what about that Red Army side? Will they blow up the team? What is the future of Ettore Messina, Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic with the club after a most disappointing Euroleague finish?

We also weigh in on the results and performances of the Nike International Junior Tournament, with particular reference to the finalists, champions Club Joventut Badalona and runners-up FC Barcelona – an extreme contrast in styles vis-à-vis club development within the economic realities of European sport in the 2010s.

Ricky Rubio WolvesOf course, this show’s highlight is the brief interview with none other than The Human YouTube Highlight Clip himself, Ricky Rubio. In remarkably succinct fashion, La Pistola weighs in on this year’s Euroleague Final Four, the past frustrating season with the Minnesota Timberwolves (and the importance of Nikola Pekovic) and the possibilities for Team Spain in the upcoming Eurobasket 2013 tournament.

Finally, our sports movie review of the week focuses on the 2008 film The Wrestler featuring Mickey Rourke in an outstanding tour de force career-comeback performance.

Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter http://heinnews.com/feed/taking-the-charge/ into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.

Thanks for listening and talk to you next week!

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May
0

Nike International Junior Tournament: Day three roundup

(Marc Garcia image courtesy Euroleague)

Garcia: Again the top-scorer for Barca

Just over two hours remain before Spain’s Europe’s top youth teams face off in the Nike International Junior Tournament championship game, and so follows a recap of yesterday’s action which ultimately saw FC Barcelona and Joventut Badalona advance, as provided by Net Scouts. The shows that these teams put on in facing a variety of styles – particularly impressive was Joventut, who handled defensive-minded Lietuvos Rytas, shut down the often dominant Dusan Ristic and Crvena Zvezda/Red Star Belgrade, and kept pace with a hustling Team China – are a true testament to the quality of these youth programs…

Joventut Badalona had little trouble with China (1-2), forcing the Chinese into 25 turnovers which resulted in Joventut taking 22 more shots in the game. Joventut maintained a double-digit lead for much of the contest. 6’8” Jose Nogues led the winners with 21 points, shooting 8-of-13 on two-pointers. 6’4” Agusti Sans finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists while 6’5” Alberto Abalde scored 16 and hit three three-pointers. 6’5” Jinglong Li was the only player in double-figures for Team China with 14 points. Joventut came back from a two-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to score 25 in the second to take a ten-point halftime lead.

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May
3

Nike International Junior Tournament: Day one roundup

Dusan was devastating

From BallinEurope’s newfound friends over at Net Scouts comes a wrap of the first day’s games in the highest-profile European youth club competition, the Nike International Junior Tournament. While the headliner in the tourney is clearly FC Barcelona’s Mario Hezonja, no one impressed BiE more than Crvena Zvezda/Red Star’s Dusan Ristic – surely we’ll be hearing more about this prospect soon…

The Euroleague’s 2013 Nike International Junior Tournament started in London today for four first round contests. Defending champion Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius dropped their first game to Joventut, 77-65. 6’5” Alberto Abalde (1995) led Joventut with 21 points, making 3-of-6 three-pointers. 6’8” Jose Nogues (1995) helped out with 11 points and seven rebounds. 6’9” Gediminas Zalalis (1995) led Rytas with 14 points and 6’5” Benas Vaitulionis (1995) had 12 points.

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May
0

Ricky Rubio sighting at Nike International Junior Tournament

See? There *is* a reason to check out Nike International Junior Tournament games even if you’re not into youth ball. While the Euroleague Final Four hasn’t yet tipped off, the NIJT started today — and on hand to lend support to his former club Joventut was none other than Ricky “La Pistola” Rubio. Just look at this fan access!

EL 2013 FF banner468x60

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Feb
1

Harlem Shake spreads to NIJT Belgrade tournament: Alba Berlin, INSEP players succumb

Aaaaand here’s another for the collection. After the Nike International Junior Tournament in Belgrade closed yesterday, two of the tourney’s youth teams added to the phenomenon overtaking European basketball clubs daily, namely the irresistible urge to perform the Harlem Shake. Without further ado, here are the Alba Berlin and INSEP ballers succumbing to the craze.

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Feb
12

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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May
2

NIJT wrap: Lietuvos Rytas takes title; plus, BiE’s nine European (and one Chinese) prospects to watch

Sanli: Glue guy, team player

Congratulations this afternoon go out to the Lietuvos Rytas junior team, which handled home team Fenerbahçe Ülker in the championship game of the 2012 Nike International Junior Tournament. Before something of a sedate crowd (perhaps folks here are a bit sedate and/or hungover after last night’s city-rocking goalless match – hey, it’s football – in which Galatasaray took the Turkish league title over FBU), L. Rytas controlled tempo, game and scoreboard throughout for an 88-70 victory in Istanbul.

Now that the proverbial fat lady has sung, BiE goes through 10 names European basketball and NBA fans might want to keep track of in the medium-term future – some of these guys are certainly destined for international stardom before decade’s end. Please note that the following are not necessarily the best players in the tournament, but rather those who BiE believes have the most upside or could simply surprise those not in-the-know once they’ve risen to the next level.

BiE’s “Who’s Who” from the 2012 NIJT includes the following.

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May
0

Nike International Junior Tournament: Lietuvos Rytas torches Crvena Zvezda to reach finals

Just completed was the deciding game in Group A of the Nike International Junior Tournament – and for Crvena Zvezda the results were ugly indeed.

While Dusan Ristic had his now-standard killer game for the Croatian side with 21 points and 10 rebounds, the tenacious play of the Lithuanians (clearly still rolling from their incredible second half against FC Barcelona yesterday) resulted in a huge 105-69 victory for Lietuvos Rytas. Augustinas Jankaitis chased his double-double of 16/13 yesterday – and augmented his chances of ultimately being named MVP of this tourney – with an amazing 30-point, 11-rebound performance.

Once again, Crvena Zvezda appeared to consciously eschew a physical game, a style which this Lithuanian side is not at all afraid to play. L. Rytas won the battle of the boards handily, with 39 against the Red Star’s mere 26.

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May
3

Notes from the Nike International Junior Tournament, day two

BallinEurope took in a couple of Nike International Junior Tournament games today – namely, Crvena Zvezda vs. Anadolu Efes and Lietuvos Rytas vs. FC Barcelona. A few brief impressions gleaned follow.

• Early on, Crvena Zvezda appeared intimidated by Anadolu Efes, a much more physical team than the previous day’s opponent, FC Barcelona – but somehow while the Red Stars mostly shied away from going inside and gave up turnovers by the bundle, big man Marko Tejic somehow amassed three fouls in less than three minutes.

• In the first half, Crvena Zvezda showed their fantastic wiles with tight defensive rotations and traps, though proving susceptible on the baseline; this allowed the larger frontcourt of Efes to score essentially every time a guard managed to find his man there.

• Speaking of those Efes guards, BiE’s eye was caught by the play of Furkan Bayrak and particularly Cedi Osman. Both showed nice game-management skills and in fact the Efes lead began to noticeably crumble when Bayrak and Osman both sat for a spell, allowing Crvena Zvezda to knot things up at 22 in the second quarter.

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