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Joakim Noah wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year +++ Swee’ Pea makes the cut – Reaches Funding Target +++ The Dish – Too Rude for Masai Uijiri +++ The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++
Jun
2

Real Madrid tops FC Barcelona for first Spanish title since 2007; Reyes MVP, Jasikevicius with flashback performance

BallinEurope sends out congratulations this morning to Real Madrid, which closed out a most successful season by taking the decisive game five of the Liga Endesa championship series, 79-71, in yet another “El Clasico”-level thriller. The title represents Los Blancos’ first ACB championship since 2006-07; though title is Real’s sole trophy this season, the win plus a Euroleague runner-up bid has to add up to the club’s finest run since Juan Antonio Corbalán was running point in the early to mid-1980s.

Felipe Reyes was named MVP of the Liga Endesa finals; Reyes turned in yet another efficient performance in game five, contributing 14 points and drawing a whopping seven personal fouls in under 21 minutes of playing time.

Reyes’ show (not to mention the actual win) overshadowed an incredible individual game from Sarunas Jasikevicius, as the old guy played like he’d tapped into his personal 2005. After going just 191 seconds in Madrid’s game four loss, Jasikevicius constantly got/created easy open looks in his under-19 minutes for a huge 23 points on 6-of-9 overall shooting and 8-of-8 from the line.

Unfortunately for the Blaugrana, aside from Joe Ingles’ excellent night, Barcelona shooters could managed just 7-of-33 success overall, including an 0-of-11 mark beyond the arc. (On the other hand, Saras and Ingles did make for one heckuva highlight clip…)

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May
1

Steals, slams and rejections: Top 10 plays of the 2012-13 Euroleague season

Okay, below runs the highlight clip European basketball fans traditionally look for this time of year – namely, the Top 10 Plays of the past Euroleague season. And while BallinEurope just as traditionally questions the pecking order of these things, BiE’ll have to admit the big ‘league pretty much nailed it this year right up to no. 1.

Said top play comes from the Olympiacos-Real Madrid final and justifies (BiE believes) this media partner’s vote for EL Final Four MVP in and of itself. As BiE always says, when an audible collective gasp swamps the press section, you know you’ve got a moment for the ages…

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May
40

Instant history: Olympiacos dominates last 30 minutes, tops Real Madrid, 100-88, for back-to-back titles

No matter which way this year’s Euroleague championship played out, history would be made with Olympiacos chasing a repeat championship and Real Madrid its first in 18 years. And as it turns out, fate’s scribe was writing with Red(s) pen: Once again, tournament underdogs Olympiacos ended up EL alpha dogs with a 100-88 win over Real Madrid for only the third repeat title of the last 25 years.

(Olympiacos BC image courtesy Euroleague)

Olympiacos: They are the champions — again

Real Madrid jumped out to an early lead as All-Euroleague first teamer Rudy Fernandez accounted for six points and two assists on his team’s first 10 points, finding Sergio Llull again and again; the two would combine for 16 in the first quarter alone. Los Blancos’ 27-10 lead after the opening stanza might have been considered enough against an ordinary team – but Europe’s comeback kids are hardly ordinary.

Pero Antic’s three to start the scoring in the second quarter got the Olympiacos fans back to their feet –more importantly triggering a 13-2 run with contributions from Kyle Hines and Kostas Sloukas to bring the Reds to within seven at 29-22. And highlight-reel Reyes-to-Slaughter alley-oop dunk aside, the Reds fairly well owned the second 10 minutes, outscoring Real 27-14

Of particular note in the second 10 minutes was Stratos Perperglou stifling Fernandez, limiting him to just two points on free throws; in fact, Perperglou’s defensive play was representative of Olympiacos’, as nearly half of the Madrid points (six) in the quarter were made at the line, while six Real turnovers were forced.

Vassilis Spanoulis, remarkably quiet for so long, finally broke his personal cold streak with a three after the first minute of the third quarter and a subsequent three would give Olympiacos its first lead at 48-45 – must’ve been something concocted at halftime … another run – this one 15-5 – appeared to have Real on the ropes in the third, but Los Blancos weren’t finished yet, momentarily retaking the lead at 56-55 after a pair of jumpers from Fernandez.

Among the highlights in a pressure-packed final five minutes of the third were two consecutive stops of Fernandez after he’d run up seven in the stanza already; among the lowlights, Sloukas assessed for a technical after flopping. Nikola Mirotic, uncharacteristically plagued with foul trouble earned his fourth PF – one of 10 committed by three members of the Real frontcourt – late in the third quarter as well. After 30 minutes, it was a new ballgame: 61-61.

With 90 seconds gone, Spanoulis reentered the court to palpable tension. A section of Reds fans maintained their trademark noise, but many were strangely silent while the Madridistas clung to edges of their seats.
The death blow may have come on a hidden play, as Acie Law forced Llull to bounce a dribble off his foot and into the backcourt – Spanoulis’ followup three would ultimately seal the deal from 70-62:

While Law and Sloukas and Georgi Shermadini went on to score from various spots on the floor, Jaycee Carroll’s three-pointer – just one of three Madrid shooting attempts in the fourth quarter’s first five minutes – stood alone as a Real success from the floor. By that time, the Reds’ lead had ballooned to 82-70 and the Spanish side simply did not have an Olympiacos-like miracle comeback in ‘em.

And no Spanoulis, either.

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Mar
2

Zalgiris loses to Minsk, drops to 2-6 in tight European-league games; what is happening in Kaunas?

Ksistof doesn’t get it either…

The conversations BallinEurope has with peers in the European basketball blogosphere lately tend to drift toward one team: Žalgiris Kaunas, the hardest luck team in Euroleague basketball.

No, wait, strike that. Let’s start over.

The conversations BallinEurope has with peers in the European basketball blogosphere lately tend to drift toward one team: Žalgiris Kaunas, a team that, in spite of a roster chockfull of experienced talent, simply cannot close out games and fall apart in the clutch.

It’s one of the two, anyway. Or maybe not: Perhaps we can lay the blame at Joan Plaza’s feet (though expectations going into the season were long) or on the subpar refereeing (which might be stretching things a bit considering the sum total of questionable calls in game seven of the Euroleague Top 16 round worked out in the Greens’ favor).

Maybe the front-office issues and lack of payment to players have been overwhelmingly distracting (as Marko Popovic told heinnews and BiE in a recent Taking the Charge podcast interview, “We made a deal at the beginning of the season that this team would stay together until the end of the season, no matter what happens. Hopefully people are going to recognize the way that we play for this club, the way that we show on the court and hopefully the financial status is going to change. We are just focused on the court. Of course we hear the rumors going on around the club but we are trying to be focused, which is not easy, I gotta be honest…”

Maybe it’s none of the above, some of the above, or all of the above. But with Žalgiris now looking at a 4-6 record after another heartbreaker to Real Madrid last week, Lithuania’s remaining representative may have already bad-lucked itself out of a Euroleague playoff spot after starting out at a strong 8-2 clip. An examination of crucial moments may give some insight into the Bizarro equivalent of last season’s Olympiacos squad. Or perhaps not.
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Dec
0

2012: The year in Euro-centric basketball highlight clips

What say we close out 2012 with a whole bunch of highlight clips? BiE knew you’d be willing. Tomorrow, a list of the most popular BallinEurope stories of the calendar year will be running, but today comes an attempt to encapsulate the past 365 days in European hoops, YouTube style.

From Ibaka’s blocks to the return of Ricky Rubio, from a stunner in Istanbul to a double miracle in Italy, from the US to the Continent and back again, BallinEurope’s got your highlights right here… Continue Reading…

Oct
0

Monday hangover: Real Madrid awesome; CSKA Moscow vulnerable; Arvydas Sabonis rules

Right, with the weekend over and many an hour spent viewing the roundball, BallinEurope rounds up some news items – and video clips! – from the week that was.

Could this be Real Madrid’s year? Los Blancos are exactly one Rudy Fernandez miss from a perfect 8-0 overall mark early in 2012-13 after topping Caja Laboral Baskonia, 83-81, in overtime this weekend in the Liga Endesa.

Baskonia got a combined 47 points from Nemanja Bjelica and Maciej Lampe while turning over the ball just once – thus not allowing Real to demonstrate their nice quick transition to the fast break – yet ultimately couldn’t answer what’s looking like the best team out of Spain this season.

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Oct
3

European present, NBA future? Five more rights-owned draftees to watch in 2012-13

NBA Europe Live Tour and Euroleague American Tour games tip off tomorrow, giving a few fan bases a glimpse at some possible future prospects already drafted and with rights owned by a big league club.

Following up on yesterday’s brief look at five rights-owned European players developing their games on The Continent, today is offered another quintet for your consideration. Fans of Chicago, Charlotte, and San Antonio will particularly want to pay attention – and tune into some Euroball in 2012-13…

• PF Nikola Mirotic, Real Madrid (2011 NBA draftee; rights owned by the Chicago Bulls).
Few players are more greatly anticipated – and few could be more immediately useful to such an injury-prone frontcourt – in Chicago than Nikola Mirotic.

Mirotic rolled on last season after bagging the Euroleague Rising Star award for 2010-11, nearly doubling his EL scoring average from 6.6 to 12.5 ppg; not to mention a like increase in touches. Unfortunately for Bulls backers, Mirotic is contracted to Real through 2016 –although he’ll only be 25 years old by then and BiE wouldn’t be surprised to see Chicago at least attempt a hefty buyout within the next four seasons.

(To induce further covetousness in the Windy City, check out the 26-point, 10-rebound, 46-PIR damage Mirotic did in Real’s game two Liga Endesa victory over Blancos de Rueda Valladolid last night…)

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Sep
13

EuroBasket 2013 draw seedings: Some thoughts

Exactly what the title says then – BallinEurope takes a look at the seedings for the EuroBasket 2013 draw and riffs a bit. As we know, the six groups from which the final divisions will be comprised look as follows.

No. 1 seeds: Spain, France, Russia, FYR Macedonia

No. 2 seeds: Lithuania, Greece, Slovenia, Great Britain

No. 3 seeds: Italy, Croatia, Germany, Montenegro

No. 4 seeds: Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina

No. 5 seeds: Georgia, Belgium, Latvia, Turkey

No. 6 seeds: Czech Republic, Serbia, Israel, Sweden

Mulled-over reactions follow.

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Jul
34

Who can stop Team USA?

This one goes out by request to BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y. … with Team USA coming together to play the Dominican Republic today – with or without Chris Paul – BiE tries to answer the question “Who [if anyone] can beat Team USA?”

Good one.

A few gauntlets have been thrown by the Americans already, the least of which is certainly not the roster itself. That roster, one more time, is the following.

Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
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Jun
1

Dalibor Bagaric on time with Chicago Bulls: “I was unlucky”

Old pro Sam Smith of Bulls.com has written an exceptional column on present (though perhaps for but a wee bit longer, if speculation is to believed) and former Chicago Bulls Luol Deng and Dalibor Bagaric.

A good portion of this epic-by-today’s-standard is devoted to possible trade destinations for the Team Britain big man — even though Smith believes Deng’s recent musings on getting dealt. Most intriguing is a proposition swapping Deng to the Houston Rockets for Kyle Lowry, thereby freeing up Goran Dragic to start there and creating one wicked backcourt in Chicago.

Smith then switches gears and drops a bit of trivia. To wit: Which players have played 10 seasons in European professional basketball and at least three in the NBA? Smith’s got:

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