Rumor: Anadolu Efes to pay for, transfer Saric to KK Split

Now here’s an encouraging rumor about Dario Saric’s potentially disastrous contract situation: According to Euro-Step, one team which can afford to do so will step up to foot the €550,000 transfer fee demanded by KK Zagreb to release the Croatian wunderkind.

As rumor has it, “Nikola Vujcic is acting as an intermediary” in a deal which would have “Saric sign[ing] with Anadolu Efes before joining KK Split on loan.”

Saric has reportedly been working out with Split for the month he’s been in contract limbo. Originally slated to play for Bilbao Basket of the Liga Endesa this season, the transfer was stopped when the now-second division Zagreb club demanded at least €1 million to win the prospect’s services. FIBA arbitrators ruled that the price would be €550,000.

Hopefully things will work out for The Next Big Thing Out of Croatia, who had been looking at the prospect of a Kanteresque sat-out season as Saric looks to continue moving up his basketball career ladder.

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Euroleague Top 16, Week Two, Night One: Six games, 100 facts

Courtesy the Euroleague folks, BallinEurope brings a compendium of facts and figures spanning history and record books regarding tomorrow night’s slate of a half-dozen games – plus lines on the games and highlight clips. Enjoy!

CSKA Moscow vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
• CSKA leads the all-time series between the teams, 8-7.
• Nenad Krstic has scored in double figures in each of his last 16 Euroleague appearances dating back to the 2003-04 season.
• Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic lead the Euroleague in index rating with at averages of 27.8 and 21.5 per game, respectively.
• Kirilenko also leads the Euroleague in blocked shots (3.2 bpg).
• Milos Teodosic is ranked second in the Euroleague in assists this season with a career-high 5.6 assists per game.
• Darjus Lavrinovic needs three more blocks reach 100 for his Euroleague career. With his next block, Lavrinovic will tie former CSKA big man Terence Morris for 12th place all-time.
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Euroleague week three talking points (part I)

How good is Bogdanovic? Discuss.

Seven Euroleague games go off tonight as the season rounds into form a bit. The marquee match tonight has got to be the Khimki-Baskonia showdown to establish early supremacy in that tough Group A; Olympiacos-Unicaja will surely be worth the viewing as well, although the way the Reds have dominated on their home floor lately will make things difficult for the Spanish side.

In preparation for the festivities, then, BallinEurope presents some talking points: facts, stats, oddities, history and video relating to the games. Enjoy!

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Frank answers to four burning Euroleague questions

He’s back! Emerging out of hiding (or perhaps digging himself out of work with youth squads plus Italian-language sports media) is BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti. As the season progresses, Cappelletti will be opining as to what really went down in a week’s worth of Euroleague matches. Today, four key themes that will be threading their way through the 2010-11 season – and the frank take on ‘em.

Welcome back Euroleague … erm … Turkish Airlines Euroleague! Someone just said you look like the poorest edition in recent years and that your groups are less competitive than Eurocup’s, but we love you just the way you are anyway.

What do you offer for 2010-2011? Yeah, the unbeatable Regal Barcelona and the usual group of pretenders, divided between those for whom spending money is no problem even amid civil disorder (for information, phone Athens) and teams able to hide behind the justification of cycles coming to an end just to put some money away waiting for financially better times: That’s the case of Montepaschi Siena and CSKA Moscow.

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Vrankovic names preliminary Team Croatia roster; includes 11 Euroleaguers, just six from Eurobasket

How do you say, “Let’s clean house!” in Croatian? Because that’s the phrase Team Croatia coach Josip Vrankovic was certainly employing when he assembled his 17-man preliminary FIBA World Championship.

After the disappointing finish by the Croats in the 2009 Eurobasket competition, then-head coach Jasmin Repesa hastily resigned and thereafter replaced by Vrankovic; now Vrankovic is ejecting Repesa’s team members, it seems.

Out are Sandro Nicevic, Nikola Vujcic, Marcio Stojic and Nikola Prkacin; Marin Rozic has retired from basketball altogether and Mario Kasun has retired from international play. In is the sensational Ante Tomic, to be training alongside the likes of Marko Tomas, Davor Kus, Zoran Planinic and Stanko Barac.

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Euroleague Final Four head-to-head matchups: Partizan Belgrade vs. Olympiacos

Whoa, the Final Four starts in two days? Almost unbelievable. But enough digression! Yesterday, BallinEurope presented a brief position-by-position rundown of Friday’s FC Barcelona-CSKA Moscow game. Today, a consideration of the late game, Partizan Belgrade vs. Olympiacos.

Similarly to the early game, Partizan-Olympiacos also features a matchup between classic plucky underdog versus season-starting prohibitive favorite. Just like CSKA, Partizan wasn’t even “supposed” to be in Paris for the Final Four this year but don’t tell them; this one will be all about guile vs. slick weaponry.

The head-to-head matchups look something like the following.

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The Frank Euroleague Roundup: Top 16, week five

Scariolo: No, really, i can explain everything...

Scariolo: No, really, i can explain everything...

With one more week of Euroleague play to go before the field of viable contenders officially shrinks again, Ball in Europe contributor Francesco Cappelletti wraps the round that was in the big league. In this week’s roundup, Signor C. laments Montepaschi Siena’s fate, Sergio Scariolo’s precarious position and the reason Olympiacos might yet give Barca a workout before all is said and done (Hint: It starts with “Linas” and ends with “Kleiza”).

Group F focus
Oddly, the group which could have been in doubt until the buzzer of Week 6 suddenly has two qualified teams after five weeks: These are Real Madrid and Maccabi Tel Aviv, teams which will meet next Thursday at Palacio Vistalegre to define a first place currently in possession of the Israeli side for their 81-76 victory of February 4.

Montepaschi Siena was shocked by a 43-point fourth quarter scored by Alan Anderson and teammates. OK, take out the final (meaningless) 10 points, and 33 remain on the back of the Italian champions. How was this possible? MPS had recovered during the third period thanks to big hearted Terrell McIntyre and bad offensive decisions from previously unstoppable Doron Perkins, but, I mean, if you play with six men (seven minutes of nothing for Nikos Zisis in crisis, Ksistof Lavrinovic plagued by back spasms), and you enter the final fraction with a 3-point advantage at Yad Eliyahu, well, you know your destiny.

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The Frank Euroleague Roundup: Top 16, week three

T-Mc: What can we say?

T-Mc: What can we say?

With a scene-shifting week three of Euroleague Top 16 play in the books, BallinEurope’s Francesco Cappelletti defines his surprise, from Montepaschi’s masterful play to Sasha Kaun’s success to the curse of a Panathinaikos title defense, and more. Read on!

Pianigiani’s lesson to Messina
“I think it was a masterpiece from my players. One of the most difficult games since I started coaching. We were tired, consumed, without an important player against a team that could exploit our problems. We’ll enjoy this night to the fullest”: With these words and a smiling face, coach Simone Pianigiani commented on the game between Montepaschi and Real Madrid.

Honestly, he was right; Siena got the expected reaction after a disastrous exhibition in Istanbul, but the win was huge, much more than the fans and staff were waiting for. Even more so because the victory came despite the absence of Ksistof Lavrinovic, a player as key as only Terrell McIntyre is. Real wanted Montepaschi to play a slow game, to defend strongly and to deny the top facets of the Italians’ game: fastbreaks and transition play.

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Euroleague All-Decade Team: The official BallinEurope ballot

BiE Holden a spot on the ballot for J.R.

BiE's Holden a spot on the ballot for J.R.

The waffling is over! After a couple of weeks of mulling over the field of 50 candidates for ten spots on the Euroleague All-Decade Team, the final decision has been made (and whoo, was that painful) and the ballot submitted. The following, then, is how the official BallinEurope ballot for the 2010s all-stars, along with some of the thought process a la Euroleague Fantasy Boss Javier Gancedo, ended up.

Four choices were obvious:

• Sarunas Jasikevicius,

• Juan Carlos Navarro,

• Dejan Bodiroga, and

• Theo Papaloukas. BiE reckons that membership on Dream Team Europe (first inclusion or no) and/or the official BallinEurope All-Decade All-European Team gets you onto the Euroleague All-Decade squad.

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The Frank Euroleague roundup: Top 16, week two

Vujosevic: Among the best. Really.

Vujosevic: Among the best. Really.

It’s time for the look back at the wacky Euroleague week that was with Francesco Cappelletti. This week, BallinEurope’s man in Italy examines messing with rotations in Olympiacos and Unicaja; praises Partizan for the potential blueprint win over FC Barcelona; and chides the narcissistic defending champions for their shameful general laziness.

No instant replay, Partizan wins
The rule says that, when the buzzer sounds, the ball is no longer playable. This was the reason for the theatrical scene in Belgrade, wherein instant replay helped coaches and referees solve a risky situation. Pete Mickeal went with the hook shot over Slavko Vranes at the end of the overtime, and Lawrence Roberts swept the ball away from the rim. If the ball was over the rim, referees must make a goaltending call and Regal FC Barcelona credit for the (unmade) basket and the away win. But the ball was considered not fully over the rim, so Roberts’ action was legal.

Luckily, Partizan won. They deserved it. One week after having beaten Panathinaikos in Athens, the Serbian boys stopped the best team in Europe and made them play like no other had before. Dule Vujosevic can really aspire to stand on the podium of European coaches alongside Ettore Messina and Zelimir Obradovic, not only for his ability to develop young prospects in a hurry but also for his tactical knowledge: This week’s game was an example of how a coach can influence a game closed in the forecasts.

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