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Serbia and Croatia make statements at FIBA U18s +++ Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender +++ Sarunas Jasikevičius retires, joins Zalgiris in coaching role +++ Vintage Drazen Petrovic jersey up for auction +++ Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies +++ We really need you to nominate beers +++ Mykhailiuk operating almost under cover +++ Nando de Colo has the best location for a basketball camp +++ Ireland end famines with two slices of Danish bacon +++ Former Galatasaray baller Jamont Gordon talks about the road to recovery +++
Jul
14

Midnight for Cinderella? Angola shocks FYR Macedonia, 88-84

Just about 20 years ago, Angolan basketball was known internationally for a single game, for their service in providing the appetizer course for the angry/hungry Dream Team in the 1992 Olympic Games. Ultimately, Team Angola’s first turn on the big stage was remembered for a single moment of ignominy, i.e. Charles Barkley’s hammering of Herlander Coimbra amid a massive blowout.

Angola today has a long way to go before finally upending a Team USA in tournament play, but the FIBA Africa runners-up delivered a message to world basketball in defeating Europe’s Cinderella story of 2011, FYR Macedonia, 88-84, in game one of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men.

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Jun
4

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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Jun
4

Has it really been 18 years? Remembering Drazen Petrovic

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 most recently 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.

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.

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Mar
2

British Basketball: What they’re saying on the eve of The FIBA Decision

If it hadn’t been for all the personality-cult stuff surrounding a certain King James, the fateful FIBA committee vote scheduled for Sunday would more rightly be known as “The Decision”: In Lyons this weekend, the final determination will be made as to whether Team Britain receives for the 2012 London Games the traditionally-granted automatic qualification given the host nation’s hoops team.

On the eve of British basketball facing what even FIBA Secretary-General Patrick Baumann has called “the biggest decision in its history,” pundits, players and the powerful are all weighing in on the impact of “The FIBA Decision.” BallinEurope rounds up a few stories and such from the interwebs for your perusal.

(As for BiE, of course we’re backing the British bid. How can you not give it them?)

• First and foremost is Pops Mensah-Bonsu. BiE dares say that no one represents the pride and hopes of this team better than Pops, and the man’s passion for winning with Team Britain is matched by few.

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Aug
0

Dream Team vs. Redeem Team: Who wins?

From the Shameless Cross-Promotional Plug Department: BallinEurope’s sister site BuckBokai.com, with the assistance of the most-excellent sports simulation website WhatIfSports.com, considered part of the speculative statement made here upon the Dream Team’s admission to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, namely:

…the only two teams … who *might* possibly give the Dream Team a series [were] Dream Team III, with much of Dream Team I plus Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal, who probably should have been on the roster in lieu of the more politically-correctly chosen Christian Laettner in ‘92; and the Redeem Team of 2008, Generation Y’s own Dream Team.

So through the magic of number-crunching, we can kinda sorta know who wins in a battle of 1992 Team USA vs. 2008 Team USA. Who wins in a best-of-seven series? Click here to find out.

(Truth is, you can probably guess as to the final result, but BiE was a bit surprised at the specifics.)

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Aug
4

Remembering the other two Dream Teams of 1992

On this day of 1992 Team USA’s well-deserved induction into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, BallinEurope again takes the opportunity to remember those other two squads competing in the Barcelona Games whose impact on an international level was almost as great and whose impact at home was inestimable.

What the Dream Team gave to the international game, aside from the showcasing of quite simply the best side ever assembled by a long shot,* was a new measuring stick for talent, a definition of what national basketball pictures should aspire to produce. In Croatia and Lithuania, however, the national teams in some senses had already won before the Olympic torch was lit.

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Jul
1

The 35 Greatest Basketball YouTubes of All-Time: Nos. 6-10

BallinEurope promised you superstars for this five-pack in The 35 Greatest Basketball YouTubes of All-Time: Are you ready for M.J. and a lotta other studs? If so, you’re in for a treat from BiE TV today. Once again, here are the so-called rules employed in fashioning this list.

And what better way to fill out number 10 on the list with…

10. Michael Jordan’s ESPN top 10. Imagine if His Airness had peaked in the YouTube era … How many zillions of these videos would there be? Would Jordan have had to sue the ‘Tube? Would Nike have bought it? Weird.

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Jul
6

The 35 Greatest Basketball YouTubes of All-Time: Nos. 11-15

It’s a bit of a dunkathon today at BallinEurope as we enter the top 15 of BiE’s official 35 Greatest Basketball YouTubes of All-Time, which were determined by these guidelines. (Usage of “guidelines” in previous sentence is very loose, indeed.)

There’re thrills, chills and a few ills in today’s selection of eminently watchable and rewatchable YouTube videos. Enjoy!

15. Top 10 Dunks over Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, 2008-09. While Boumtje-Boumtje was a big fan favorite playing for EWE Baskets Oldenburg, his devotees still realized his shortcomings. This fan (really) vid is pretty amazing as a result. You know, it’s hard to believe that “Schadenfreude” is a German word…

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Jan
2

Revisiting USA-Croatia 1992 (or, Why YouTube is God, part 1 of many)

Reports last week that the Basketball Hall of Fame would be moving up the 2010 induction ceremony, so as to avoid conflict with the FIBA World Championship tournament and thus focus the hoops universe’s full attention on the 1992 USA Olympic team enshrinement, got me to reminiscing about that seminal game in basketball history: The gold-medal match between the Dream Team and Team Croatia at the Barcelona Olympiad.

While few observers at that time thought the game would even be close after The Greatest Team Ever Assembled (still) had demolished the competition in Barcelona, everyone was well aware that regardless of the final game’s result, the match would literally be one for the books, internationally.

And history has borne out that feeling, ultimately culminating in the unstoppable twelve entering the hallowed halls of Springfield later this year. The Dream Team’s influence was profound and immediate with the jump of basketball to near-preeminence among the world’s most beloved sports, the final burgeoning of the NBA to global sports juggernaut status, and a new emphasis among national sports committees worldwide on basketball. Some credit Spain’s masterful dominance of The Continent today on the Barcelona Games, as though the shine and glamour of Team USA had permeated the country to produce Gasols and Navarros and Rubios.

Twenty years later – and who’d’ve imagined this back then? – that game remains at your fingertips, available for viewing on YouTube in eight parts – Awesome.

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Jan
0

Has YouTube changed Europeans’ view of dunks?

I attended the German Bundesliga All-Star Day last weekend and also followed the dunk contest of that event. This type of contest is always considered one of the highlights by most basketball fans, even if the “traditional” Euroleague fan does not care about such “NBA-like show elements.” The level of the contest was fair in my eyes, but the reaction of those in attendance was pretty limited considering the difficult dunks that presented by the participants. A dunk like this one from Robert “Hollywood” Turner, who is, by the way 2.06 meters tall, is not that easy to do, yet it was not even enough to win the contest.

Besides the speaker, most fans had nothing more to offer than a little hand clapping for a between-the-legs dunk executed by a nearly seven-foot tall player. Everybody who him- or herself plays basketball knows how hard it is to dunk the ball, especially if you have to put it between your legs. But these days, basketball fans worldwide are so used to such scenes that you even heard voices in the arena saying: “Nice, but that dunk is, like, 10 years old.”

I mean, ten or so years ago, there was no YouTube to see all manner of high-flying action. As a basketball junkie and slam dunk fan, you had to wait the whole year for NBA All-Star weekend and stay awake all night to see some spectacular slams. The dunk contest for European All-Star games were not highly covered by media, and the level was far from the NBA event. If you go even further back, a dunk in Europe was a very innovative concept to score a basket back then, and there were only a few European players like Richard Dacoury executing a dunk in the game.

After the Olympic Games 1992 in Barcelona, the dunk also became more popular in Europe, and young Europeans improved their athletic build in order to become above-the-rim players, too. And it was particularly in France where a real “Dunk Culture” developed and produced one of the most spectacular leagues outside the United States. Players like Alain Digbeu and Mous Sonko filled the highlight reels of the French basketball fans and unfortunately, there are not that many of these spectacular plays still to be found.

This Dunk Culture produced a lot of “pure” dunking artists in France and the creation of the Slam Nation team exported the French touch in Dunks worldwide. On the other side of the ocean, high-flying stars like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady improved the level of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest to unseen heights since the legendary MJ-Dominique Wilkins battles. The popularity of the NBA in Europe increased the notability of the dunkers and the dunk was considered THE element of modern basketball.

When YouTube started to become popular at the beginning of this century, the worldwide takeover of the dunk was starting. Everybody could put his favorite dunks on the net and made the slam dunk incredibly popular among viewers. But herein enters the factor that changed everything: With the huge amount of dunks available for free viewing, the magic of the jam started to crumble. Kadour Ziani and his Slam Nation acrobats published million-view clips and everybody started to think that these dunks are “normal,” as there are so many available on the net.

This availability of dunking on the net was, of course, also a boost to creativity during various contests, as the participants could check what was going on around the world in terms of dunks. You could see Europeans imitating the Isiah Rider between the legs dunk or Americans going for the Abdoul Bamba dunk. But more evident was the fact that more and more people got “used” to this type of spectacular move with the results described above: barely any reaction to highly spectacular dunks in a contest. Even a women dunking the ball in a game now seems quite common to YouTube users.

So what do we want? Personally, I’m not a big fan of dunking contest, I prefer the tough baskets in game situations. Let us show some respect to the artists of the slam, however, and give them the deserved credit during these events. But what’s better than a spectacular in-your-face dunk on the fast break? This can never beat any kind of acrobatics produced during a contest. (Found via BasketSession.com.)