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 +++ EuroBasket 2015: Wins for Macedonia, Belgium, and Georgia +++

Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs

BallinEurope only went 6 of 8 in picking the teams to make the post-season and one of those sides we didn’t have faith in won’t be happy with how we see the playoffs shaping up. It’s fearless prediction time.

Barcelona vs Galatasaray

Pick: Barca in 3.

So we didn’t think Galatasaray would make it this far and now we’re saying there roll a doughnut in the post-season. Harsh? Perhaps but we’re standing by it. Barcelona’s slump at the end of the Top 16 can’t disguise a 22-0 start to Euroleague this season. This team is going to Milan, the question is how many games it will require. Much as Galatasaray deserve credit for holding their nerve in the wild battle for fourth in Group F, they look to have drawn a pairing suited to exploit them. If it’s any comfort, we seem to have given Pops Mensah-Bonsu some added motivation.

Real Madrid vs Olympiacos

Pick: RMB in 4.

This was a tough call to make and not for the reason you might think. Real Madrid look to have the most complete team in Europe this season. If they weren’t utterly unbackable, I’d take RMB to walk into a 2-0 series lead without blinking. The question in my mind is whether they will be able to finish the Reds off quickly or if it will require them going back to Madrid. In the end I split the difference and called it Real in a 3-1 win.

CSKA Moscow vs Panathinaikos

Pick: CSKA in 5.

Honestly, this was the easiest call of the lot. You could slot in any opponent and I’d have trouble believing this CSKA team would take care of business the easy way. It’s just not been their style all season. If any series goes the max, this will be it. Panathinaikos still look capable of taking care of business back home but neither of the Greek giants looks like final four material this year.

EA7 Milano vs Maccabi Elektra Tel-Aviv

Pick: Milano in 4.

This is about as good a style match-up as Milano could have hoped for. They have the weapons to hurt Maccabi and to do so repeatedly. Home court in the final four isn’t something that comes around every year and that’s plenty motivation for Milano. It could have been a source of nerves but the maturity this outfit showed in the Top 16 makes me think otherwise. For the first half of that phase Milano kept stumbling, not quite doing enough to convince skeptics like me (who said they wouldn’t make the post-season) of their worth and then boom they caught fire. The Barca win is what most remember but the change had already happened. They had evolved from could-bes to probablys.

So where have I gone horribly wrong? Please vent your frustrations in the comments.


The dish: A nice relaxing start

Round 1 of the Top 16 was a little crowded, we’ll get to that, but by and large it was awfully relaxing basketball.

We open with the game that closed the openung round if action. Vassilis Spanoulis went nuts in the SEF as he ripped Zedijko Obradovic a new one on the coach’s first trip to the arena as Fenerbahce coach. Obradovic brought his troops to the OAKA for warm-ups earlier in the day, a nice touch we must admit, but he couldn’t get them to fix an issue that’s hit them a few times this season. Could somebody please tell Fener to show up in the first quarter? Credit to the Istanbul club, they clawed their way back into it and made it a one-possession game going into the final minutes but then V-Span went out of this world again and the home side took the W. In a shock to no-one, Spanoulis was named MVP of the round with 28 points, 9 assists, and PIR of 39. Whatever the result when Barcelona visits Istanbul next week, a far better first frame is necessary for all of us reformed doubters to keep the faith. One final note on this game, be sure to check out Raul Jimenez’s piece on mismatches inspired by this game.

Staying in Group E and there was a good spot by Rob Scott over at ELA. The difference in offensive performance by Panathinaikos with and without Dimitris Diamantidis is frightening. They took care of business on Thursday night 73-57 at home against EA7 Milan, helped by 11 dimes from DDD. Daniel Hackett may be happy to still be in Italy but he must be guessing that his European season is going to become frighteningly irrelevant soon.
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Group E: The knowns and the unknowns

The slate is clean for the Top 16. Today and tomorrow we’ll break down what we know about each team in the second phase, what we want to know, and what we think we still won’t know sfter 14 rounds of action. We start with the eight participants.

Fenerbahce Ulker
What we know: This is an Obradovic team. They’ve pulled out wins they would have lost a year ago and show a level of organisation to match their talent.
What we want to know: Can they do enough to get home advantage in the playoffs.
What we won’t know: If home advantage in the last eight will have any real impact in their Final Four hopes.

Olympiacos Piraeus
What we know: Even with heavy losses in the off-season, this is still a team that is built for one-and-done play. They waltzed through the regular season and should make the quarter finals with ease.
What we want to know: How they will manage their roster over the meat of their schedule with an eye to keeping their best players fresh down the stretch.
What we won’t know: Their ability to hold up over a Best-of-5 situation.

EA7 Milano
What we know: Coming second in an awful group has its rewards but there’s a limit given the opponents they face.
What we want to know: The ability of a relatively thin roster to handle a heavy schedule.
What we won’t know: Their chances in LegABasket, yeah they ain’t making the playoffs.

Saski Baskonia
What we know: They have the capacity to force the best out of anyone but not necessarily make the opponent pay.
What we want to know: If the long format will improve their playoff chances.
What we won’t know: If they can mount a serious threat in the playoffs…okay, we’ll know if they don’t make it.

FC Barcelona
What we know: They have scorers and can and wil use them to great effect.
What we want to know: If they can show more innovation in creating opportunties when the going gets tough.
What we won’t know: Their health.

Unicaja Malage
What we know: This remains an intelligent ball club with a veteran style against the relative upstarts of Euroleague.
What we want to know: Will they benefit from playing 9 games of 14 in Spain, significantly reducing travel (naturally applies to Barca and Baskonia too).
What we won’t know: Like Baskonia, if they make the post-season we still won’t be sure how they’ll handle a Best-of-5 situation.

Anadolu Efes
What we know: This team is not as strong as last year’s line-up but has the same functional issues.
What we want to know: If greater organisation in the Top 16 can make up for that drop in overall quality.
What we won’t know: Who they will sign next year to make up for missing out on the playoffs.

What we know: They took the thin part of their name by its English meaning this year a large part of the regular season and decided to play fast and loose with their progress.
What we want to know: If they are, in simple terms, the team that started the regular season, the team that finished, or a better version of both.
What we won’t know: What they can do if DDD isn’t there to save them. For the time being at least, he makes them a threat in any situation.

Fearless prediction: To me there are three teams fighting for the top two and three more for the last spot. I’m going Olympiacos and Barcelona in that order with Fener third but it goes to the final game. Panathinaikos to take fourth and, this is the fearless bit, in far more comfortable fashion than anyone expects.


Lokomotiv & Maccabi record last-gasp wins in Euroleague thrillers

The Turkish Airlines Euroleague is well under way but the action isn’t letting up anytime soon, thanks to some thrilling games on round four.

The pick of the night’s matches came from Group D as Eurocup champion Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnoda defeated Panathinaikos Athens 69 – 72 in an exciting match. Lokomotiv led for most of the game, the most it led by was 43 – 56 early in the fourth quarter before Panathinaikos made its comeback and leveled the game at 69 – 69 with six seconds to go.

It was Krunoslav Simon who made the difference, burying the game-winner in the final second to give Lokomotiv the win.

There were more important wins in Group B as EA7 Emporio Armani Milan grabbed an important 62 – 76 victory over Brose Baksets Bamberg, evening out its record in Group B at 2 – 2.

Bamberg was on the back foot as Milan held the lead for most of the game. Nicolo Melli of Milan made a pair of three-pointers to give the visitors a 33 – 43 lead at halftime, but Bamberg fought its way back and reduced the deficit to two points early in the fourth quarter. However, a strong defensive display from Milan ensured that a comeback didn’t happen, with a pair of Keith Langford jumpers securing a Milan victory.

Back in group D, another thriller took place in Lithuania as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv grabbed a tight 74 – 76 victory over Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. After its shock win over Panathinaikos in the opening win, Lietuvos’ has yet to record a win and losing by the narrowest of margins will be scant consolation for the team.

Maccabi led by as many as 18 points during one point, but Rytas pulled back and ensured that the final quarter was full of thrills. Rytas eventually went in front to go 71 – 70 with 1:55 to go. With the two sides tied at 74 – 74, it was Tyrese Rice who scored the winner with 3.5 seconds to go.

The remaining games that night saw Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade picking up its first Euroleague victory in Group B by defeating Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 63 – 73.

In Group D, Tadija Dragicevic saw off a stubborn Zalgiris Kaunas side 72 – 61 thanks to an impressive fourth quarter display, while Real Madrid made sure its flying start to the season continued with a 66 – 85 win over Strasbourg. Madrid’s victory meant that it tops Group B with a 4-0 record, making it the best four-game start in the competition this century.

- Quinton O’Reilly (@qoreilly)


FC Barcelona-Panathinaikos: The YouTube history (starring Gallis, Dominique, Obradovic, Saras, Pekovic, Diamantidis, Tomic)

Panathinaikos logoThose in the know about European basketball (or sport, really) need no introduction to either of these storied franchises who add another chapter to the annals tonight: Panathinaikos Athens goes to Barcelona to take on the Blaugrana in a decisive game five Euroleague quarterfinal match – after one heck of a series thus far.

Hyperbolization of these teams’ history – not to mention the nail-biting, cliffhanging suspense of this very playoff series – would be difficult and doing so would be bland. So BallinEurope will simply say that the series between these two clubs has Panathinaikos with a 15-12 overall advantage historically, and let’s get to the YouTubes. Enjoy quite a fascinating collection of a virtual Who’s Who of highlights; once again, YouTube rules.

FCB logo(Incidentally, if this collection seems slightly PAO-biased, apologies. Perhaps the Greek side’s fans are ahead in the video-sharing sphere as well…)

Panathinaikos and Barcelona met under the proper Euroleague banner at the very tail end of the 1993-94 season. In the third-place game, Nikos Gallis capped another EL scoring- and assist-leading season (23.8 and 4.7 per game, respectively) by leading PAO to a 100-83 win in the first game between the clubs in 12 years — back to the Champions Cup days.

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Pop Quiz: The Euro-/NBA-centric year in basketball

For bonus points, identify this player

Just because the NBA Draft is over, the big league is heading toward a lockout, and the top European teams are thick into the wheeling/dealing of off-season acquisitions with an eye to 2011-12, that’s no reason to forget your history. Were you paying attention this season? Test your knowledge with the official BallinEurope 2010-11 season-ending pop quiz. (And you thought your semester was over…)

The quiz is multiple choice and is European- and NBA-centric in topic. It is multiple guess choice, and so choose the one answer that best completes the phrase or answers the question. You may use any writing implement at your disposal to fill in the answers – as long as you don’t mind marking up your screen, that is. Good luck. You may begin the exam now.

1. In the 2010-11 season, Dirk Nowitzki became most known for:
a) Being a clutch player, despite an arguably disappointing past history.
b) Entering the conversation as one of the NBA’s top 20 players of all-time.
c) Passing 22,000 career NBA points.
d) Take Dat Wit Chew.

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SportingBet lines and odds for Euroleague week nine matchups

And Euroleague action is back for week nine action. Tonight’s slate of games is fit to make the playoff picture clearer. Lietuvos Rytas is in with a win, whereas a Khimki win or an Asseco Prokom loss gets the Moscow region team into the final 16.

According to the bookmakers, the marquee game to watch tonight amidst a lot of mismatches is clearly the game at Belgrade. The inconsistent Lietuvos Rytas can thank its current 1-3 run for its status as a five-point underdog at Partizan, and a double-digit loss would hardly be surprising for the Lithuanians at Pionir, where the black-and-white haven’t lost this season since opening day.

Also a must for viewing and tempting for punting is the Khimki-AJ Milano matchup. To say that Milano’s porous defense – they’ve managed to hold a Euroleague opponent to under 68 points just once this season – has been disappointing would be an understatement but makes for great high-scoring viewing if you’re not a fan. The Italians will be looking to salvage their hopes for advancement while avenging their week three loss to Khimki: Surely this team is too talented not to cover that pointspread of nine and that 146.5 will be toast. Go over.

Pointspreads and over/under lines for tonight’s Euroleague games, as provided by Euroleague/Ball in Europe sponsor Sporting Bet, run below the break.

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The Frank Euroleague roundup, week six

Key player

Key player

Wrapping up and putting a bow on week six of Euroleague basketball is BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti, who today writes of Kleiza & Papaloukas, the Partizan player-making machine, and the league’s three biggest flops thus far in 2009-10.

Dear old Theo
Linas Kleiza has made us witnesses to what a former NBA sixth man is able to do: namely, score 19 points in 10 minutes, with all of his production coming in the last period, when Olympiacos seemed very close to its third consecutive loss outside of Athens. Kleiza scored from outside, going to the rim, penetrating, and in the final 24 seconds was simply unstoppable.

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Morning Eurohoops news: November 30

It’s Monday morning and that means news! A handful of news briefs, columns and video to tip off your own week this week. Enjoy!

•  The biggest domestic-league game of the weekend? How about Panathinaikos vs. Olympiacos in Greece on Sunday? Behind Josh Childress (6-of-9 shooting to got with 10 rebounds), Olympiacos prevailed, 87-76, to become the league’s only 5-0 team. Panathinaikos was dropped to 4-1 and into a tie with Panellinios after the loss. Childress will be leaving the team for an indeterminate period to attend the funeral of his father, who died on Friday.

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Fantasy tips from the Euroleague boss: Week five

The Boss says: Keep Matt Walsh this week

The Boss says: Keep Matt Walsh this week

Hello, everybody, this is Javier Gancedo from Euroleague headquarters once again. Hope you all enjoyed the Euroleague break; it’s good for us to have a week off so early in the season. I had the chance to start doing features for the Final Four page. When the Final Four page is launched, there is one tell-all interview with a basketball legend in particular that will shock you!

Life is good here in Barcelona: Euroleague basketball is back, Christmas is just around the corner, and my team Cajasol won five of its last six games. We needed, like, 25 games to get that fifth win last season. I’m heading down to Fuenlabrada for our road game on Saturday. People may wonder why, being in the Euroleague and talking to a lot of great players and coaches, I chose to be a Cajasol fan. Well, first of all, I am from Sevilla – and proud of it! And second, you are what you are: Once a Cajasol fan, always a Cajasol fan.

Anyway, enough is enough – Let’s start with the Fantasy Challenge. I had to give may team much thought this week, even though I haven’t traded yet: I always do that while writing this column. It’s all about game philosophy of accumulating more money or trying to find underrated superstars. I didn’t expect to be playing for money for so long, but I decided to do so one more time; therefore I will trade players that I think are already overrated and go for moneymakers.

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