Episode #29 in the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced podcast series Taking the Charge is now online. Lots of time this week is devoted to sorting out Euroleague Top 16 tiebreakers (it’s a tad more interesting than it sounds, hoping) and some general stuff about the March Madness – which BiE has taken to calling “March Manic Depression” ultimately for fans of all but one team…
Cup finals highlights: Barca dominates Valencia; Siena squeaks past Cinderella; PAO bests “club of filth” Olympiacos; Korac Cup final postponed
Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this morning to FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena and Panathinaikos, perhaps each respectively their nation’s top basketball club, for taking domestic cup titles this weekend.
In Spain, FC Barcelona showed no letup after outlasting Real Madrid in Thursday’s barnburner from the Copa Del Rey quarterfinal round and cruised through Valencia BC in the finals, 85-69. Nice to note that BiE fave Pete Mickael snagged this year’s MVP award from within a relentless and balanced Blaugrana attack.
Podcast: Santa Claus comes to town, talks hoops (plus, reviewing possibly the worst Christmas special ever)
That’s right: On this week’s special Christmas edition of the heinnews/BallinEurope co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series, David Hein and yours truly host a guy who is certainly the biggest name we will ever welcome to the show, good ol’ Saint Nick himself, Santa Claus.
Santa assists us by doling out a half-dozen virtual gifts to various basketball luminaries playing here in Europe and in the NBA.
As part of our gift to you, this podcast is mercifully short in direct contrast to the typical Titanic length, but the “Taking the Charge” duo still manage to briefly touch on subjects including the big Unicaja Malaga-Panathinaikos trade (and possibly the previous such Euroleague-based acquisition – do we really have to go back to 2009?), the controversy of the German Bundesliga’s Giessen 46ers, and the reason why the Mayan Apocalypse didn’t happen, among others.
And for this week’s movie review, join BiE and (his victim) Hein for a discussion of quite possibly the worst holidays-themed piece in any visual medium, He-Man & She Ra: A Christmas Special. Seriously awesome in insane campitude, the entire masterpiece of so-good-it’s-bad 1980s animated cartoon series is embedded below; BiE dares you to watch it.
After defending Euroleague champions Olympiacos took care of business in an 85-81 win over Caja Laboral Baskonia last week, Greece-based media outlet Ekathimerini spun their game wrap under the headline “Greek stars gift Reds opening Euroleague win.”
Indeed, last year’s heroes Giorgos Printezis and Vassilis Spanoulis were instrumental in the comeback victory, providing 33 points combined as the team’s high scorers. And Olympiacos management seems light-years removed from their former fascination with overpaying the Josh Childresses of the basketball world by investing in homegrown talent Dimitrios Mavroeidis and Stratos Perperoglou while otherwise standing pat with much of the 2010-11 final roster.
All right, it’s that time again! With hours to go before the 2012-13 Euroleague season tips off, BallinEurope breaks out its first power ratings for the big league.
Whereas normally a disclaimer to the effect of “the following ratings are based on current trending only and are not necessarily based on the overall quality of the teams” runs here, this year BiE’s switching things up a bit. To wit: For this edition of Euroleague power rankings, the teams *will* be run based on BallinEurope’s totally subjective viewpoint. (Mainly because BiE couldn’t figure out what to do with Barcelona…)
Get your arguments ready and read on for this season’s first power rankings, with Official BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™ for the upcoming season peppered throughout. Enjoy the games!
1. Olympiacos Piraeus. The usual reserved spot for the defending champion comes with some justification this year, as Vassilis Spanoulis & Co. show no signs of letting up on their 2011-12 season-ending 22-4 run. In the off-/preseason, Olympiacos’ foursome of Spanoulis, local hero Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou and Evengelos Mantazaris suited up for a disappointed Team Greece – all but Mantazaris acquitted themselves nicely, with 50-of-89 (56.2%) overall shooting and Spanoulis dishing out just under six assists per game in three Olympic qualifiers.
Panathinaikos’ wild offseason is apparently not over yet. Previously linked with Yi Jianlian, Sun Yue and Dejun Han, the Greens may finally be ready to sign with a Chinese player (and perhaps gain a nice foothold in that lucrative basketball market): Namely, Ailun Guo of the Liaoning Dinosaurs. According to Bball Headlines, Dinosaurs front office reps stated that they “have indeed received documents from Panathinaikos,” but a board meeting must be held before the club lets Guo come to the Continent.
The 18-year-old was last seen on the international stage (albeit briefly) in the 2012 Olympic Games, appearing in three games with Team China, including 26 minutes against Brazil in which his 4-of-7 shooting earned Guo eight points. He’s also represented China in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, 2010 FIBA U17 Worlds and the 2011 FIBA U19 Worlds.
In celebration of certainly still the most significant year in international basketball history, BallinEurope today begins the “Twenty years ago today” series in which we’ll peer back in time through the lens of YouTube to that era of morphing European national teams and Dream Team dominance.
In the wake of that Greatest Basketball Team Ever Assembled, much of the 1991-92 professional seasons themselves get the short shrift in the history books, but some quite interesting stuff was nevertheless happening on the Continent.
• The Euroleague boasted a cliffhanging thriller in Partizan Belgrade vs. Joventut Badalona. Badalona brought Harold Pressley (with averages of 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per EL game) and Rafael Jofresa, while the Black-and-Whites boasted local products Predrag Danilovic and Aleksanda Djordjevic. It was the latter who’d deliver the European championship to the storied franchise for its first and, to date, last such title ever.
Greece- and China-based outlets aplenty have been speculating about Panathinaikos club president Dimitris Giannakopoulos’ planned trip to China next week in conjunction with that team’s national team Olympic Games warmups. Names like Jianlian Yi and Sun Yue have been bandied about as possible additions to the PAO roster for 2012-13, but today Greece-based Sentragoal claims to have received the name of the Greens’ prospect: 2.16m (7’1”) Dejun Han, a.k.a. “Cyclops.”
The 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men tips off in Venezuela today at 11am local time (11.30am EST, 5.30pm CET) with the Russia-South Korea match. Of the 12 national teams competing, four are European. The last of BallinEurope’s previews of these qualifiers features an assessment of Lithuania.
Roster: Tomas Delininkaitis, Paulius Jankūnas, Mantas Kalnietis (Žalgiris Kaunas); Deividas Dulkys (Florida State University); Simas Jasaitis (Lokomotiv Kuban); Šarūnas Jasikevičius (Panathinaikos); Adas Juškevičius (BC Rūdupis); Rimantas Kaukėnas, Jonas Mačiulis (Montepaschi Siena); Antanas Kavaliauskas (VEF Rīga); Linas Kleiza (Toronto Raptors); Martynas Pocius (Real Madrid); Darius Songaila (CB Valladolid); Jonas Valančiūnas (Lietuvos Rytas); head coach Kęstutis Kemzūra (Team Lithuania)
How they got here: As hosts of Eurobasket 2011, expectations in hoops-mad Lithuania were high for the home side. Right from the pre-tournament friendlies, however, the roster appeared weird at best and utterly out of sync at worst.
Just one more day (or so, CET) until the heartily-named 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men tips off in Venezuela. BallinEurope continues with previews of the four European qualifiers with an assessment of Greece, a.k.a. Olympiacos and a bunch of other guys.
Roster: Vassilis Spanoulis, Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou, Kostas Sloukas, Evangelos Mantzaris (Olympiacos); Ioannis Bourousis, Antonis Fotsis (Olimpia Milano); Nikos Zisis (Montepaschi Siena); Nick Calathes, Kostas Kaimakoglou, Ian Vougioukas (Panathinaikos); Dimitrios Mavroeidis, Kostas Vasileiadis (Gescrap Bilbao Basket); and Michael Bramos (Gran Canaria); head coach Ilias Zouros (Anadolu Efes)
Notable no shows: Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos retired from national team play, returning that all-important starting point guard role to Vassilis Spanoulis – not a bad trade off this year … also out are Kostas Koufos (Denver Nuggets) and Sofoklis Schortsanitis (Maccabi Tel Aviv) due to injury.
How they got here: In Eurobasket 2011, a hot start saw Team Greece winning five of the first six games, only to drop three of the final five with losses to Russia, France and Lithuania in the placement game. In the penultimate match, however, Hellas put together its best game of the tournament in topping Serbia, 87-77, to earn a spot in these qualifiers.