Basketball World Cup of Beer: The Final – USA vs France +++ 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 +++

Money does not equal professionalism

The Belgrade derby ends in a 3-on-4 match-up and then an Istanbul derby doesn’t happen at all. These are supposed to be finals, the pinnacle of the season. Emmet Ryan writes on why, irrespective of individual fault, this makes all involved look bad.

It’s been one of those weeks (and a bit), the type we are far too familiar with in European basketball. Had the 3 on 4 last man standing match that was the finish to Game 1 of the Serbian finals between Crvena Zvezda and Partizan been the worst thing to happen this month, it would still have been a rough one. Instead the Turkish league has managed to one-up that situation with the wholly insane finish to its season.

Game 6 of the Turkish finals took a while to come to life, mostly because of how awful Fenerbahce were in the first quarter, but in the end Galatasaray’s victory had a pleasant dose of excitement to round out their impressive performance. The season would go down to a decider, well at least that was the plan. Unfortunately, and at the time of writing this hasn’t changed, there won’t be a Game 7. Galatasaray are boycotting the game over a series of charges they have levelled against the Turkish basketball authorities.

This column is not about the rights and wrongs of Gala’s protest, not least because I haven’t a clue as to what if any legitimacy they hold. If we focus on the single element, which is this boycott, we miss the problem. Game 7 of the Turkish finals isn’t the problem nor is the descent into madness of Game 1 in Serbia. The problem is that for all the progress made on the court in European basketball, we still have a putrid air of amateurism at some of the highest levels of the game.
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Group F: The knowns and the unknowns

The slate is clean for the Top 16. We’re breaking 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 after 14 rounds of action. We went through Group E yesterday, now it’s time to look at Group F.

Real Madrid
What we know: They are an offensive monster. Going 24-0 in all competitions to date, this is the best start enjoyed by any Real Madrid team ever.
What we want to know: Their weaknesses. Even a team this good has to have some but nobody’s come close to testing them yet.
What we won’t know: How they handle a low-scoring match-up.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv
What we know: They are so Maccabi. This team is business-like but stops well short of flashy. Yup, sounds like what we expect from this outfit every year.
What we want to know: How they stack up to RMB.
What we won’t know: Their ceiling. This is the weaker of the two groups and a 10-4 record is possible without causing any major shocks.

CSKA Moscow
What we know: They are flawed. Talented, yes, and en route to the playoffs but inconsistency has dogged this team when it was the one aspect Ettore Messina was expected to fix this year.
What we want to know: If they can settle on their best line-up.
What we won’t know: If any of this matters. In a flip from last year’s team, the ability to get hot in a hurry may be this side’s saving grace.

Galatasaray Liv Hospital
What we know: They are weaker than their record. All statistical measures outside the W-L column point to this team being in much worse health than the regular season record indicated. Over 14 games, that’ll be tough to mask.
What we want to know: If there’s a plan longer than half a season.
What we won’t know: See above.

Zalgiris Kaunas
What we know: They are survivors. No VTB League campaign, struggling in LKL, yet here they stand in the Top 16.
What we want to know: How they are going to balance their priorities.
What we won’t know: What the long-term future is.

Lokomotiv Kuban
What we know: They are seriously motivated to make an impact in Euroleague, as evidenced by a regular season where they silenced many doubters.
What we want to know: What was on their bulletin board to get them so fired up through the autumn.
What we won’t know: Where to buy a good beer in Krasnodar.

Partizan Belgrade
What we know: They will give one of the top three teams in this group a heart attack on their home court.
What we want to know: If they can play consistent enough to mount a real challenge for the last playoff spot.
Whzt we won’t know: If this is a renaissance or a blip.

FC Bayern
What we know: They are the most dangerous looking team from the Bundesliga to enter the Top 16 in a long time, which admittedly isn’t much of an achievement.
What we want to know: If they can capitalise on a soft group and get that last playoff spot.
What we won’t know: The date at which all of Europe should realise these guys ain’t playing anymore and a real power is emerging out of the Bundesliga.

Fearless prediction: Real to take top spot, Maccabi to squeeze CSKA for second, leaving the mother of all fights for fourth. Kuban look the best bet on paper but…this is a fearless prediction so nope. FC Bayern to steal it from the cookie jar.


Euroleague: Group A wins for Barcelona, CSKA, and Fenerbahce

Group A saw wins for the three favourites on Thursday night but in rather different styles. Barcelona’s woes from the free throw line saw them make hard work of Partizan, Fenerbahce won a a shootout with Budivelnik Kiew, while CSKA Moscow had to dig deep for a road win at Nanterre.

A dominant fourth quarter gave Fenerbahce Ulker a road win in Kiev on Thursday night. The home side stayed in the contest on the back of 62 points between the second and third quarters alone. This impressive streak on offence was fuelled by Janis Strelniks, 14 points and 5 assists, and Darius Lavrinovic, 21 points and 4 rebounds. The underdogs however weren’t able to contain the breadth of scoring options available to Zelijko Obradovic. Bojan Bogdanovic, 21 points and 4 rebounds, led Fener’s 7 scorers who reached double digits. Emir Preldzic chipped in with 14 points, 5 boards, and 7 assists, while Bo McCalebb had 11 points and 4 boards in a 102-84 win.
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Cibona Zagreb moved to 2-1, Cedevita stayed perfect, and Krka topped reigning ABA Liga champions Partizan in round three.

The biggest result of the weekend in the ABA was Krka’s 60-52 win over Partizan. The Slovenian outfit returned to the Adriatic league on the back of a four year dominant stretch in its domestic league and moved to 2-1 for the season by claiming a major scalp in round three. In a game where offence was, to put it kindly, below par it was Krka who delivered more consistently. Their 38.7 per cent shooting coupled with a 6-3 advantage from three point land was enough to overcome an awful 29.8 per cent night from the field for Partizan. Edo Muric had 17 points and 8 rebounds for Krka while Malcolm Ray Armstead contributed 13 points, 5 assists, and 5 boards. Joffrey Lauvergne had a double-double for Partizan, with 13 points and 12 rebounds, but the support and accuracy wasn’t around him to make it count.

That loss for Partizan means Cedevita is the lone unbeaten side in the ABA after just three rounds. Miro Bilan had 16 points and 5 rebounds, all on the offensive end, in a 77-63 win at Zadar. Jusif Nurkic chipped in 15 points and 4 boards while Nolan Smith had 16 points and four boards. Smith, the former Duke Blue Devil, is one of two players to reach the Final Four on Cedevita’s roster. Goran Suton, ex Michigan State, had a good night on the boards with 6 rebounds for the Zagreb club. Zadar leaned far too much on Ive Ivanov, who led the team in scoring (16), assists (4), and rebounds (4).

Krka’s win meant they continue to go in the opposite direction of Slovenia’s Euroleague club Union Olimpija. The Ljubljana outfit lost 60-58 at Siroki to drop to 0-3 and sit at the bottom of the ABA.

Dario Watch

It was a quiet enough outing for Dario Saric in round 3 but Cibona Zagreb still picked up the win with a convincing 87-63 victory over Szolnoki Olaj. Saric had 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists for Cibona in the win. Four players scored in double digits for the Zagreb team. Jerel Blassingame had 14 points and 9 dimes while Andrija Zizic had 15 points and 12 boards. Cibona got far more work done as a team on the offensive end with a 23-10 advantage overall in assists.


ABA Liga: We’re all talking about Dario Saric

There were plenty of interesting victories at the weekend in the first round of the Adriatic League (ABA Liga) but the player on everybody’s lips lost his game. No matter what happens in ABA Liga this season, all eyes arDario-Saric-Cibona-Zagreb-Radnickie on Dario Saric.

Dario Saric put in the type of display that will have NBA draftniks salivating in Cibona Zagreb’s 66-82 loss to Radnicki. Saric, who opted against declaring for last June’s draft to enter 2014′s more loaded class, had 17 points on 53.8 per cent shooting with 3 boards for his trouble too. Saric also had 3 turnovers in a display where he tried to be the meast when his side was clearly the least. Mouphatou Monrou had a huge day for Radnicki with 19 points off an 8 of 9 display from the field and he picked up 6 rebounds too. In all the victors had four players in double digits while an 8 point display in just 10 minutes meant Nikola Jevtovic was a valuable contributor from the bench. To save this column turning into being all about Saric every week, we’re going to include a Dario Watch at the end of each ABA Liga round-up from next week onwards.

After being utterly dominant in Slovenia over the past four season, Krka had a winning return to ABA action with a 60-57 win over Buducnost. Malcolm Armstead carried his team over the line with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Reigning champions Partizan got off to a winning start with a 67-56 win over Igokea. Leo Westermann had 18 points and 4 assists for the Belgrade side with Tarence Kinsey 15 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists. Bogdan Bogdanovic made his return to club action after impressing at EuroBasket with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 dimes.


Crvena Zvezda, whose performance in ABA Liga last season catapulted them into Euroleague, got off to a losing start despite showing solid balance. Siroki held on in a nail-biter to win 80-79 in the opening round. Boris Barac, with 25 points, and Domagoj Bosnjak, 17 points and 5 assists, carried the load for the victors. Elsewhere there were wins for Skopje over Union Olimpija 79-60, Zadar over Szolnoki 71-67, and Cedevita over Mega Vizura 72-62.

Round two kicks off on Tuesday night with three games with the remaining four on Wednesday. Saric is next in action with Cibona at Union Olimpija where both sides will be seeking their first wins of the season.


Euroleague Power Rankings: 2012-13 Opening Day Edition

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!

The favorites
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.

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How far can Red Star Belgrade go this season?

BallinEurope’s man in Serbia, Marko Savanovic, brings us another preview of an Adriatic League power: Today, Marko takes a look at Crvena Zvezda (a.k.a. Red Star Belgrade) to assess the team’s chances in 2012-13 after a sloppy 0-2 start and the quick sacking of coach Milivoje Lazic, plus offers an Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™…

“If Red Star wins the [Serbian] title, Serbia will be a better place.” You might think this is something we picked up from team fans, while queuing to get inside Belgrade’s Pionir Arena. But no: This statement came from no other than club president Nebojsa Covic.

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

Gaze into the crystal (basket)ball…

Glimpses into the possible Euro-flavoured future of several NBA teams will begin on Friday with the welcome return of the NBA Europe Live Tour and the Euroleague American Tour. What could inspire a Chicago Bulls fan to catch a Memphis Grizzlies preseason game against Real Madrid? The prospect of checking out Nikola Mirotic, of course!

A handful of rights-owned players will be suiting up to play on both sides of the Atlantic over the next eight days, but today BallinEurope takes a slightly wider view beyond these exciting-but-mostly-irrelevant dozen games. Below a look at five players – a bit of a future dream team, perhaps, though desperately seeking a monstrous big man – taken in recent NBA drafts and currently developing in Europe’s higher levels. And yes, there will be highlights.

Your five for the European present and NBA future, then…

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Many sharks in the sea: Adriatic League 2012-13 season starts

The 2012-13 Adriatic League season tipped off this weekend with all 14 teams playing their first games. BallinEurope contributor Marko Savkovic takes a look at two teams figuring to be fighting for a top spot in the ABA table come season’s end: Partizan Belgrade and Cedevita Zagreb.

It was about time! The 2012/2013 edition of the Adriatic League promises us tough competition, has many exciting prospects to showcase, and includes some interesting newcomers with the grand prize awaiting top three teams. Be there crisis or not, let’s play ball. In BallinEurope’s first coverage of the new season in the Adriatic, we concentrate on two of the top contenders, who played each other in the last year’s semifinals: Cedevita and Partizan.

It has been said over and over again, so don’t mind us repeating it: Cedevita is a brand of instant drink enjoyed in former Yugoslavian countries. Team Cedevita’s success is in many aspects instant as well, but it’s hardly enjoyed by its competitors. By finishing second last year, and especially by defeating Partizan along the way, the team from the Zagreb suburbs has become a red hot favorite with Maccabi Tel Aviv gone.

All the right ingredients seem to be in place. The team’s core is preserved, with Marino Bazdaric, Goran Suton, Miro Bilan and Marko Car kept on board. Arriving from Galatasaray, Luksa Andric should bring more versatility to the paint.

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