Mozgov, Kirilenko star in Russian win over Valanciunas and Lithuania, 91-76

In a friendly match delayed a bit thanks to the visiting team getting caught in Moscow traffic, Team Russia defended home court against Lithuania, 91-76, in a warmup for Eurobasket 2011 – and this without former Euroleague defensive player of the year Viktor Khryapa.

Those most interested in seeing past, current or future NBA stars were surely pleased with the individual results of Russia’s leading scorers Timofey Mozgov (18 points) and Andrei Kirilenko (17 points, seven rebounds) and Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas (chasing up his 26-point show against Czech Republic on Saturday night with a 14-point, seven-board effort) and Darius Songaila (12 points). Paulius Jankunas led Lithuania with 15 points.

David Blatt had has side playing at a surprisingly quick tempo in addition to the typical high-pressure, swarming defense, and the results were scary as Russia led throughout while Mozgov and Kirilenko were only stopped in incessant penetration by trips to the line: The pair combined for 16-of-22 free throw shooting.

Lithuania takes on Spain in Madrid on Saturday.

Video of the entire Russia-Lithuania game runs below.

Continue Reading…


Christmas greetings, the Zalgiris Kaunas way

For Christmas this year, Žalgiris Kaunas is offering Christmas greetings in the best fashion Lithuanians know: With basketball, electronic card-style.

Head on over to the official website by clicking here to a page that merrily welcomes you with “Žalgiris Kaunas welcomes the approaching winter holidays and gives good cheer!” (“Kauno Žalgiris sveikina su artéjančiomis Žiemos shventémis ir dovanoja geras emocijas!”)

Scroll down a bit to see the entire animated Žalgiris squad – all four Americans, two Slovenians and nine Lithuanians – making this celebration truly international (or at least regionally internationally). Left to right are Tomas Delininkaitis, Mantas Klanietis, Aleksandar Capin, DeJuan Collins, Dainius Salenga, Marcus Brown, Paulius Jankunas, Martynas “Air” Pocius, Mirza Begic, Travis Watson, Tadas Klimavicus, Mindaugas Kuzinskas, Omar Samhan, and Arturas Milaknis.

Continue Reading…


Hungary’s first NBA player/current Phoenix Suns scout Kornel David visits Lithuania

The Pride of Hungarian Basketball was recently spotted in Lithuania, where he was doing scouting work for the Phoenix Suns. Former Žalgiris Kaunas big man/Hungary’s first-ever NBA player Kornél Dávid sat in on the Caja Laboral Baskonia game in Kaunas last week and afterwards granted an interview to Žalgiris radio.

(Naturally, Dávid doesn’t give name names or spill any Suns secrets, but BiE believes Phoenix must be taking a gander on Martynas “Air” Pocius, a potentially brilliant fit for the system there…)

The native of Nagykanizsa (for those not in-the-know, for some reason this town of about 50,000 produces disproportionate numbers of athletes) came up through the Hungarian League ranks with Honvéd Budapest where he’d ultimately help the top club top the championship in 1994. Dávid moved on to Albacomp Székesfehérvár and led that team to the 1997-98 title.

So began Dávid’s boomeranging between Hungary and the United States, as he played out a number of short-term contracts between 1997 and 2001 with the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors (inevitably) and Detroit Pistons.

In 2001, the Hungarian was back in Europe for good, first getting with IC Strasbourg in that year. His 2002-03 season with Žalgiris, which delivered an LKL championship, won Dávid the esteem of Greens fans forever; finally, he spent the remainder of his playing days in the ACB with Baskonia and Gran Canaria.

Below runs a version of the interview. An audio recording is available here, though unfortunately for Anglophones the English-language speech is overdubbed with Lithuanian. (It’s kinda too bad they used English; surely a running Lithuanian-Hungarian interpretation would be one of the great intellectual feats in recent history.)

Continue Reading…


Turnover City: Solving the mystery of Zalgiris Kaunas

“Do[es] all the little things with surprising grace and feeling – and an iron will to win.” – characterization of prototypical Lithuanian player in FreeDarko’s The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac

BallinEurope’s latest obsession started with a tweet. Specifically, a message from BiE’s main Lithuanian, Martynas “Air” Pocius. Pocius retweeted a fascinating stat about his Žalgiris Kaunas dug up by In The Game Basket, namely:

Žalgiris turns the ball over every four possessions in the Euroleague. Still they’re 4:3 and one win away from Top16.

Now we can make that 5-3 and still one win or one Baskonia loss away from the Top 16 after another typical 2010 Žalgiris outing against Asseco Prokom last week. In that match, the Lithuanian side eked out a 72-69 away win in Poland, though the home side had slight advantages in shooting (admittedly poor on both ends, as Prokom edged with 32% overall against Kaunas’ 30.5%) and rebounding.

And, of course, there were these statistics for Žalgiris: 59 possessions, 15 turnovers. Or 25.4%.

What gives? Join BiE on a romp through the numbers … and a lesson in that “will to win” principle expressed in real on-court terms.

Continue Reading…


BallinEurope’s 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings 5.0

Right. It’s time for the final edition – pending Nenad Krstic’s prospective suspension by FIBA – of BallinEurope’s 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings. Now that Team USA has had it out with Spain and Greece, we can see the picture a little more clearly heading into the tournament tipping off Saturday. There’s a clear upper tier of USA, Spain, Greece and Argentina who can start thinking “podium” now; Serbia might also be included, again pending the Krstic decision.

But while the cream again rises to the top, question marks, dark horses and possible upsets well remain. Who doesn’t like how Germany’s rounding into shape? Or the Whole-Greater-Than-Sum-Of-Parts aspect to Team Lithuania? Or (for those paying attention) the possibilities of Lebanon…?

Without further ado, here’s BiE’s measurement of the trends going into the weekend. Enjoy (well, except for you Canada fans)!

1. (↑) USA. U-S-A! U-S-A! But seriously, the Red-White-and-Blues’ fans have got to be loving the performance of their guys last night against Greece, dominating all facets of the game – especially in the halfcourt, where BiE reckoned they’d be especially vulnerable. Good win for the U.S. Even if Hellas was coming without Ioannis Bourousis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Even if Kostas Tsartsaris exposed Lamar Odom and the rest as inadequate to play underneath against the bigger teams. Even if BiE still believes Spain will give them game in the semi-finals … is there a position 1½?

Continue Reading…


BallinEurope’s 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings 4.0

BiE was waiting for a result from last night’s Brazil-Argentina game in Spain before preparing this week’s edition of the official BallinEurope 2010 FIBA World Championship Power Rankings.

Now that those numbers are in, the long-awaited list may be unveiled; who’s hot and who’s not? In BiE’s opinion, readings off the lay lines of the ever ether-shifting momentum (plus YouTube videos!) look something like the following.

1. (↔) Spain. It’s been a good news/bad news deal for Spain this week. The bad news is that Team España is finally experiencing a few injury woes, a situation nearly every legitimate qualifier except the USA has faced in July/August: Jorge Garbajosa and Alex Mumbru did not practice yesterday, while Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez will sit tonight against Brazil. The good news: the slightly new-look Spain brought in Sergio Llull and returned Juan Carlos Navarro on Sunday against Argentina to take control of the second half and win, 83-76, in Logroño. Nice arsenal Sergio Scariolo has there.

2. (↑) USA. All right, so BiE isn’t *quite* ready to leap up and start chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” just yet, but maybe Coach K’s run-run-run philosophy can work – at least against lesser-lights like France and China. Maybe former University of New Mexico Lobo Danny Granger can be a go-to guy for the Red-White-and-Blues. Maybe things are as simple as Andre Iguodala’s summation of “We’re the fastest team in the world, so we’ve got to use that to our advantage.” Maybe Lamar Odom can play center against the likes of Spain and Turkey … wait a second, losing some perspective here…

Continue Reading…


Fantasy tips from the Euroleague boss: Final 16, week two

Pekovic: The Boss buddy

Pekovic: The Boss' buddy

Hello everybody, this is once again Javier Gancedo, as always from Euroleague Basketball. Well, it was not a bad fantasy week for my team, Meet The Boss. I scored 166.2 points, moved up into the Top 600 overall, was the best team this week in the BallinEurope Invitational Challenge private league and now rank fifth in the global standings. Things could be worse, after all.

This will be an outstanding Top 16 week. First of all, we have Maccabi hosting Madrid, which is a hell of a game by all means; this marks the 40th showdown between both teams in European club competitions (all in the Euroleague, unless I’m mistaken). Then we have Zalgiris-CSKA and Partizan-Regal FCB with strong basketball atmospheres: Big games all over the continent! In other words, if you are a Euroleague fan, it’s time to sit back and enjoy an outstanding basketball week. Of course, if you are a diehard fan of any of the 16 teams alive in the competition, you won’t sit back and relax. It’s all part of what’s known around here as DEVOTION.

Continue Reading…


Khimki win thriller, U.S. gov’t looks into Olympiacos, Jeremy Tyler

Another night of great Euroleague action featured a real thrilling victory for debutant Khimki in overtime against Real Madrid. But there was more going on as the U.S. government is looking intensely at Greek powers Olympiacos and an update has been found on American 18-year-old Jeremy Tyler at Maccabi Haifa. Continue Reading…


Betting on basketball: Khimki, anyone…?

If you dig wagering on – or even contemplating wagering on – underdogs and longshots, Euroleague/ sponsor Sporting Bet may have the proposition for you: It’s called the “Russia Superleague A 2009-10 Outright Winner.”

Continue Reading…


First thoughts on first Euroleague outright winner odds

Someone over at online sportsbook and official Euroleague sponsor doubtlessly cannot wait for the 2009-10 season to begin, though we’re still, as the handy countdown timer reminds, 67 days, 10.5 hours and change away from opening day. Already posted are odds for the upcoming season and whoo boy, is it some fodder for discussion, with shockers and controversial picks throughout.

The table is as follows.

Continue Reading…