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 +++ Q&A with Alex Krstanovic on the Belgrade Trophy +++ Thomas Klepeisz shows you how to celebrate a winning bucket +++

FC Barcelona tops Real Madrid, 73-69, to take Spanish title; MVP Lorbek, Mickeal, Vazquez lead way

Congratulations this morning go out to FC Barcelona, winners of the fifth and final game in the Liga Endesa championship, 73-69, over Real Madrid. In yet another cliffhanger, Los Blancos “died with their boots on” as the official league writeup would have it, while the Blaugrana were led by Pete Mickeal (17 points, nine rebounds, 23 performance index rating), Frán Vazquez (16 points, eight boards, four blocked shots) and prospective San Antonio Spur/series MVP Erazem Lorbek (10 points, six rebounds).

Highlights and extrapolated game report follow.

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FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Stats, highlights heading into El Clasico game five

What is the Mickeal Difference?

Tomorrow night will see game five of a series that has lived up to its billing as another “El Clasico.” After dramatic moments aplenty (yes, there will be clips), Real Madrid will head to the Palau Blaugrana for a decisive showdown with longtime rivals FC Barcelona.

The folks over at Liga Endesa headquarters have crunched a few numbers, sprinkling the results with a dash of numerology, on the first four games of the series. Stat geeks out there may want to consider the following.

• The 81-Point Threshold and the 29 Rule
In this series, at least 81 has proven to win in this series; game one and four, Barcelona won 81-80 and 81-75, respectively. More compelling is the “29 Rule” in this series, i.e. the first team to 29 points wins the given match. It should be noted, however, that both Barcelona in game one and Real in game two would have to come back in the fourth quarter after getting overtaken at 29.

• The Navarro Factor
Once again, as goes Juan Carlos Navarro, so goes FC Barcelona. A marked contrast colors Navarro’s numbers when comparing the Barça wins to losses. One indication of defeat early on tomorrow night: Barcelona’s dependence of his three-point shooting. In the first three games, Barcelona went an uncharacteristically awful 18-of-69 (26%) as Navarro was just 6-of-18 – including 4-of-9 in the game one win. Game four? Barcelona went 10-of-20 while Juan Carlos did more facilitating and took only one shot from beyond the arc.

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Euroleague Final Four: The video preview

And this week … the Euroleague Final Four! To get things started, BallinEurope presents a roundup of highlight clips from the seasons-that-were of CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos.

(Wow, BiE wonders every time upon looking at that list just how the big league could have ended up with a more scintillating Final Four: You’ve got undisputed powerhouses in CSKA Moscow – the model example of how NBA refugees affected European basketball in 2011-12 – and FC Barcelona. You’ve got the defending champions with Hall of Fame coach and a nucleus of veterans on yet another title run. And you’ve got a compelling underdog story complete with the possibility of seeing the legendary Greek rivals meeting for a medal … couldn’t have written it better myself.)

First up, the favorites, namely, the big bad Red Army, 2011-12 edition. While Mikhail Prokhorov’s lot has been credited for the team’s relative resurgence at the beginning of the 2000s, CSKA Moscow has admirably continued its winning tradition after the billionaire’s jump to the New Jersey-cum-Brooklyn Nets – mostly through using the big-bucks tactics espoused by Prokhorov et al – and are poised to take a unique triple crown. Indeed, should CSKA prevail in the EL Final Four games and against BC Khimki for the Russian crown, the team will have amassed VTB, EL and PBL crowns in under two weeks of play.

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February Madness, Copa del Rey-style

“February Madness” begins this week in Europe, with a number of top domestic leagues hosting national cup tournaments; probably tops in pageantry and hype on The Continent is Spain’s Copa del Rey, a hoops bloodbath since 1984. BallinEurope this morning provides a few links, clips and whatnot in preparation for what they just had to call “96 horas de alta tensión.”

• First stop for all interested parties – and especially the Spanish-speakers among you – is the amazing 68-page Madrid ’11 Copa del Rey program guide; this is really just a swell production.

• The ACB is well-organized, Twitterily-speaking, as well. The league promises to tweet it up during the tournament and even have a hashtag (it’s #CopaACB) so that “No te pierdas ni un detalle de la Copa del Rey.”

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FC Barcelona: Anticipating Maccabi Tel Aviv clash with brief video review

Since BallinEurope has been shamefully derelict in his duties as high priest of the Church of Rubio this season, let’s run some FC Barcelona clips in preparation of the defending Euroleague champs’ incipient matchup against thus far the top 2010-11 EL team Maccabi Tel Aviv!

In Euroleague terms, Barça was last seen taking out BiE’s current no. 1 team on The Continent, Montepaschi Siena, in a 73-72 thriller.

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Euroleague Top 16 round: 10 must-see games (plus Fearless Predictions™)

Eliyahu's ready to go

With another week to kill before the Euroleague Top 16 round begins, BallinEurope is marking up the calendar to note must-see teevee for January to March, getting out the red pens and awaiting the following matchups.

January 19: Real Madrid vs. Partizan Belgrade

January 19: Efes Pilsen Istanbul vs. Montepaschi Siena. Wow, Group G is awesome. Seeded with perhaps the best from each position – no. 1 seed MPS, currently BiE’s top team in Europe; no. 2 Read Madrid, from whom we still haven’t seen the best work in 2010-11; no. 3 Efes Pilsen, inconsistent but talented enough to have taken out Union Olimpija plus Panathinaikos in Greece; and fourth-seed Partizan Belgrade (!), always a tough play in half the games. These opening-day games will already put pressure for the losers, and just imagine how tight this group instantly gets if both away teams win…

January 20: FC Barcelona vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv. Of all the sweet matchups in Top 16 week one, the league has chosen this as “Game of the Week” – and why not? Playing shorthanded for most of the 2010-11 season (they’ll still be without BiE fave Pete Mickael in this game, too, dammit), Barça is nevertheless 19-6 in ACB and Euroleague play after the Saturday win over fellow Euroleaguers Unicaja Malaga. (Video below.)

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Pete Mickeal puts on a show as Barcelona tops Cajasol, 75-67

Once again in 2010, FC Barcelona found itself looking to right matters against an ACB opponent after a shocking loss. Two days after dropping a Euroleague game to Fenerbahçe Ülker in Palau Blaugrana (where they went undefeated in EL play in 2009-10), Barça looked fit to go beat up on mid-table Cajasol.

While certainly never dominating the home team, Barcelona was willed to victory through the absolutely dominant play of Pete Mickeal, who went for 23 points on 10-of-11 overall shooting plus six rebounds, one hee-yooge block of an Earl Calloway “shot,” and a player index rating of 30.

Game highlights run below the break. For Barcelona, it’s mostly Mickeal’s personal highlight clip with (naturally) a couple of sweet plays contributed by The Human YouTube Clip.

At 5-1, Barcelona remains the top team in the ACB standings.

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Euroleague week three talking points, part II

Five Euroleague games are to be played tonight, each bearing a number of scintillating storylines – well, okay, maybe not the nearly history-bereft Cholet-Lietuvos Rytas matchup, but you get the point.

For your perusal, then, a few factoids, bites of information and videos in the leadup to tonight’s action. Enjoy the games, and best of luck to Union Olimpija; BiE thinks they’re gonna need it.

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El Meridiano shocks Real Madrid, 78-67: Reason for panic?

It may be slightly foolish-bordering-on-irresponsible to lament the woes of a traditional powerhouse that’s currently 5-2 overall and (at least for a few more hours) leads the ACB table, but hey. What’s up with Real Madrid?

In Tomic they trust

Yesterday saw Ettore Messina’s 4-0 Madrid visit 0-4 El Meridiano Alicante, perhaps too expectantly thinking “win.” Knee-jerk reactions from yours truly are below – but first to the video clip and translated official ACB writeup!

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Sixty-eight Fearless Predictions™ for 2010-11 Euroleague season

Easy choice for Comeback Player of the Year

With the EL tipoff game tonight, BallinEurope is feeling devotion … not to mention a rush of Fearless Predictions™ coming on. How crazy can BiE get? You be the judge; here are 68 prognostications on all things Euroleague which you may [laugh uproariously about] ponder.

Enjoy the season, everyone! (And sign up for the BallinEurope Invitational League for your fantasy season. The password is “matjazsmodis” and remember: You’ll at least beat out BiE’s pathetic squads…) Fearless Predictions™ follow…

1. Olympiacos defends home court in tonight’s opener in a squeaker over Real Madrid.

2-17. The Euroleague Top 16 will be: Maccabi Tel Aviv, Caja Laboral Baskonia, Partizan Belgrade, Zalgiris Kaunas, Olympiacos, Unicaja Malaga, Real Madrid, Brose Baskets Bamberg, FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena, Cibona Zagreb, Fenerbahce Ülker, CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos, Efes Pilsen and Union Olimpija.

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