Technically it wasn’t a buzzer beater. Practically, who cares? Austria pulled off a big upset win over Poland tonight in the EuroBasket 2015 qualifers. Considering Austria hadn’t exactly impressed to date in qualification, this is a huge result as they are now tied with Poland and Germany at 2-1 in Group C.
It was another busy night in the second qualifying round for EuroBasket 2015, with Russia dropping their second straight while Germany and the Czech Republic bounced back.
In case you need a re-cap on what the teams involved need to do to qualify, the seven group winners progress to EuroBasket 2015 along with the top six second-placed teams from the seven qualifying groups.
As reported earlier on BiE, Bosnia and Herzegovina won their opening game in Group A 80-67 against Great Britain in London, on the back of 25 points from Mirza Teletovic of the Brooklyn Nets. The defeat leaves Team GB at 0-2 and in need of help to stay in the competition. Bosnia will host Iceland on Sunday.
Group B saw Bulgaria push Montenegro to overtime before eventually succumbing in overtime 70-64. The win, a second in OT in as many games, leaves Montenegro top of the group at 2-0. Israel bounced back from their loss to the group leaders with a 66-57 win over the Netherlands in Groningen. Guy Pnini was top scorer for Israel with 16 while Omri Casspi, most recently waived by the New Orleans Pelicans, had 9 points and 8 rebounds. That result leaves both sides on 1-1, with Israel holding second on tie-breakers.
Turkey locked up the fourth and final spot in today’s FIBA Europe Under 18s men’s semi finals with a convincing 78-53 win over Latvia. After a tight first quarter, the hosts pulled away in Konya. Furkan Korkmaz led Turkey in scoring with 22 points and 6 rebounds, as Turkey took a commanding 14 point lead into the final frame before closing the game out with a 19-8 fourth quarter.
In the classification games there was finally some good news for England who recorded their first win of the tournament, beating Poland 83-74. Aaron Menzies had 17 points and 15 boards while Jules Dang Akodo socred 18 points, had 8 assists, and 4 steals, as England kept their survival hopes alive. Poland are relegated to Division B as a result of this defeat while England must win one more game on Sunday, against either Czech Republic or Belgium to survive.
Finally, in Division B BiE’s home team Ireland lost their final game of the tournament 64-63 to Switzerland to finish in 22nd and last place. The semi-finals of the tournament take place later today in Sofia with Ukraine taking on Finland and Sweden playing Germany.
The first stage is in the books and it will be all but stricken from our memory by around 14.29 CET. Before we cast it off to history, BiE’s rounded up our favourite plays from the opening stage.
Oh man Janis Blums. You’re the best.
Because it’s never too early to start looking ahead to Eurobasket 2013 – wait a minute, there’s only 11 weeks left until tipoff? Definitely not too early, then, to take a look at the formative rosters for the big Continental tournament.
While only a few national teams (Croatia and Lithuania among them) have released preliminary rosters at this point and a few major leagues still playing (Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, etc.), we can at least deduce which NBA players will or won’t be playing. After all, the rosters of 93.3% of NBA teams have finished their 2012-13 season – and the Miami Heat have no Europeans!
Below is a rundown of each team and the status of their potential NBA players. A few high-profile draft choices and rights-owned guys expected to jump over soon are also peppered in, along with links to appropriate sources. If you find/hear of anything relevant to the list, please comment below.
And we’ll do this group by group…
Belgium – no current NBA players
France – Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards) is out for ’13 but hints he’ll be back in the future.
Ten days ago, based on a L’Equipe report, website Catch-and-Shoot described Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)’ Eurobasket status as *très incertain*, and after another punishing NBA season seems unlikely.
No official word on Nicolas Batum (Portland), though the Trail Blazers reportedly be “watching Batum’s injury” this offseason. Perhaps some discouragement is forthcoming…?
France-based media outlet Figaro reported back in May that Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers) and Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers) would play; this may have been speculation based on prior results, but Turiaf’s presence on Les Blues for this tournament has been on coach Collet’s mind for a while.
Friday saw the NBA official website launch a new feature on its pages devoted to the D League. The new “D-League Alumni Spotlight” page currently sports six highlight videos featuring current-day NBA players who came into the big league the hard way. BallinEurope was pleased to see the Phoenix Suns’ Marcin Gortat among the half-dozen.
Though Gortat had been making a name for himself in his home country, Germany and Euroleague ball by the time he was ready to join the Orlando Magic at 23 years old in 2007, team execs figured The Polish Hammer needed some polish and/or would go woefully underused behind Dwight Howard. What followed was a brief stint with the now-defunct Anaheim Arsenal; the Alumni Spotlight video captures some rarely-seen footage of Gortat from ’07.
No embeds for the highlight clip are yet available, so you’ll have to check out the video through the NBA site. As we await a future Alumni clip featuring the Rio Grande Valley Vipers/Houston Rockets’ Donatas Motiejunas, here’s something else for you: Gortat’s game of 2012-13, a 23-point, seven-block display against the Charlotte Bobcats…
The easy choice for the European basketball fan would of course be Gonzaga. With a realistic shot at winning the whole enchilada and having perfected that up-tempo style for which this basketball program has become known, why not get on the bandwagon? After a topsy-turvy season during which it felt like a new no. 1 topped polls weekly, the Bulldogs finally emerged atop the ratings, only to see that ranking immediately erased thanks to bracket-building.
Of course, one could eliminate the Zags from contention for your Tournament-time devotion on a technicality. Guy Landry Edi’s hometown according to the NCAA and media sources is Paris, France. However, serious followers of FIBA ball will recall that, after playing with Team France in the U16s, he then suited up – thus changed his eligible nationality in FIBA terms – for Côte d’Ivoire in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (and subsequently the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship).
So could it be that Edi is finally worn down? Or, put another way, what happened to this guy in 2013? Since the New Year’s Eve game at Oklahoma State, Edi has totaled nearly as many personal fouls (11) as points (16, including seven in the Seniors Day Game blowout against Portland). Heck, he hasn’t scored a point since January 24, since going 0-for-13.
BiE wonders if we’ll ever see this player again (and thinks, yeah, maybe in Pro A next season):
Fans of international ball will be pleased to note the distinct foreign accent in the 2013 NCAA Tournament: 47 of the 60 sides with spots clinched in the competition list non-U.S. players on the roster. And while Canadians and Australians (including three on Albany and two with Luc Longley’s alma mater the University of New Mexico) lead the bunch, 18 European players remain on tourney team rosters.
Below runs a brief look at the first half of Europe’s representatives in the big bracket; with the other nine set to play for one of three tournament teams, BallinEurope will pay particular attention to these guys in an upcoming article.
First up: The two guys listed on rosters who will not see action. Notre Dame’s Eric Katenda (France) announced this summer that he was ready to get onto the court for the Fighting Irish after suffering a freakish potentially career-ending eye injury while still officially a recruit. Unfortunately, this comeback story has only a bittersweet ending thus far: While coach Mike Brey has stated that Katenda’s scholarship will be honored, the Frenchman did not suit up for the team this season.
Taking a look at this year’s roundup, we note that 53 Europeans have been named to NBA clubs’ 15-man roster, just beating the pace of the 52 listed in 2010-11. (BiE didn’t take the tally for last season because, you know, things were kinda confusing during the lockout and all…)
And quite a few teams have seriously European-tinted rosters: Five teams go into the 2012-13 NBA season with four Continental players – and of these 20 players, perhaps only Sasha Pavlovic and Evan Fournier are marginalized at the lower end of the 15-man rosters. If one includes Ty Lawson as an honorary Lithuanian (for at least one more season), the Denver Nuggets could put an all-Euro squad on the floor with Lawson heading up an admittedly odd lineup of Fournier, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov.
The team-by-team breakdown goes as follows.
While so much attention is paid to the upcoming Olympics and warm-up games, a number of European players have quietly gone about their business in the NBA Summer Leagues in Vegas and Orlando. BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, takes a look at an extended roster’s worth of European ballers’ performances in the Orlando and Las Vegas summer games.
Alexis Ajinca, San Antonia Spurs (2.8 ppg, 50% FG, 2.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg in four Las Vegas games)
Ajinca is in a similar position to Ryan Richards: Both played summer league for the Spurs and turned in eerily similar numbers. However, Alexis did manage to hit at least 50% of his shots while also being a slight factor on defence (0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks) in his very low 10 minutes per game. Ajinca’s hopes for an NBA spot, like Richards’, look like a long shot and I expect him to return to France for the coming season. Although a tall and talented big man always seem to earn a roster spot, Alexis just has not developed the way teams hoped he would when he was selected 20th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.