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Sep
0

Pooh Jeter, Ukrainian hero

Ukraine’s hopes in EuroBasket 2013 hung on how Pooh Jeter played. When it mattered most, the borsht lover delivered.

Let’s compare two players at EuroBasket 2013.

Player A: 7.25 PPG, 2.75 APG, 2.25 RPG

Player B: 18 PPG, 5 APG, 4.2 RPG.

Unless you didn’t read the title of this column you’ll have guessed that both players are Eugene ‘Pooh’ Jeter. Player A is Jeter’s worst four games in the tournament. Player B is his best six. Both samples are tiny but within them lies the story.

Just like Bo McCalebb’s amazing run with Macedonia in 2011, a nation’s hopes and dreams rested on the shoulders of an import guard. Like McCalebb, Jeter sees Ukraine as more than just a route to a European passport. He has embraced the national team and played his heart out for his adopted home. It’s quite an evolution for the former Portland Pilot.

Jeter never tasted success in NCAA ball. No trips to the big dance or even the NIT. He’s bounced around Europe and China, finding work. Sometimes with big teams, sometimes not so much. It’s the connection he made with BC Kyiv during his career that has brought him to this new height. As Flinder Boyd said in his great column on McCalebb, it’s easy for an American to just take the passport and phone it in with his new national team. It’s entirely on the player if they decide to do something with it.

That’s what we saw from Jeter in EuroBasket 2013. He’s far from the perfect guard but when he is on, Pooh has the ability to dominate. After a quiet start to the tournament he exploded against Germany and France. In stage two it was Jeter who came up big again with 20 points in an upset of Serbia. It was that result that, eventually, put Ukraine into the quarter finals.

Jeter’s off days have made his big outing all the more extraordinary. Latvia shut him down, Great Britain’s rag-tag line-up limited him. When Jeter’s game was off, Ukraine were lost. Jeter didn’t have good days and bad days. He had everything and nothing days. On Friday Jeter didn’t just bring the solo show, he brought the best out of those around him.

Facing Italy for a place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Jeter nailed 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting. The guard grabbed 4 boards, all on the defensive end, as Ukraine restricted their more noteworthy opponents to just 24 points in the second half. Around Jeter there were Ukrainian men standing up and believing. Sergii Gladyr, Maxim Korniyenko, and Viacheslav Kravtsov grabbed 6 rebounds each. Ihor Zaytsev added 5 more. Individually no Ukrainian could deliver on Jeter’s level, collectively they refused to lose. Having never made it passed the first stage of EuroBasket before, Ukraine will finish at worst sixth this year. Pooh Jeter will finally go to the big dance only it won’t be in March. Next autumn in Spain, he’s going to carry his new home’s hopes once again.

Sep
0

EuroBasket: Croatia beats Ukraine 84-72 to reach semi finals

Croatia progressed to the semi finals of EuroBasket for the first time since 1995 and secured their spot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in the process with victory over Ukraine on Thursday.

The game started off with plenty of scoring but with neither side able to open a gap. The first quarter finished 22-22 and it was still tit for tat in the early going of the second before Croatia brought the pain. In the clash of import guards it was Dontaye Draper who proved his worth in the first half as the Real Madrid man spurred a push for the front. It led to some big offence for Croatia and they stuffed Ukraine repeatedly at the other end with their zone press. Pooh Jeter, who has put in some memorable performances in Slovenia, couldn’t get anything going. Croatia stretched it out and pushed into a 51-35 lead at the break.

It simply wouldn’t be a Croatia game at this tournament without a little cause for concern. Sure enough Ukraine came back in the third quarter and cut the deficit slowly. Drawing it down to single digits briefly, Mike Fratello’s charges gave Croatia pause for thought. Ukraine however couldn’t get closer than 9 points. Jeter to his credit fought hard on offence, while Draper had his measure early it was Ukraine’s talisman who came to the fore as the game wore on. He was but one man.

Croatia had options and they used all of them. Krunoslav Simon led all scorers with 23, Bojan Bogdanovic and Damir Markota supported him well. Roko Ukic created, scored, and led his team in rebounds. Draper had 6 assists and 4 steals. Viacheslav Kravtsov was the only man who could support Jeter’s offensive effort but his team’s 17 turnovers and horrible shooting from outside left them out of the race. All of this in spite of a valiant effort on the boards. Croatia were smarter, more accurate, and knew when to hurt Ukraine. This was business like.

Croatia can now look forward to the medal round, with the business of qualifying for Spain next year taken care of. They face the winner of Lithuania and Italy who play later on Thursday. For Ukraine it’s a case of win one and you’re in. They already have their best ever finish at EuroBasket guaranteed but if they can win one more game they will qualify for the World Cup. First up they face the loser of Lithuania and Italy. If they win, they are in. If not, they will have one more shot against a reeling Serbia.

Apr
4

*Can* white men jump? Ratiopharm Ulm takes respite from Bundesliga race to test age-old axiom

Gunther: Can he or can't he?

Gunther: Can he or can’t he?

BallinEurope’s not exactly sure whose inspiration the below-embedded clip starring three Ratiopharm Ulm studs was or why Per Günther agreed to serve as guinea pig to test the classic punchline/sound bite of basketball subculture, namely “white men can’t jump.” (Or if you prefer, “Weiße Jungs bringens nicht” for appropriate local flavor. Completely irrelevant side note: In Hungarian, the Harrelson/Snipes/Rosie Perez epic is entitled “Zsákolj, ha tudsz!” or literally “Dunk if you can!”)

“Du willst Per Günther dunken sehen?” (or “Will you/we see Per Günther dunk?”) is a 68-second clip featuring Allan Ray and Pooh Jeter bringing the trash talk and the 185cm (6’1”) point guard’s strong willingness to jam.

Poor Per. And yet there’s a method to the seeming madness of this method. The club has announced that, should the Ratiopharm Ulm Facebook page receive 20,000 fans (could they mean “likes”?), Herr Günther promises to successfully dunk it through. Though perhaps he should recall what happened directly after ol’ Billy Hoyle pulled off the slam in a guaranteed victory…

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Apr
0

Curtis Stinson, formerly of Split, Aris, wins D-League MVP: What does it mean?

The tweet from Draft Express rang out at 4.30am CET and posed quite the complex question. To wit: “What does Curtis Stinson – a guy no team in the NBA or Europe has any interest in – winning MVP of the D-League, say about the D-League?

Such consternation clearly comes from one with an encyclopedic memory, because even for hoops diehards outside of Iowa, the man’s name will mostly elicit an answer of “huh?”

After writing his name throughout the Iowa State Cyclones record book, Stinson went undrafted in 2006 and could not stick with the Golden State Warriors after playing summer league ball with them. And so Stinson took a route familiar to many such players post-NCAA: He sought a job in Europe.

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Oct
5

The Spanish league explained: Part one

The quality of a national league here in Europe is not given by the value of top teams – every league has a number of top teams – but is more appropriately determined by how good the medium-to-low range clubs are.

Spain’s are good like no others are: This is why ACB is today the most important league on The Continent; even more important is the evident superiority when we talk about basketball houses, social involvement, and financial investment. Oh, and don’t forget the Spanish national team is European Champions, World Champions and Beijing Olympics runners-up. Dear sirs and madames, here it is, the giant ACB.

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Sep
0

Best of the (basketball) net: Double-sized two-week edition

The dream is alive (photo courtesy SadFans.com)

The dream is alive (photo courtesy SadFans.com)

Right. Because this column did not appear last weekend due to the tsunami of Eurobasket 2009 games, this week’s Best of The (Basketball) Net includes good stuff still enjoyable and written that long, long, 14 days ago in some cases. Enjoy!

The most discussed basketball event of the off-season – besides Dude Perfect and The Shot, that is – is without question the Mikhail Prokhorov-in-Brooklyn story. After first denying any such interest in buying the now-New Jersey Nets back in August, the news soon slowly leaked out that a crisp $1 bill from Prokhorov would get him majority ownership in the NBA franchise in exchange for investment in the swell new stadium in Brooklyn.

This prompted Prokhorov to craft a manifesto of sorts, proclaiming the significance of this acquisition and hinting at a few future plans. One reaction was immediate and surely universal: “Really? Mikhail Prokhorov uses *Live Journal*?”

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Sep
0

Guma Aguiar joins Hapoel Jerusalem, promises cash influx

Typically, the acquisitions of note in this game are made in the front office, not *for* the front office; the most newsworthy transaction in Israel reported yesterday may have been Hapoel Jerusalem’s addition of Guma Aguiar as the team’s new main sponsor. Aguiar also recently became a sponsor of Beitar Jerusalem football club as well, investing over $4 million in that program.

Hapoel Jerusalem’s official website quotes mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat proclaiming that “Guma did not come to buy the group, but to build it.” How will this be done? According to Hapoel Jerusalem club chairman Danny Klein, “We made an agreement that every shekel the organization brings in Guma will match.” Klein went on to state that more free agents would be pursued by his club and deep-pocketed Guma.

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