Rubio out ‘til 2012-13; options and outlook for Team Spain, Minnesota Timberwolves [Updated]

A moment of silence, please, in memory of Ricky Rubio’s 2011-12 season.

After Rubio suffered an injury in Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves fans held their collective breath, and the Human YouTube Highlight Clip got another video added to his virtual collection – one that La Pistola certainly never wanted to see.

Yesterday, the team was forced to announce that Rubio in fact had torn his left ACL, an injury that ends his NBA season with a surprising Timberwolves side who’d gotten as high as no. 8 in the Western Conference. Worse yet for international hoops fans, Rubio will miss the entire 2012 Olympic Games, a bit of blow to Team Spain.

National team head coach Sergio Scariolo was quoted on Saturday morning as stating that “I woke up to the bad news this morning, although there remains the slight hope that it isn’t too serious.” Of course, it ultimately was.

Spain-based website Te Interesa contemplates Sergio Scariolo’s moves for the Olympics, with Jose Calderon suddenly thrust from a platoon role to full-time starter. The website also reckons that Real Madrid’s Sergio Llull might be shifted to the no. 2 spot, while Team Spain will certainly have to deemphasize the playmaker role – the latter of which BiE figures is a strategy tantamount to death in international ‘ball.

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EuroBasket 2011: Notes, quotes, clips and Fearless Predictions™ for France vs. Spain

Hard to believe it’s almost over … after 19 days of intense basketball competition, the 2011 EuroBasket championship game features a matchup at least a few — including BallinEurope’s U.K. guy Sam Chadwick; props! — had forecast as the outcome. Spain seeks to defend its title against a star-laden France playing in its first-ever title match. (Though France has bagged one silver medal in this tournament, this came in the very strange 1949 edition of the tournament, in which no knockout stage was held.)

BallinEurope runs some notes and posts some clips in preparation for tonight’s match; for Official Fearless Predictions™ on this one and the bronze-medal game between FYR Macedonia and Russia, scroll all the way to the bottom.

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Greatest of all-time: Yugoslavia or Spain?

An interesting exchange of tweets went down last Friday (yes, minus points for untimeliness, but on another job BallinEurope thought deep into the matter all weekend) between HoopsHype/ESPN Deportes writer Jorge Sierra and Team Australia/Milwaukee Bucks big man Andrew Bogut.

Things started innocuously enough, with Sierra plugging a Spanish-language piece he’d written for Deportes: “An article I penned about Pau Gasol’s Spain potentially being the best non-American team ever,” the HoopsHype tweet read.

To which Bogut shot back with, “@hoopshype Yugoslavia of the late 80s might disagree.”

Retorted the ‘Hype: “@AndrewMBogut Gasol has a better record with Spain (2003-2011) than Petrovic with Yugoslavia (1984-1990).

And finally the exchange ended with Bogut’s terse tweeting of “@hoopshype didn’t say Petro. Said teams. Petro, Divac, Kukoc, Radja etc. I know who i’d take…

It’s an interesting debate, particularly for those who remember actually seeing Drazen and the guys play in international competition. (Bogut was four years old in 1988 – November 1988 – and there’s no telling on Sierra. BiE was … well, let’s just say “old enough to have seen Team Yugoslavia.”) In fact, BallinEurope took on a similar subject a while back and decided that the post-communist Team Yugoslavia of 2001-02 captained by aging Vlade Divac was superior to any Spanish side since the decade turned – but that’s just one opinion…

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Which team has the most followers on Twitter and Facebook…?

It was only a matter of time before someone came up with this, BallinEurope supposes, and could be an interesting way to mobilize European fan bases this summer. An outfit called Coyle Media is now tracking the performance of professional sports teams and organizations on social networking media Facebook and Twitter pages.

The “Sports Fan Graph” lists about 250 organizations in nine sports, sortable by sport or overall, and simply updates the numbers daily. In basketball, the leader on the board is naturally the NBA (though BiE notes the site is not yet tracking Euroleague Basketball or FIBA follows) with nearly 5 million followers to its credit.

After that, well, things get interesting. Would you believe, for example, that the Purdue Boilermakers basketball team has more followers than nine NBA teams? They’re even out-Facebooking the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat! And what does it mean to say that the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics have a million followers on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, but are completely tanking (relatively) on the other ‘page?

The real eye-popper of the lot, though, is that pair of European teams sneaking into the Sports Fan Graph basketball top 35. Aaaaaaaaaand … you guessed it: Those two teams would be Zalgiris Kaunas (no. 22 overall with 40,346 followers) and Lietuvos Rytas (no. 34 with 14,156).

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Six NBA, three ACB, nine Pro A players among Team France preliminary roster

Joakim'll be there

Vincent Collet has named 18 players to his Team France preliminary roster, including six from the NBA, three from Spain’s ACB and nine from French Pro A ball; in fact, five players played 2009-10 with Pro A championship finalists Le Mans and Cholet.

Representing the NBA is quite an impressive core – even without Tony Parker and Rony Turiaf – that includes Team France regulars Joakim Noah and Boris Diaw in addition to NBA up-and-comers Rodrigue Beaubois, Nicolas Batum, Alexis Ajinca and Ian Mahinmi.

All three of the past Pro A MVP winners are on the squad as well in Nando De Colo (2008), Alain Koffi (2009) and Ali Traore (2010); Traore is one of two Euroleaguers on the list, along with Orleans’ Ludovic Vaty. Prospective NBA draft pick Kévin Séraphin was also among the chosen, as were Valencia teammates Florent Pietrus and Nando De Colo.

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Welcome to the NBA, Rudy and Nicolas!

The NBA preseason has started. And while some NBA teams are heading to Europe and other European teams are playing in the United States, I had a particular look at the game of the Portland Trailblazers as they feature two of the most promising European talents making the big step to the United States this summer. I speak of Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez.

Both were still very calm when it comes to scoring, but showed that Europeans have made a big step in terms of athleticism. For Rudy, this is also an opportunity to again play with Sergio Rodriguez, reforming a combo that has worked marvelously well for the Spanish national team in previous years. So now it may be surprising to Portland fans to see what they can do together and they immediately showed their knowledge of each other’s game right from the start.

If you watch the video through to the end, you also see Nicolas Batum’s only basket in the game, a pretty nice one as Blazer’s Edge also reports. But what I liked most in the website’s reportage about Batum’s play was this part:

I believe in a post-game interview he told our own Ben Golliver that in homage to the great Darrell Dawkins who named all of his slams, he’s christening that dunk “Sophia.”

I don’t know if Batum really made this statement, but I guess that neither his dunk would have made the Chocolate Thunder proud nor that Darryl would have ever named a dunk “Sophia” as the names he used were a bit sexier like The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam-I-Am Jam.


Portland excited about Rudy Fernandez

The Blazers Blog at Oregon Live posted this video of Rudy Fernandez arriving at the airport in Portland. In some way to me it looks like Rudy is a perfect James Bond character, doesn’t he?

Portland welcomes Rudy Fernandez


Ricky Rubio will play in Olympics

Today, Spanish national team coach Aito Garcia Reneses announced the twelve guys that will compete for the current World Champion in the Summer Olympics in Beijing. And super-talent Ricky Rubio is among the twelve that will travel to China.

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It’s official: Rudy Fernandez to Portland

Rudy Fernandez has announced today that he will move to Portland next season. In a press conference this afternoon in Badalona, the 23-year-old shooting guard declared that it was not an easy decision but that he will play for the NBA franchise from this fall.

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Portland Trailblazers fans – be brave …

I know: What else can happen besides a season without your number one overall draft pick? Well, Greg Oden will be playing for you next season but another guy might not: Rudy Fernandez. reports that Rudy was injured during the semifinals against FC Barcelona. He hurt his right elbow and a MRI should tell us more how bad it really is; in 15 days, says the web site.

I know Blazers fans, as soon as you hear the term “MRI” you turn away – I am sorry.

For all European fans – there is much more news and rumors going on in Spain and at Joventut. We’ve heard through the grapevine that head coach Aito will leave the club soon.

Even more interesting is that Pepu Hernandez, head coach of the Spanish national team, will also stop coaching the team.

We will keep you updated as to what’s going on with Rudy Fernandez.