Tight knit Iceland too much for Great Britain +++ EuroBasket 2015: Round-up and Highlights from Wednesday’s qualifiers +++ 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 +++

US Presidential Election 2012: America’s basketball diplomat hits hardwood for last-minute votes (plus Official Fearless Prediction™)

Love him or hate him after nearly four years in office, one thing is for certain: Barack Obama is the first basketball president – a fact that could curry lots of favor with Generation X and Y voters in a celebrity-charged election.

Sure, Bill Clinton was lucky enough to enjoy his home-state University of Arkansas’ 1994 victory in the NCAA Tournament and play host to the Dream Team in ’92. Sure, guys like George W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon were often more erudite when discussing sports than, you know, politics (check out “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72” for Hunter S. Thompson’s interview with Tricky Dick, an interview which Thompson was told could only be about NFL football). And the Kennedys surely won popularity points for their picturesque family touch-football games.

However, no US president has leveraged sports fandom on an international scale like Obama. (Check out BallinEurope contributing writer Enrico Cellini’s piece on his pet project, tracking Obama’s basketball diplomacy moves.) And the president’s preference for basketball represents the rise of the NBA and to some extent NCAA hopes during David Stern’s reign as the big league’s commissioner.

(Is it any coincidence that Obama came to professional prominence in that hometown of the 1990s’ Incredibulls? BiE thinks not.)

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NBA Europe Live, Euroleague American Tour: Bo knows highlights; Celtics regroup against Milano; Stern travels; video clips

The past three days saw five cross-continental club games play out in Europe and the US in the 2012 Euroleague American and NBA Europe Live tours. And, hey, it’s Monday, so let’s just roll the highlight clips!

• Naturally, the biggest news was all about the lone upset among the games: Fenerbahçe Ülker’s 97-91 toppling of the Boston Celtics in Turkey. Bo McCalebb added to his already-heavy personal highlight film with several sweet plays and incredible speed. (Seriously, is he getting faster?) Directly below, he bamboozles Pierce (“Damn, he’s quick,” The Truth was surely thinking), blows past Rajon Rondo and finds Oguz Savas for an easy two after getting Brandon Bass to leave his feet…

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Bundesliga weekly recap reveal: Jared Jordan a more valuable playmaker than Nash, Rondo?

It’s time for another BallinEurope shameless plug. Contributing writer David Hein has produced yet another great writeup over at the German Bundesliga’s official website. Check out a column chock full of videos and recaps, including the now semi-obligatory update on Team Zimbabwe/BG Göttingen’s Vitalis Chikoko.

BiE can’t help but spill the beans on one scintillating item in the piece, though: Just take a look at how much former Marist College/Lietuvos Rytas point guard Jared Jordan means to Telekom Baskets Bonn below – “playmaker,” indeed.

For comparison’s sake, below run some of the top assist guys in the NBA and their ratios of contribution to their teams’ success.

Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns: 26.61%
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: 26.48%
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: 22.26%
John Wall, Washington Wizards: 21.96%
Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: 21.26%
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors: 20.63%

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Pau Gasol versus the vampires (and BallinEurope versus Bill Simmons)

Yes, but can he survive in the daylight?

BallinEurope yesterday read the latest anti-Laker screed basketball column by’s Bill Simmons, an alternately funny and blood-boiling confession-style bit about conditioning one’s children to cheer for the “right” sports team, i.e. Daddy’s favorite team.

Ultimately, however, The Sports Guy’s affectionate look at dominating your child’s formative years is perhaps best characterized as “disturbing.” And BiE’s only saying this because he’s a huge Lakers fan and the Boston Celtics can burn in hell of his profound belief in children’s self-determination.

After Simmons’ 5½-old daughter Zoë demonstrates an excellent liking for the color purple (good girl!), the ‘Guy decides to do what any unscrupulous and absolutely typical die-hard Boston Celtics fan would: Namely, he informs the wee lass that Kobe Bryant is an abusive father, that Phil Jackson’s love of dogs is matched only by Michael Vick’s, that Ron Artest wants to punch him in the face (this one might be true, actually), and that Pau Gasol is a vampire.

Unfortunately, writes Simmons, “that made her like [Gasol] more,” before going on to lament that “F***ing Edward [Cullen of “Twilight”] swayed an entire generation of girls under 15.”

This last bit made BiE immediately realize two things:

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Weekend roundup: Slovenia to withdraw? Jennings to return? NCAA unfair?

Myers learned about Eurostep, pubs, chicken sandwiches with Sheffield

Good morning! So without further ado, here’s a roundup of some recent stories relating the Europe, basketball, and European basketball.

• What is the Euro Step? It’s The Continent’s contribution to NBA basketball! Here’s a great story on how a European technique – Sarunas Marciulionis is credited with its introduction to American hoops – has been adopted by the likes of Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and John Wall.

• As though the prospect of an NBA lockout in 2011 weren’t bad enough, is the 2013 Eurobasket tournament itself now in danger as well? According to the Associated Press:

“The cash-strapped Slovenian government has delayed a decision on whether to support the country’s bid to host the 2013 European basketball championship.

“The government is expected to pay governing body FIBA €6.5 million for the hosting rights.

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Rondo leaves Team USA; FIBA Worlds roster set

It’s a good news/bad news news item for Team USA backers: The good news is that the Red-White-and-Blues finally have their 12-man roster for the 2010 FIBA World Championship roster; the bad news is that the electrifyingly exciting Rajon Rondo won’t be on, having essentially decided to leave the team proactively before his dismissal.

Figuring the writing was on the wall after the Spain game on Sunday in which he received his first “DNP” since his rookie year with the Boston Celtics, Rondo was quoted by ESPN as explaining that leaving the team was “what’s best for the country.” He also said that the DNP was “part of it. We knew coming in [that] it was still tryouts until we make the team that goes to Turkey.”

As for the official word, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo’s statement read in part: “Rajon came to us and said he was going to withdraw from the team, that he had some family matters to attend to and some things to take care of before the NBA season. He did an outstanding job during our training, we appreciate the effort and commitment he made to our program and he completely has our support.”

And BallinEurope would be remiss in not catering to a certain segment of its audience (ahem, Lithuania, cough, ahem) if BiE didn’t post perhaps Rondo’s most notorious play in what would be his last game with the squad:

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Just enough Durant to give USA win after ferocious Spain comeback

Is Kevin Durant the next Kobe Bryant after all? Team USA fans are certainly swaggering today after their guys’ strong showing in upending the defending FIBA world champions, 86-85.

Durant was the alpha dog for the US – a role many including BiE worried about going unfilled a la my least-favorite 2006 team – in scoring 25 points and showing he’s still a master of the zone in completely controlling Spain’s last possession to cap the win for Team USA after an incredible second half from Espana.

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Spain vs. USA friendly: Five things to watch for

The biggest of all this year’s international basketball friendly matches goes down in Madrid tonight at 7pm GMT (9pm CET, 1pm EST) as prospective 2010 FIBA World Championship favorites Spain and USA meet in the first truly serious test for either team.

It’s also a rematch of the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold match of sorts; while Team Spain returns the majority of their surely revenge-seeking squad, Team USA has famously rolled over its entire roster to create a smaller, quicker team contrary stylistically to recent American national teams.

Those of you in countries wherein the game won’t be broadcast (and here BallinEurope basically means nearly every nation in Europe, basically) can watch Spain vs. USA — and Wednesday’s Greece vs. USA game — online for free at FIBA TV. On his part, BiE will be watching for the following items first.

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BallinEurope’s 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings 4.1

Whoa … anyone who thinks these “friendly” games in the runup to the 2010 FIBA World Championship don’t matter to the teams involved certainly wasn’t paying attention the literal battle that ensued during last night’s final game of the Acropolis Basketball Tournament between Greece and Serbia.

With the Acropolis tourney now in the books and a handful of other interesting friendlies having played out this week, BallinEurope gets ready for more international matches this weekend with another round of power rankings. Enjoy!

1. (↔) Spain. BiE has been warned that Team Spain’s 84-68 over Brazil in Logroño on Wednesday was well assisted by referees and Brazil without Tiago Splitter and Nene is hardly Brazil at all. On the other hand, Spain handled Argentina, Mike Krzyzewski’s got love for the Pau-less team, and Espana shows no serious signs of weakness.

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New York news: Kobe praises Spain; Team USA, Puerto Rico cruise

Kobe can beat this guy

Kobe Bryant was hanging around in New York last week as part of the World Basketball Festival festivities and, upon praising Team Spain, was dutifully quoted by Spain-based sports media outlet

“When it comes to really tough opponents,” said Bryant, “no doubt, Spain is the team.”

Kobe has seemed somewhat positive about this year’s edition of Team USA and philosophized to reporters that, if they take care of fundamentals, they’ll be all right. “The formula for winning is always the same: defense and rebounding. No matter where you play, rebounding and defense gives you the win. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing against aliens from Mars.”

In terms of the actual games closing the World Basketball Festival, Team USA demonstrated a remarkable arsenal of weaponry in taking out France, 86-55. (This just ain’t France’s year in international sport, is it? An early bouncing for Les Bleus and 2010 will go down as Bizarro 1998.)

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