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The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++ Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen +++ The Dish: Can I play with Madness? +++ Just point out the bounce +++
Apr
4

Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs

BallinEurope only went 6 of 8 in picking the teams to make the post-season and one of those sides we didn’t have faith in won’t be happy with how we see the playoffs shaping up. It’s fearless prediction time.

Barcelona vs Galatasaray

Pick: Barca in 3.

So we didn’t think Galatasaray would make it this far and now we’re saying there roll a doughnut in the post-season. Harsh? Perhaps but we’re standing by it. Barcelona’s slump at the end of the Top 16 can’t disguise a 22-0 start to Euroleague this season. This team is going to Milan, the question is how many games it will require. Much as Galatasaray deserve credit for holding their nerve in the wild battle for fourth in Group F, they look to have drawn a pairing suited to exploit them. If it’s any comfort, we seem to have given Pops Mensah-Bonsu some added motivation.

Real Madrid vs Olympiacos

Pick: RMB in 4.

This was a tough call to make and not for the reason you might think. Real Madrid look to have the most complete team in Europe this season. If they weren’t utterly unbackable, I’d take RMB to walk into a 2-0 series lead without blinking. The question in my mind is whether they will be able to finish the Reds off quickly or if it will require them going back to Madrid. In the end I split the difference and called it Real in a 3-1 win.

CSKA Moscow vs Panathinaikos

Pick: CSKA in 5.

Honestly, this was the easiest call of the lot. You could slot in any opponent and I’d have trouble believing this CSKA team would take care of business the easy way. It’s just not been their style all season. If any series goes the max, this will be it. Panathinaikos still look capable of taking care of business back home but neither of the Greek giants looks like final four material this year.

EA7 Milano vs Maccabi Elektra Tel-Aviv

Pick: Milano in 4.

This is about as good a style match-up as Milano could have hoped for. They have the weapons to hurt Maccabi and to do so repeatedly. Home court in the final four isn’t something that comes around every year and that’s plenty motivation for Milano. It could have been a source of nerves but the maturity this outfit showed in the Top 16 makes me think otherwise. For the first half of that phase Milano kept stumbling, not quite doing enough to convince skeptics like me (who said they wouldn’t make the post-season) of their worth and then boom they caught fire. The Barca win is what most remember but the change had already happened. They had evolved from could-bes to probablys.

So where have I gone horribly wrong? Please vent your frustrations in the comments.

Mar
1

The Dish: Can I play with Madness?

Rudy
It may be March Madness across the Atlantic but Euroleague served up plenty of insanity this week as the races for the final playoff spots entered crazy territory. Emmet Ryan breaks it all down.


The story of this week should have been the return of Zeljko Obradovic to the OAKA and, in fairness, it was but only barely. The love-fest for Zoc’s return was quite heart-warming under any circumstance but moreso considering the importance of Panathinakos’ game with Fenerbahce. The Greens took the lead in the race for the final two spots in Group E with a 76-67 win over Fener. The whole celebration has been documented well by Eurohoops who also did a great job on Twitter in the build-up with their #ReturnOfZoc tweets.

That win not only moved Panathinaikos to 6-5 and third spot but also gave them the season head to head advantage over Obradovic’s side. Olympiacos ran riot over Baskonia but they only hold fourth on tie-breakers over Unicaja and Fener. Malaga for their part looked limp in defeat against visiting Barcelona. The Blaugrana moved to 21-0 in Euroleague play, 11-0 in Top 16 play. A win next week and top spot is their’s, fortunately if that does happen their two dead rubbers almost certainly won’t influence who makes the next stage. EA7 Milano effectively ended any shot at the playoffs for Anadolu Efes and look certain to take second spot following their 76-69 win.

Before I move on to Group F, on behalf of the whole BiE family I’d like to extend our support to all of our readers and followers in Turkey. With Twitter being blocked, you guys responded the only way you should have; by finding ways around the block. This is not a political site but we believe that everyone should have a voice. There is nothing right with silencing people, it was good to see so many of our friends finding ways to keep their voices.
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Feb
0

The Dish: No wild cards here

Fenerbahce are in free fall while the Greens and the Blaugrana served up another gem. Take your mind off the FIBA World Cup for a minute and take in this week’s edition of The Dish.

The top two in Group E squared off in the OAKA and at half-time it looked like the Blaugrana would stroll out with an easy W. Fortunately, the fixture Panathinaikos vs Barcelona rarely serves up such straightforward fare. Dimitris Diamantidis nailed a huge three at the end of the third and we were all set for a grandstand fourth quarter. And then…nothing. In a frame low on offence, Barcelona did enough to get over the line with reasonable comfort, the Greens go down 56-63 at home.

Had this group started out differently, we’d be talking about that result as a game the Greens could really have done with winning. Instead the team in crisis is coached by the man who brought four Euroleague titles to the Athens club. Fenerbahce were first hand witnesses to EA7 Milano establishing their playoff credentials. Linas Kleiza dropped 26 for Fener but they got nothing from the bench and that lack of support cost them on the road. Fenerbahce are now bottom of Group E, two games back in the playoff race after just five games.
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Jan
1

The Dish: If it bleeds we can kill it

You’d be forgiven for thinking this week’s Euroleague slated consisted of one game and one shot, we begin with the latter.

Efes? Really Efes did this? And Planinic? Wow, it’s like all the mockery of the club and Zoran (there was plenty on Twitter through the evening) was channeled into one wild moment of positive energy. Well, that’s the most sense I can make of it. There are buzzer beaters and there are you are taking the proverbial beaters. This was somewhere north of the latter. The score obviously meant a lot to the Istanbul club but it had wide ranging implications across Group E. Let’s start with EA7 Milan, that one moment of misfortune dropped them to 2-2. That keeps them locked with Unicaja Malaga and Olympiacos and only a game clear of Efes, Fenerbahce, and Baskonia. It is, of course, a tad on the early side to start talking permutations but none of those bottom three teams needed to lose extra ground to Milan. Planinic made sure they didn’t. Now on to the title of this week’s column.
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Dec
0

Group F: The knowns and the unknowns

The slate is clean for the Top 16. We’re breaking down what we know about each team in the second phase, what we want to know, and what we think we still won’t know after 14 rounds of action. We went through Group E yesterday, now it’s time to look at Group F.

Real Madrid
What we know: They are an offensive monster. Going 24-0 in all competitions to date, this is the best start enjoyed by any Real Madrid team ever.
What we want to know: Their weaknesses. Even a team this good has to have some but nobody’s come close to testing them yet.
What we won’t know: How they handle a low-scoring match-up.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv
What we know: They are so Maccabi. This team is business-like but stops well short of flashy. Yup, sounds like what we expect from this outfit every year.
What we want to know: How they stack up to RMB.
What we won’t know: Their ceiling. This is the weaker of the two groups and a 10-4 record is possible without causing any major shocks.

CSKA Moscow
What we know: They are flawed. Talented, yes, and en route to the playoffs but inconsistency has dogged this team when it was the one aspect Ettore Messina was expected to fix this year.
What we want to know: If they can settle on their best line-up.
What we won’t know: If any of this matters. In a flip from last year’s team, the ability to get hot in a hurry may be this side’s saving grace.

Galatasaray Liv Hospital
What we know: They are weaker than their record. All statistical measures outside the W-L column point to this team being in much worse health than the regular season record indicated. Over 14 games, that’ll be tough to mask.
What we want to know: If there’s a plan longer than half a season.
What we won’t know: See above.

Zalgiris Kaunas
What we know: They are survivors. No VTB League campaign, struggling in LKL, yet here they stand in the Top 16.
What we want to know: How they are going to balance their priorities.
What we won’t know: What the long-term future is.

Lokomotiv Kuban
What we know: They are seriously motivated to make an impact in Euroleague, as evidenced by a regular season where they silenced many doubters.
What we want to know: What was on their bulletin board to get them so fired up through the autumn.
What we won’t know: Where to buy a good beer in Krasnodar.

Partizan Belgrade
What we know: They will give one of the top three teams in this group a heart attack on their home court.
What we want to know: If they can play consistent enough to mount a real challenge for the last playoff spot.
Whzt we won’t know: If this is a renaissance or a blip.

FC Bayern
What we know: They are the most dangerous looking team from the Bundesliga to enter the Top 16 in a long time, which admittedly isn’t much of an achievement.
What we want to know: If they can capitalise on a soft group and get that last playoff spot.
What we won’t know: The date at which all of Europe should realise these guys ain’t playing anymore and a real power is emerging out of the Bundesliga.

Fearless prediction: Real to take top spot, Maccabi to squeeze CSKA for second, leaving the mother of all fights for fourth. Kuban look the best bet on paper but…this is a fearless prediction so nope. FC Bayern to steal it from the cookie jar.

Nov
2

Lokomotiv & Maccabi record last-gasp wins in Euroleague thrillers

The Turkish Airlines Euroleague is well under way but the action isn’t letting up anytime soon, thanks to some thrilling games on round four.

The pick of the night’s matches came from Group D as Eurocup champion Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnoda defeated Panathinaikos Athens 69 – 72 in an exciting match. Lokomotiv led for most of the game, the most it led by was 43 – 56 early in the fourth quarter before Panathinaikos made its comeback and leveled the game at 69 – 69 with six seconds to go.

It was Krunoslav Simon who made the difference, burying the game-winner in the final second to give Lokomotiv the win.

There were more important wins in Group B as EA7 Emporio Armani Milan grabbed an important 62 – 76 victory over Brose Baksets Bamberg, evening out its record in Group B at 2 – 2.

Bamberg was on the back foot as Milan held the lead for most of the game. Nicolo Melli of Milan made a pair of three-pointers to give the visitors a 33 – 43 lead at halftime, but Bamberg fought its way back and reduced the deficit to two points early in the fourth quarter. However, a strong defensive display from Milan ensured that a comeback didn’t happen, with a pair of Keith Langford jumpers securing a Milan victory.

Back in group D, another thriller took place in Lithuania as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv grabbed a tight 74 – 76 victory over Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. After its shock win over Panathinaikos in the opening win, Lietuvos’ has yet to record a win and losing by the narrowest of margins will be scant consolation for the team.

Maccabi led by as many as 18 points during one point, but Rytas pulled back and ensured that the final quarter was full of thrills. Rytas eventually went in front to go 71 – 70 with 1:55 to go. With the two sides tied at 74 – 74, it was Tyrese Rice who scored the winner with 3.5 seconds to go.

The remaining games that night saw Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade picking up its first Euroleague victory in Group B by defeating Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 63 – 73.

In Group D, Tadija Dragicevic saw off a stubborn Zalgiris Kaunas side 72 – 61 thanks to an impressive fourth quarter display, while Real Madrid made sure its flying start to the season continued with a 66 – 85 win over Strasbourg. Madrid’s victory meant that it tops Group B with a 4-0 record, making it the best four-game start in the competition this century.

- Quinton O’Reilly (@qoreilly)

Nov
0

Madrid continues unbeaten Euroleague run with dominant win over Milan


As the season heads into the winter months, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague is hotting up with some cracking games as the campaign gathers pace in Group B and C.

The showcase match for Group B came courtesy of Brose Baskets Bamberg who edged past Anadolu Efes Istanbul 88 – 86 in a thrilling game that went right down to the wire. There was only 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock when Casey Jacobsen clinched it for the winners. He scored 23 points overall and was helped by Anton Gavel who scored 17 points, Jamar Smith put 14 points on the scoreboard while John Goldsberry contributed 8 assists for Bamberg.

Efes made it difficult for Bamberg by being incredibly effective when on the offense. A scoring rate of 15-of-21 two-point shots and 5-of-7 three-pointers before halftime meant that the team took a 44-51 lead at the break as well as extending the margin to 52 – 66 midway through the third quarter. However, Bamberg didn’t give up and thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Jacobsen, the team started a 20 – 2 run that saw Bamberg lead 70 – 66 with nine minutes to go.

The lead was increased to 84 – 77, but Efes’ Kostas Vasileiadis singlehandedly brought the team back to life. The decider came at the final minute as a jumper by Jamon Gordon gave Efes a 85 – 86 lead with 6.8 seconds left. Bamberg called timeout and Jacobsen rounded off an impressive game by scoring the winning shot with only a second to spare.


The other Group B game that night saw Real Madrid continue a dominant start to its campaign by defeating EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 93 – 74 at home. The win meant that Madrid remains the only unbeaten team in the group while Milan dropped to fourth place.

Leading for the entirety of the match, Madrid were in total control thanks to Sergio Rodriguez who finished the first half on a 22 – 5 spurt, ensuring the score was 52 – 31 during the halfway mark. Nikola Mirotic scored 15 of his total 19 points in the first quarter alone, Rudy Fernandez tallied 16 points during the game, while Felipe Reyes bagged himself 14 points and 9 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Group C saw Stelmet Zielona Gora making history by securing its first ever victory in the Euroleague by beating Montepaschi Siena 73 – 65. Led by Lukasz Koszarek and Vladimir Dragicevic, Zielona Gora stayed in contention before Przemyslaw Zamojski secured the win with 7 points in the final half minute.

Oct
0

Spain: Real Madrid roll to Supercopa title – Highlights

Liga Endesa champions Real Madrid added the Supercopa title over the weekend with wins over Bilbao Basket and FC Barcelona. Here’s what you might have missed.


Jaycee Carroll led a rain of threes for Real Madrid in Friday’s semi-final win over Bilbao. The Liga Endesa champions went deep early and often, crushing their opponents 100-61.


The final was a repeat of last year’s Liga Endesa playoffs final, where Real took the title in Game 5 over Barcelona. This edition of El Clasico ended with the same victor as RMB won 83-79 to lift the Supercopa.

Jul
0

Shuffling pre-threepeat, Russians in Brooklyn: Last week’s five most intriguing Euroleague (and one NBA) acquisitions

All right, now things are getting interesting. Euroleague rosters are falling into place with top names signing with clubs that leave BallinEurope stretching the imagination – thinking about Papanikolaou outfitted in the Blaugrana here – and most of the prime pickups in the NBA have chosen their destinations for 2013-14. (Except … except … what about Nikola Pekovic and that $50 million deal? What is happening in Eurowolves land?)

Regardless of poor Peks’ situation, player movement kept things interesting for European basketball devotees even if no actual club games are being played. BiE took special notice of the following moves last week.

• Kostas Papanikolaou to Barcelona and
• Mirza Begic to Olympiacos. So the Reds want to threepeat, huh? Well, they’ll have to do so with quite a different look; the losses of Papanikolaou and Kyle Hines while adding Mirza Begic and Bryant Dunston means swapping two guys who played above their height for, well, actual height – not to mention opening up a barrage of questions. Could we really see a downshift in tempo in Piraeus? Does management expect to improve in rebounding, in which Olympiacos was third-best in the 2012-13 Euroleague? How much more court time will Stratos Perperoglou see? And how important can former Harlem Globetrotter Brent Petway be?

Intriguing stuff indeed, but what about that shiny new Blaugrana acquisition? The not-quite 23-year-old (his birthday’s next week) joins a roster that includes La Bomba, Marcelinho Huertas, Ante Tomic and up-and-comers Alex Abrines, Mario Hezonja and Marko Todorovic – in short, a lot of weaponry in the arsenal. More is needed in the backcourt with no more Pete Mickael and who-knows-what-Erazem-Lorbek-will-bring, but BiE’s picks Barca to be among the big league’s top-scoring sides in 2013-14.

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Jun
2

Real Madrid tops FC Barcelona for first Spanish title since 2007; Reyes MVP, Jasikevicius with flashback performance

BallinEurope sends out congratulations this morning to Real Madrid, which closed out a most successful season by taking the decisive game five of the Liga Endesa championship series, 79-71, in yet another “El Clasico”-level thriller. The title represents Los Blancos’ first ACB championship since 2006-07; though title is Real’s sole trophy this season, the win plus a Euroleague runner-up bid has to add up to the club’s finest run since Juan Antonio Corbalán was running point in the early to mid-1980s.

Felipe Reyes was named MVP of the Liga Endesa finals; Reyes turned in yet another efficient performance in game five, contributing 14 points and drawing a whopping seven personal fouls in under 21 minutes of playing time.

Reyes’ show (not to mention the actual win) overshadowed an incredible individual game from Sarunas Jasikevicius, as the old guy played like he’d tapped into his personal 2005. After going just 191 seconds in Madrid’s game four loss, Jasikevicius constantly got/created easy open looks in his under-19 minutes for a huge 23 points on 6-of-9 overall shooting and 8-of-8 from the line.

Unfortunately for the Blaugrana, aside from Joe Ingles’ excellent night, Barcelona shooters could managed just 7-of-33 success overall, including an 0-of-11 mark beyond the arc. (On the other hand, Saras and Ingles did make for one heckuva highlight clip…)

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