Podcast: On Tracy McGrady, other names in China; bizarre Japanese ball; awesome Hong Kong film

Episode number (sexy and) 17 of the Taking the Charge podcast series is now online. Admittedly, BallinEurope and heinnews deviate a bit from the Continental hoops with this show’s emphasis on Asia. However, our return interview with Jon Pastuszek of China-based NiuBball is certain to be of interest to any fan worth his/her salt. Get the lowdown on the progress of a number of notables playing in or coming from the big country, including:

Tracy McGrady, he who wanted to increase the potency of his brand with the Qingdao Eagles;

• Now three-year CBA veteran Stephon Marbury;

Gilbert “Agent Zero” Arenas (and yeah, BiE’s still using that moniker under the believe that, when one prolifigates one’s own nickname, one is stuck with it forever);

Quincy Douby, formerly of Rutgers, the Sacramento Kings and UCAM Murcia, who recently set the CBA record with 75 points in a single game;

Charles Gaines, who contributed a 60-point, 29-rebound performance for the opposition in Douby’s record effort; Continue Reading…


Ricky Rubio to Nikola Pekovic for the NBA’s Play of the Day

Here it is: Another one for the Human YouTube Highlight Clip’s collection. From the Love-less Minnesota Timberwolves’ 86-84 victory at the Sacramento Kings last night, Ricky Rubio contributed what the NBA official website is calling “The Play of the Day.”

In the third quarter, Tyreke Evans lost the handle, and La Pistola swooped in on the errant ball to lead the fast break for the ‘Wolves. And then, the pass. While in motion, between the legs to another BallinEurope NBA favorite, Nikola Pekovic, for the slam as Evans can only watch.

Ah, Ricky Rubio, you’ve done it yet again…

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The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Western Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.

*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).

As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.

To BiE, it looks something like this.

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Peja Stojakovic: The BallinEurope tribute

Just days ago, Peja Stojakovic appeared to be a viable free agent for an NBA team with roster holes, a still-deadly long-range assassin at the age of 34, a 19-year veteran with gas enough in the tank for late-game daggers and smart D, a prototypical European baller with an American championship pedigree. “Couldn’t he drain a few 3s for a contender?” rhetorically asked hoops sage Bill Simmons last Friday.

Alas, it was not to be. The Serbian sharpshooter will not be part of the Dallas Mavericks’ quest to repeat as NBA champions, announcing his retirement from professional basketball late Monday night. Citing injuries to his neck and back, Stojakovic decided his physical struggles were “a wakeup call” for him to leave the game at this point.

On the plus side, Peja has the privilege of going out on top, in 2011 not only topping his seeming long-time personal rivals the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs, but also finally earning the ring which had eluded him for a dozen seasons ‘Stateside.

Today BallinEurope pays tribute to the gold-medal winning, NBA title having, future FIBA Hall of Fame nod achieving legend in the traditional fashion … let’s go to the ‘Tube!

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Frustrated with players’ union, Omri Casspi joins Maccabi Tel Aviv

BallinEurope welcomes another NBA player to the Continent this afternoon with the long-awaiting signing of Omri Casspi with Maccabi Tel Aviv today reportedly a reality, according to the Cleveland Plains-Dealer.

The locked-out Cavalier first expressed frustration with the NBA Players’ Union this weekend and took Israel’s Euroleague club up on its longstanding offer. Writes Tom Reed: “Cavaliers swingman Omri Casspi has opted to play overseas until the NBA lockout ends. … Casspi, acquired from the Sacramento Kings in the offseason, has been long rumored to return to Israel during the work stoppage. He also had been considering a team in Italy. … Kyrie Irving is believed to be weighing his international options, as well.”

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Vlade Divac: The BallinEurope/YouTube career retrospective

BallinEurope sends out hearty congratulations to Serbian great Vlade Divac on his nomination for possible entry into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s “Class of 2012.”

While Divac may be known as a famous trivia answer (“Who was traded for Kobe Bryant?”) or by the dreaded “F-word” (i.e. “flopper” as used in – really – this Los Angeles Times blog entry detailing the story of Vlade’s honor), this nomination shows a lifetime of accomplishment on the basketball court. Heck, in the NBA alone, Divac topped 13,000 points, 9000 rebounds, 3000 assists and 1500 blocked shots over 16 seasons. And then there were those “Dream Team” years with Team Yugoslavia and the glorious early days with KK Partizan in the 1980s, highlighted by Korać Cup titles and Divac’s “Mr. Europa” trophy.

Today, BallinEurope pays tribute to a personal favorite on the occasion in the best way possible: With a YouTube-laden rundown of his long and memorable career! Check out Divac’s progress through turns with Partizan Belgrade, the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, the “Dream Team” Yugoslavian squads, and of course KK Crvena Zvezda during the 1999 NBA player lockout…

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Watching the Las Vegas Superstar Challenge online

In the wake of the NBA lockout, those players from the big league not hawking their wares in Europe or elsewhere overseas are looking to schedule alternative games. Though a big-name international tour appears to be stalling at present, this weekend will see quite an exhibition in the four-team “Las Vegas Superstar Challenge” headed up by former Beşiktaş signee Allen Iverson.

While the game apparently won’t be broadcast on television, an outfit called iLinkSports.com is offering folks worldwide a chance to see the games involving names like Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Amare Stoudemire and Andre Iguodala online. See below for the press release detailing the deal; in short, $4.99 (just over €3.50 by today’s exchange rate) before Friday will get you a pass to see the Vegas games.

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Eurojam 2011 tournament confirms Dan Gadzuric, Francisco Elson; no news on Bar Refaeli

Gadzuric to (Euro)jam for HollandSome news from organizers of the upcoming interesting Holland-based EuroJam 2011 tournament, which pits NCAA men’s and women’s sides against European national teams.

Confirmed for the tournament are NBA Dutchmen Francisco Elson of the Utah Jazz and Dan Gadzuric of the New Jersey Nets – BallinEurope can’t help but speculate as to whether the latter will be using his off-time during the tournament to field offers from European clubs, what with the mass exodus of Nets to the Continent. (NetsDaily hints that Gadzuric’s appearance in the tournament may depend on insurance issues.)

The Sacramento Kings’ Omri Casspi is slated to play for Team Israel in the tourney as well; more on this below.

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Pau Gasol: “A bit distracted,” “A bit exhausted” in Lakers-Mavs series

For the Spanish-language ‘site Marca.com, Los Angeles-based sportswriter Jesús Sánchez recently got some quality face time with Pau Gasol – enough to fill three columns’ worth of stories.

The key news for those looking ahead to the summer, a group that certainly includes Lakers fans and those cynical about the possibility of the NBA actually playing in 2011-12, is that Pau hasn’t quite announced that he will indeed play for Team Spain in the Eurobasket 2011 tournament; he is, however, expected to announce an affirmative decision upon returning to Spain sometime in June. Earlier in the week, Gasol met with national team coach Sergio Scariolo on the subject.

Of course, for those currently devoted to the NBA playoffs, just one thing regarding Pau is on the mind, i.e. “What the hell happened against the Dallas Mavericks?” Translated excerpts from Sánchez’ interview, in which Gasol talks muchly about his Lakers and a tad about an NBA lockout (Hint: Barcelona backers may prepare for giddiness now) follow.

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Nike Hoop Summit: Nine named to World Select Team (but not Enes Kanter)

Rosters for the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit have been released and while The Continent is well-represented on the World Select Team, BallinEurope considers there to be at least one shocking omission.

Team World will include Davis Bertans (Latvia/Union Olimpija); Evan Fournier (France/Poitiers); Przemyslaw Karnowski (Poland/SMS PZKosz); Mateusz Ponitka (Poland/Tempcold AZS); and Dario Saric (Croatia/KK Zagreb). Other players on the club are Canadians Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos, plus Brazilians Lucas Nogueira and Raul Neto.

Anybody else identify the missing name…? That’s right: This would seem to be another slap in the face for basketball’s most famous neo-Kentucky Wildcat, Enes Kanter. Kanter had told media last week that he’d be entering the NBA Draft and that he “expect[ed] to play for the International team in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., on April 9, where he would face UK recruits Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis and Marquis Teague.”

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