May
4

Ramunas Siskauskas: The BallinEurope video tribute

On Monday, European basketball great Ramunas Šiškauskas announced his retirement from the game: A story that was noteworthy enough for even North Korean sports fans to be notified. In his official statement, Šiškauskas said that he’d “made my choice in the middle of the season. It was not connected with anything specific – I just feel I should stop. I can only be excited about my career” and that “I am glad I was able to quit as a significant player, playing for such a great team and organization as CSKA Moscow.”

At 33 years of age, Šiškauskas put together a 16-season career with BC Sakalai Vilnius, Lietuvos Rytas, Benetton Treviso, Panathinaikos and CSKA Moscow plus seven years with Team Lithuania in FIBA and Olympic play – good for a gold and two bronzes.

And in that decade and a half, Šiškauskas amassed just under 1,500 points in seven Euroleague seasons on 49.8% shooting including 42.3% on threes. His back-to-back EL titles earned in 2007 and ’08 are among his many individual-career and team highlights … aw, hell. Let’s dispense with further formalities and get to the Ramunas Šiškauskas career tribute in traditional BallinEurope fashion, i.e. with lots of YouTube clips! We’ll miss ya, Ramunas…

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May
1

Jonas Kazlauskas vs. Dusan Ivkovic: Euroleague history will be made

It’s a trivia question with an expiration date – and that date is tomorrow. To wit: “Which head coach holds the record for longest time between Euroleague titles?”

For the next, what, 26 hours or so, the answer is “Alexander Gomelsky.” Most well-known as the Team USSR coach, the Naismith/FIBA Hall of Famer took the Euroleague title in 1960 with ASK Riga and would return to take the championship with CSKA Moscow in ’71.

But this year’s matchup of CSKA and Olympiacos automatically changes that. Featuring coaches Jonas Kazlauskas and Dusan Ivkovic, the record will be rewritten at tomorrow night’s Euroleague championship. Kazlauskas was handed an all-star lineup with Moscow this year to return to his first EL Final Four – never mind the championship game – since 1999; in that season, he brought a Žalgiris squad which included the likes of George Zidek, Thomas Masiulis, Saulius Štombergas and Tyrus Edney to the top.

And though Ivkovic has been more of a presence in Euroleague play since the 90s, the coach’s title drought is even longer than that of Kazlauskas, having taken the championship with Olympiacos back in the Reds’ only triple crown season of 1997.

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Mar
33

On the demise of Lithuanian Basketball

Jasikevicius: The long-term leader

BallinEurope is not exactly sure what led our man in Lithuania, the enigmatic Y., to contemplate the fortunes of his country’s national team … but who are we to question a Lietuva hometowner when it comes to basketball? Y. goes back eight years to figure out where things went so terribly wrong and unfortunately finds little hope for Team Lithuania’s future – even with the likes of Jonas Valančiūnas and Donatas Motiejūnas aboard…

Underachievement of a previous generation
The 2004 Olympic Games were a huge disappointment for Lithuania. As EuroBasket 2003 champions, the team was one of main favourites for silver (the fall of the “Dream Team” was still unimaginable). Lithuania, however, that year finished fourth: one step short of the prize it had collected in every Olympiad since the country’s independence.

This was the beginning of the demise of what was a top national team in the world. Players’ refusal to participate, retirements, injuries and an underachieving new generation – all these aspects contributed to Lithuania’s fall from basketball superpower levels to status as a regional great, capable of reaching a medal stage in the right circumstances.

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Apr
0

Eurocup Championship: Unics Kazan master plan coming to fruition

Better late than never, as the old expression goes; and in the case of Unics Kazan’s 2010-11 season, continuing to achieve late could prove much better in the medium- and long-term future.

Few teams so actively rebuilt and retooled with purpose last offseason as Unics Kazan, bringing aboard Slavko Vranes out of Partizan Belgrade, 2009-10 Euroleague/FIBA Worlds sensation Kelly McCarty, and Zakhar Pashutin from Spartak St. Petersburg, among others while ensuring key big man Maciej Lampe would stick around for another couple seasons.

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Dec
2

Hungary’s first NBA player/current Phoenix Suns scout Kornel David visits Lithuania

The Pride of Hungarian Basketball was recently spotted in Lithuania, where he was doing scouting work for the Phoenix Suns. Former Žalgiris Kaunas big man/Hungary’s first-ever NBA player Kornél Dávid sat in on the Caja Laboral Baskonia game in Kaunas last week and afterwards granted an interview to Žalgiris radio.

(Naturally, Dávid doesn’t give name names or spill any Suns secrets, but BiE believes Phoenix must be taking a gander on Martynas “Air” Pocius, a potentially brilliant fit for the system there…)

The native of Nagykanizsa (for those not in-the-know, for some reason this town of about 50,000 produces disproportionate numbers of athletes) came up through the Hungarian League ranks with Honvéd Budapest where he’d ultimately help the top club top the championship in 1994. Dávid moved on to Albacomp Székesfehérvár and led that team to the 1997-98 title.

So began Dávid’s boomeranging between Hungary and the United States, as he played out a number of short-term contracts between 1997 and 2001 with the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors (inevitably) and Detroit Pistons.

In 2001, the Hungarian was back in Europe for good, first getting with IC Strasbourg in that year. His 2002-03 season with Žalgiris, which delivered an LKL championship, won Dávid the esteem of Greens fans forever; finally, he spent the remainder of his playing days in the ACB with Baskonia and Gran Canaria.

Below runs a version of the interview. An audio recording is available here, though unfortunately for Anglophones the English-language speech is overdubbed with Lithuanian. (It’s kinda too bad they used English; surely a running Lithuanian-Hungarian interpretation would be one of the great intellectual feats in recent history.)

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Jun
2

Homage to the Killer: BallinEurope’s video tribute to Arvydas Macijauskas

Reader AM recently noted his disappointment with BiE lately due to this website’s non-reportage on the recent premature retirement of 30-year-old Arvydas Macijauskas on Wednesday. At the time BiE heard the news, the story had already been well reported on dozens of other websites and so passed on writing something up.

However, AM is right in that Macijauskas does deserve tribute here at BallinEurope for thrilling pro basketball fans throughout The Continent and FIBA followers around the world in his too-short career. And so, we’ll pay tribute to another great Lithuanian baller the best way BiE knows how: Through YouTube clips.

Roll the highlights!

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Apr
0

Three games remain; records will fall in Spain

Ahearn: He came, he shot free throws, he left

With three games left to play in what has been another truly great ACB season, some folks are thumbing through the league record books to see which bits of 2009-10 might be immortalized in statistics when it’s over.

Over at the league’s official website, Daniel Barranquero takes a long look – no, a loooooooooooong look – at the facts, figures and numbers of 2009-10 ACB play. Some of the stats to watch for as Spanish baloncesto closes the season are listed below the break.

(Serious number junkies, Hispanophones, ACB fans/historians and all those into the general statistical voodoo should read the entire article packed with 50 figures to put things in numerical perspective — some really outstanding work by Sr. Barranquero.)

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