Win any European dunk contest: James White shows how in six easy steps

White demonstrating emergency step 6

To the surprise of few, well-traveled James William White III (a.k.a. James White, a.k.a. Flight) took the Italian Serie A slam dunk contest amidst the all-star festivities taking place there this weekend. White, now of Scavolini Pesaro, brought with him to the contest a résumé that goes back second-place finishes on two levels: the 2001 McDonald’s High School Slam Dunk contest and representing the University of Cincinnati Bearcats in the NCAA event in 2006.

All accolades and trophies aside, however, BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini, notes that White has simply got this dunk contest-winning thing down to a science. Would you like to win your next dunk competition in Europe? Cellini, White and good ol’ YouTube show you how in six easy steps.

After dominating his fourth dunk contest within European all-star game weekends – previous wins include those in Turkey in 2008, Russia in 2010 and Italy last year) by displaying his trademark repertoire, James White should really work on a handy guide containing the must-do tricks for guaranteed success in any dunk contest on The Continent. It would go pretty much like this:

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Anonymous party sends pig’s head to Scavolini Pesaro HQ; Team responds on court

BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini, contributes quite a bizarre story out of league basketball there. (To think that Cibona Zagreb fans merely created an interesting image in protest of their team’s poor play.) The headline gives away the punchline so BiE won’t forestall this tale’s telling further … um, enjoy.

On January 2, Scavolini Siviglia Pesaro (then 6-6 in Italy) was supposed to be fully focused on preparing for the toughest match of the season, i.e. the Serie A game against almighty juggernaut and five-time repeat champions Montepaschi Siena. Nobody could have ever expected that the greatest challenge for the team would come from outside the court.

On the morning of the game, Pesaro officials informed media that head of a pig had been left in front of Scavolini Pesaro basketball operations offices by an indignant anonymous fan or group of fans (or rather, more appropriately, “fanatic” or “fanatics”).

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Revisiting the odds: Which NBA players will come to Europe for 2011-12?

Deja vu in our future?

After another couple weeks of speculation, hype and quotage, it’s time for BallinEurope to revisit the odds: specifically speaking, the odds on NBA players coming to play ball on The Continent in 2011-12. Once again, should note that these lines are offered at no bookmaker service and are completely arbitrary (which is to say mostly made up).

Kobe Bryant: 1/5 if you believe Claudio Sabatini, 1/1 if you’re a bit more stoic. The Kobe-to-Bologna soap opera storyline continues into this weekend with the Virtus head ever more publicly confident that the Los Angeles Laker will in fact be playing ball in Italy this season – at least for a month.

Most recently, Sabatini announced that he had reached an agreement with Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka vis-à-vis a 40-day deal that would have Kobe playing 10 games in Milano colors. Something seems a bit amiss with this announcement, however, as the team is not playing in any pan-European competitions in 2011-12, and thus is on a once-a-week schedule. (Maybe. More on this below.)

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Rumor du jour: Austin Daye to Europe, possibly AJ Milano?

Could Austin Daye be the next European player to sign a deal in Europe for the 2011-12 season? Early on in the NBA lockout, Daye publicly noted his concern in The Detroit News, questioning whether “going the distance mean [canceling] the whole season? I hope not,” adding that “My main concern is getting to training camp, but my job is to get better in the offseason until things are resolved.”

Today, the multilingual Sportando has Daye quoted – albeit in Italian from an unnamed source – that “At the moment […] I think there could definitely be an option if I feel the need to play. The third year is the most important of all. If the [NBA] season doesn’t start, I might even decide to go to Europe.”

It’s a viable option for Daye, who was reportedly contacted by AJ Milano about the possibility of suiting up for the Euroleague side three weeks ago: his father Darren Daye played Continental ball for eight seasons in the late 1980s/early 90s in France, Italy and Israel, including stints with Scavolini Pesaro (highlighted by a stint on the 1989-90 Serie A champion team), Hapoel Galil Elyon and Pau-Orthez, among others.

In his 2010-11 season with the Detroit Pistons, the former Gonzaga Bulldog averaged 7.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

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Top 100 teams in Europe: Week of upsets edition

While NBA fans were mostly talking about Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony last week, the buzzword around Europe last week was “upset.” Seemingly from end to end, Continental leagues saw their respective mighty – if not fall – at least stagger from a blow dealt by a lower seed.

Real Madrid lost to new no. 8 Power Electronics Valencia in the ACB block party but maintained a razor-thin lead over Olympiacos for the no. 2 spot in BiE’s top 100; by contrast, Montepaschi’s shocking loss to Pepsi Caserta dumped the Italian side to no. 4. In Turkey, former TBL no. 2 Banvit (now 14-4) was pummeled at seventh-place Olin Ederne; standard juggernaut CSKA Moscow is tumbling down the PBL table in Russia, dropping its second consecutive home loss Saturday night to Spartak St. Petersburg.

And so it went. The top 100 this week runs as follows.

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Eight remain in hunt for final four EuroChallenge quarterfinal spots

The FIBA EuroChallenge may be considered a bit of a lower-tier club tournament here on The Continent, but the 2009-10 edition of the contest is certainly among the tops in terms of competitive balance.

With the final games of the Last 16 phase all tipping off tomorrow night, eight teams remain in the hunt for four quarterfinals spots and just four teams (Banvit, Belgacom Liege, EiffelTowers Den Bosch, and Proteas) have been eliminated. BC Göttingen, Chorale Roanne Basket, Krasnye Krylia, and Scavolini Pesaro are through already; who will join them tomorrow night?

Following is BallinEurope’s super-compressed briefing on the mathematical possibilities for each still-striving contender plus a few storylines at play in the games.

• Apoel. If Apeol wins against KK Buducnost, they’re in; at 5-1 in Nicosia this EuroChallenge season with the sole loss to (relatively) mighty Pesaro, things look decent for the Cypriot squad. But hey, Cyprus’ defending champions have blown away disappointing memories of the 2008-2009 EuroChallenge in which Apoel went two-and-out while scoring less than 57 points in the matches.

• Antwerp Giants are involved in a three-way dogfight with Chorale Roanne and Enisey Krasnoyarsk; win and they’re in, of course, but with a loss in Roanne the Giants could still back in with a Krasnoyarsk loss to Banvit. Guard Bryan Hopkins last week became the latest Antwerp injury, leaving the Belgian squad without guard Bryan Hopkins, forward Randy Oveneke, center Christophe Beghin, and former Atlanta Hawks swingman Thomas Gardner for much of the season’s remainder.

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FIBA Eurochallenge Final 16 tips off tonight

The FIBA Eurochallenge Final 16 tips off tonight with seven games to played among the whittled-down field. Among the survivors are two Cyprus-based squads, three German teams and at least two red-hot circus offenses (BC FMP Belgrade and Banvit BC). The round-robin play continues through February, with the last games scheduled for March 9.

The games going down tonight are the following.

Group I: BG Göttingen vs. Proteas EKA AEL
. It was a good news/bad news scenario for Göttingen in group play. While the German side managed to go 2-0 against seemingly tough BCM Gravelines Dunkerque and thus squeak into the Final 16 via tiebreaker, Göttingen lost both matches against eventual group winner Buducnost. Proteas backed in to the Final 16, dropping their last game to Elan Chalon, 81-74. Key stat for this game: At 3-3 in Eurochallenge group play, Proteas won all three games in Cyprus and lost all three away; tonight, they’re in Germany. I’m just saying is all.

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FIBA EuroChallenge final 16 set

With the final games in the FIBA EuroChallenge 2009-10 regular season played last night (for the record, it was Elan Chalon over Proteas EKA AEL, 81-74; Scavolini Pesaro over Krasnye Krylia, 92-86; and Strasbourg beat Khimik, 97-93, despite losing the statistical battle on many fronts), the competition’s final 16 and groupings have been set.

In Group I, it will be BG Göttingen, Eiffel Towers Den Bosch, Krasne Krylia, and Proteas EKA AEL.

Group J sports Belgacom Liège, BC FMP Belgrade, Artland Dragons, and KK Zagreb Croatia Osiguranje.

Group K features KK Budocnost M:Tel, Apoel Nicosia, Scavolini Pesaro, and Elan Chalon.

Finally, Group L has Enisey Krasnoyarsk, Banvit BC, Antwerp Giants, and Chorale Roanne Basket.

Okay, you want your semi-obligatory “Group of Death” named? Fine. That’s gotta be J, with three teams having gone 5-1 in the EuroChallenge regular season – including pre-tournament favorite Artland Dragons – plus the not-too-shabby Osiguranje.

EuroChallenge play begins on Tuesday, January 26. Official FIBA press release follows the break.

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The top 5½ European teams of the 2000s

Oh yes, the Greens appear on the list

Oh yes, the Greens appear on the list.

In closing out the calendar on this decade – not technically, we know, but we’re going with the flow here – BallinEurope today considers the top European teams of the 2000s. (For BallinEurope’s official All-Decade All-Europe All-Star team, click here.) Though only Euroleague championship finalists were considered, domestic league records were also factored in vis-à-vis placement on this list.

Drumroll please, and here are your top five-and-a-half European teams of the 2000s! (Presented in reverse order.)

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