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 +++ Q&A with Alex Krstanovic on the Belgrade Trophy +++ Thomas Klepeisz shows you how to celebrate a winning bucket +++ Big jam by Giannis Antetokounmpo as Greece beat Slovenia +++ Two-time Euroleague winning coach close to Wakayama deal +++

Highlights: Top five plays from VTB United League quarterfinals

Flawed, top-heavy and not exactly consistent in attendance it may be, but the VTB United League still garners BallinEurope’s attention – particularly come playoff time when ages-old rivalries add new chapters to stories first begun in the days of the Soviet Union.

Besides, who needs an excuse to run another YouTube highlight clip…?

From the VTB folks, then, running below are the top five plays from the recently-completed quarterfinal round, starring Unics Kazan’s Mire Chatman, Zalgiris Kaunas’ Robertas Javtokas, Lokomotiv Kuban’s Mantas Kalnietis, BC Khimki’s Sergey Monya and CSKA Moscow’s Anton Ponkrashov. Three-pointers, blocks, alley-oops – they’re all here. Enjoy!

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Spain 67, Russia 59: Gasols et al earn gold-medal try as Reds go Serbia cold in second half

Okay, so maybe Team Spain was playing possum. Or perhaps they merely hit the snooze on the alarm clock a tad too late in London. No matter: In the end, all history will remember is the final result – Spain 67, Russia 59 – and that it will be Los Rojos and not the Reds playing for the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.

A rundown of BiE’s recent obsessions with these two teams … For Spain, the guards found their shot, Pau Gasol opened the floor like few seven-footers beyond himself can and passing (at least in the second half) was crisp and smooth. And the 22-12 (including just four for Russia in the first 30 minutes) free-throw advantage certainly helped.

Which is not to say that the would-be gold-medallists didn’t get help from their adversaries. After going turnover-free in the first half, Spain’s run in the fourth quarter was buoyed by an incredibly awful series in which Russia gave up the TO on five of six consecutive possessions.

Worse yet for them, as BBC commentary noted, this may be the last go-around for Team Russia as we know it…

As for Serge Ibaka, well, the Blockmaster got very little playing; admittedly not without reason. Among the lowlights were a couple TOs, bouncing a fast-break dribble off his foot and watching Sergey Monya elevate in his face, then over it, then bury a three over it in the second quarter.

Again, though, it was 67-59 to Spain; congratulations to the winners. Sorry to see you go out like that, Russia; good luck in the bronze-medal game, see a bunch of you in Moscow and Minnesota, etc.

And yes, BiE has to admit it: As reader Max says, “Oh man, you’re really on fire with the predictions. Spain maybe are aging, but we’re not washed up yet.”

Syndicated game recap runs below the break.

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Lithuania “struggles” in 77-68 loss to Russia: Kaun nets 21; Valanciunas gets 12, eight boards

Valanciunas was pretty good, though...

For lack of YouTube clips and FIBA posts, BallinEurope directs you to Lithuania Basketball for a brief writeup on the Russia-Lietuva friendly in Houston last night. The general gist: Despite taking a 37-35 lead into halftime, Team Lithuania struggled enough in the third quarter to take a 77-68 loss.

In fact, “struggle” appears to be the clear verb for the Lithuanians early on. Lithuania Basketball characterized the home team as “struggling quite badly this summer…” Thus far, they’re 1-3 with losses to fellow Olympic qualifying round teams Greece and FYR Macedonia plus a win against Team Britain in addition to this result.

Players of note included Sasha Kaun (21 points), Andrei Kirilenko (15 points, eight rebounds), Timofey Mozgov (10 points) and Sergey Monya (10 points) for Russia; Jonas Valanciunas (12 points, eight rebounds), Linas Kleiza (12 points), Jonas Maciulis (11 points) and Rimantas Kaukenas (11 points) for Lithuania.

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2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Preview: Team Russia

With the lengthily-named 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men tipping off in Venezuela on Monday, BallinEurope takes some time this week to catch up on the four European squads in the running for a trip to London and reckon on a brief assessment of each’s chances in the competition. First up is Russia, the Continent’s representative in qualifying group C.

Extended roster: Semen Antonov (BC Nizhny Novgorod); Sergey Bykov, Maxim Grigoryev (Lokomotiv Kuban); Sasha Kaun, Viktor Khryapa, Andrei Kirilenko, Anton Ponkrashov, Alexey Shved, Eugeny Voronov, Andrey Vorontsevich (CSKA Moscow); Sergey Karasev (Triumph Lyubertsy); Timofey Mozgov (Denver Nuggets); Sergey Monya, Vitaly Fridzon, Dmitry Khvostov (BC Khimki Moscow region); and Artem Yakovenko (Unics Kazan); head coach David Blatt (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

How they got here: Last year in Lithuania, the only team that could stop the Russian juggernaut was France. Les Bleus used a single 8-0 run in the third quarter and a career game from Nicolas Batum (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks) to squeak past the theretofore undefeated Team Russia in the semifinals.

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BC Khimki overcome Caner-Medley, Valencia to take 2012 Eurocup title, 77-68

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this morning to the first entrant into Euroleague 2012-13, BC Khimki Moscow region, with their win over BC Valencia in the Eurocup championship game yesterday. In a possible Euroleague title-game preview – at least in terms of home bases – the Russian side topped the Spaniards, 77-68. In the consolation game, Lietuvos Rytas bagged a bronze medal in taking out Spartak St. Petersburg, 71-62.

Game highlights and official writeup of the final match follow.

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Eurocup Championship, Khimki vs Valencia: The Official BallinEurope (sort of) Fearless Prediction™

BallinEurope this morning sends out congratulations to BCs Valencia and Khimki Moscow region for their advancement into the 2011-12 Eurocup finals . The Spanish representative managed to get up to a 20-point lead before fending off a furious comeback by Lietuvos Rytas to take the 80-70 victory. Khimki meanwhile won the battle of Russian sides, topping Spartak St. Petersburg for the third time this season, 77-73.

After examining each of the four finalists this week, Eurosport Turkey basketball commentator Uygar Karaca considers a few key players, matchups and tendencies that could affect today’s championship match – plus highlights and an Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™! Well, sort of.

It’s another final day for Eurocup. This means that we’re going to see one side hopping around and celebrating after a huge victory and on the other side, players leaving the court with faces looking to the ground and hearts broken with disappointment. Which one will play the victor’s role: hosts Khimki or their Spanish opponents Valencia? Can we make a prediction?

Basketball enthusiasts fairly know that it’s not fair to merely name one team as favourite. So I will try just to put forth some ideas, to try to reach some conclusion; i don’t know yet whether I will reach one or not.

Firstly, as a reminder, last year saw Russian side UNICS Kazan taking the Eurocup title against Cajasol Sevilla of Spain. Then we must consider the recent experiment we’ve seen: In the semifinals, we had a chance to observe that these two finalists have two different faces. Both can defend the basket aggressively and can find easy points – and vice versa. One thing to note is that in the 2009-10 Eurocup final, Valencia played ALBA Berlin and we can say that Kosta Perovic, Matt Nielsen, Florent Pietrus, Victor Claver and Sergiy Lischuk were just merciless while defending. The latter three remain with Valencia and scoring from low post plays will not be easy for Kresimir Loncar, Khimki’s main aggressor under the rim.

Another point was the ability of Spartak St. Petersburg to find open shots against Khimki in the Final Four match. The Eurocup season in general showed us that Khimki kept their rivals’ scoring very low on some occasions but not quite frequently. Valeriy Likhodey did significant damages to Khimki especially in the second half and Nick Caner-Medley’s shooting-oriented game can do the same.

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BC Khimki Moscow region: In 15th anniversary year, on the verge of lucky three

In the leadup to the 2011-12 Eurocup Final Four tournament beginning on Saturday, Eurosport Turkey basketball commentator Uygar Karaca contributes a series of previews on the remaining quartet entitled “Four Teams, Four Stories” to BallinEurope.

Today, the final chapter of the series is devoted to BC Khimki Moscow region. With VTB United League and Russia Cup titles already in the club’s recent history, will they finally break through with a pan-European championship? Karaca seems to think so…

BC Khimki Moscow region is a relatively young club on the international basketball scene. However, they improved themselves quite rapidly: Coming from the same line of teams such as Avtador, Ural Great, UNICS and Lokomotiv Rostov which presented themselves as alternative powerhouses to CSKA Moscow, Khimki managed to earn a Russian Cup in 2008 and the VTB United League title in 2011. The missing trophy from the shelf is a pan-European prize. The team came close in 2006 against Joventut and in 2009 against Rytas with losses in the Eurocup finals both years. The hosts hope to be third-time lucky on their home court.

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Official Fearless Predictions™: France vs. Greece, Russia vs. Serbia

All right, so who had FYR Macedonia winning that game?

Come on! While the BallinEurope prognosticators took something of a hit in the comments section here beginning a few nanoseconds after Vlado Ilievski’s game-winner, few truly had this one pegged. Team Russia coach David Blatt kinda sorta probably wasn’t surprised, but even the mystical crustacean Lazdeika had Lithuania to win last night.

And hey, note that right here at BallinEurope it was guessed that “this game comes down to turnovers; FYR Macedonia needs to hang close throughout and exploit the three or four opportunities they get.”

(Incidentally, Macedonia won the turnover battle, 14-8.)

So BallinEurope plods forth with another two sets of official Fearless Predictions™ for tonight’s France-Greece and Serbia-Russia games. BiE’s man in the U.K. Sam Chadwick joins in on the fun in forecasting the matches again and, as yesterday, neither writer read the other’s opinion before posting.

Also provided strictly for the reader’s edification are some lines from the sportsbook, in this case Sporting Bet. As BiE previously stated, whether gambler or no, it pays for the fan to know the bookie’s stand; after all, these guys have the most to lose financially if they get it wrong. (But they cleaned up a bit last night, eh?)

And a few more YouTube clips…

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Russian Revolution: Ten teams announce break with Superleague to form new basketball association

In response to a “last straw,” i.e. the Russian Basketball Federation reformatting its season-ending tournament, 10 clubs in the country have announced their withdrawal from the competition and plans to make up a new Russian league.

The list includes essentially all the top names in Russian professional basketball and clubs who play Euroleague, EuroCup and EuroChallenge ball: CSKA Moscow, UNICS Kazan, Khimki Moscow region, Dynamo Moscow, Lokomotiv Kuban, Triump, Spartak St. Petersburg, Yenisei, Nizhny Novgorod, and Krasnye Krylya Samara.

No less a figure than CSKA Moscow president Andrei Vatutin read a brief public statement on behalf of the 10 dissident teams: “In this situation, we consider it impossible to take part in the [Russian Superleague] competition, having lost our confidence … We are convinced that only independent status of the tournament ensures a high level of competition, fair play and improves the quality of Russian basketball.”

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After Eurobasket, the future: Part Two

In part two of Ball in Europe’s look at Europe’s top teams following Eurobasket 2009, Francesco Cappelletti contributes his analysis of present and future for those nations who did not finish in Eurobasket’s top four. Part one, featuring looks at Spain, Serbia, Greece, and Slovenia, may be found by clicking here.

This didnt happen enough

This didn't happen enough

Absences: Mickael Pietrus, Yakhouba Diawara, Joakim Noah, Johan Petro.

A lot of people thought France would be a frontrunner in Eurobasket 2009, thanks to the team’s more detailed preparation thanks to qualifying round play, handily won against what remained of Italy and Belgium. In fact, France’s beginning was outstanding; OK, Group B was a joke, but many victories by slim margins (69-64 over Russia, 87-79 over Croatia, 71-69 over Greece) made us trust a very physical yet technically perfect team with teachers like Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, and Boris Diaw. Unfortunately, the improving Spain was not the team France expected after six wins in a row and France lost by 20: Come on, that’s a road accident! The confirmation came from the next games, wins against Turkey and Croatia.

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