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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 +++
Sep
1

EuroBasket Power Rankings: Spain rise to the top

Just in time for today’s semi finals to prove us completely wrong, here’s our updated Power Rankings for EuroBasket 2013 after the quarter final round.

1. Spain. It’s a what have you done for me lately business and nobody has done more than Spain. They leap Croatia on the back of an utter rout of Serbia.

2. Croatia. A second quarter spurt against Ukraine gave the Croats a decisive lead that they never gave up. This team has now won 8 straight.

3. Lithuania. Total coin toss between Lithuania and France following the quarter finals, the Lithuanians greater consistency in round two means they stay ahead for now.
Continue Reading…

Sep
0

Goran and Zoran Dragic send Slovenia to 2014 FIBA World Cup

After the disappointment of Wednesday night’s quarter final loss, the Dragic brothers had huge games for Slovenia to beat Serbia and book their tickets to Spain next year.

Listen to the good Vibrations!
Do you hear the crazy Game?
Do you smell the scent of Glory?
Do you feel the hug of fame?

Slovenia booked their place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup with a comprehensive 92-74 victory over Serbia in Ljubljana on Thursday. The classification round will decide which of the four losing quarter finalists won’t make it to the World Cup next year. From the start Slovenia decided they weren’t going to wait around for the win or go home game. A 30-16 opening quarter set the tone and it was the Dragic brothers who drove the offence.

Come and feel Slovenian Fire,
feel the passion of our Song!
We enjoy the same Desire,
don’t think twice, just sing along!

Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns scored 15 points, collected 4 boards, and dished a game-high 5 assists. Not to be outdone, Zoran Dragic led the game in scoring and rebound with 23 and 9 to go with his 4 assists. Barely 16 hours after their quarter final loss to France, the home side roared out the gate. By half time the lead had grown to 53-35. Much like the day before, Serbia had been shocked by the hot start of their opponents and were struggling just to stay competitive at the break.

I feel Power in my Soul.
My Heart beats for Basketball.
Hear the proud Slovenian call.
Feel the heartbeat of us all.

Whatever hopes of a comeback Serbia held were quickly dashed. The Serbs delivered their most productive quarter of offence but Slovenia were canny enough to keep the margin wide. Dusan Ivkovic’s charges needed a big run to give the hosts doubts but Jaka Blazic, with 15 points and 5 rebounds, and Mirza Begic, with 10 points and 6 boards, meant Serbia had more than Goran and Zoran to worry about. There was only one way this was going.

We’re united in our Passion!
We’re united in the Pride!
We’re united in one Colour!
Join us on the winning side!

So it wasn’t the medal Slovenia wanted but securing a place in Spain next year is a solid consolation prize. Serbia, who had impressed greatly before the knockout stages, now need to regroup. They have one more game, one final shot, at making it to Spain. With an ever-crowded field seeking wild cards, Ivkovic will want to take care of business and not leave anything to chance. Twice in two days his young side has suffered. A third straight defeat would mean more than just a bad end to this tournament.

 

Sep
0

Preview: EuroBasket Quarter Finals – Croatia vs Ukraine and Lithuania vs Italy

Three more teams will book their place in the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Thursday as the quarter finals of EuroBasket 2013 conclude. Here’s are take and picks on both games as well as the classification game between Slovenia and Serbia where the winner books a ticket to Spain. 

Croatia lost their first game in Slovenia and then rattled off seven straight wins to secure a favourable draw in the last eight. The Croats have power inside and will look to dominate on the glass, where they have averaged 43.1 rebounds per game. After beating Ukraine home and away in the qualification round last year, it’s hardly a surprise to see Croatia as favourites for this game. This is a team however which is almost addicted to making life difficult irrespective of the opponent. Only one of Croatia’s run of victories came in a manner that could remotely be described as comfortable. Every other game was a battle often of the Croats own doing. This will give hope to Ukraine which will rely heavily on three-point shooting to keep the game competitive and make the favourites nervous. Mike Fratello’s team lives and dies by how Pooh Jeter plays. What Croatia do to shut down the world’s biggest fan of borscht could prove decisive. The bookies have Croatia down as -8 favourites. That looks about right to me. Croatia to advance.

The second quarter final today sees Italy take on Lithuania. Raptors Republic is calling this tournament JonasBasket and while there’s an element of insular thinking there, for one evening they may have a point. Lithuania can bang hard with anybody and Jonas Valanciunas will have an important role to play in this game. Italy’s struggles inside hurt them in the second stage and they will need Alessandro Gentile to match his big display against Spain for this game to be competitive. There’s certainly talent on the Italian roster, with Marco Belinelli and Gigi Datome both impressing at this tournament. What the duo needs most is help. I expect a heavy emphasis on defence from Lithuania early to try and frustrate Italy before the favourites look to punch a big hole on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Lithuania are favoured by 5.5 points and again this looks about right. Power inside will make the difference. Lithuania to win.

Before today’s quarter finals take place, the first of the classification games will see Slovenia take on Serbia. The home side lost to France in a contest that took a while to get going last night while the Serbs were swept aside by Spain. The emotional energy spent by Slovenia is a big concern going into this game. While Serbia will have been shocked by the way they were manhandled by Spain, it’s easier to get back mentally after a laugher than the type of draining game Slovenia played. I’m going for the slight upset here and picking Serbia.

Sep
0

EuroBasket: France grind past Slovenia 72-62

The home side exited EuroBasket 2013 after a quarter final that took a while to come to life.

This game started ugly but Slovenia clearly came out the better of the first quarter. Going in 14-10 up at the end of the final frame, there was reason for the home crowd to be hopeful. Neutrals however well already being overcome with a sense of dread. The offence in the first half was terrible. Slovenia shot 11of 33. France went 11 of 34. It gets worse when you dig inside the numbers. The Slovenians were happy to go deep. Unfortunately their accuracy was vile. Going just 1 of 14 from beyond the arc early, the underdogs weren’t getting the big shots they needed to plant the seeds of an upset. The home side’s futility however was balanced by France’s own failure, going a meagre 9 of 28 on 2s. France went in 26-24 up at the break.

Any kind of a run had the potential to blow this game open. It was France who found it. Pushing 36-26 ahead, Les Bleus developed a cushion and from there the pressure was on Slovenia. Had this been a game where either offence was in passable form, the chances of the hosts countering with a run of their own would have been good. The crowd in Ljubiana however knew their men weren’t on tonight. Goran Dragic was trying to be a do everything player for his side, creating and scoring in a spirited performance, but as Slovenia’s effort to cut the deficit kept hitting a wall he looked like he was trying to do too much.

With 3 minutes to go it was a two-possession game, Slovenia had a shot to make the French nervous. Another offensive set failed and France punished them. Trailing 67-60 with time running out a Bostjan Nachbar three was off. Tony Parker hit a lay-up on the next possession. Slovenia’s next run up the court fell short too and now it was time to foul but the French had time on their side. It was anything but a polished performance but France had done enough. After a first half where offence went to die, France came out hard from the locker room and left the home side in their wake.

Slovenia won’t win a medal here but they will need to make home court advantage count to secure their place in the FIBA World Cup next year. France’s place in Spain is now locked up. Their next opponents will be a Spanish side that ran riot against Serbia.

Sep
0

Preview: Serbia vs Spain and Slovenia vs France – EuroBasket Quarter Finals

Arguably the two best matched quarter finals of EuroBasket 2013 talk place on Wednesday. Serbia take on Spain in a re-match of the 2009 final while hosts Slovenia take on France.

Serbia vs Spain – 17.30 CET

The young and improving Serbs take on the winners of the last two EuroBaskets. The key match-ups here will come with the guards. Spain has a deep rotation to work with, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, Sergio Rodriguez, and Sergio Llull may all prefer playing the 1 but they have the versatility to make for solid pairings. Serbia’s big question is over the health of their guards. Nemanja Nedovic and Stefan Markovic are each nursing injuries, which will put pressure on Bogdan Bogdanovic to deliver big. On the inside Nenad Krstic is going to go to war with Marc Gasol. There’s no question the Spaniard holds the edge here but Krstic has the ability to at least make a fight of it. My big concern here has been Spain’s inconsistency. Countering that however is their defence which remains stout. The bookies say Spain -6.5, I’m going to go a bit closer than that but still a two-possession game at the death. Spain to advance.

Slovenia vs France – 21.00 CET

First things first. Do you feel basketball?

Good stuff. The hosts have benefited greatly from some big time performances from Goran Dragic. With 15.4 points and 4.4 assists per game, the Phoenix Sun has impressed throughout the tournament. Slovenia opted to rest him for much of their game against Finland, with a view to this match-up. On paper it’s hard to see anything but a French win. They have talent, they have depth, and in Alexis Ajinca they have a non-star who is a joy to watch. Believing in this French team is another matter entirely. The eyeball test is dangerous but I’ve watched a lot of France in this tournament and they just look like a team hoping to get everything together by the knockout stages. For all their talent, they are far from refined. Slovenia’s depth can certainly be questioned but in terms of sheer organisation, they look a step ahead of the French. Throw in a partisan home crowd and you’ve got the recipe for an upset. Time to be fearless. Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, y’all are great but I think you’re going to the classification games. Slovenia to win.

Who do you think comes out on top today? Tell us in the comments.

Sep
5

EuroBasket Power Rankings: And then there were eight

Where once there was 12 now stand 8. The quarter finals are set so it’s time to update our Power Rankings.

There are some radical changes but I still expect plenty of you will be upset. Take aim in the comments.

1. Croatia (4-1). It was really tough to decide between first and second here. Three straight wins in the second round, including that unreal 2OT win over Greece on Monday, were just enough for them to get top slot. 

2. Serbia (4-1). So that ranking of 9 was harsh. Serbia still clearly have a lot of work to do but their win over France was particularly impressive.

3. Slovenia (3-2). The home team is really getting the crowd involved in their games. Their win over Italy exposed some of the latter’s failings. Following that up with a heart-stopper over Greece was enough to take third here. We’re not counting what was clearly a nothing game against Finland against them.
Continue Reading…

Sep
3

EuroBasket 2013 Quarter Final pairings set

The last game in stage two has yet to start but the four quarter final pairings for EuroBasket 2013 are set. Here’ are the pairings.

Serbia vs Spain

Lithuania vs Italy

Croatia vs Ukraine

Slovenia vs France

The first two games on Monday set the slate in stone. Greece lost any hope at making the quarter finals with their double overtime 92-88 loss to Croatia. Italy and Spain were left to decide the order of the top two quarter finals, with the loser getting Group E winner Serbia. Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies led the game in stats with 32 points and 10 rebounds but Alessandro Gentile made up for his lacklustre display against Croatia with 25 points and 7 boards. New San Antonio Spur Marco Belinelli had another good outing for Italy, with 16 points and 8 rebounds before fouling out while Marco Cusin, who also fouled out, put up 4 points and 11 boards. It took overtime to decide it but Italy took the win 86-81. Now all they have to do is repeat that success on the inside to lock up a place in the FIBA World Cup next year. Against a Lithuanian team that can bang hard, that’s no easy ask.

We’ll have previews up for the quarter finals later this week but bear in mind that the placement games in this tournament also matter. With Spain already having their place in the World Cup secure, all but one of the other quarter finalists will be making the trip next year. Tell us who you think misses out in the comments.

Sep
2

Eurobasket: Slovenia and Croatia progress, Spain win

We know half of the teams through from Group F after a wild Saturday. Two Balkan teams locked up their places in the quarter-finals with wins today while Spain cruised to their first win in the second phase.

Damn that crowd makes a difference. Slovenia and Greece delivered one of the ugliest first quarters of offence we’ve seen all tournament but the home team was perfect from the line to move into a 13 point lead after the first frame. That lead grew to 26 points before the inevitable Greek fight-back. Greece knocked 20 off the lead to make it a two possession game inside the final two minutes. Slovenia dug deep yet again, with the Dragic brothers combining for 39 points, 10 boards, and 6 rebounds en route to a 73-65 victory. It was a nervous finish but the win puts the home team top of the group and safely through to the last eight.
Continue Reading…

Sep
0

Maybe Italy should start jacking up 3s and Dragic loves his bro

Italy have been quiet from beyond the arc in Eurobasket 2013 so far but their success rate means they might want to go deep more often.

Simon Jatsch of In-the-game.org has publish five charts on Twitter today with some fascinating stats on EuroBasket 2013. The number that jumps out is Italy’s success from three-point range despite taking the second fewest attempts in the tournament.

In-the-game.org's stats on three point shooting at Eurobasket 2013
Italy are converting 46.8 per cent of their shots from beyond the arc but only 28.5 per cent of their shots have been threes. Only Israel have taken fewer three-point attempts. On the opposite end of the scale Finland are one of three teams to have taken over 40 per cent of their chances from long range but are in the bottom four for the tournament in conversion rate. Of the medal contenders, the team with the biggest opportunity to break out looks to be Serbia. With 29.9 per cent of threes converted, the Serbs need to raise their game to stay amongst the medal contenders. They are however playing smart and limiting their efforts from long range while they work out the kinks, taking just 32.7 per cent of their shots from beyond the arc.

In addition to threes, Simon has put together four other charts. Check out this great graphic of where assists leader Goran Dragic drops his dimes. Here’s a look at Alessandro Gentile’s off-dribble scoring. Unsurprisingly his brother Zoran has been one of the chief beneficiarys. Bosnia’s Zack Wright leads under-sized rebounders, and it turns out Russia were rather good in steals and blocks.

Sep
0

Open Thread: Eurobasket Group F gets under way

The second day of action in stage two sees the Group F teams take centre stage. Here’s the docket for today and our picks.

Finland (1-1) vs. Croatia (1-1) – 14.30

Greece (0-2) vs. Spain (1-1) – 17.45

Slovenia (1-1) vs. Italy (2-0) – 21.00

The bookies favour Croatia (-4.5), Spain (-6.5), and Slovenia (-3.5). BiE’s power rankings stirred some controversy as we rated all six Group F teams in our top eight of the tournament so far. Two of these teams however aren’t going to be hanging around. In terms of need, Slovenia knows an early start is big so I’m going with the home team to win. Spain’s number looks about right and I like them too. Finland and Croatia looks made to go down to the wire. I’m picking Croatia but to win by less than the bookies say.

Give us your picks in the comments.