Aug
37

BallinEurope’s 2010 FIBA World Championship power rankings 4.1

Whoa … anyone who thinks these “friendly” games in the runup to the 2010 FIBA World Championship don’t matter to the teams involved certainly wasn’t paying attention the literal battle that ensued during last night’s final game of the Acropolis Basketball Tournament between Greece and Serbia.

With the Acropolis tourney now in the books and a handful of other interesting friendlies having played out this week, BallinEurope gets ready for more international matches this weekend with another round of power rankings. Enjoy!

1. (↔) Spain. BiE has been warned that Team Spain’s 84-68 over Brazil in Logroño on Wednesday was well assisted by referees and Brazil without Tiago Splitter and Nene is hardly Brazil at all. On the other hand, Spain handled Argentina, Mike Krzyzewski’s got love for the Pau-less team, and Espana shows no serious signs of weakness.

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Jul
5

Incredibly, Phoenix Suns snag Josh Childress, Hedo Turkoglu

Crazy, but amazingly perfect. ESPN.com, among others, is reporting that not only have the Phoenix Suns acquired Hedo Turkoglu via trade with the Toronto Raptors, but that a sign-and-trade with the Atlanta Hawks has been worked out for Olympiacos’ Josh Childress.

Leandro Barbosa would be sent to the Raptors in pretty much a straight-up trade, while Childress’ Hawks-cum-Suns contract is good for $30 million over five years.

The interesting subplot here, as Ric Bucher pointed out, is that of Lon Babby. Babby is Turkoglu’s current agent, Childress’ former representative and currently considered to be the top candidate for the Suns’ open president position.

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Jul
1

Where will NBA’s European free agents go?

While everyone else in the basketball universe is watching the minute-by-minute maneuvers of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the like, BallinEurope has an eye on those powers from The Continent who may be moving around within the NBA to help reshape rosters for the 2010-11 season. Our man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, ruminates on the final destinations of 15 European NBA players. Os Davis provides the ever-popular (yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrre) fearless predictions.

Right, so everyone knows this is the summer of free agency, with possibly the top free agents ever to come on to the market in the NBA. In total, there are around 17 European players on the market – right now, we’re ranking the top 15.

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Jun
8

Official 2010 BallinEurope mock draft, version 3.1: Round two, the second 15

One more time, then. BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick concludes this website’s official mock draft with his final 15 choices for round two. As for BiE, well, even if there’s a lack of players from The Continent forecast for picks 46-60, i’m still pleased as punch a UNM alma mater gets in there…

46. Phoenix Suns: Derrick Caracter (6’9”, PF, UTEP, Junior). If Amare Stoudamire is heading out of town to join Lebron James in New York or going somewhere for that ever-elusive max contract, then the Suns may need a new athletic power forward who can continue to run pick-and-rolls with Steve Nash. If Dirk Nowitzki comes to the Suns, Caracter can be a valuable backup.

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Jun
May
2

WWDD? (What would Dirk do?) Four destinations for free agent Nowitzki

So the big German’s gonna do it, huh? The ever-loyal Dirk Nowitzki, he whom many would dub “the greatest European player of all-time,” will apparently be leaving the only NBA home he’s ever known to test the free-agent waters this summer, opting out of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

Not that anyone asked, but damn right, BallinEurope has an opinion on the subject of the baddest Mav’s prospective new freedom. Heck, i’ve been mulling this one over at least since i caught the PTI guys kicking around the concept.

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Apr
0

Stream of consciousness runs through Philippines, Serbia, Iran, Texas

Currently on tour in Serbia is a first-division club from the Philippines, Manila-based Smart Gilas Pilipinas. Smart Gilas has recorded one win thus far, taking a 91-84 victory last Thursday over Super Fund, a team that will be promoted to the Serbian first division for 2010-11.

The Serbian tour is an effort by Smart Gilas to “familiarize itself with the European style of basketball RP Serbian coach Rajko Toroman is espousing.”

This appears, at least based on Toroman’s CV, to be an especially prescient way to train a team. Beginning with a stint as assistant coach for Team Yugoslavia in 1991, Toroman has since run up an incredible career with stops (and championship titles) all over the world. Toroman has coached clubs KK Spartak, MyGuide Amsterdam, Keravnos and even Debreceni VSC. Perhaps the greatest single success Toroman has seen was in international play: As coach of the then-unheralded Iran team buoyed by Hamed Haddadi, Toroman helped put that country’s basketball program on the map once and for all by destroying nearly all comers in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championships.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Gilas also managed to take OKK Belgrade to the buzzer in a 80-79 game on Friday night.

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Feb
2

Confirmed: Divac’s “Once Brothers” in ESPN’s “30 for 30″ series

Thanks go out this morning to the folks at ESPN Communications and congratulations go out to Vlade Divac and filmmaker Michael Tolajian, whose documentary film “Jednom braća” (“Once Brothers”) has been confirmed as part of ESPN’s high-profile “30 for 30” documentary film series. The addition of Tolajian’s film to the series had been reported by Serbia media earlier this week.

The “30 for 30” series features medium-length films on a sports subject; among the notable names contributing directorial skills to the series are Barry Levinson, Steve Nash, Ice Cube and Morgan Freeman.

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Feb
4

Movie review: Streetballers

Amidst the NBA All-Star weekend festivities starting up tonight in Dallas, the independently-produced film Streetballers continues its distribution through America with a VIP celebrity/NBA charity screening and fundraiser. Set to host festivities is the Los Angeles Lakers’ Josh Powell, certainly the movie’s biggest fan (that’s his “best basketball film ever made” remark on promo material); P. Diddy will be hosting the post-screening bash.

Streetballers premiered in 2009 and stars Jimmy McKinney, the former University of Missouri/current Deutsche Bank Skyliners guard.

The film will be going on to local premieres in Miami, Washington D.C., and New York City – so how about bringing it to The Continent, Mr. Krentz? – but is available now in a special DVD edition (including lotsa extras) along with the soundtrack via NeoFlix. Click here for the official Streetballers movie website.

Review and official trailer follow.

It’s absurd if you think about it. Basketball itself, i mean. Seriously, what are we spending so much time doing, watching, obsessing over? An amusement involving humans displaying very specialized skills with the ultimate goal of inducing a ball to complete passage through a metal ring. That’s it.

Yet, to those who play the game, to those seek to make the game a life’s calling, to those who live and die with the games, it transcends. Strong individual personalities aside, team play in basketball requires a dissolution of the ego, a submission of self to greater altruistic good, to work best. Basketball can make one a better person, can bridge gaps in communication across fear and history, can bring pride to a nation.

Why? Call it the power of love of the game. And love, as we know, is its own reward.

Streetballers is a product of love of the game, and the first feature film from independent film quadruple threat director/producer/writer/lead actor Matthew Scott Krentz. It’s a deft exploration of true-to-life characters in a visual essay on how basketball links us all. (It’s no coincidence that the PR blurb on the film’s IMDB.com page leads with “Streetballers is for basketball what Field of Dreams was for baseball,” i.e. “Defining street basketball as America’s new favorite pastime” or, as an updated Terence Mann might say, “basketball has marked the time.”)

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Nov
4

Review: “The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons

The only good thing about getting a nasty flu? Easy: Lots of time for reading monster tomes like Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy. Thanks to a sentinel from the legion of The 2009 Killer Viruses, i was able to knock down all 697 pages of this thing – every “what if” scenario, every drop of gushy sycophantry about the Boston Celtics, every cheap shot at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, every improved list of reasons why, every obtuse pop-culture reference that would’ve sent me scurrying to access Wikipedia had i possessed the ability to crawl out of bed. Everything.

It’s not quite like proclaiming you’ve finished “Finnegan’s Wake,” but pride can be taken in the solace that this reader was perhaps among the first 100 to finish the volume on The Continent and probably the only one in Hungary. Apparently one needn’t have read The Book of Basketball to review it, as evidenced by the barrage of reviews (pretty much all of which landed firmly in either the Simmons damn near the greatest sportswriter ever or the “Simmons is overrated and, frankly, passé” camp) that somehow appeared throughout the blogosphere within 24 hours of the book’s release on Amazon.com. (Come on, there’s no way ESPN Books sent out *that* many review copies.)

If you’re clueless as to what the vitriol contained in the above-cited negative review is all about, well, you’re not alone. One can’t help but wonder, however, just how much of The Book of Basketball Charles P. Pierce looked at with an open mind and how much he, you know, *read* of this book. (Is it possible that Pierce’s 2000 book “Sports Guy,” apparently titled without knowledge of what a barely-known blogger was doing in Boston, has something to do with it…? Nah.)

Yes, all the deadpan humor, friend-referencing and fierce homerism so characteristic of The Sports Guy’s columns over at ESPN.com are in here, but Simmons and editor Gary Hoenig realize that The Book of Basketball wasn’t to be a simple rehashing of internet work or stapled together newspaper column-like bits, but a freaking *book* for Hemingway’s sake.

And kudos to them, because The Book of Basketball is exactly what Simmons (and basketball) fans deserve: The Sports Guy’s writing – coupled with his insane encyclopedic knowledge of the game – refined.

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