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BiE’s editor takes the ice bucket challenge, nominates Basketball Ireland boss +++ Žydrūnas Ilgauskas considering a comeback? Wow LeBron has power +++ The Dream Team’s children +++ Highlights: Belgium beat Belarus, Germany stay alive +++ EuroBasket 2015: Bosnia, Belgium, Israel, and Latvia lock up spots +++ First Person: Follow the FIBA World Cup through BiE’s eyes +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer: The Final – USA vs France +++ Tight knit Iceland too much for Great Britain +++ EuroBasket 2015: Round-up and Highlights from Wednesday’s qualifiers +++ FIBA dropped a sweet promo for the World Cup +++
May
2

NIJT wrap: Lietuvos Rytas takes title; plus, BiE’s nine European (and one Chinese) prospects to watch

Sanli: Glue guy, team player

Congratulations this afternoon go out to the Lietuvos Rytas junior team, which handled home team Fenerbahçe Ülker in the championship game of the 2012 Nike International Junior Tournament. Before something of a sedate crowd (perhaps folks here are a bit sedate and/or hungover after last night’s city-rocking goalless match – hey, it’s football – in which Galatasaray took the Turkish league title over FBU), L. Rytas controlled tempo, game and scoreboard throughout for an 88-70 victory in Istanbul.

Now that the proverbial fat lady has sung, BiE goes through 10 names European basketball and NBA fans might want to keep track of in the medium-term future – some of these guys are certainly destined for international stardom before decade’s end. Please note that the following are not necessarily the best players in the tournament, but rather those who BiE believes have the most upside or could simply surprise those not in-the-know once they’ve risen to the next level.

BiE’s “Who’s Who” from the 2012 NIJT includes the following.

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May
0

Nike International Junior Tournament: Lietuvos Rytas torches Crvena Zvezda to reach finals

Just completed was the deciding game in Group A of the Nike International Junior Tournament – and for Crvena Zvezda the results were ugly indeed.

While Dusan Ristic had his now-standard killer game for the Croatian side with 21 points and 10 rebounds, the tenacious play of the Lithuanians (clearly still rolling from their incredible second half against FC Barcelona yesterday) resulted in a huge 105-69 victory for Lietuvos Rytas. Augustinas Jankaitis chased his double-double of 16/13 yesterday – and augmented his chances of ultimately being named MVP of this tourney – with an amazing 30-point, 11-rebound performance.

Once again, Crvena Zvezda appeared to consciously eschew a physical game, a style which this Lithuanian side is not at all afraid to play. L. Rytas won the battle of the boards handily, with 39 against the Red Star’s mere 26.

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May
3

Notes from the Nike International Junior Tournament, day two

BallinEurope took in a couple of Nike International Junior Tournament games today – namely, Crvena Zvezda vs. Anadolu Efes and Lietuvos Rytas vs. FC Barcelona. A few brief impressions gleaned follow.

• Early on, Crvena Zvezda appeared intimidated by Anadolu Efes, a much more physical team than the previous day’s opponent, FC Barcelona – but somehow while the Red Stars mostly shied away from going inside and gave up turnovers by the bundle, big man Marko Tejic somehow amassed three fouls in less than three minutes.

• In the first half, Crvena Zvezda showed their fantastic wiles with tight defensive rotations and traps, though proving susceptible on the baseline; this allowed the larger frontcourt of Efes to score essentially every time a guard managed to find his man there.

• Speaking of those Efes guards, BiE’s eye was caught by the play of Furkan Bayrak and particularly Cedi Osman. Both showed nice game-management skills and in fact the Efes lead began to noticeably crumble when Bayrak and Osman both sat for a spell, allowing Crvena Zvezda to knot things up at 22 in the second quarter.

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May
2

Notes from the Nike International Junior Tournament, day one

As befits tradition, the 2012 Nike International Junior Tournament is running in parallel with the Euroleague Final Four competition in Istanbul. Eight youth league teams are competing for the grand prize – and, individually speaking, to garner some attention from club scouts as each player’s career burgeons on the big stage.

In the bigger picture, the NIJT games (and introductory qualifying tournaments) also serve as a handy barometer of club play on the national level. After day one, then, it’s good news for Croatia and Lithuania, whose homegrown squads swept, and bad news for Turkey, as powerhouses Fenerbahçe Ülker and Anadolu Efes both lost. And what’s up with FC Barcelona…?

KK Zagreb 79, Fenerbahçe Ülker 76
As though The Next Big Thing Out Of Croatia, a.k.a. 2011 NIJT MVP Dario Saric, weren’t enough, NIJT competitors will also apparently now have to take notice of Dominik Mavra as well. While Saric put in a ridiculous man-among-boys performance of 26 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and five steals, Mavra “added” 30 points and six boards as the pair consistently foiled any attempt by Fenerbahçe to establish their tempo: Each went to the free-throw line 12 times in the game and accounted for over 70% of the Croatian side’s points.

Crvena Zvezda 86, FC Barcelona Regal 77
The much-touted Blaugrana suffered a disappointing performance against Crvena Zvezda to take a nine-point loss after going up 18-12 in the first quarter and 20-15 after 10 minutes of play. Worse for Spanish basketball, Barcelona’s main contributors were foreigners Ludde “El Matador Sueco” Hakanson, Nick Spires and Alexandr Zhigulin. Crvena Zvezda’s big men pretty much had their way with Barça’s – even Spires’ 13 points belies his frustrating 4-of-15 overall shooting – as Serbia’s Dusan Ristic put in a crushing 23-point, 12-rebound (including six offensive) show.

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Jan
0

11-for-11: BallinEurope’s Most 11 popular stories from 2011

So 2011 may have been few people’s favorite year personally, European basketball fans have certainly got to be taking solace in the fact that the past 12 months featured a seriously great run of Continental-flavored hoops.

To wit, in 2011, we enjoyed:

• an exciting round of Euroleague playoffs which included FC Barcelona’s surprising tournament-round exit and culminated in storied franchise Panathinaikos bagging its third EL trophy in five years;

• in domestic leagues, another weird Bundesliga playoff tournament, another controversial Greek tourney, and from Italy and Spain second-place shockers Bennet Cantù and Bizkaia Bilbao Basket advancing;

• lots of European superstars battling it out in the NBA playoffs, particularly on the Western Conference side, with Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and of course Dirk Nowitzki proving so key to their teams’ successes (or lack thereof);

the Eurobasket 2011 tournament hosted in the world’s basketball-maddest country which ultimately inspired Team Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic to opine that “this has been the strongest European Championship in history…” (and, judging only from the star content alone, BiE would probably agree, despite a general loathing for such hyperbole directly after an event);

• some awesome schadenfreude-laced moments as NBA refugees came to play on the Continent during the player lockout, plus all the incredibly amusing speculation on names beginning with Kobe Bryant; and finally

• the close to the 2011-12 Euroleague regular season with a week 10 that featured some crazy dogfights for entry and positioning in the Top 16 round, including a great do-or-die game between Emporio Armani Milano and Partizan Belgrade.

Olympic Games or no, how can basketball year 2011 be topped? On the first day of the new year, BallinEurope takes a last brief look back at the most popular stories we ran in 2011. Relive one killer 365 days of European roundball once more below.

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Dec
3

Posters absoluts & Monsterdunken: The Eurocentric slam dunk of 2011 – plus 25 others

Before BallinEurope signs off for 2011, let’s give a late Christmas gift to the dunkaholics out there, shall we? Below runs a collection compiled through the year featuring dunks by Europeans, on Europeans or perhaps simply in Continental games.

The first 20 will listed by competition, followed the top five runners-up and the champion jam of the year. Who will be no. 1? Read (and watch) on to find out…

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Aug
7

Eurobasket 2011: London and/or Joel Freeland prepares

How does BallinEurope contributor Sam Chadwick’s basketball career fit in with that of Joel Freeland, Portland Blazers draft pick in 2006 and current Team Britain/Unicaja Malaga player? Read on to find out, together with an assessment of Freeland’s recent performance in the London Invitational Tournament. (And requisite YouTube clip!)

In the summer of 2007, I had just finished my under-15 season and I had a hard task ahead: After playing as a forward my whole three-year career, being just 5’8”, I had to learn how to play the point; I had to work on my ball-handling and passing ability to be able to get any playing time the next season. I spoke to the legendary Solent coach Jimmy Guymon to ask if I could have some private sessions on Friday nights with some of the other under-18s looking to head to the United States and the under-16s looking to improve for their under-18 and final years.

I remember the first session well: It was held at Woodlands School on the other side of Southampton; the main sports hall was in use when I arrived but at the end of the corridor was a smaller hall, not even half a basketball court but with two hoops and a wood sprung floor…

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Aug
3

Yi gods! Jianlian throws it down over Barac, Croatia

The posterization of last weekend? Well, would you believe it involved Yi Jianlian on the offensive side? Truth is, Team China didn’t have much to celebrate vis-à-vis their participation in the London Invitational Tournament – even losing to theretofore winless Britain – but at least Yi made the highlight reel in his team’s 30-point blowout loss to Croatia on Sunday; see below the break for the clip. By the way, that’s mostly Stanko Barac on the receiving end.

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Feb
0

Türk Telekom tournament tips off in Turkey

Tipping off yesterday in Turkey with a full slate of games was the U16 Türk Telekom tournament. The 12-team competition is stacked with European sides, including the hosts, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, and Ukraine; China, Iran and Puerto Rico fill out the field. Defending champions Serbia are not participating.

The always-excellent European Prospects naturally provides a top-notch preview of the tournament here, and highlights may be seen here. Enjoy!

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Sep
3

FIBA Women’s World Championship: Giants cruise, pool play ends today

Taurasi seeks revenge

Another full slate of games is going on today in the Czech Republic with the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women entering game three of pool play.

Team Canada and Team Japan managed to turn in the first surprises of the tournament yesterday in overcoming China and Argentina, respectively, but otherwise it seems like business as usual. As this is being written, the Americans are holding a double-digit lead against heretofore undefeated France, presumably leaving Spain alone with the triple-headed monster of USA, Russia and Australia among the lossless teams.

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