Tim “Der Nächste Nowitzki” Ohlbrecht moves up to Houston Rockets, to become eighth-ever German NBA player

Congratulations go out from BallinEurope to Tim Ohlbrecht, who has made the jump to the NBA in signing with the increasingly interesting (and increasingly European-spiced) Houston Rockets – and whoa, are some Germany-based news outlets excited.

In reporting on the contract, which has the former Frankfurt Skyliners/Telekom Baskets Bonn/Rio Grande Valley Vipers big man locked in with Houston through this season plus a club option through 2014-15, Bild labels Ohlbrecht “der nächste Nowitzki” while getting positively giddy about the possibility of the 24-year-old matching up against Dirk (and sidekick Chris Kaman) when the Rockets face the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Der Spiegel meanwhile quotes recently-hired Team Germany head coach Frank Menz as stating that he was “impressed by Tim’s development in the U.S., particularly [in athleticism],” noting that “It shows great will and ambition to [get to the NBA] the hard way, through the D-League.”

Less than a week ago, Ohlbrecht’s agent Tyler Glass informed Sportando that his client had turned down a 10-day contract offer from the Boston Celtics; in hindsight, this appears quite the shrewd move by Glass, who perhaps knew of the much more attractive offer from the playoff-contending Rockets.

After four seasons with Giants Leverkusen and Brose Baskets Bamberg, Ohlbrecht declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft back in 2010, but his name went uncalled. He returned to the German Bundesliga thereafter to play with Bonn and Frankfurt in turn before reentering the Rockets system this season with the D-League Vipers; his stat line there includes marks of 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. And since 2008, Ohlbrecht has played summers with Team Germany.

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Podcast: Interviews with Ettore Messina, Viktor Khryapa; ruminations on, well, a lotta stuff

Now up and running is episode #12 of the “Taking the Charge” podcast series, a co-production of heinnews.com and BallinEurope.

Amid a lot of chatting on recent events in basketball including the frankly bizarre $250,000 fine handed the San Antonio Spurs for recently not suiting up stars to play the Miami Heat in a televised game; Team Spain’s new coach Juan Antonio Orenga, who BiE believes could well have been the perfect choice for the job; questions of who might be the perfect coach for Team Germany (to be announced tomorrow) and Team Russia (to be announced on/by December 24), a question to which BiE has a perfect answer for either; and various Euroleague/NBA speculation, analysis and such.

The real highlights, however, are the brief-but-telling interviews with CSKA Moscow head coach Ettore Messina and his big man Viktor Khryapa. David Hein’s chat with Messina comes particularly recommended: In fewer than 500 words, the Red Army general manages to succinctly explain why CSKA will only get better as the Euroleague season goes on (yikes!), two areas in which his coaching was improved by his year with the Los Angeles Lakers organization and his take on FIBA’s international tournament format changes.

Plus, as always, Taking the Charge brings you fresh music (this time it’s Vir, post-punk hailing from New Zealand and operating in Oakland, plus the movie of the week, the classic American football-themed Marx Brothers flick “Horse Feathers.”

Check out the entire podcast here, and talk to you next week on Taking the Charge!

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Götterdämmerung in Munich as Bauermann fired

BallinEurope has been following the Bayern München story since the club began its bold resurrection to prominence, but the tale took an unexpected turn yesterday as officials announced that German national program overseer Dirk Bauermann had been fired as Bayern’s coach.

In an official press release, Bayern club officials stated that “After intensive conversations, the authorities at FC Bayern Munich … fired head coach Dirk Bauermann with immediate effect. Dirk Bauermann was informed this afternoon about the decision.

“The reason for the firing lies in the differing ideals over the future development of basketball at FC Bayern Munich.”

BiE’s having a bit of a problem imagining exactly what those differences where, particularly since Bauermann has taken the second-division club all the way up to Eurocup play in two seasons – though Germany-based heinnews tells of rumors that Bauermann was canned in connection with a bit of partying by players Jared Homan, Tyrese Rice and Chevon Troutman following a recent preseason match with Alba Berlin.

Yannis Christopoulos, most recently of Cyprus powerhouse Apoel BC has been named head coach

A press conference is scheduled for today at 11.45 CET.

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EuroBasket 2013 draw seedings: Some thoughts

Exactly what the title says then – BallinEurope takes a look at the seedings for the EuroBasket 2013 draw and riffs a bit. As we know, the six groups from which the final divisions will be comprised look as follows.

No. 1 seeds: Spain, France, Russia, FYR Macedonia

No. 2 seeds: Lithuania, Greece, Slovenia, Great Britain

No. 3 seeds: Italy, Croatia, Germany, Montenegro

No. 4 seeds: Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina

No. 5 seeds: Georgia, Belgium, Latvia, Turkey

No. 6 seeds: Czech Republic, Serbia, Israel, Sweden

Mulled-over reactions follow.

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EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers: Five prospective NBA players making noise

This one’s exactly what the title says; this morning, BallinEurope takes a brief look at five key players competing in the ongoing EuroBasket 2013 qualifying round with NBA contracts signed or rights owned. Let’s get right to it, then, beginning with a couple of reasons Brooklyn Nets fans should be a heckuva lot more optimistic than they were post-D12 rejection.

• Mirza Teletovic, PF – Team Bosnia & Herzegovina, rights owned by the Brooklyn Nets. If Teletovic’s signing by the Nets this offseason could be classified as “under the radar,” the longtime Caja Laboral stud is a massive attention-grabbing phenomenon on the screen right now. The excellently-named From Russia With Dunk proclaimed Teletovic to be “dominating” in EuroBasket 2013 qualifying games; NBC Sports described his play as “tearing it up”; at Ridiculous Upside, he’s “lighting it up” – all statements made with justifiable reason.

BiE doesn’t believe FIBA names a EuroBasket qualifying round MVP, but Teletovic could make quite an impressive case for the theoretical award. The prospective Net boasts a stat line of 25.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks per game for his 4-2 side. Team Bosnia & Herzegovina has been content to dump the ball inside to Teletovic continuously to the tune of 20.7 shots per game, tops in the qualifiers. Teletovic’s best showings have come against the woefully outmuscled Netherlands, who he’s punished for lines of 33/6 and 36/7.

At 6’9”, Teletovic will not solve all of Brooklyn’s problems underneath, but right now he’s looking like a reasonable upgrade from Kris Humphries. Nice signing.

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Jonas Jerebko: “We’ve got a young, deep team and we’re gonna make the playoffs”

Team Sweden is having its troubles on The Road to Slovenia in the FIBA EuroBasket 2013 qualifying round, currently at just 1-2 in Group B to place them behind Germany, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan (!). After the team’s 81-66 loss on Friday to Team Deutschland, Sweden’s NBA representative and top scorer at 22.0 ppg in the tourney, Jonas Jerebko, was surprisingly optimistic regarding his Detroit Pistons’ chances in 2012-13 and stoically realistic/pessimistic about the national team.

Jerebko was quite sunny about the 2012-13 edition of Pistons. The goal, Jerebko reckons, is to make the playoffs – an aim which, despite playing what the Swede calls “playoff-level basketball,” was well missed in ‘11-12. As for Team Sweden, well … despite a “very bright future,” making a proper splash in EuroBasket competitions will happen “not right now.”

The full interview with the “Swedish Eagle” by the appropriately-named Germany-based Sport Eagle TV runs below – and then a sweet highlight clip.

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NBA turn for Pleiss on ice; may play Spanish ball for four years

Prior to the BBL Supercup in Bamberg of last week, Sport Eagle TV got an interview with Tibor Pleiß, who won two – no, three – consecutive Bundesliga championships and three German Cups with Brose Baskets. Pleiß was drafted at no. 31 overall by the New Jersey Nets and his rights ultimately landed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With Pleiß set to play for Caja Laboral Baskonia this season, OKC fans already know they have to wait; unfortunately for them, it may be something of a long wait indeed – but at least the 22-year-old has his head on straight vis-à-vis the medium term: “I had the chance to go to the NBA, but on my mind was to go to Spain for a couple of years, three, four, to make the next step, to [become] a better player.”

A tad disappointing for European basketball enthusiasts who have been following Pleiß’ progress since making the Bundesliga with the Köln 99ers back in 2006 it may be, but this most likely represents the best choice for a guy who would likely be buried on the bench of a title contender in what should be his formative years.

See below for Pleiß’ discussing topics such as missing the Olympics, the future of Team Germany, playing for Baskonia and his progress in learning Spanish.

Team Germany ended up winning Beko Supercup 2012 with a 78-74 victory over Pleiß’ future teammate Maciej Lampe and Poland.


Twenty years ago today: The Barcelona Games

The 1992 Olympic Games, the Games of the XXV Olympiad: The first to be held without mass boycotts and, by many estimation, the greatest Olympics ever in presentation, hosting, and competition. It was the Games of Hungarian swimmer Krisztina Egerszegi, of Belorussian/Unified Team member Vitaly Scherbo in gymnastics, of the Russian men’s swimming team, of Cuban baseball – but most of all it was basketball that took center stage on the worldwide court in Barcelona.

On this day in 1992, the Dream Team, Team Croatia and Team Lithuania played in their first-ever Olympic basketball games. In memory of these fantastic, historically significant squads, BallinEurope presents some highlight clips from the ’92 Games.

Day one of 1992 Olympic basketball saw the tournament’s powers take care of business: tie-dyed Lithuania handled China, 112-75; Croatia bested Brazil, 93-76; and the stripped-down CIS/USSR side got past Venezuela, 78-64. Of course, the game the world was watching that day would be the biggest laugher of the entire competition: The Dream Team’s infamous 116-48 decimation of Angola.

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Twenty Years Ago Today: A European Dream Team for 1992

When basketball fans look back on the 1992 Olympic Games, the top three topics are the awesomeness of the Dream Team, the success of Lithuania playing its first Olympic hoops as an independent nation, and the success of Croatia playing its first Olympic hoops as an independent nation.

Fair enough, BiE supposes, but what about those other NBA-level and/or Euroleague-dominating players in the Barcelona tournament? And what about the historical story surrounding Europe’s other three teams in those ‘Games? Herewith, a European Dream Team of sorts for the ‘92 Olympics plus a tiny bit of backstory and lotsa highlight clips.

As host nation, Team Spain received an automatic bid to the Barcelona Games. Though no slouches in Olympic play – Los Rojos had earned a spot in five of the six previous tournaments, including a silver-medal finish in the Soviet boycott Games of 1984 – history shows that more important in the bigger picture was that 12-year-olds such as Juan Carlos Navarro and Pau Gasol were watching and gaining inspiration.

Spain finished in ninth place after going 1-4 in group play (including a 122-81 drubbing at the hands of the Dreams) and were led in ’92 by long-time national team stars Jordi Villacampa

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God, please give us victories!

In advancing to the 2012 Olympic Games, Team Lithuania has written itself into the record books. BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y. wants you to understand just how important this achievement is to the people of that basketball-adoring country…

“God, please give us victories. Some people don’t understand: This is all we have left. Basketball is the only thing that is keeping Lithuania together. The cheering, the singing, the same colors, all of this is what reminds me of who we are. We are a union, a family and some stupid Lithuanians make me forget that all the time. But when I look at our amazing team, who put their last efforts into winning, I cannot be happier. So God, please give us victories, all we want is to stay a country.” –L. Hasai in “And you? Are you aware of what this means for Lithuania?” the video celebrating the 2010 edition of the Lithuanian national team

Go and ask anyone who understands. It was a question of life or death for Lithuanian basketball last week in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela.

As soon-to-become four-time Olympian Šarūnas Jasikevičius drove past Puerto Rico’s Daniel Santiago with 31 seconds to go in the quarterfinal matchup, the country’s entire basketball chronicle flashed in the minds of every green-and-white fan. Lithuania, down one, was perhaps one failed possession away from losing an opportunity to reach London 2012.

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