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Joakim Noah wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year +++ Swee’ Pea makes the cut – Reaches Funding Target +++ The Dish – Too Rude for Masai Uijiri +++ 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 +++
Aug
22

USA 107, Spain 100: Lebron James continues ownership of 2012 with pair of golden daggers

Even more than Vassilis Spanoulis and Olympiacos, 2012 in basketball has belonged to Lebron James. So it is indeed fitting that the King threw the dagger to earn his Team USA the gold.

At 97-91, a double-digit Team USA had evaporated through some sloppy turnovers in what felt like a momentum change, a Spanish charge. And then Lebron returned, getting the ball, charging through the lane while the BBC play-by-play man was reduced to “uh oh.” Slam, 99-91. “And by uh oh,” quipped BBC guy, “I meant ‘wow.’”

On the next possession, it was James for three. USA 102, Spain 93 and “hope was fading” for Los Rojos.

This after Team Spain had managed a brilliant third quarter, trading leads with the US and perhaps inducing a tiny bit of fear. In lieu of Marc Gasol, the formerly nearly-invisible Serge Ibaka had a swell third quarter, capping it with a block on Deron Williams driving to the basket which might’ve given Team USA a three-point lead to end a quarter in which Spain shot 60% overall – and no threes.

Wire writeup to be posted later, but for now kudos to Lebron James, high-scorer Kevin Durant and Team USA for taking the gold, and to Team Spain for fighting adversity, wear and tear for the silver.

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Aug
5

USA 59, Spain 58 after 20 minutes: Notes and such

Here we go … Team USA vs Spain for the gold! What more needs to be said?

The first hype pushed at 4pm on the NBC broadcast: Kobe vs. Pau! (Clearly, BiE’s in touch with the American broadcasters…); Kobe is 1-0 in Olympic Games, doesn’t want to lose to Pau, doesn’t want to lose at all, etc.

Key stats from the final game in the 2008 Beijing Olympics; that game saw Kobe Bryant go 7-of-14 for 20 with six assists, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 18 after struggling throughout the tournament, and 56 fouls were called.

Spain is following the Liga Endesa-prescribed plan at best as possible, forcing USA to play a very slow game. Fast break points in the first quarter went just 4-0 for Team USA, and Pau Gasol is exploiting the mismatch against Carmelo in the post when possible, though that hasn’t been often.

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Aug
4

2012 Olympic basketball: The perspective from Spain on the gold-medal game (plus really specific Official Fearless Prediction™)

Marc and Pau: So key yet again

The Liga Endesa official website editorial staff today attempts to answer the question on the mind of USA-detractors and underdog-backers, i.e. “¿What must happen for Spain to win Olympic gold?” Below runs an extrapolation of the article, featuring eight bits of advice of varying degrees of difficulty, plus BallinEurope’s own ever-lovable Official Fearless Prediction™ on the final game of the 2012 Olympics.

Team USA is transparent enough that everyone seems to know their weaknesses and how to exploit them; the blueprint is universally known, but no one is able to implement the game plan. The enormous quantity of talent on Team USA means that playing even a perfect game does not translate to a win.

“We will try not have too many possessions, not miss many shots and control the boards,” said Juan Carlos Navarro. Doing it all at the same time is difficult, but we will try. I don’t know if we’ll reach 100 points … but the points are not important. [What’s important is] to play good defense.”

What else must be done:

Limit turnovers. It is evident that the U.S. defensive pressure up top results in many steals that finish with easy baskets on the other end. Attacking with the ball and getting off to a quick start offensively is key to the USA game. And against Team USA, passes to the wing or inside expose the offensive to further losses amidst the quick hands and speed of the American defenders.

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Aug
24

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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Aug
14

2012 Olympics: Five reasons Russia will beat Spain (and one other Fearless Prediction™)

Now that BallinEurope’s personal Olympic bracket has been shot to hell, BiE will revert to the cumulative readers/contributors’ podium picks of USA-Russia-Argentina. Followers know that BiE’s ridden Russia since the opening ceremonies and the quarterfinals, despite a Spain win, only strengthened this convinction. Below, then, are five reasons why Russia will overcome the 4.5-point favorites.

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Aug
41

Fearless Predictions™ by BallinEurope readers, contributors: USA, Russia, Argentina will medal

Right, things will be tipping off shortly in London with eight teams remaining in bids for a podium spot. And with the votes in and brackets fashioned, let’s see what BallinEurope contributors (including David Hein, Enrico Cellini and Sam Chadwick) and readers find in their own crystal balls…

Gold medal: USA (with 86% of votes)
So probably the only surprise here is that it wasn’t unanimous. Dissenting votes were logged for Spain and Russia, though the latter may carry a bit of an asterisk. The sole voice liking the Reds to take it all was commentator El Diablo from Australia (!) who took his home side to win the gold, then backed down, explaining “I still reckon that Russia will beat the US, assuming Shevd doesn’t lose his shit again…

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Aug
5

2012 Olympic basketball: Rising and falling stock after the first round

While we’re a little ways away from actually awarding medals for 2012 Olympic basketball, the first round showed international hoops fans quite a lot. Though the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, reputations have changed over the past five games to cause some individual and/or teams losses beyond these Olympics. BallinEurope today takes a look at those whose stock has risen and those who’ve fallen in the early going of the London Games.

Rising
Lebron James. Yeah, like this guy needs a further upward trend in his already all-time lofty-looking career. Four years ago, ESPN’s Bill Simmons proclaimed (correctly, in BiE’s opinion) that in 2008 ‘Games crunch time, “everyone deferred to Kobe, who made some monster plays to clinch it. Know that in the history of the NBA we have never had the best-player-alive argument resolved so organically.” In 2012, King James has proven himself to be the best player on the best team in this Olympic tournament.

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Aug
1

Block of the night: Guilherme Giovannoni hears the Thunder against Spain

Who else would perpetrate the rejection of last night’s Olympic basketball slate but Mr. I-Blocka himself? Below the break, check out Gilherme Giovannoni’s shot barely leaving his hands before Serge Ibaka’s hearty swat triggers a Spain fast break in last night’s loss to Team Brazil.

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Aug
4

Brazil 88, Spain 82: Allegations of tanking predictably begin

Well, it had to happen. In the wake of the shocking (not!) defeat handed to Spain by the boys from Brazil yesterday, you knew allegations of tanking in order to avoid an earlier date with Team USA would be forthcoming; heck, Sergio Scariolo did. Los Rojos’ coach was quoted in a wire story as saying, I don’t want to be disrespectful but this is not an intelligent issue to talk about.”

Amid the rather baseless speculation much is sadly forgotten: For example, Leandro Barbosa’s wonderful performance. Brazil showing halfcourt mastery in beating Spain at its own game and the South American side’s nicely energetic and up-tempo style. More sad, slow play from the Spanish guards and sharpshooters (BiE’s looking at you, Juan Carlos) absolutely typical in these Olympics. The fact that the overall 6-of-23, 23-point performance by those not named Gasol or Ibaka was merely a slight exaggeration of the pool play games in general, as Spain minus the big three went for 37.8% overall shooting.

Tanking? Nah. Playing possum? Hardly necessary. As Pau Gasol said, “The way we are playing either [Argentina or France] can beat us. Right now, it’s not happening for us.”

No, it really isn’t.

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Aug
19

2012 Olympics: Is Spanish dominance over? (Plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

BallinEurope may be pulling the trigger a bit early on this one, but has to ask: Was the loss to Russia on Saturday a harbinger of things to come from Team Spain? Not to put too fine a point on it, but is the marathon (by today’s standards) golden age of Spanish basketball in international competition over?

It is that sheer length of the era of Spanish dominance that makes one wonder about the security of Los Rojos’ presumptive top-dog status going forward: Since 2001, Team Spain has medalled in nine of 13 international tournaments – including the Olympic Games, FIBA Eurobasket, FIBA World Championship/Cup and Mediterranean Games. In the past six years, the Spanish have taken home three golds and five silver from FIBA and the IOC, the sole missed podium coming at the 2010 FIBA Worlds, when Pau Gasol no-showed and Team USA brought its “B Team.”

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