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Mar
5

Infographic: 2012-13 Miami Heat vs. 2004-05 CSKA Moscow – Who’s more impressive?

As the Miami Heat look to add another W to their ongoing historic 23-game streak when playing at the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, here’s a nifty little argument discussion starter put together by BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y.

Sure, the Heat’s run is mighty impressive, but just look at what CSKA Moscow did to the competition in both Euroleague and Russian play in 2004-05: The Dusan Ivkovic-led side featuring all-time greats Theo Papaloukas and J.R. Holden strung together 42 consecutive wins over a six-month period for a record that may never be broken. The team ultimately took the Russian League and Cup titles, but fell in the Euroleague Final Four. (An ominous sign for King James & Co.?)

So see below and/or click on the image for larger version and tell BiE: In the parlance of our times, who’s the “more dominant”? (Y.’s title for the infographic may have been ironic…)

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Jul
3

Euroleague Basketball Institute recommends rule changes for “more free-flowing and rhythmic game”

The Euroleague and its Basketball Institute concluded its “Basketball Rules Summit” yesterday and today has put out a press release detailing some of the recommendations for future EL and Eurocup play. Said media communique follows.

(Euroleague) – …The spirited two-day debate among 13 of the top coaches, players, referees, team and league executives, media, television and marketing experts reached a consensus on proposals to improve a range of game situations that respected the summit’s goal in making the competitions cleaner, fairer and more exciting.

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May
66

On Olympiacos Euroleague championship: From crises emerge heroes

Printezis: Hero of the day

European basketball fans know that history was made with Olympiacos’ stunning victory in the 2012 Euroleague championship. And so BallinEurope contributor, the self-proclaimed hoops history junkie Uygar Karaca looks back with perspective on the title bid, reaching all the back to the Great Depression of 1929 through the collapse of the Soviet Union and into today’s European Union crises. Whether or not God Himself played a role, the importance of the Reds’ win, as Karaca sees it, is history repeating itself. Gloriously.

This is how things have worked throughout history: From crises emerge heroes. And heroes create the losers. Sometimes underdogs have more advantages simply because they have nothing to lose. It’s not unusual that we see situations like a 10-man football team winning against a stronger side. Sometimes having options confuses minds, creates problems in concentration and ambiguity in methodology. Those who have no real options perhaps have just one way and they become focused on the goal, which brings about greater optimization and efficiency.

I was thinking like this before the match: “If CSKA wins, there will be not many stories but in case of Olympiacos winning, there will be a variety of options in exposing the classical underdog story with many different perspectives. I hope Olympiacos wins.”

The day before the Euroleague final, I was at Abdi İpekci Hall to see some action in the Nike International Junior Tournament. There I saw Stevislav Pesic, also one of the greatest coaches in European basketball, the man who famously brought a European title to both Germany and Alba Berlin, who were real underdogs. I thought that it would be a great idea to take some predictions from him. Said Pesic: “I was not suprised when Olympiakos won against Barcelona, because Barcelona changed its game this year and were somewhat inconsistent throughout the season, whereas Olympiakos improved much compared to the beginning of the season.”

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May
2

Eclipse watching: All-time records under threat at Euroleague Final Four 2012

Siskauskas seeks title, free throws

For all the history/stat junkies out there – including myself, as BiE readers know – BallinEurope today takes a look at what all-time Euroleague Final Four records might fall this year … and some that seem unbreakable.

• Under assault could be the all-time free-throw mark of 56 held by Nikos Galis. Galis set this individual mark in just four games in the 1988 and 1990 tournaments with Aris BC and Panathinaikos, respectively, in performances that set all sorts of EL Final Four marks. However, Ramunas Siskauskas has amassed 45 over the years with PAO and CSKA Moscow; at an average of four trips to the FT line per game in 2011-12 Euroleague play, Siskauskas could squeak into the record books in 2012 – and he’s currently a bit better in accuracy than Galis was, at 78.6% to 74.6%.

• Now 34 years old and the senior member of a seriously veteran-laden Panathinaikos team, Mike Batiste doesn’t have too much time left to run up his numbers. While his 41 two-pointers are a far cry from Galis’ ridiculous 87, the Arizona State University alum could jump from his current no. 9 standing on the EL Final Four all-time two-pointer table to no. 4, passing Dejan Bodiroga with just six more buckets. After that, the targets would be no. 3 Theo Papaloukas’ 53 and no. 2 David Andersen’s 57.

• Batiste is also 17 rebounds behind Matjaz Smodis’ lifetime mark of 73; Viktor Khryapa may be destined to become no. 1 before all is said and done, with 54 to his credit already.

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Mar
6

Gershon: “Jasikevicius is key for Panathinaikos”; “Who can stop McCalebb?”

Over at Greece-based Eurohoops.net, yesterday was posted a nice interview with already-legendary former head coach Pini Gershon. Gershon in Europe is mostly known for his establishment of Maccabi Tel Aviv as a European basketball powerhouse, with Continental titles taken in 2001*, 2004, and 2005 (*actually a FIBA SuproLeague title in that strange season of two European club champions), plus a brief and respectable turn with Olympiacos in the late ‘00s.

Making him a local hero in Bulgaria was his guidance of the national team into Eurobasket 2009, particularly the underdog side’s upset over Team Italy in qualifiers to advance. And Gershon earned his 15 minutes of ESPN Sports Center fame after earning an ejection in October of that year during an exhibition game between Maccabi and the New York Knicks.

Nowadays, Gershon is in a state of retirement but naturally is still keeping up with the game. In the Eurohoops interview, much space is devoted to Gershon thoroughly sounding off on a couple series in the Euroleague’s elite eight tournament round. Most telling are two prescient points on individual performances; this stuff should probably be taken seriously.

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Oct
2

CSKA Moscow-Zalgiris Kaunas: The history, the highlight clips

Though CSKA Moscow and Žalgiris Kaunas have never met on a opening day before, this matchup of perpetual Continental powers makes for an appropriate inauguration for the 2011-12 Euroleague season.

Since the 2001-02 edition of the big league, both sides have appeared in Europe’s top basketball competition, building up something of a rivalry (albeit a bit of a one-sided one) over the past ten seasons over eight EL meetings and a handful of others in various pan-European competition.

On this opening day, BallinEurope takes a brief look back at previous clashes between these two clubs.

• In the modern era, things began for these teams in 2003-04. That memorable season saw Arvydas Sabonis suiting up for Žalgiris for a third go around and bagging the league MVP award despite his advanced age of 39 and the Lithuanian side’s bouncing from the Top 16 round.

CSKA would meet Žalgiris in week seven of the old 14-game pool-play format that season; the old warrior Sabonis played limited minutes in battling a flu bug, yet still went for 19 points and eight rebounds. (See video below for an admirable display of Sabas’ range and general dominance – who’d’ve known he was virus-laden?) Moscow emerged as winners anyway, with J.R. Holden unstoppable from outside and Marcus Brown, he who would a few years later become Kaunas’ favorite adopted son, each putting in 21 points for CSKA in the fast-paced 90-81 victory.

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Oct
8

Euroleague Power Rankings: First of the Season edition

Right, then. With the last teams advancing into the Euroleague two dozen for the regular season and a break in the Kobe-to-Bologna soap opera today, BallinEurope breaks out an old favorite: power rankings!

Once again, the BallinEurope Euroleague Power Rankings are based on current trends, i.e. who’s hot, who’s not. For this edition of the list, also taken into consideration are offseason acquisitions and a dash of expectations vis-à-vis how these squads will look when the games really start to matter. Let the arguments begin!

1. FC Barcelona – Heard it before? Well, you’ve probably heard about the core of the Barca roster before, too: Juan Carlos Navarro, Pete Mickael, Erazem Lorbek, Victor Sada, Boniface N’dong, Kosta Perovic and Fran Vazquez; getting to add Chuck Eidson and Marcelinho Huertas doesn’t seem fair. In going 8-0 thus far this preseason, the Blaugrana have added to their trophy case with Lliga Catalana and Supercopa Endesa titles and Navarro in particular is still in EuroBasket form. Right now, BiE says this is the team to beat.

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May
0

Euroleague Final Four, 2011: Some trivia and factoids on this year’s tourney

As with any major sport tournament these days, the informational factoids flow freely through fandom, giving both typical fans and stat addicts extra stuff to look for in the games ahead … and who is BallinEurope to buck such a habit? Below run a few interesting milestones, achievements and straight-up trivia about the 2011 Euroleague Final Four clubs, players and coaches with which to impress your fellow enthusiasts. Enjoy! (And damn, is Derrick Sharp *really* that old…?)

• Real Madrid has played in an all-time record 14 Euroleague title games and eight titles – yet hasn’t even been to a Final Four since 1996, when some guy named Arvydas Sabonis was running things. Maccabi Tel Aviv is second in the record books, having appeared in 13 title games.

• Derrick Sharp will be playing in his seventh Final Four – all with Maccabi Tel Aviv – one ahead of Tal Burstein for most with the club. At eight, Fragiskos Alvertis, J.R. Holden and Theo Papaloukas are the only Euroleague ballers to have appeared in more Final Four tournaments than Sharp. Eight players have won four European titles previously; both Sharp and Burstein are looking to join that elite group.

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Apr
39

Greek basketball in 2010-11: Worst season ever?

Theo might not agree

While Olympiacos continues to chase history in a story that will be continued tonight against Kolossos Rhodes while seemingly on the way to another memorable finals clash with rival Panathinaikos, some are not so positive about the current state of Hellas’ game. Sport.gr writer Costas Papantoniou gives a rundown of what he calls the worst year experienced by Greek basketball.” BallinEurope presents a few lowlights as mentioned by Papantoniou below. Surely it can’t be as bad as all that, can it…?

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Apr
8

Playing with money: Are some European NBA players worth it?

Finally blessed with a bit of time to peruse ESPN’s compelling financial stats as presented in its magazine’s “All About the Money” issue (check them out if you haven’t already; big numbers are fun!), BallinEurope just couldn’t help, well … noodling around with the numbers some more!

Over at the big network’s Chicago Blackhawks blog, links to table of various athletes’ salaries is presented, after introing with, “A list of the best-paid athletes from 182 countries reveals some surprising salaries and begs the question: Are they worth it?

Well, are they? Let’s play…

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