It was a big night for Jonas Valanciunas as he scored 19 points and snagged 8 rebounds in Lithuania’s World Cup warm-up win over Australia. Here’s the Raptors’ big man doing his thing.
After a first round of extremes, Jonas Valanciunas has stepped up big time for Lithuania in his last two outings.
When Jonas Valanciunas can stay on the court, Lithuania win. That’s been the story for the Toronto Raptors big man so far. In Lithuania’s two losses so far, to Serbia and Bosnia, Valanciunas totalled just 18 minutes of action. While the decision to start with him on the bench against France could be put down to a questionable coaching call, Valanciunas dug the hole on his own. In his last two games, the young big has shown he can climb out too.
Foul trouble, a recurrent issue for him in his young career, hindered Valanciunas in those defeats. When Valanciunas was on in the first round, he was really on. A pair of double-doubles saw him play a big part in wins over Latvia and Montenegro. When the games really started to count, Valanciunas stepped up and dominated.
The stat line of 13 points and 6 boards in 16 minutes against France, impressive as it was, barely scratches the surface of how beastly he looked in that game. Against a French team with no shortage of stars, Valanciunas looked like a monster. A win today over Belgium would almost certainly put Lithuania into the quarter finals and one win away from the FIBA World Cup next year. The Belgian’s didn’t know what was about to hit them.
An early hard foul on the Lithuanian, which required minor treatment, only made him angry. Valanciunas dominated inside in the second quarter as he finished the half with 12 points and closed out hard on defence. The wild strength he possesses was there to see but, just like in the NBA Summer League, that growing sense of control was too.
The fouls weren’t coming as quick. Valanciunas could impose his will without getting in trouble. This is what Lithuania and Toronto need. They know they’ve got an amazing talent in this big but they need him to become a smarter player. The progress was visible against France and moreso against the, admittedly weaker, Belgians. The double-double secured early in the fourth quarter, Valanciunas sat again. This time it wasn’t because of any mistake he’d made. Valanciunas had earned the rest. The job was done and the blowout complete. With that a spot in the quarter finals pretty much in the bag. If the Raptor can maintain this new found composure, Lithuania will be a tough out for anyone. That’s not as big an if as it was a year ago.
This week’s podcast pays homage to the axiom that, when in doubt about what to talk about in European basketball, simply go to Lithuania. And who better to discuss Team Lithuania’s chances in Eurobasket 2013, Linas Kleiza’s release from the Toronto Raptors, Zalgiris Kaunas’ exit from the VTB United League and such topics than Lithuania Basket’s Simas Baranauskas? Few, we think. (Spoiler: Simas is “cautiously optimistic” about Lietuva in the Slovenia tourney.)
Hein and yours truly also bring the speculation and chatter about recent moves and events in European ball and abroad, touching on Kostas Papanikalaou staying with prospective threepeaters Olympiacos; Richard Hendrix staying in his niche on Eurocup champs Lokomotiv Kuban; the success of Milwaukee Bucks draft pick Giannis Antetokounmpo in the FIBA U20 European Championship tournament; Andrei Kirilenko taking a pay cut to join the Brooklyn Nets (which is clearly about kickbacks and not pursuing an NBA title ); Bogdan Bogdanovic eschewing those same Nets for another turn with Fenerbahçe Ülker; and Bobby Brown attempting to crack the New York Knicks roster.
All this and our sports movie review of the week, the so-bad-it’s-marvelous Jean-Claude Van Damme flick Double Team co-starring none other than Dennis Rodman and Mickey “The Wrestler” Rourke. Ever wonder why The Worm has had to resort to bizarre forays into North Korea for HBO in order to stay in the entertainment biz? Rodman brazenly putting his acting “chops” in this flick will explain all. And remember: Offense gets all the glory, but defense wins championships…
Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter http://heinnews.com/feed/taking-the-charge/ into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.
Because it’s never too early to start looking ahead to Eurobasket 2013 – wait a minute, there’s only 11 weeks left until tipoff? Definitely not too early, then, to take a look at the formative rosters for the big Continental tournament.
While only a few national teams (Croatia and Lithuania among them) have released preliminary rosters at this point and a few major leagues still playing (Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, etc.), we can at least deduce which NBA players will or won’t be playing. After all, the rosters of 93.3% of NBA teams have finished their 2012-13 season – and the Miami Heat have no Europeans!
Below is a rundown of each team and the status of their potential NBA players. A few high-profile draft choices and rights-owned guys expected to jump over soon are also peppered in, along with links to appropriate sources. If you find/hear of anything relevant to the list, please comment below.
And we’ll do this group by group…
Belgium – no current NBA players
France – Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards) is out for ’13 but hints he’ll be back in the future.
Ten days ago, based on a L’Equipe report, website Catch-and-Shoot described Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)’ Eurobasket status as *très incertain*, and after another punishing NBA season seems unlikely.
No official word on Nicolas Batum (Portland), though the Trail Blazers reportedly be “watching Batum’s injury” this offseason. Perhaps some discouragement is forthcoming…?
France-based media outlet Figaro reported back in May that Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers) and Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers) would play; this may have been speculation based on prior results, but Turiaf’s presence on Les Blues for this tournament has been on coach Collet’s mind for a while.
Lithuania-based sources: Linas Kleiza done for season, unlikely for Eurobasket [Update: Career not in jeopardy]
The news is just gaining steam in the blogosphere now and, if true, it’s potentially quite sad news indeed for Linas Kleiza of Team Lithuania and the Toronto Raptors…
Update: But wait! Within 15 minutes of BiE posting this story, original English-language source Lithuania basketball reassures us that “And just as a clarification & update, Kleiza’s camp says career not in threat. Phew…” Original story, posted at about 11:20am CET, follows.
According to Lithuania-based 15min and soon thereafter this morning translated into English and run by Lithuania Basketball’s Simonas Baranauskas, Kleiza is certainly done for this season, is all but ruled out for Eurobasket 2013 play and in fact his career itself may be “in jeopardy.”
These sources report that “the first arthroscopic surgery, which was performed by Dr. J. Richard Steadman in Colorado in 2011, might not have gone fully according to plan…
“According to the former head of the Lithuanian national team’s delegation and a good friend of Kleiza, Antanas Guoga, it is likely that the surgery will need to be repeated…”
15min.lt quoted Guoga as stating “I’ve heard that the surgery didn’t go right, that there were some mistakes [in the rehabilitation process] after the injury. It’s not good that he underwent surgery in the United States. You can’t turn the clock back, but things might have been different if it had been Lithuanian medics…”
BiE likes to write up this particular roundup at year’s end for a couple of reasons: Firstly as a thank you to the readers who check out BallinEurope however frequently; like they say in sports, this website wouldn’t exist without the audience.
Secondly, a look back at which BallinEurope stories drew the most attention provides a nice microcosm of what was most of the minds of European basketball. Yes, national heroes playing in the NBA still reign supreme, but international tournaments happily still get ample due here on The Continent.
So without further ado, here are the stories that you, the readers, decided were the true headline-grabbers in 2012.
1. Splitter opines Adelman key to Rubio’s success; Ginobili says “impressive”
When Ricky Rubio finally eked his way into the Timberwolves’ starting lineup, the results were immediate and positive. Of course, those of us who’ve been following The Human YouTube Highlight Clip since his days as the youngest-ever player for Barcelona could sit back and say “I told you so” – like Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili did.
The votes are in: Minnesota Timberwolves named BallinEurope home team (also torched on court by runner-up Raptors)
Before US-based news about that other election going down tomorrow swamps the entire blogosphere, BiE wants to get in news of our own polling results. With voting closed on Sunday, it has been decided by readers that the Minnesota Timberwolves of Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved, Nikola Pekovic and hopefully-someday-soon Ricky Rubio will serve as the official NBA home team of BallinEurope for the 2012-13 season.
We’ll attempt to try something new here at BallinEurope and, in lieu of an actual franchise in the big league setting up shop on The Continent (confidently expected any century now), adopt a home team for the NBA’s 2012-13 season.
Which team deserves to be called Europe’s team in the NBA? You decide! Vote below the break!
We’re doing something slightly different for 2012-13; rather than a team-by-team breakdown of the NBA and its 50-plus Europeans in the rolls, BiE instead presents the 25 storylines this website will attempt to keep tabs on as the 2012-13 edition of the NBA enfolds. Enjoy the season (unless you’re in the Twitter Airlines NBA fantasy league, in which case BiE’ll attempt to seek misplaced vengeance for his general incompetence in the Euroleague game…)!