The withdrawal of the Lithuanian clubs from the VTB United League, following on from the departure of Ukrainian clubs, has left the pan-national league looking essentially like Russia and fodder but this may not be all that bad, writes Emmet Ryan.
From day one money was the main motivation behind the VTB United League and money, or at least one source, has played a key role in its dilution. While the political instability in Ukraine made clubs from their a non-runner for 2014/15, local politics of a far more mundane manner influenced the withdrawal of Lithuania clubs. Vilnius city council threatened to withdraw funding from Lietuvos Rytas if they participated in the league this season, giving the club are rather direct and simple choice. The move effectively left the VTB League with none of the appealing clubs from the LKL on the table, with Zalgiris Kaunas already non-runners and Neptunas following swiftly in the wake of Rytas’ decision. With only lesser lights left, the VTB League opted to contract to a 16 team league, of which 10 sides are Russian. Continue Reading…
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.
First up to guest on the show is Bayern Munich general manager Marko Pesic, who chats up heinnews on the seemingly overwhelming and undeniably impressive growth of the club since the beginning of this decade and its second-division Bundesliga standing. BiE continues to be fascinated with team’s master plan built on little more than the club’s football brand and um, well, that’s it, really. The fact of the matter – call it a BallinEurope Official Fearless Prediction™ if you will – is that this team, barring unforeseen financial or personnel disaster, will be playing Euroleague ball within two seasons. Thus is Pesic good to hear from.
And the GM gives us insight into the truth to rumors that Bayern will make a run at signing Ratiopharm Ulm’s John Bryant. Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.
Following Pesic is Jay Ramos, writer for the Miami Heat-centric SB Nation site Hot Hot Hoops. Ramos speaks to us about, well, the Miami Heat; more specifically, topics include mostly Lebron, more Lebron, Dwyane Wade, a tiny bit of Ray Allen and Shane Battier, Lebron, you get the idea. But can BiE put the fear of Tony Parker in Ramos? Tune in to find out – Ramos’ own predictions for the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Championship outcome are also here, as are BallinEurope’s.
Incidentally, when was the last time an NBA playoff series stood at 2-2 yet was so widely accepted to be a foregone conclusion…?
The Taking the Charge sports movie review of the week focuses on He Got Game, an unfairly under-seen film by New York Knicks ultrafan Spike Lee starring Denzel Washington and now-Heat former-Milwaukee Bucks/Boston Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen. The short take: See this film. If you already have, watch it again. For many more reasons why, listen in…
Finally, also of note is our bumper music: Fantastic and rights-free material from Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and DJ Danger Mouse – great stuff you may never have heard before.
Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter this into iTunes or any podcast aggregator: http://heinnews.com/feed/taking-the-charge/.
Besides, who needs an excuse to run another YouTube highlight clip…?
From the VTB folks, then, running below are the top five plays from the recently-completed quarterfinal round, starring Unics Kazan’s Mire Chatman, Zalgiris Kaunas’ Robertas Javtokas, Lokomotiv Kuban’s Mantas Kalnietis, BC Khimki’s Sergey Monya and CSKA Moscow’s Anton Ponkrashov. Three-pointers, blocks, alley-oops – they’re all here. Enjoy!
The teams were unnamed, but Krepsinis notes that, while players can no longer added to Euroleague rosters, any additions made would still be allowed to play in VTB United and Russian League games through the season’s remainders.
As BallinEurope’s man in Lithuania Y. would surely say, “Just frustrating.” And the nadir may not have been reached yet…
All right, so BallinEurope has been considering the case of this season’s Zalgiris Kaunas — a team that went 17-2 in European competition in calendar year 2012 but has since shown a distinctly alarming propensity for losing close ones — all weekend to the ultimate result of 1,200 words or so coming to no concrete conclusions. So it’s your turn: What do you think the problem has been the Greens’ primary problem?
The conversations BallinEurope has with peers in the European basketball blogosphere lately tend to drift toward one team: Žalgiris Kaunas, the hardest luck team in Euroleague basketball.
No, wait, strike that. Let’s start over.
The conversations BallinEurope has with peers in the European basketball blogosphere lately tend to drift toward one team: Žalgiris Kaunas, a team that, in spite of a roster chockfull of experienced talent, simply cannot close out games and fall apart in the clutch.
It’s one of the two, anyway. Or maybe not: Perhaps we can lay the blame at Joan Plaza’s feet (though expectations going into the season were long) or on the subpar refereeing (which might be stretching things a bit considering the sum total of questionable calls in game seven of the Euroleague Top 16 round worked out in the Greens’ favor).
Maybe the front-office issues and lack of payment to players have been overwhelmingly distracting (as Marko Popovic told heinnews and BiE in a recent Taking the Charge podcast interview, “We made a deal at the beginning of the season that this team would stay together until the end of the season, no matter what happens. Hopefully people are going to recognize the way that we play for this club, the way that we show on the court and hopefully the financial status is going to change. We are just focused on the court. Of course we hear the rumors going on around the club but we are trying to be focused, which is not easy, I gotta be honest…”
Maybe it’s none of the above, some of the above, or all of the above. But with Žalgiris now looking at a 4-6 record after another heartbreaker to Real Madrid last week, Lithuania’s remaining representative may have already bad-lucked itself out of a Euroleague playoff spot after starting out at a strong 8-2 clip. An examination of crucial moments may give some insight into the Bizarro equivalent of last season’s Olympiacos squad. Or perhaps not. Continue Reading…
Just because the Euroleague is off this week, it doesn’t mean the media is closed for business and CSKA Moscow leader Ettore Messina gave international news a little to chew over during the bye. The coach wants you all to know a few things: He’s not a mad scientist animating cadavers, nor can he get Milos Teodosic to what the Italian coach sees as his next level.
Ever since last season’s Euroleague championship final – more known for Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis’ heroics, but also notable for Teodosic’s fourth-quarter meltdown – BallinEurope has kept half an eye on the PG in late-game situations. And while CSKA was stumbling to two consecutive Euroleague losses, BiE is sad to note that mercurial Milos has reemerged…