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Serbia and Croatia make statements at FIBA U18s +++ Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender +++ Sarunas Jasikevičius retires, joins Zalgiris in coaching role +++ Vintage Drazen Petrovic jersey up for auction +++ Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies +++ We really need you to nominate beers +++ Mykhailiuk operating almost under cover +++ Nando de Colo has the best location for a basketball camp +++ Ireland end famines with two slices of Danish bacon +++ Former Galatasaray baller Jamont Gordon talks about the road to recovery +++
Jul
1

First images (kinda, sorta) of Steve Nash as Laker

For no good reason other than overt fandom, be sure to check out the first (Instagrammed/Photoshopped) photos of Steve Nash as a Los Angeles Laker, via Spain-based Planeta ACB. Just one problem with that top one; as has been pointed out, the Lakers have retired jersey #13 in honor of Wilt Chamberlain’s stint with the team…

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Apr
7

News from Lebanon: Mohammad El Akkari goes for 113 points in a single game

No, the European Union nor FIBA Europe are ready to incorporate Lebanon into their ranks, but damn if the performance by Mohammad El Akkari yesterday doesn’t deserve mention on every single basketball-related website on planet Earth.

El Akkari went for a mind-boggling 113 (that’s right) points in a Lebanon Division A final eight tournament game as his Moutahed defeated Bejjeh by a 1980s NBA retro-looking score of 173-141. The guard was an absolutely insane (searching for synonyms here…) 32-of-59 on threes, 40-of-69 overall and scored exactly one free throw. Akkari had been good for just 7.6 points per game in Lebanese domestic league games this season and thereby jumped said average to an even 12.0 ppg.

According to FIBA Asia, “As per records available, this is first instance of a player scoring more than 100 points in an official game played in any of the leagues in FIBA Asia National Federation.

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Dec
1

Festivus Invitational Tournament continues: Dream Team handed stunning loss; Europeans barely survive 60s again

Four more games are in the books as the first-ever BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Basketball Tournament rolls on, shattering all attendance records for Budapest basketball (no major feat, but still) as fans gather to witness the all-time greats plucked from their native timestreams for their amusement … but who was amused when the Dream Team itself suffered its first true loss? Read on!

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Dec
1

Festivus Invitational continues: Dream Team rolls, All-Time Toronto Raptors split

Three more games to report on from the first annual BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Tournament brought to you by sports simulation website What If Sports – all apologies for the late reportage, but even BiE can’t ignore the family for hoops 365 days a year has to merrily celebrate the holidays – as day two wraps up.

December 24: All-Time Toronto Raptors 111, 21st Century Dream Team 99. In a shocker, the Raps dominated the ultra-talented Century 21s in the late game of day one. Vince Carter had a monster game from the floor with 30 points and Charles Oakley finally exploited that much-hyped weakness Team USA 2010 was ostensibly to have had, i.e. lack of height, with a crazy 24 rebounds.

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Dec
0

Dream Team Europe nips 1960 Team USA, 107-106, in Festivus Invitational opener

Parker led the way for Europe

The first annual BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Tournament tipped off today, brought to you incidentally (they probably even haven’t heard of BiE) by the sports simulation website What If Sports.

Opening up the tournament is BiE’s own (slightly modified) Dream Team Europe, who hosts that original dream team, the 1960 Team USA squad that destroyed all comers in the Olympic Games that year.

Taking a brief look at the rosters before game time, BiE noted that while the 60s were bringing a fearsome twin towers setup of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, the real advantage might be in the backcourt: Dream Team Europe is really bringing only two pure point guards in Tony Parker and Sarunas Jasikevicius, while Hall of Famers Jerry West and Bob Cousy are just the beginning of a deep collection of guards.

And would anyone be able to stop Mr. Triple Double himself, Oscar Robertson? Official game writeup follows the break.

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Dec
4

Introducing the 2010-11 BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Tournament

As a holiday present to the audience, each of you has received courtside tickets to the first annual BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Tournament. Thanks to the miracle of totally BiE-unaffiliated (and totally mind-blowingly awesome) website What If Sports, we can bring together great players of the past and present for true dream matchups – and without all the messiness of traditional time travel.

For this inaugural event, six virtual invitations were extended to some of the most memorable players and squads in basketball history. Paradoxes caused by requiring a player to play against another version of himself (a feat thus far only successfully achieved by M.J.) were kept to minimum with only one player – Chris Bosh, oddly enough – forced to warp the spacetime continuum a bit. (Although Coach K could also be appearing simultaneously on opposing sidelines as well.)

Take a look at the rundown of these six teams to imagine the outcome: Who will win the BiE Festivus Invitational? Stay tuned and happy holidays, everyone!

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Dec
4

Pau Gasol versus the vampires (and BallinEurope versus Bill Simmons)

Yes, but can he survive in the daylight?

BallinEurope yesterday read the latest anti-Laker screed basketball column by ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons, an alternately funny and blood-boiling confession-style bit about conditioning one’s children to cheer for the “right” sports team, i.e. Daddy’s favorite team.

Ultimately, however, The Sports Guy’s affectionate look at dominating your child’s formative years is perhaps best characterized as “disturbing.” And BiE’s only saying this because he’s a huge Lakers fan and the Boston Celtics can burn in hell of his profound belief in children’s self-determination.

After Simmons’ 5½-old daughter Zoë demonstrates an excellent liking for the color purple (good girl!), the ‘Guy decides to do what any unscrupulous and absolutely typical die-hard Boston Celtics fan would: Namely, he informs the wee lass that Kobe Bryant is an abusive father, that Phil Jackson’s love of dogs is matched only by Michael Vick’s, that Ron Artest wants to punch him in the face (this one might be true, actually), and that Pau Gasol is a vampire.

Unfortunately, writes Simmons, “that made her like [Gasol] more,” before going on to lament that “F***ing Edward [Cullen of “Twilight”] swayed an entire generation of girls under 15.”

This last bit made BiE immediately realize two things:

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Mar
0

How to make the Harlem Globetrotters relevant again

Given the premise, BallinEurope probably should have guessed at the response. Yesterday’s post, entitled “Are the Harlem Globetrotters still relevant?”, drew less readership than imagined. Which, one supposes, is logical.

Nevertheless, a promise to actually propose a few solutions to fixing up the modern-day irrelevance of a cultural-historical force rare in the game of basketball was made. So, in the hopes that someone from Harlem Globetrotters Basketball Inc. may someday consider this modest proposal, BiE would like to offer the following suggestions in order to make the Globetrotters a household name and raise this team/institution’s standing in the cross-cultural currency of the 21st century.

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Mar
7

Are the Harlem Globetrotters still relevant?

Budapest last night played host to the Harlem Globetrotters, and BallinEurope was among the approximately 4,000 in attendance. Though a generally good time appeared to have been had by all – and particularly, of course, the preteens for whom the team’s brand of tomfoolery is really for – BiE just couldn’t help but wonder at just how relevant this 1920s creation is in the 21st century, despite basketball’s still-burgeoning popularity worldwide.

With a promise to keep the when-I-was-a-lad curmudgeonly rhetoric to a minimum, BiE can tell you i last saw the Harlem Globetrotters in Budapest in 1999 before a crowd nearly twice the size as last night’s. Having essentially gone the entire decade not having seen the Globetrotters in any form, i thrilled to the old refreshing antics, maybe 80% of which i’d utterly forgotten and thus were nearly as amusing at thirtysomething as at eight years old.

In between then and now, of course, the entire basketball landscape – how it is organized, played and especially watched – has changed utterly, slamming gears into the 21st century and quite possibly leaving the Harlem Globetrotters well behind. It is possible in North America to literally watch 24 hours of back-to-back basketball with a little assistance from TiVo (and certainly many tens of thousands have recently attempted this feat with March Madness in full swing); thanks to the expansion of live-streaming and IPTV technology, anywhere in the world equipped with fiber optics can allow a basketball enthusiast outside the ‘States to do likewise.

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Nov
4

Review: “The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons

The only good thing about getting a nasty flu? Easy: Lots of time for reading monster tomes like Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy. Thanks to a sentinel from the legion of The 2009 Killer Viruses, i was able to knock down all 697 pages of this thing – every “what if” scenario, every drop of gushy sycophantry about the Boston Celtics, every cheap shot at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, every improved list of reasons why, every obtuse pop-culture reference that would’ve sent me scurrying to access Wikipedia had i possessed the ability to crawl out of bed. Everything.

It’s not quite like proclaiming you’ve finished “Finnegan’s Wake,” but pride can be taken in the solace that this reader was perhaps among the first 100 to finish the volume on The Continent and probably the only one in Hungary. Apparently one needn’t have read The Book of Basketball to review it, as evidenced by the barrage of reviews (pretty much all of which landed firmly in either the Simmons damn near the greatest sportswriter ever or the “Simmons is overrated and, frankly, passé” camp) that somehow appeared throughout the blogosphere within 24 hours of the book’s release on Amazon.com. (Come on, there’s no way ESPN Books sent out *that* many review copies.)

If you’re clueless as to what the vitriol contained in the above-cited negative review is all about, well, you’re not alone. One can’t help but wonder, however, just how much of The Book of Basketball Charles P. Pierce looked at with an open mind and how much he, you know, *read* of this book. (Is it possible that Pierce’s 2000 book “Sports Guy,” apparently titled without knowledge of what a barely-known blogger was doing in Boston, has something to do with it…? Nah.)

Yes, all the deadpan humor, friend-referencing and fierce homerism so characteristic of The Sports Guy’s columns over at ESPN.com are in here, but Simmons and editor Gary Hoenig realize that The Book of Basketball wasn’t to be a simple rehashing of internet work or stapled together newspaper column-like bits, but a freaking *book* for Hemingway’s sake.

And kudos to them, because The Book of Basketball is exactly what Simmons (and basketball) fans deserve: The Sports Guy’s writing – coupled with his insane encyclopedic knowledge of the game – refined.

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