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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 +++ FIBA Europe Under 20 final highlights and top plays +++ VIDEO: Ettore Messina’s coaching philosophy +++
Mar
1

The Dish: Can I play with Madness?

Rudy
It may be March Madness across the Atlantic but Euroleague served up plenty of insanity this week as the races for the final playoff spots entered crazy territory. Emmet Ryan breaks it all down.


The story of this week should have been the return of Zeljko Obradovic to the OAKA and, in fairness, it was but only barely. The love-fest for Zoc’s return was quite heart-warming under any circumstance but moreso considering the importance of Panathinakos’ game with Fenerbahce. The Greens took the lead in the race for the final two spots in Group E with a 76-67 win over Fener. The whole celebration has been documented well by Eurohoops who also did a great job on Twitter in the build-up with their #ReturnOfZoc tweets.

That win not only moved Panathinaikos to 6-5 and third spot but also gave them the season head to head advantage over Obradovic’s side. Olympiacos ran riot over Baskonia but they only hold fourth on tie-breakers over Unicaja and Fener. Malaga for their part looked limp in defeat against visiting Barcelona. The Blaugrana moved to 21-0 in Euroleague play, 11-0 in Top 16 play. A win next week and top spot is their’s, fortunately if that does happen their two dead rubbers almost certainly won’t influence who makes the next stage. EA7 Milano effectively ended any shot at the playoffs for Anadolu Efes and look certain to take second spot following their 76-69 win.

Before I move on to Group F, on behalf of the whole BiE family I’d like to extend our support to all of our readers and followers in Turkey. With Twitter being blocked, you guys responded the only way you should have; by finding ways around the block. This is not a political site but we believe that everyone should have a voice. There is nothing right with silencing people, it was good to see so many of our friends finding ways to keep their voices.
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Jul
1

From the free-for-all: Last week’s top five Euroleague acquisitions (plus one from the NBA)

Has it really been almost two months since the Euroleague Final Four? And when did the seasons in Spain, Greece, Italy and the NBA finish up? Time gets exceedingly relative and outright bendy once offseason transactioneering begins as memories of the previous year are quickly disposed for a look to the next and the money starts flying around.

Last week was a particularly noteworthy, headline-making span, particularly over here in Europe and especially if you’re interested in any player not named Dwight Howard. Here are BallinEurope’s five favorite moves of the previous seven days. (Is it wrong to say BiE already can’t wait for October?)

• Adam Hanga to Laboral Kutxa Baskonia. The career arc of the player destined to become Hungary’s all-time greatest continues: After developing in the Hungarian league followed by two seasons with Manresa of Liga Endesa, Hanga is set to make his Euroleague debut at age 24½ with Baskonia – and seems certain to surprise those not in-the-know with his across-the-board contributions; while Hanga will be having some minor surgery this week, he expects to miss no regular-season games. The four-year contract with Baskonia may yet keep Hanga here in Europe and out of San Antonio for a bit longer, which can be construed as good news (certainly for Continental ball followers) or bad (for the NBA supremacists).

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Apr
1

FC Barcelona-Panathinaikos: The YouTube history (starring Gallis, Dominique, Obradovic, Saras, Pekovic, Diamantidis, Tomic)

Panathinaikos logoThose in the know about European basketball (or sport, really) need no introduction to either of these storied franchises who add another chapter to the annals tonight: Panathinaikos Athens goes to Barcelona to take on the Blaugrana in a decisive game five Euroleague quarterfinal match – after one heck of a series thus far.

Hyperbolization of these teams’ history – not to mention the nail-biting, cliffhanging suspense of this very playoff series – would be difficult and doing so would be bland. So BallinEurope will simply say that the series between these two clubs has Panathinaikos with a 15-12 overall advantage historically, and let’s get to the YouTubes. Enjoy quite a fascinating collection of a virtual Who’s Who of highlights; once again, YouTube rules.

FCB logo(Incidentally, if this collection seems slightly PAO-biased, apologies. Perhaps the Greek side’s fans are ahead in the video-sharing sphere as well…)

Panathinaikos and Barcelona met under the proper Euroleague banner at the very tail end of the 1993-94 season. In the third-place game, Nikos Gallis capped another EL scoring- and assist-leading season (23.8 and 4.7 per game, respectively) by leading PAO to a 100-83 win in the first game between the clubs in 12 years — back to the Champions Cup days.

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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
6

Who’s to blame? Another look at *that* final Panathinaikos play

BallinEurope bets that Dimitris Diamantidis didn’t sleep too well last night. In handling the ball of the final play in Panathinaikos’ 66-64 Euroleague Final Four loss to CSKA Moscow yesterday, former MVP DD was stifled by the Red Army defense and poor PAO fans could only watch time run out on the Greens’ back-to-back title bid.

Diamantidis also inadvertently helped redeem his CSKA counterpart, Milos Teodosic, an 88-plus percent free-throw shooter who could’ve iced the game with nine seconds remaining but missed both – and this after referees missed a couple of borderline dragging-the-pivot-foot travels as well.

No matter, though. What everyone tweeted about immediately – and DD is surely contemplating today is what exactly happened on that last Panathinaikos possession. To check out how it unfolded, start at about 3:17 in the video below.

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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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May
9

Euroleague Final Four: The video preview

And this week … the Euroleague Final Four! To get things started, BallinEurope presents a roundup of highlight clips from the seasons-that-were of CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos.

(Wow, BiE wonders every time upon looking at that list just how the big league could have ended up with a more scintillating Final Four: You’ve got undisputed powerhouses in CSKA Moscow – the model example of how NBA refugees affected European basketball in 2011-12 – and FC Barcelona. You’ve got the defending champions with Hall of Fame coach and a nucleus of veterans on yet another title run. And you’ve got a compelling underdog story complete with the possibility of seeing the legendary Greek rivals meeting for a medal … couldn’t have written it better myself.)

First up, the favorites, namely, the big bad Red Army, 2011-12 edition. While Mikhail Prokhorov’s lot has been credited for the team’s relative resurgence at the beginning of the 2000s, CSKA Moscow has admirably continued its winning tradition after the billionaire’s jump to the New Jersey-cum-Brooklyn Nets – mostly through using the big-bucks tactics espoused by Prokhorov et al – and are poised to take a unique triple crown. Indeed, should CSKA prevail in the EL Final Four games and against BC Khimki for the Russian crown, the team will have amassed VTB, EL and PBL crowns in under two weeks of play.

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Apr
2

Panathinaikos vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv: Official BallinEurope (and other) Fearless Predictions™

With the last 2011-12 Euroleague Final Four spot to be decided in tonight’s climactic game five between Panathanikos and Maccabi Tel Aviv, BallinEurope takes a look at some recent prognostications by experts and observers – plus a modicum of analysis as to how well some have done. O, and of course, the official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™ for the game…

• Before the Euroleague Playoffs tipped off, Pini Gershon told Greece-based Eurohoops.net that “[Sarunas] Jasikevicius is the key for the Greens and Sofo is [...] for Maccabi. There is a difference in the playing style of Maccabi when Sofo is the court and a different style when [Richard] Hendrix is playing. Panathinaikos still relies on the pick-and-roll. Hendrix is a better defender than Schortsanitis, but [Schortsanitis] is in very good condition lately.”

At least in terms of the Greek side, Gershon appears dead on: After tormenting Maccabi in the game one win, Saras was indeed crucial in PAO’s stay-alive game four win. Oftentimes sharing the floor with Diamantidis, the pair went 7-of-13 for 25 points. DD racked a nice 19 performance index rating but Jasikevicius was at his best for the nth time in his long championship-laden career in orchestrating the half-court offense.

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Mar
0

Sofoklis: “I think we have the answers for Panathinaikos”; “I like our chances”

Going into what is certain to be a cliffhanger of a Euroleague Playoffs game one between Panathinaikos and Maccabi Tel Aviv, Sofoklis Schortsanitis is outwardly calm – this despite the way Big Sofo and teammate Richard Hendrix were thoroughly beaten at their games by the Greens in last season’s Euroleague championship.

Added to this is the fact that, bizarre as it sounds and due to his no-show for FIBA Eurobasket 2011, tonight’s game at OAKA represents Sofoklis’ very first court appearance in his home nation since joining Maccabi for 2010-11.

Nevertheless, the big man is cool. Jerusalem Post runs extensive quotage from Schortsanitis (well, relatively extensively, anyway) in which he states “I think we have the answers for Panathinaikos. It is time to prove what we can do. We must give our best. I am confident. I do not want to lose. It’s my first game in Greece since I left. I expect a good atmosphere, the fans are very enthusiastic.

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