The 2010-11 professional basketball season may effectively be over this weekend, with a final championship series game scheduled in Germany tonight plus a possible elimination game in Italy happening on Sunday. But no worries: the end of club play means the beginning of summertime national-team tournaments, starting with the 2011 FIBA Eurobasket Women competition.
In the land of Nowitzki, another crazy Bundesliga tournament will be finished tonight as Brose Baskets Bamberg hosts Alba Berlin in the decisive game five for the BBL title and a Euroleague bid for 2011-12.
The back-and-forth series saw game four won handily by Alba Berlin, 87-67, after a shaky first quarter. Derrick Allen led the way for Berlin with 18 points in knotting up the series at 2-2. Game five is available for watching live online via the German-language Sport 1 YouTube channel. Tipoff is set for 8.30pm CET (2.30pm EST).
In Italy, Euroleague third-placers Montepaschi Siena go for the five-peat tonight against Bennet Cantu, having amassed a three-games-to-one advantage in the best-of-seven series.
After suffering an upset in game three, MPS jumped out to a 42-28 halftime lead and held on for the 69-65 in last night’s game four. Bo McCalebb showed no signs of the nagging foot injury that’s been bothersome for much of 2011, going for 21 points and four assists in 28 minutes of court time.
Cantu indeed has their work cut out for them as, in racking up a 48-10 overall record in 2010-11, Montepaschi has lost back-to-back games in any competition just once this season – and that was back in January, in games to Efes Pilsen Istanbul and Real Madrid.
The 2011 Eurobasket Women tournament tips off this afternoon in Poland, with 16 teams in running for the title of top national squad in Europe. Typical of bookmakers, the Sporting Bet website lists four teams as clear favorites in the tournament: Russia (which gets “outright winner” odds of 7/5), defending champs France (41/20), Spain (27/10) and Belarus (11/1).
As for an Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™, BiE’s gonna go with Spain. This side brings back two veterans from Team España’s bronze-winning Eurobasket 2009 campaign – Anna Cruz and Laura Nicholls – and includes five players from Euroleague Women champions Halcon Avenida in Silvia Dominguez, Marta Xargay, Anna Montanana, Sancho Lyttle and BiE fave Alba Torrens. (BallinEurope is a big believer in including club teammates on national teams.) In addition, the señoras will start in group play against relatively unheralded German, Polish and Montenegrin squads.
You can watch all the games throughout the Eurobasket Women tournament on FIBA TV for a single price of €11; click here for the landing page.