Welcome to the week, BallinEurope readers. We’ll get Monday started with a few video clips, stories, links, and some apocalyptic thinking about FC Barcelona.
• Now here’s some motivation for Ricky Rubio to, you know, give that Minnesota Timberwolves thing a try: The decent possibility that Barcelona will not recapture the ACB championship title and, unlike last offseason, will blow up the team and reshape the roster.
That’s certainly how it looks from this perspective right now; surely BiE is pulling the trigger quickly on this one, but Barça is proving quite vulnerable right now. After dropping three straight to Panathinaikos, the Blaugrana lost *at home* to ACB fifth-place team Bizkaia Bilbao Basket, representing Barcelona’s first L in el Palau since October – and Bizkaia’s first-ever win there.
Though Bizkaia needed overtime to take out the shorthanded Barcelona (Pete Mickael, Juan Carlos Navarro and Gianluca Basile were all injured enough to sit out the game), the official writeup notes Barça’s “lack of intensity” (“falta de intensidad”), one way to describe blowing a 17-point lead. PAO took advantage of same in the Euroleague series, with the Greek’s sides constant attacks taking Barcelona out of its comfort zone and comfortable zone defenses.
As for Rubio, BiE opines that he played well enough, contributing eight points and four assists plus some good defense – though, in fear of fanning some flames among the faithful, the man is back to his poor 2010-11 form in three-point land after heating up against Panathinaikos. His 0-for-2 against Bizkaia contributed to his 1-of-12 shooting from the arc in the past seven ACB games.
Some sweet highlights from a remarkable comeback and nice upset follow.
• Speaking of the ACB, what’s up with Omar Cook come playoff time? Power Electronics Valencia’s clutch guy positively blooms in the spring. The best example: His having led the Euroleague Top 16 round in assists three seasons running. Another example: This weekend, he dished out 10 assists in 34 minutes while helping Valencia take care at Cajasol, 74-63.
• Anyone else figure ol’ 00 to be *the* key factor against Real Madrid on Thursday…? (Hint: Against Madrid in this series, Cook’s point totals, shooting percentages from everywhere, assists per game and even blocks are up on his Top 16 and regular season numbers. Significantly in the case of the latter.)
• What’s that? “Check out my website, CharlesBarkley.com? All Charles all the time?” Right, let’s go!
• And speaking of former Philadelphia 76ers, since today’s date is “fo, fo,” BiE remembers Moses Malone and his team in that season when he “issued a full guarantee that the Philly would not lose a game in the postseason.”
• Not a video per se, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, former Penn Quaker/current University of Oxford student and journalist Stephen Danley reported to Henry Abbott over at ESPN’s TrueHoop on his experience attending Panathinaikos’ game four win over Barcelona.
“Lessons from an Insane Greek Stadium” (BiE thinks Danley should attend a PAO-Olympiacos matchup to really experience insanity) is quite an interesting take on the European game, its sometimes “baffling strategy,” whether or not “European basketball crowds [are] really as crazy as their reputation,” and the overall “cultural experience.”
• Wesley Channels of Czech Republic squad Novy Jicin (and formerly of Austin Peay State University) has written an ebook entitled “How to Play Basketball.”
• Finally, just because it’s the year of Blake Griffin, here’s an insane video compiling 137 ferocious Griffin slams … in just over two minutes.