As the playoffs are running across Europe, BallinEurope will give you some regular updates about series in the different countries and the stories that you don’t read in the box scores.
We start with Lithuania where the Finals have already came to an end with a 4-1 victory for the eternal green champions Zalgiris Kaunas. Neither DC Collins nor Marcus Brown came up with any PG-13 stories, but we saw an extremely emotional Marco Popovic thanking the fans for their support over the last two years.
After the win on Saturday, the fans went crazy in Kaunas with tens of thousands celebrating in the streets. On the other hand, Lietuvos Rytas looks prepared for a big change next season with Alexander Trifunovic and general manager Jonas Vainauskas leaving.
We talked already about the ACB playoffs in Spain and the surprising defeat of Real Madrid in the first round of the playoffs. But we also have to mention the fantastic first half of Marc Gasol against DKV Joventut. The sad story, however, was the elimination of Bilbao in the first round. After a huge start to the season this year, the underdogs of the ACB were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eternal Blaugrana from FC Barcelona. The players partied with the fans after the loss at home on Sunday night, though.
The story of the playoffs in Italy was probably the goodbye of Gianmarco Pozzecco, as the only “surprise” was the defeat of the Italian version of Bilbao, Premiata Montegranaro. The team from the small town in Ascoli Piceno had no support from San Seraphin of Montegranaro in their playoff defeat against the future patron saint of Italian basketball, Danilo Gallinari. Il Gallo will probably try to go for a Nicolas Batum, i.e. win a trophy before leaving for the NBA.
The playoffs in Greece have already seen a huge surprise with the elimination of Euroleague team Aris Salonica by Maroussi, and we don’t know if their coach will use the same excuses than he did when he was fired from Pau-Orthez. And Maroussi is close to earning the nickname “Euroleague killers,” as they are currently stand 2-2 against Olympiakos. If this really happens, scenes like this will also probably happen in Piraeus:
In Germany, Brose Baskets Bamberg is close to elimination after two one-point losses against EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Both times, missed free throws by Bamberg that decided the game in the final seconds. The team from Dirk Bauermann even went an incredible 3-of-16 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter of Game 1. So Freak City must come up with 120 minutes of ultra-defensive basketball to turn this series around and advance to the semis. The closest duel was maybe the one between Frankfurt and Leverkusen. Turkish coach Murat Didin’s Frankfurters won this weekend at home despite a double technical for Didin. In fact, he got the second T in the last quarter after having stepped out of the coaching zone by 50 centimeters. Nice job by the refs.