All right, on this last World Cup-free weekend for the foreseeable future, who’s up for a little basketball? No, make that a lot of basketball. A barrage of basketball, if you will. Get ready to clear the schedule, stock up the liquid refreshment and blow off the familial obligations for the hoops marathon we like to call the BallinEurope 2010 playoff quadruple-header.
Incidentally, if BiE is a bit short on posts today, this is why: i’m actually watching the games. Imagine that…
The schedule goes something like this.
• ACB semifinal game five: Caja Laboral Baskonia vs. Real Madrid, 12.30pm CET (6.30am EST). Real Madrid looked done, sunk, gone and terminated after the first two games against Baskonia in this series. A pair of close losses put Madrid at 5-9 against the ACB’s other big three (FC Barcelona, Baskonia, and Unicaja Malaga) in 2010 and Tiago Splitter was simply having his way with Ettore Messina’s men in some dominating performances.
But that was until Ante Tomic woke up, contributing twin 8-of-11 shooting performances for seven rebounds one night and 14 the next. Splitter may still be scoring at will (with games of 17 and 20 points), but the three-headed monster of Felipe Reyes, Novica Velickovic and Tomic is proving too much for Tiago on the defensive end – particularly with as little help as received from Mirza Teletovic in game four.
Check out the excellent ACB360 portal to watch the game live and any of the ACB playoffs in full.
Fearless prediction: At home, the offense magically reappears and Baskonia ekes one out in OT.
• BBL championship series, game one: Brose Baskets Bamberg vs. Deutsche Bank Skyliners, 7.30pm CET (1.30pm EST). It has come to this in Germany. Brose Baskets Bamberg, going into the Bundesliga tournament as the no. 5 seed with a 22-12 record, host no. 7 overall Deutsche Bank Skyliners. Oh, and the winner gets an automatic 2010-11 Euroleague bid, with the German runner-up at least getting a Eurocup spot – and the Alba Berlins and EWE Baskets can wonder what they’ll be doing for extra-Germanic activities next season.
These teams have met for the German title twice before, at the end of the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons; Bamberg took the title in ’05 with Dirk Bauermann but is looking to capture its first-ever double championship season this year, with a BBL Cup already on the Brose mantelpiece.
Though Brose Baskets met the Skyliners in the BBL Cup final, Frankfurt’s team now sports a different coach in Gordon Herbert, who’s 9-4 cumulative with the club in 2010 and has been credited with revitalizing the play of Jimmy “American Streetballer” McKinney. Derrick Allen has also been going off in this tournament, ending up game high scorer four times out of nine thus far peaking in a 26-point, nine-assist performance to finish off Alba Berlin.
Nevertheless, the fearless prediction here says “Pleiss, Pleiss, baby.” No one’s stopping the upswing of the young German and his Brose Baskets, who are on a 20-2 run since February. (Who knew?) Bamberg wins game one easily.
The fairly reliable website My P2P should be carrying the game live online for those outside of Germany.
So how about a nice cheesy music video about Bamberg…? Ah, come on, it’s even got the Michelin Man in it!
• EΣAKE championship series, game four: Olympiacos vs. Panathinaikos, 9.45pm CET (3.45 pm EST). The quadruple-header gets bigger and bigger, with those old rival Greek powerhouses adding another chapter to the basketball history books tonight: a history that has overwhelmingly favored Panathinaikos, even over the huge-budget Reds of recent years.
To wit, Panathinaikos goes for its eighth consecutive championship, a fairly incredible run considering the quality of play in Greece and the perpetual presence of high-level clubs like Maroussi BC, Panellinios, and, well, Olympiacos. But PAO just keeps winning titles – and this year seems to be no different, evidenced by game three of this series alone. In short, Olympiacos blew a 14-point third-quarter lead and a nine-point advantage going into the fourth to lose handily, 79-70.
The Reds played their distressingly habitual near-listless, emotion-free game (OK, maybe not Theo Papaloukas, but even he can’t keep up the intensity anymore and gave up six turnovers in game three) that showed just how much talent Olympiacos has and how much they simply need *someone* who knows how to win titles – likesay Sarunas Jasikevicius.
And don’t even get me started on the league MVP/All-Euroleague First Teamer, certainly in the running for BallinEurope’s MDP (Most Disappointing Player) for 2009-10. Kleiza “contributed” 10 points on just 4-of-12 shooting, three rebounds, and zero trips to the foul line in 32 minutes of play for Olympiacos in game three; how can a guy averaging over 14 points and five boards per game look so invisible? What’s that? His offensive rebounding, steals and assists are basically negligible? Oh.
Fearless prediction: Yeah, Panathinaikos closes it out tonight and the Angelopoulos brothers immediately break out the ouzo to try and deduce where all their money went.
To watch the Greek playoff game online, you have a few options. The picture and feed at EllinarasTV.net are quite good, and the full-screen option has been added, it seems. The game should also be available on ATDHE.net as well, and maybe on Stream 2 Watch, though BiE hasn’t caught any of the games there thus far. Live streaming stats may be had courtesy of Galanis Sports Data.
And yes, this game indeed starts at 9.45 CET (3.45 EST), thereby begging the question, “Don’t Greek folks ever sleep?” Of course, this is actually quite a clever time to stage a game if you’re a basketball fan, because with a tight game between Reds and Greens, it’ll segue nicely into the pre-game hype for…
• NBA Finals, game two: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics, 2am CET (9pm EST). You may have heard about this one; you know, it’s got Pau Gasol and Sasha Vujacic in it…? Check, as they say, your local listings.
If for some reason your market isn’t getting the game or you’d like to watch the whole game in its entirety at a more civilized hour, you’ll have to pay. The good news is that the live streaming product offered at NBA.TV is quite good. Add in Marv Albert calling the games (sometimes) plus access to those rubberneckingly bad American television commercials and it’s worth the euros.
Fearless prediction: Celtics make the home team grind out every point, but Kobe hits the buzzer-beater to give L.A. the 87-85 win.