Euroleague Adventures http://euroleagueadventures.com The Euroleague Basketball Blog Tue, 09 Oct 2018 19:51:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 127605639 EuroLeague 2018-19 Preview Podcasts http://euroleagueadventures.com/euroleague-2018-19-preview-podcasts/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/euroleague-2018-19-preview-podcasts/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 19:51:30 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19322

We’re back! It’s been a long hot summer all over Europe, but it’s finally time for EuroLeague basketball to happen, and that means the EuroLeague Adventures podcast returns to the airwaves. As the nights get chillier, could Austin Green and George Rowland‘s takes be any hotter? Visiting Professor Scott mails in a cheeky cameo as Austin and George break down all 16 teams over two volumes. Predictions, analysis, tomfoolery and more, for your audio enjoyment:

Part 1

In Part 1, we look at our first eight teams with timings as follows:

Baskonia 1:18 – 12:30 Olympiacos 12:30 – 23:12 Panathinaikos 23:12 – 30:20 Milano 32:20 – 38:35 Gran Canaria 38:35 – 44:00 Khimki 44:00 – 53:10 Darussafaka 53:10 – 58:00 Fenerbahce 58:00 – end

Part 2

Wrapping things up in Part 2 with: Zalgiris start – 9:33 Barcelona 9:33 – 17:00 Real Madrid 17:00 – 22:45 Maccabi Tel Aviv 22:45 – 31:40 Buducnost 31:40 – 34:45 Bayern Munich 34:45 – 39:12 CSKA Moscow 39:13 – 46:25 Anadolu Efes 46:25 – end

As ever, thank you for listening and don’t forget to tell us where we’ve gone wrong… looking forward to another great season, catch us all the way through to Vitoria next May.

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LA DECIMA: Doncic MVP, Real Madrid EuroLeague Champions http://euroleagueadventures.com/la-decima-doncic-mvp-real-madrid-euroleague-champions/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/la-decima-doncic-mvp-real-madrid-euroleague-champions/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 13:37:32 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19317

The time was 2:30am, the location an apartment in Belgrade’s cool Savamala district. Two podcasters convened with beer and chips mere hours after sitting inside Štark Arena, just over the Sava River, to see Real Madrid carry off the coveted tenth EuroLeague title in their history. Madrid just about held off a fourth quarter comeback by Fenerbahce to win 85-80.

Teen idol Luka Doncic won Final Four MVP to go with the Regular Season crown and Rising Star Award. We might be going out on a limb here, but the kid might be going places….

Austin and Rob called up George back in the UK to go over a beautiful weekend and a thrilling final, along with post-game interview clips from Doncic, Jaycee Carroll, Trey Thompkins and Pablo Laso.

Shoutout and huge thanks to everyone who has followed our adventures this season, particularly over the Final Four weekend. Hvala!

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PODCAST: EuroLeague Final Preview – Fenerbahçe vs Real Madrid Part III http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-euroleague-final-preview-fenerbahce-vs-real-madrid-part-iii/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-euroleague-final-preview-fenerbahce-vs-real-madrid-part-iii/#respond Sat, 19 May 2018 18:27:53 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19309

Zdravo once again, my friends, it’s our preview of the EuroLeague championship game, as Rob and Austin still out in Belgrade join George Rowland and our Istanbul correspondent Savas Birdal on the line to plot out all the storylines and matchups for the third clash between these teams in recent Final Four history.

We talked to Madrid’s Anthony Randolph and Jaycee Carroll, Fenerbahçe’s Brad Wanamaker, and tossed in all of our thoughts and predictions for the title game:

  • Can Fener’s physical defenders slow down the slick Madrid offense?
  • Will Nikola Kalinic repeat his shutdown job on Luka Doncic from last year’s game?
  • How will Fenerbahçe deal with Sergio Llull’s shotmaking and Madrid’s huge, versatile frontline?

For all this and more, take a listen below:

Don’t forget to follow Rob, Austin, George and Savas on Twitter for all your analysis and comment this weekend, and subscribe to the podcast on Soundcloud, Apple podcasts or wherever you put that RSS feed.

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PODCAST: Bobby Dixon’s Nuts and Other Semi Final Stories http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-bobby-dixons-nuts-and-other-semi-final-stories/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-bobby-dixons-nuts-and-other-semi-final-stories/#respond Sat, 19 May 2018 08:21:47 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19301

The two semi finals in Belgrade happened last night, and boy were they big. About as big as a certain Fenerbahçe point guard’s nuts, as told to ELA by Bobby Dixon’s teammate Brad Wanamaker, as you can hear in our post game podcast.

The reigning champions led from tip to buzzer despite a Zalgiris Kaunas comeback that never quite managed to draw the Lithuanians level. After that, Real Madrid consigned CSKA Moscow to another Final Four defeat to set up a rematch of the 2015 and 2017 semis in the title game. Luka Doncic took plaudits for his calm, level headed display but it was Sergio Llull who fired up Los Blancos and powered the victory.

We talked to Wanamaker, his teammate Nikola Kalinic, plus coaches Sarunas Jasikevicius, Dimitris Itoudis and Pablo Laso help us put together the pieces of a wild night in Belgrade. All that, for your listening pleasure below:

  • 00:00 – 20:30 – Zalgiris Kauas vs Fenerbahçe
  • 20:30 – end – Real Madrid vs CSKA Moscow

Don’t forget to follow Rob and Austin on Twitter for all the comments and analysis from Belgrade this weekend, and subscribe to the podcast on Soundcloud, Apple podcasts or wherever you put that RSS feed.

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PODCAST: Final Four Semi Final Preview from Belgrade http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-final-four-semi-final-preview-from-belgrade/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-final-four-semi-final-preview-from-belgrade/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 09:07:34 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19292

Zdravo! Rob Scott and Austin Green are in Belgrade, Serbia, for the Final Four, and we called up our amigo George Rowland back in England to chat it up and make predictions on today’s Semi Finals: The insurgent underdog Zalgiris Kaunas vs reigning champions Fenerbahçe, and two bona fide European blue bloods in CSKA Moscow vs Real Madrid.

Can Saras pull off another upset, or will Fenerbahçe take the first step toward retaining their title? Will Sergi Llull’s return give Madrid the edge, and what about Luka Doncic? Of course CSKA won the Regular Season comfortably but we all know that doesn’t mean a whole lot at this point…

Which player gave Rob the cold shoulder? Is Kyle Hines the Lebron James of EuroLeague? Did Austin and Rob speak over each other despite being stood in the same room for once? All this and more….

We grabbed interviews with a whole bunch of players, that you will hear in the podcast, including Kevin Pangos, Brandon Davies, James Nunnally, Jaycee Carroll, Chasson Randle, Cory Higgins, Will Clyburn and Kyle Hines.

Here’s a roadmap for navigating to your team, but we hope you stick around for the whole thing, it was a lot of fun recording in the bowels of Stark Arena, and hopefully we’ll wet your appetite for two incredible matchups.

  • 00:00 – 24:20 – Zalgiris vs Fenerbahçe
  • 24:20 – end – CSKA Moscow vs Real Madrid

Stick around for the rest of the weekend, we’ll be back at you for post-game reaction, build up on Saturday then of course the big game Sunday evening as the 2018 EuroLeague champion will be crowned.

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PODCAST: One Foot in the Final Four? Fener Takes 2-0 Lead + Other Game Two Reactions http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-one-foot-in-the-final-four-fener-takes-2-0-lead-other-game-two-reactions/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-one-foot-in-the-final-four-fener-takes-2-0-lead-other-game-two-reactions/#respond Sun, 22 Apr 2018 18:34:37 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19282

Rob, Austin and George hadn’t caught up with reigning champions Fenerbahçe so far in this postseason, so it was about time that changed. Ruthless execution has so far overcome Baskonia’s rugged efforts. After going 2-0 up with some flawless late game action (a meaningless Sloukas travel apart…) can Fener close out the sweep in Vitoria-Gasteiz?

Elsewhere, Real Madrid put their blowout defeat in Game One in the rearview mirror, behind some creative post play from Reyes and Ayon and a gameplan to re-route the offense away from Luka Doncic, stifled in the opener by PAO’s physical defense.  Do the Greens have the mentality to come back again or will Real close out at home?

1-1 is also the score between Olympiacos and Zalgiris, as the Reds shut down a large part of the Zalgiris offense that ran away with Game One. CSKA maintained their grip over crosstown rivals Khimki and are one game away from Belgrade. No Hines, no De Colo, so far no problem.

All of that, plus George commits mortal podcast sin and Austin calls out a studio gangster. Timestamps below….

  • 00:00 – 16:00: Fenerbahçe vs Baskonia
  • 16:00 – 32:50: Panathinaikos vs Real Madrid
  • 32:50 – 46:10: Olympiacos vs Zalgiris Kaunas
  • 46:10 – 57:00: CSKA Moscow vs Khimki Moscow

Don’t forget you can subscribe to the podcast on Soundcloud, Apple podcasts or wherever you put that RSS feed.

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PODCAST: Zalgiris Wins a Fever Dream in Piraeus http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-zalgiris-wins-a-fever-dream-in-piraeus/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-zalgiris-wins-a-fever-dream-in-piraeus/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 22:31:59 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19275

Give us four more games of this, please. Olympiacos ran out to a 23-8 early lead and it looked like Zalgiris Kaunas – in their first playoff series since 2001 – maybe had the jitters. Nope. A see-saw game with crazy chasedown blocks, vintage Spanoulis bombs, wild shots falling and not one but many comebacks and go-aheads, eventually saw Sarunas Jasikevicius’ team come up with an instant classic OT victory on the road. As Yannis Psarakis points out, the last three teams to do this in a Game One all won the title…. #justsayin

Austin and Rob react to a wild night and speculate as to what might happen in Friday’s Game Two.

Catch up with our Game One Reaction pod to the CSKA vs Khimki and Panathinaikos vs Real Madrid series here. Fenerbahçe and Baskonia, we see you, and we’ll catch up after Game Two. And finally…. stop: Hammer Time.

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PODCAST: PAO Lays the Sm-OAKA-Down, CSKA Survives – Game One Reaction http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-pao-lays-the-sm-oaka-down-cska-survives-game-one-reaction/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-pao-lays-the-sm-oaka-down-cska-survives-game-one-reaction/#comments Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:30:12 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19267

The first Game Ones of the 2018 EuroLeague Playoffs are in the books and it was a wild night from Moscow to Athens. CSKA squeaked out a 98-95 comeback win over a pesky Khimki team led by Insta-Shved, then Panathinaikos went 20-0 up to start their destruction of Luka Doncic and Real Madrid and it was all over in a flash of a James Gist megadunk.

George, Austin and Rob took in all of the goings on and spit them back out in podcast form. Can Khimki get over the line in Game Two and make a series of this? How will Madrid adjust to Doncic’s struggles with heavy pressure? Will Mrs Shved’s Instagram get her banned from arenas and will Austin be able to keep waking up at 4am for the rest of the playoffs?

  • 00:00 – 11:00 – CSKA vs Khimki Moscow
  • 11:00 – end – Panathinaikos vs Real Madrid

Don’t forget you can subscribe to the podcast on Soundcloud, Apple podcasts or wherever you put that RSS feed! Shoutout to Yorkshire Terriers.

Instagram Photo

 

 

 

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Playoff Preview: Olympiacos vs Zalgiris Kaunas http://euroleagueadventures.com/playoff-preview-olympiacos-vs-zalgiris-kaunas/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/playoff-preview-olympiacos-vs-zalgiris-kaunas/#comments Sun, 15 Apr 2018 20:24:41 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19236

by Rob Scott / @robscott33

The Facts

Olympiacos: #3, 19-11. Offensive rating 108.7 (16th) / Defensive Rating 107.1 (1st)

Zalgiris Kaunas: #6, 18-12. Offensive rating 114.9 (5th) / Defensive Rating 113.5 (9th)

Zalgiris Kaunas 74-68 Olympiacos, Round 15, December 28th
Olympiacos 85-86 Zalgiris Kaunas (OT), Round 30, April 06th

(all statistics courtesy of the excellent Stats.Li)

The Preamble

Olympiacos takes on Zalgiris Kaunas as the higher seed but lost the season series 0-2. However, both games took place without Georgios Printezis and Week 30 saw only a slim chance of the Reds slipping out of their #3 seed before tipoff. You certainly won’t be able to hear the sneakers squeak again come Game 1 at SEF.

That first game at the end of December was a physical battle with some real needle. Zalgiris forward Edgaras Ulanovas was cut above his eye going for a rebound, their coach Sarunas Jasikevicius picked up a tech and there was an unsportsmanlike for Oly’s Kostas Papanikolaou. Tempers never quite flared up but over a possible five games there is a real possibility that these teams will get sick of each other.

The Reds were rolling at the halfway point, with an 11-3 record as they flew into Kaunas. Counting that game, they were 8-8 in the second half of the season, and haven’t looked anything like as coherent or consistent as they did early on. Rarely has a team’s strengths and weaknesses been so obvious in their statistics. The worst offensive and the best defensive rating combine to make this a tough team to beat at their best – unless their anaemic attack gets shut down for longer than the defense can hold the line.

Saras’ squad has already exceeded most expectations by making the playoffs, but that just shows how stupid most people (OK, I’ll just speak for myself here) are. Disciplined defensive rotations, a phenomenal work ethic and the prettiest halfcourt offense this side of Moscow got them this far, and they beat their playoff opponents (twice) as well as CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahçe already. They enter this series with no fear. ‘Just happy to be here’ isn’t in the Jasikevicius vocabulary.

Zalgiris Strengths

Zalgiris’ offense is built around the delightful, inventive playmaking of Kevin Pangos and his telepathy with Paulius Jankunas from mid-range. That pair was amongst the top assist combos in the Regular Season, and when Paulie Walnuts gets rolling from 18 feet it’s pick your poison time. Send two defenders to Pangos (or, sometimes, Vasa Micic) and it’s mid-range money time. Stick arms-length to the popping Jankunas or send help and Pangos can either find a cutter from the weak side or finish off either foot from a variety of angles, and is a master of deceptive hesitations and off-kilter floaters.

Pangos is a master of probing into the defense, reading the scheme and then sensing the exact fraction-of-a-second when a defender has his weight on the wrong foot or is cheating too far off his man, firing off a pass with perfect timing. He shot 48.75% from 3-point range in 30 Regular Season games, and is equally happy pulling up off the dribble as curling off screens for catch-and-shoot. The latter is a real weapon when he takes an off-ball position for some of Micic or Udrih’s time on the floor.

One matchup-specific takeaway from the first game back in December was how Olympiacos struggled to hide Vassilis Spanoulis when Zalgiris played sharpshooter Arturas Milaknis as a big two-guard alongside Ulanovas on the wing. Milaknis shot 4-of-6 from three-point range that night, and Spanoulis had trouble chasing him round screens all evening. One wrinkle is throwing in that elbow back screen you can see hanging up Hollis Thompson in the last clip. Even though Milaknis missed the shot, it was relatively open.

Clearly, Oly’s defensive rating shows they have little to worry about on that end, but as important as Kill Bill is to their entire identity -and chances of winning this series – every year brings another little slip in speed and the need to take a breather to concentrate on the offensive end. For a team that offers little to its opponents, this is one potential open door for Zalgiris to get their foot behind.

Elsewhere, Axel Toupane offers a little secondary playmaking and a dynamic athletic threat to crash in from the wings, particularly alongside fellow high-flier Aaron White. The latter has a nice line in alley oops with Pangos. Let’s just take it as read that everyone has chemistry with Pangos. Antanas Kavaliauskas is from Lithuanian Big Banger Central Casting in the middle and Brandon Davies, recently extended to 2020, is a powerful, bouncey pick and roll target and skilled finisher.

Notably, Zalgiris attempted by far the fewest three-point attempts in the league, with 500 – a full 62 fewer than Maccabi in 15th, and 104 fewer than Fenerbahçe one place higher. Percentage-wise they sit in 3rd spot, fitting in perfectly with their philosophy of only taking good shots.

Low on threes, kings of mid-range, this truly is the team to root for if you’re sick of the smug neophyte orthodoxy of the Moreyball revolution.

Zalgiris Weaknesses

The one Achilles’ heel on this team is the lack of a reliable second playmaker to give Pangos a breather or step in if he gets into foul trouble. They began the season with Dee Bost and Vasilije Micic but the former left in early December after injuries prevented him from cementing a place in the rotation. His replacement, Beno Udrih, has been less than convincing, particularly his welcoming Maître D’efense. Micic wouldn’t be a bad third option but he still suffers from the Heurtel disease of pounding the ball looking for the sure-thing assist. He isn’t terrible, he’s just not as reliable as I’d like for a genuine Final Four contender, which is what this team is. My Kingdom for a Steady Hand Off The Bench…

Other than that, there’s not a lot not to like. Saras reacts like a man given a €500 parking ticket for being 10 seconds late whenever anyone misses a closeout, and it doesn’t happen often.

Olympiacos Strengths

There’s this guy who hits big shots in big games, you might have heard of him. The core of this 2012 squad is still here with Spanoulis – Printezis, Papanikolaou and Mantzaris are battle tested, experienced, et cetera, et cetera, you know the rest. As a squad, Oly has missed only two Final Fours since the first trip to Istanbul six years ago, losing only one playoff series in that time.

They went 12-3 at home, albeit one of those L’s was the final game vs their playoff opponents. As mentioned above, they were missing Printezis and the game didn’t mean a whole lot. The best power forward in EuroLeague should give whoever’s guarding him – Jankunas and Aaron White, in all likelihood – fits in the post and his mobility across the floor should help in cutting off those pick and pop looks.

Oly will slow the game down, control the glass – with the second best defensive rebound % behind Baskonia – and reduce late possessions to a battle of wills. They know how to do this, and more or less everyone on the roster has been there before. Brian Roberts and Vangelis Mantzaris are the kind of disciplined attack dog perimeter defenders who might be able to cut off Pangos’ angles and force Zalgiris into unassisted shot attempts.

Kyle Wiltjer has been a successful midseason addition. It’s a tough job to come out of the G League and into the EuroLeague fire, but he’s knocked down threes at a 42.2% clip and is a hugely valuable pressure release valve.

That league-leading defense is the Piraeus team’s main strength, and it is a true team effort, relying on such un-sexy but vital aspects of defense like making fast, precise rotations and not getting beaten off the dribble. As a team they rank 14th in total blocks, and 13th in steals. This team doesn’t play highlight reel defense, it just stops you getting the shot you want in the first place, and probably not your second choice either. They held opponents to an Effective Field Goal percentage of 50.3, comfortably the lowest in the league.

In the name of balance though, here’s video of defensive anchor Nikola Milutinov making some nice plays against Real Madrid and Zalgiris. Although some would jump on Doncic’s inability to shake a big centre like Milutinov as the most enlightening takeaway here, the Serbian’s impressive footwork and balance for a man of 2.13m allow him to keep the potential #1 pick in front of him. He applies that blessed principle of verticality to protect the rim and can hedge as well as switch. This versatility allows Sfrairopoulos the option to tailor his team’s defense to the opponent and situation, which could be critical across a five-game series.

Olympiacos Weaknesses

Wiltjer’s marksmanship has been particularly useful as the team sits 16 out of 16 from three-point range at 33.38%. Brian Roberts also sits above the 40% mark at 42.2%, but the team mark has been dragged down by Hollis Thompson’s 27.1%. The American wing promised much but has delivered little, other than willingness to go inside when his shot deserted him. Late addition Bobby Brown brings a wealth of experience and shotmaking but will want to improve his 1-for-15 mark from deep in six games.

Clearly from their offensive rating, putting the ball in the basket isn’t this team’s strong suit, getting bogged down too often in halfcourt but not really ready to run either. They were one of the slowest teams in the league in terms of pace, but will try to use that to their advantage by slowing down Zalgiris in transition and banking on their defense to stifle the opponent.

Conclusion

All of the above points to Zalgiris having a super chance to knock off a higher ranked opponent. Olympiacos is no longer the upstart underdog, now they’re a fully signed-up member of the establishment. Saras’ team is the insurgent candidate here, but they’ll face a battle to win in Piraeus, something they’ll have to do to progress. The heart says that Pangos’ All-EuroLeague playmaking can elevate yet further, but history reminds us that the Reds have only lost one playoff series in six attempts with the core of this team. Everything will have to fall into place for Zalgiris to make it to Belgrade, so in deference to the recent past, Olympiacos to just about avoid being made history. Roberts and Mantzaris could keep Pangos in check and despite their struggles, there might just be enough shotmakers who won’t shrink from the moment on the Greek club.

When it comes down to the big possessions, it’ll take something incredible to knock off Printezis, Papanikolaou and Spanoulis.

Prediction

Olympiacos in five

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PODCAST: Playoff Previews – CSKA vs Khimki Moscow + Panathinaikos vs Real Madrid http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-playoff-previews-cska-vs-khimki-moscow-panathinaikos-vs-real-madrid/ http://euroleagueadventures.com/podcast-playoff-previews-cska-vs-khimki-moscow-panathinaikos-vs-real-madrid/#respond Sat, 14 Apr 2018 09:10:30 +0000 http://euroleagueadventures.com/?p=19260

Rob, Austin and George are back with their second Euroleague Playoff preview podcast, this time breaking down #1 CSKA Moscow vs their crosstown rivals #8 Khimki Moscow, and #4 Panathinaikos vs #5 Real Madrid. What’s the over/under on Alexey Shved shot attempts and will he rack up a Devil’s Triple Double? How big is the OAKA effect for PAO and is there anyone who can stop Luka Doncic? All this and more for your listening pleasure below:

  • 00:00 – 09:00: CSKA vs Khimki
  • 09:00 – end: Panathinaikos vs Real Madrid

Don’t forget to check back to the site and social media for more playoff views, reviews and how-dare-you’s when it all begins on Tuesday April 17th!

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