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Eurobasket Uncensored: British Headbands, Fuzzy Spaniards and Homesick Serbians

Paul Nilsen is a part-time freelance basketball journalist and addict (mainly basketball) who writes for and has his own site at In between balancing a full time job and a girlfriend whose patience is wearing thin, Paul can be found somewhere near a basketball court writing about anything from Eurobasket to U16 women.  Paul can be contacted at [email protected].

The best a man can get.So after shedding some light on Group A in the first edition of “Uncensored”, we’ll be skipping over the incomplete Group B and heading closer to home-or at least, closer to Paul’s home-with Great Britain and the rest of Group C.  Let’s get it.

Freaknick: So now that Rubio has a deal with Gillette, which team-mate is in greater need of a free razor and a clean shave: Marc Gasol for his face?  Or Jorge Garbajosa for his back?

Paul Nilsen: I think while Gillette is ‘The Best A Man Can Get”, I think in the face (no pun intended) of such a monumental challenge in terms of his two team-mates, Ricky would be better off being sponsored by an agricultural machinery company to trim down that lot! I mean come on, do you really think a single razor could stand up to such a hairy escapade of taking Gasol and Garbajosa to task? The real question is pretty simple though: Why would Gillette sponsor Ricky who clearly hasn’t even started shaving yet. Has he? Did I miss that? I don’t know how, because I mut have seen his face a million times this summer during the tedious soap opera of where he is meant to be playing next year. My money is that whatever happens he won’t have to move from his current house.

Related article: “How Ricky Rubio Can Make $6.6 Million in a Week”

FN: Of the three Serbian stars who left Partizan this year (Velickovic, Tripkovic, Tepic), who has the best chance of being homesick in this coming season?

Dear Mom, Please send money.

PN: Greece and Serbia are apparently the best of buddies which is something I wasn’t aware of so Panathinaikos should make Tepic pretty welcome and he should do well – even playing for the Euroleague champs where he will have to fight for court time like everyone else. In fact all three will do pretty well and will probably spend the next ten years excelling away from their homeland. I really do like Tepic as he is tough and smart, much like Velickovic who, as one of the first signings by Messina looks nailed on to have a good time.  Of course if Velickovic did struggle, Real have the longest bench in the history of basketball so if he falls out of favour he may have to be very good at the game ‘musical chairs’ to even get a place somewhere along the line.

DKV Joventut are a perimeter shooting team under Sito Alonso and that will suit Tripkovic just great so he will probably be okay too. It might just come down to the simple things. I googled Serbian restaurants in Madrid, Badalona and Athens without too much success so maybe they will all feel a little homesick but I guess that none of the guys partake in the consumption of Serbian Slivovitz (look it up  you lazy people), so they will probably avoid feeling lonely. Besides, I hear the chicas and beach parties in Greece and Spain are up there with the best. Good luck to Velickovic finding a beach anywhere near Madrid!

FN: If your boys from Great Britain shock the world and bring home the gold, how much would a game-worn, Pops Mensah-Bonsu headband go for on eBay?

PN: If my boys bring home competitive single figure losses in Warsaw it would possibly shock the world. After all, some people seem shocked that we even play basketball and there seems to be some resentment from others who feel that they have a god given right to look down on GB’s achievements because they see themselves as being a ‘real’ basketball nation. The misconceptions are laughable. Some people continue sneering at anything to do with British basketball and are so condescending it is driving me demented. No country has the right to be in the elite whatever their history. Hard work, talent and application is required and whichever team prevails over a number of games deserves their place. I think Great Britain are viewed in parts of Europe as the equivalent of some embarrassing relative who is gate-crashing a party they weren’t invited to. However there is more to Britain (well, Scotland) than Continue Reading…

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Posted 1 month, 1 week ago at 4:07 pm.

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Say Nimrod Tishman five times fast

By: Slam

Earlier this week I chronicled how the big Turkish prospect Enes Kanter would be playing his high school basketball at Findlay Prep. Now, we’ve got another European coming to America, and he answers to the name Nimrod Tishman. The 6′6″ Israeli point guard will be playing for Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators, presumably filling the void left by Panathinaikos’ new toy, Nick Calathes.

It’s been said that Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler might be starting a trend of American exodus, but what about the other way around?  More and more, European prospects are turning down thousands if not millions of dollars in professional contracts in Europe to come over and play high school or college basketball in America with the hopes of making it to the NBA. I’ve never been a top European prospect, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon; however, if I were, this would be my thought process:

European prospects passing up playing professionally in Europe for high school or college in America

Pros: 1. The safety net provided by a college degree

2. The chance to familiarize yourself with American culture

3. Exposure to NBA decision makers

Cons: 1. Money, money, money

2. Losing out on years of professional experience

3. Leaving the comfort of your native land

4. Money, money, money

Tishman averaged 18. 3 points and 2.3 assists for Israel in Under-18 European Championships, so one would expect him to be at least moderately successful.  Even if he’s not, his journey warrants attention, and you can’t fault the guy for trying something different.  Plus, it’s just fun as hell to say Nimrod Tishman.

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Posted 1 month, 1 week ago at 6:06 pm.


Mirza Begic fills a (big) hole down low for Zalgiris

By: Freaknick

Don’t look now, but Zalgiris might make some noise in the Euroleague after a year of hibernation.  On Saturday they announced that Union Olimpija’s 23-year-old Slovenian big man Mirza Begic would be joining them in the paint for three years.  This signing comes on the heels of Paulius Jankunas’ departure to BC Khimki, and Begic-along with former Euroleague rebounding champion Travis Watson-should instantly give them one of the best frontcourts in Group A. Just Imagine the damage they could have done if Jankunas (and now-Zaragoza center Loren Woods, for that matter) would have stayed along for the ride.

Begic averaged 1.6 blocks in 10 Euroleague games last year-good for 3rd best in the regular season-and after averaging 3.6 points and 2.7 rebounds two years ago, he bumped his line up to 11.1 and 6.1 last season.  Along with the offense, the defense, and the room for growth, Zalgiris is getting some of the best young feet in Europe; Begic treats his pivot foot like a loaded gun and he whips out up-and-unders that would make Kevin McHale proud (watch him go to work below).  And in case you were thinking about to slap the Euro-big stereotype on him, think again: he’s a tough customer who has taken exactly ZERO three-pointers in his two Euroleague seasons.  He understands his strengths and he’s determined to beat you with his best stuff.  Frankly, it’s quite refreshing.

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Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago at 5:14 pm.

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Get Ready for EuroBasket 2009: Video Special

By: Slam

As EuroBasket 2009 starts in just a few weeks on September 7th I decided to take a look at the 5 best NBA players playing in the tournament.  Some teams are still trying to qualify (France and Italy) so the likes of Tony Parker, Boris, Diaw, and Andrea Bargnani will not qualify for this list either.  Now here is a video compilation for each player, enjoy.

Andris Biedrins, Center, Latvia, Golden State Warriors

Gasol Brothers (Pau and Marc) Centers, Spain, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies

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Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago at 7:17 pm.

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Eurobasket Uncensored: Fisticuffs in Greece, a Croatian Country Western, and Super Mario tatted up

Let's get it on.

Paul Nilsen is a part-time freelance basketball journalist and addict (mainly basketball) who writes for and has his own site at In between balancing a full time job and a girlfriend whose patience is wearing thin, Paul can be found somewhere near a basketball court writing about anything from Eurobasket to U16 women.  Paul can be contacted at [email protected].

Well, Paul, maybe your girlfriend’s patience is running thin because you’re spending too much time with U16 girls.  Sorry. Couldn’t resist.  In Paul’s Other Group A Preview on (Part One here and Part Two there), he picked his sleepers, X-Factors, and keys to success.  That’s all well and good, but Freaknick’s mind has once again wandered to the really important queries, like could Sofoklis Shorstanitis beat up Andreas Glyniadakis? Enlighten us, Mr. Nilsen.

Freaknick: 23-year-old Damir Markota and 22-year-old Ante Tomic.  The talent has always been there, but the results have been a bit spotty.  If FIBA told Croatia that they could use only one moving forward and revoke the passport of the other, who would get the boot?

So, two Croats walk into a bar...Paul Nilsen: Well to be fair Damir is probably more adept at getting the boot after a chequered career in some respects although he might have found a home in Bilbao. Tomic meanwhile is a player I like a lot, but in any such basketball situation there is only one way to solve it, like any two guys would anywhere in the world: Simply to put the passports down on the ground and have a shoot-out on some court downtown. I also think that since Croatia are now genuine medal contenders, the ability to have a good celebration should they get a medal is also a big factor. Maybe out of respect for the late and great Michael Jackson, a moonwalk to the podium contest ahead of Katowice could help decide. Failing that just choose Tomic because I think Markota might be injured anyway and that is no joke trying to do a moonwalk when not fully fit.

FN: More likely scenario: A) Mario Kasun gets another tattoo before the conclusion of Eurobasket? B) FYR of Macedonia leaves Eurobasket without a win?

PN: Option C is probably the most likely and that is the Croatian ‘Super Mario’ managed to get himself injured ahead of the big tip-off although if I had to choose the most likely of the two, I would go for the tattoo. I quite like the idea of Kasun having to get a tattoo as a bet with the Macedonian players. Basically if they get a win then Kasun has to get a tattoo of Jeremiah ‘Air’ Massey on his back. I think you are actually being a bit harsh on Macedonia, I think they might surprise people. After all, who tipped Russia to get gold in 2007? Well, my friend tried to say he tipped them but actually he got them in the draw we had for money when everyone were randomly given a team out of an envelope. I remember him ripping up his Russia ticket in disgust before the tournament conveniently forgetting about it when they won. The lucky *****! Though I am not saying I exactly want to pick FYR of Macedonia out of the envelope this time. I am not that confident in them!

FN: Let’s say the basketball gets boring.  They turn the Spodek Arena in Katowice into a boxing venue.  In one corner, the bruising bulkiness of Sofoklis Schortsanitis, in the other Andreas Glyniadakis and his orangutan-like reach.  In a scored boxing match, who wins and in how many rounds?

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Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago at 2:36 am.


It’s a Turkish Thing. You Wouldn’t Understand.

Coming to America: Kanter will take the road less traveled.  Perhaps, all the way to NBA fame.

By: Slam

Who said it wasn’t cool to be in school?  Apparently not Enes Kanter who has decided to leave the friendly confines of Turkey and come to the rule laden land of America.  Kanter has decided to pave his own trail by going to high school at Findlay Prep outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Kanter could have continued playing professional basketball in Turkey, but now American rules will make him wait until a year after he has graduated high school to enter the NBA Draft.  So in an age when Americans are doing everything they can to wriggle free of the NCAA’s chokehold, Kanter is willingly doing just the opposite.  What’s the upside in this?  Let us discuss…

At 17 years old Kanter has already dominated his peers in Europe.  Earlier this month he was named MVP of the Under-18 European Championships for a Turkish team that finished third.  He put up devastating numbers throughout the tournament averaging 18.6 points and 16.4 rebounds including a 32 points and 24 rebound performance in the semi-finals and a 35 points and 19 rebound performance in the bronze medal game.  If that isn’t remarkable enough Continue Reading…

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Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago at 2:07 am.

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