Once upon a time in Group A…

By: Freaknick

Over the next four days, Slam will be laying down the previews for each group and I’ll be nipping at his heels with the top 3 stories that might emerge from each group.

Here we go.  Page one, chapter one…

Barca needs Mickael to continue his beastly ways
1. Can Pete Mickael fill the void left by Ersan Ilyasova’s departure? To say Ilyasova was inconsistent is to say World War II was a mere skirmish.  His weekly rankings during the top 16 went a little something like this: 4, 7, 39, 3, 8, 22.  So it’s not the Red and Blue will be missing a rock.  Whereas Ilyasova can bust open every third week or so, Pete Mickael’s game is a persistent display of strength and force with a side of outside shooting if he feels like it.  Barcelona has enough guys who can fill it up (Navarro, Vazquez, Lakovic), so Mickael’s toughness and consistency should both be welcome assets.  Barcelona shouldn’t have any problems getting out of this round and the next, but only a Euroleague championship will satiate their hunger this time around.

Can Zisis handle the load for Siena's shallow stable of guards?2. Will Montepaschi have the guards to compete? In the blink of an eye, Siena’s strength morphed into an area of glaring need.  With respects to JC Navarro, Terrell McIntyre was the Euroleague’s best guard in 2009.  He averaged  13 in the regular season, then 20 in the Top 16 and an eye-popping 25 in the Playoffs.  If that weren’t enough, they’ll also be without feared shooter Rimantas Kaukenas.  But all hope is not lost; they re-signed stellar big man Ksistof Lavrinovic and the wildly energetic Shaun Stonerook who can guard all 3 frontcourt positions.  Add that to the long, strong Benjamin Eze and you’ll have a chance to win every time out.  But who’s going to score from the perimeter?  Morris Finley? Not likely.  Henry Domercant?  Perhaps, but he faded down the stretch.  The brunt of the load may fall into the lap of recently acquired Nikos Zisis, who has never had to be the offensive catalyst.  Look for that to change this season.

Preldzic and Savas will try to lead Fenerbahce boldly into the future.3. Is this the year Fenerbahce Ulker grows up? If you have epilepsy, we kindly request that you close your eyes. Fenerbahce’s season was a season punctuated by flashes of brilliance that yielded sporadic results.  Oguz Savas (pictured dunking on the sliding panel on top of this very site) was the week 10 MVP and then disappointed for many of the games to follow with spotty playing time and even spottier production.  But this year will be different! Right? With veteran Mirsad Turkcan and Gordan Giricek back to stabilize things, Savas and recent Suns draft pick Emir Preldzic should feel comfortable enough to play their games without trying to do too much.  But that’s what we said last year…

And Group A lived happily ever after.

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 2:16 pm.

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A city famous for its art will again showcase brilliance in 2010

By: Freaknick

My Swiss grandmother speaks French, my mother is fluent, and my sister is conversational. I do not parlez vous Francais one petit bit. But upon the announcement that Paris will host the 2009-10 Final Four from May 7-9, a particular dessert-inspired French word comes to mind: PARFAIT!

Say this in the drive-thru at McDonald’s and you will be swiftly rewarded with a cup of fruit, nuts, and yogurt.  But in French, to be “parfait” means to be flawlessly wonderful.  Quite literally, it means “PERFECT”.

Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy

Only a month or two ago Sam and I were looking over the past hosts and shaking our heads: Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Moscow, Prague, Athens, Madrid, Berlin.

“Damn.  Those would’ve been awesome,” I’d say.  ”I hope they have it some place just as cool next Spring.”

Sam glanced over the list and then thought out loud, “Paris hasn’t had it in a while.  That’d be f***in’ sweet.”

And how f***in’ sweet it is.  F***in’ sweeter than a McDonald’s parfait.  Paris’ perfection sits atop the Eiffel Tower, hangs beneath the Arc de Triomphe and admires the splendor of the Louvre’s hallowed halls, but Slam and Freaknick’s honeymoon will feature artists who prefer hardwood over canvas.

Instead of Monet’s broad strokes, we have McIntyre’s precision.  While many revere Mona Lisa’s mysterious face, we gawk at the stylings of Boniface N’Dong.  The creativity of Picasso with the brush pales in comparison to the genius of Papaloukas with the ball.  I’ll take Fran Vazquez over Diego Velazquez, and when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, did he use a step ladder or just stand on Tomas van den Spiegel’s shoulders?

No matter which teams make it to the Euroleague’s final weekend, a classical sort of modern art will be splattered on the shimmering planks of Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, and I will be there to see the drama unravel.

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 3:49 pm.


PODCAST: Eliyahu or Velickovic? Tepic or Bluthenthal? The guys break down the insanity of free agency

Who’s the better re-signing: Bourousis or Siskauskas?  Will BC Khimki get more out of Cabezas or Lopez?  And did a coach steal the show this offseason? Slam and Freaknick break down the best deals, the worst deals, and the ones that really don’t even matter in their latest podcast.

Click “PLAY” to be enlightened, one hard-to-pronounce name at a time.

Check out ALL the podcasts.

The best, the worst, the busts.  We parse the transfer market until it makes some kinda sense.

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 12:55 pm.

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Freaknick’s Weekly RAP-up: Week of June 30

Freaknick looks back at the week that was in European hoops in the only way he knows how: STYLE.  In the first edition of the new weekly series, Freaknick takes aim at Ricky Rubio, Ron Artest, Hedo Turkoglu and…Eddie Murphy?

Check back every Monday for the RAP-up.



Freaknick spares nobody in the first of many Weekly RAP-ups.  Cute doll, Ricky.

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 1:51 am.

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