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  • Eurobasket 2009 random news/articles

    Nilsen: EuroBasket's Ageless Wonders

    To quote American author Mark Twain, ‘Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.'

    On any level such wise words should give us all some comfort as we start counting the wrinkles. Especially those of you who, like me, are at that pivotal age and contemplating hanging up the basketball shoes for good and retiring from the amateur game.

    Having recently found myself emitting the first of what I know will be a lifetime of painful groans when having to bend down to do pretty much anything, let alone picking an actual basketball, the philosophy of Twain is helpful although only up until a point.

    I recently found myself desperately in need of something a little more tangible to convince myself to continue playing and suddenly it dawned on me that there will of course be a fair sprinkling of veteran players at EuroBasket 2009 - all of whom will have a significant impact on the success of their respective national teams.

    These guys can give me the inspiration I need to deflect to the ‘grandad' jibes I find myself being subjected to in the locker room nowadays and provide useful ammunition against my more youthful team-mates by proving that being a good player is about more than just flashy moves.

    The most important factor is the influence you still have on your team and that havinng already passed the milestone of 30 doesn't necessarily mean you are destined for the basketball scrapheap.

    Time to give some deserved respect to this selection of Poland bound veterans.

    Vrbica Stefanov, FYR of Macedonia (35 years old)

    Vrbica Stefanov is a legend of the game in the FYR of Macedonia and the playmaker will end his glittering career at EuroBasket 2009 having already retired from club basketball last summer to prepare himself for this one last hurrah.

    This five time Macedonian sportsman of the year is the leader of the team and there are few point guards with the ability to influence a team the way that Stefanov does.

    He is a legend of Macedonian basketball and often spoken about in the same breath as other greats like Petar Naumoski reflected by the decision of Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski earlier this year to hand the guard a deserved medal for the service he has given to his country.

    Stefanov has played at the highest level in Europe and picked up silverware in Italy and Greece as well as All Star status to underline his terrific ability. The wily Stefanov will penetrate with unerring regularity and find his team-mates on the perimeter at will.

    Having also led the side in scoring during qualification with 15 points, it is clear that he has lost none of his ability with age and it seems like a perfect time for Stefanov to take his bow having also been influential in his previous EuroBasket appearance exactly a decade ago.

    In fact he is so old in basketball terms that back in 2007 before the last EuroBasket in Spain, when hoping to secure a place in the tournament via the additional qualifying round, his own Coach Jovica Arsic explained "This is the last chance for Vrbica Stefanov to be a part of a major tournament."

    On that day it looked like his typical contribution of 18 points had sealed the deal but unfortunately, FYR of Macedonia did not get their place.

    However Stefanov proved his coach wrong. It wasn't his last chance and two years later, he is back at another EuroBasket for real and raring to get onto court.

    It will be fascinating to see that if having not played for a club at the top level this season he will be able to turn it back on like a tap in Poland. You wouldn't be against him.

    Igor Rakocevic, Serbia (31 years old)

    One of the most dominant and if not the most dominant player in Europe this season, ‘Rako' is back in a Serbia vest. If he plays well and leads the team in the backcourt, then Serbia have every chance of having a great tournament, such is the influence of this mesmeric guard who has got even better with age.

    Club coach Dusko Ivanovic has taken the ball out of his hands and pushed him almost exclusively into the shooting guard slot and it has paid amazing dividends having enjoyed a stellar season in Spain with TAU Ceramica.

    Idolised by the Baskonia fans, Rakocevic scooped the Euroleague MVP award across the regular season and just missed out on being crowned player of the year in the ACB, widely recognized as being the best league outside of the NBA.

    This is a veteran shooter who can be devastating when he gets hot, and will arrive in Poland having enjoyed arguably the best season of his career with many feeling he has taken his game to the next level.

    Nothing seems to faze him and he has developed into a genuine backcourt go to guy. A great option in crunch time, he loves the big occasion and has the ability to get regularly to the hoop as well as drill triples.

    Crucially, ‘Rako' can also pull up and make jump shots which make him so difficult to defend. While his NBA career never took off, he is universally recognised as one of the best talents in Europe with a long list of domestic titles to his name.

    This is one ‘golden oldie' in more ways than one having already pocketed a winners medal with Yugoslavia back in 2001 and is a potential MVP if Serbia do well.

    Meir Tapiro, Israel (34 years old)

    Having played all but one season of his career in his home country, Tapiro is not exactly a household name whole of Europe but perhaps he should be.

    He is a player that has captained his country and rather staggeringly, will be playing in his sixth EuroBasket tournament.

    To say Israel had a roller-coaster qualifying campaign would be the under statement of the year and the one person who really dug them out of an almighty hole and helped book their place in Poland was Tapiro.

    Always operating in the shadow of Euroleague stars like Eliyahu and Halperin, the rangy guard averaged 13.5 points and was the MVP in two of three critical group wins against Great Britain and the Czech Republic when he recorded 27 and 24 points respectively.

    The Bnei Hasheron star is still licking his wounds from an early exit in the Israel play-offs but when it comes to the National team, I am expecting him to show the devastating kind of shooting that he showed during qualifying.

    A leader and hugely underrated, keep an eye on Tapiro who will do the veteran brigade proud at this years tournament.

    Nate Reinking, Great Britain (35 years old)

    A relative unknown outside of Great Britain and Belgium, the guard is a trusty lieutenant of Coach Finch and has been one of the driving forces behind the incredible rise to prominence of the newest team on the Euro block.

    Reinking is one of only a couple of players on the GB roster that has been an ever present since the very start of a remarkable journey from Division B.

    While it is certainly not rare for coaches at every level and indeed in most sports to have favourites, there are few relationships as close knit as that between Reinking and Finch.

    The sharp shooter has followed Finch around at club level ever since linking up with the play caller in the British Basketball League (BBL) many years ago.

    Finch handed American born Reinking the naturalised spot and has since been faithful to him with the guard playing over 30 minutes in five of those games.

    He also repaid the trust shown in him by averaging almost 13 points with an incredible 75% floor shooting percentage inside the arc.

    When it comes to EuroBasket 2009, everyone outside of British basketball is putting two and two together and coming up with five by simply believing the introduction of Chicago Bulls shooter Ben Gordon into the roster means he will now be the main man alongside club team mate Deng.

    Wrong. It will take more than an NBA star to break up the bond that exists between Reinking and Finch and while his minutes may dip slightly, don't expect Ben Gordon to diminish the incredible influence that Reinking has had on this GB team.

    This is one veteran who has been on the journey to EuroBasket 2009 right from the start and will surely be there at the finish.

    Tapiro retired some days ago right?
    Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
    Artificial Nature

  • #2
    Originally posted by rikhardur View Post

    tapiro retired some days ago right?
    yeah rik tapiro retired from the nt... He said he is too old and tired(i think he still has a lot to offer) and want to rest...


    • #3
      I played against Reinking quite a few times back in the day when he played for Sheffield Sharks, one of the most difficult players i played against.
      He had that step back elevating jump shot. No matter how close you stayed to him he always seemed to get the shot off.
      Anyway jeez, i never new he was 35!


      • #4
        Nilsen: Doing The Little Things

        You step out onto the court as focused as you could expect amidst a barrage of noise reverberating around an excited Arena. You can still hear the words of the coach ringing in your ears and you are wiping the sweat from your brow as your brain processes the multiple options and scenarios that are about to follow.

        It is the dying seconds of the contest and you are chosen to execute the final possession of the game. If you succeed, you overturn the one point deficit and get the all important win that could stop your team going home early. It might even decide the colour of the medal that could hang around your neck.

        A good chunk of the entire nation is watching back home and on the edge of their seats with their nails already bitten and chewed as far as is humanly possible. The hopes of an entire nation are resting on your shoulders but you feel confident, success is within striking distance.

        However what you don't realise is that bounding onto court from the opposing bench is a player who is equally focused.

        They are confident that they can play the defence that will shatter your dreams, crush the hopes of your nation and kick you all the way back to the locker room as you hold your head in a towel to hide the tears.

        But just who are these players that can really make the difference at Eurobasket 2009 by coming up with the big steals, blocks, rebounds and intangibles to deny their opponents glory?

        Well, there are a few to choose from. Plenty of players who can make the big defensive plays either down the stretch or just generally through a game to help their respective teams achieve their dreams. Here is a selection of just some of the players to keep an eye on in Poland when their team isn't in possession of the ball.

        Dimitris Diamantidis, Greece

        When a player is nicknamed ‘Spiderman' you get an instant feeling for his strengths. When he wins a fifth successive Euroleague defender of the year trophy, your initial thoughts are given a resounding endorsement.

        Yes, if you are talking about defence in a European context, the name of the Dimitris Diamantidis passes your lips without hesitation. The Panathinaikos star is capable of consistently having a bigger defensive impact on games than just about any other player.

        His long arms, sleight of hand, incredible quickness, incredible drive and focus (both mentally and physically) make him the defensive kingpin of European basketball.

        As with any player who masters a particular aspect of his trade, determination and hard work compliments the technical skill. Diamintidis simply has an insatiable appetite for stops, something that any coach at EuroBasket would love to be able to harness.

        If you ever need a player to slam the door so brutally closed in the face of opponent that it leaves the actual door number imprinted on their forehead then he is definitely your man.

        Whether it is steals, blocks, rebounds or just turning himself into the kind of human rash that drives an opponent to distraction and leaves him itching into next week, just leave it to the man whose both names quite aptly begin with ‘D'.

        Ibrahim Jaaber, Bulgaria

        While everyone quite rightly focuses on the firepower that the playmaker will have to provide to give Bulgaria any chance of progressing beyond the group stages, it can be easy to forget that the guard is a superb defensive player.

        He is about as aggressive as you can get on the defensive end with lightening quick hands, good balance and with a love of steals. It is those kind of traits that in tandem with his scoring ability apparently have Greek giants Olympiakos preparing to swoop and test the resolve of Roma as rumours surface that they could look to Jaaber to help challenge arch rivals Panathinaikos next season.

        What will be fascinating at Eurobasket will be seeing whether Jaaber will be able to maintain his intensity at both ends against a better calibre of opposition. He is likely to be over worked on offence and he will really have to excel on defence as well which places a big emphasis on how the Coach handles him.

        Of course luckily for fans of Bulgaria, they have one of the most experienced in Pini Gershon.

        Ricky Rubio, Spain

        Well I had to throw this one into the mix didn't I? It is a great debate. When it comes to the weaknesses of the ‘Boy Wonder,' we could probably all agree on the lack of a consistent outside shot. In fact you probably wouldn't even get a murmur of dissent from the player himself on that one.

        Defensively it is a bit more debateable, not exactly a minefield but there are some, perhaps a minority, that still claim Rubio might not have the lateral quickness at the highest level and particularly for the NBA.

        I am one of those who oppose that view since at his still tender age, Rubio can seemingly bully his counterparts by maximising his tremendous length, big hands and superb reflexes to intercept or deny passes and strip opponents.

        What has also been a regular feature of his career to date has been a clear knack of always being within touching distance of loose balls and a sense of where the hustle hot spots are on the floor - even if that involves getting under the hoop on defence at times.

        He is crashing the boards a lot more nowadays and the moments when he loses concentration and backs off opposing guards are becoming rarer with every game.

        Having said that, he is still to truly prove he has what it takes at this level but when he pulled on the National team vest at the Olympics, it just whetted our appetite for more and you know this is only a matter of time.

        Todor Gecevski, FYR of Macedonia

        While the exuberance of youth might be a positive from an intensity and energy perspective, it can sometimes also transcend into a moment of frustrating naivety.

        They say there is no substitute for experience and the defensive importance of a real warrior like Gecevski should not be overlooked. Now in the twilight of his career, he has shown over years for both club and country that as a leader of both respective teams he can lead any rearguard action.

        Inspirational and adored in both Zadar and Skopje, the centre will have a huge role to play in steadying FYR of Macedonia when they are on the ropes during games and threatening to implode. He is the man to pick them up off the floor defensively when they need it to drag them back into any game.

        Sergi Vidal, Spain

        Whilst a big question mark hangs over his actual ability to get back into the National Team, there is no question whatsoever that when it comes to defence, there are few better options for Spain than Vidal. After one of his best ever seasons, he is at the peak of his powers and remains a huge favourite in Vitoria.

        Tau coach Dusko Ivanovic doesn't mess around when it comes to defence. He regularly makes substitutions multiple times down the stretch, alternating Vidal on defence with the likes of Igor Rakocevic on offence. Let's face it, ‘Rako' is not the greatest on defence but is still no mug.

        Competition is obviously fierce and he may miss out. However if he does book a ticket to Warsaw, then he could yet prove to be a real bonus for the Spanish.

        It is an intriguing situation and without players like Jimenez and also possibly Rodriguez and Mumbru who have struggled with form and fitness, he could yet sneak into the selection process as he is capable of offering the kind of defensive intangibles that any tournament winners need.

        Kerem Gonlum, Turkey

        Vastly underrated but that is also the beauty of having a player like Gonlum. For opposing coaches at EuroBasket it is difficult to limit the effectiveness of a forward that more regularly than not is simply in the right place at the right time and quietly but effectively influencing the game.

        That is a knack that perhaps you can't teach and as he is a player that got into the game late, it probably is even more accurate than it might sound.

        Gonlum is the unsung hero who will operates in the shadows of bigger names and yet does the necessary dirty work to come up with the rebounds and steals that his team-mates, the coaching staff and basketball purists all appreciate.

        Size, strength, tenacity and great anticipation all come together to form a defensive efficiency that you just have to love.
        Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
        Artificial Nature


        • #5
          POL - Polish break World Record in dribbling - over 30.000 fans on the streets

          POLAND (2009 EuroBasket) - Three months before the tournament's tip-off EuroBasket 2009 in Poland has already started breaking records.

          On Wednesday 17 June, 31,004 young people and celebrities gathered in the seven cities of EuroBasket 2009 - Katowice, Łodz, Bydgoszcz, Gdańsk, Poznan, Wroclaw and Warsaw - to break the Guinness Record for the largest number of people bouncing a basketball simultaneously for five minutes.

          The official number will only be confirmed on 18 June but the organizers say they have nothing to fear as the previous mark, communicated to them by officials at Guinness World Records was 5,000.

          Vice-Premier Grzegorz Schetyna, the Minister of Sport and Tourism Mirosław Drzewiecki, Polish Basketball Federation President Roman Ludwiczuk, FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin and a number of Polish celebrities took part in the event which was broadcast live by EuroBasket 2009 host broadcaster TVP.

          Poland national team members Łukasz Koszarek and Krzysztof Szubarga, and Polish basketball legend Maciej Zieliński, who was at hand in Wrocław, gave crash courses in ball-handling to participants.

          "This was a superb, well organized occasion; I am sure it will help bring basketball and EuroBasket 2009 to the top of the scale of popularity in Poland," commented FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin, who witnessed the event in Warsaw.

          All participants received a certificate of participation in the event and the basketball they used to break the record.

          "I hope that today's effort will help promote basketball in the country. Every child which received the ball as a token of appreciation can maybe use it to learn how to play basketball," said Roman Ludwiczuk.

          The event was staged by the Federation and the Local Organising Committee of EuroBasket 2009 in association with the seven cities' local Organising Committees and is part of the promotional activities linked to Eurobasket 2009, which will take place September 7-20 this year.
          Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
          Artificial Nature


          • #6
            That's a good strategy to cause an earthquake


            • #7
              You can see photos from all cities here -


              • #8
                Nilsen: Great Expectations

                A devastating injury blow, a poor decision by a match official in crunch time, fantastic play by an opponent or dealing with expectation will all have one thing in common before and during EuroBasket 2009 - there is nothing much a national federation, the coaching staff or the players can do about any of them.

                If a star player goes down injured, you are left to shrug your shoulders and reflect on rotten luck. In the case of a referees blunder, you inevitably rant for a bit and then eventually reluctantly accept that referees make mistakes too - a bit like calling the wrong play or a missed lay-up.

                You might execute your defence perfectly but the star of the opposing team just comes up with a breathtaking and unstoppable play to win the game. Much as it pains you, there is nothing more you could have done.

                So, that leaves one of the biggest factors ahead of and during any major tournament - dealing with expectation levels.

                Sometimes players tell me during interviews that it is an integral part of being at the top level in any sport. They underline that pressure and expectation are things they can shrug off relatively easily - I am not always convinced by this.

                After all, plenty of great teams have buckled spectacularly under the dreaded weight of expectation during tournaments - and not just in basketball.

                It can be like a runaway train in the build up with no amount of sound bites or underplaying the situation ever truly lightening the load.

                On the flip side, it is wonderful how so many underdogs can flourish and thrive without being shackled by expectation. It must be nice to just run onto the floor to have fun, enjoy it knowing that in rather crude terms, ‘anything is a bonus.'

                EuroBasket 2009 is likely to be no different with teams finding themselves at both ends of the expectation spectrum. For each individual national team it is of course hugely subjective.

                Nevertheless, with three months to go, I just couldn't resist taking into account what I have heard from players, coaches and fans and then having a stab at interpreting this and placing each team into the following categories of expectation levels. I look forward to hearing from you as to where you think I have went right and wrong while it will be interesting to see how expectation shifts between now and tip-off as players come and go.

                Great Expectations


                With or without Pau, gold is the only colour for an excited nation merrily focusing on talent levels and not the appointment of a new coach, whether he will have chemistry with his players, the loss of important glue on and off the court in Carlos Jiminez, the draft distraction for Rubio and the injury to the talented Calderon. Making up for Madrid 2007 is the expectation. Favourites and stacked with talent or not, it is easier said than done.


                A couple of domestic teams in the Euroleague Final Four and Greek basketball is seemingly on an upward curve. With a new national team coach at the helm and many key players coming off a good year, it seems to me that EuroBasket expectation is not just sky high but in danger of going into outer space - and not for the first time. However injury concerns over the likes of defensive diamond Diamantidis could prove telling and a little more balance and perspective may be required.


                Talk of a Slovenian ‘Dream Team' has been on the lips of many with Coach Zdovc also pretty bullish. A hugely talented team, but we all know that dreams can quickly turn to nightmares. With Becirovic struggling, any other high profile stars go down and current expectations will quickly seem excessive. Many people are talking of them as realistic medallists but with such a tough opening group, that gushing confidence appears to be pretty brave.

                Great Britain

                EuroBasket is very much virgin territory and maybe they should fall into the ‘expect the unexpected' bracket. However I do sense that a first ever ‘feel good factor' could be contributing towards an unrealistic expectation. NBA quality and Euroleague experience is great but without any EuroBasket history it doesn't always mean success at this next level. Having unexpectedly sprinted during their marathon and impressive journey from Division B, they could find themselves doing things backwards and may end up crawling for a short time. Then again, they could keep sprinting (okay....maybe they are in the wrong category).

                Beautifully Balanced


                Perhaps the most consistent nation when it comes to expectation. The team doesn't have the same NBA contingent of others but has been efficient in most things it has done, qualifying for major tournaments on a consistent basis and generally competing. Slightly hamstrung by having to live up to the great names of the past but overall there has been little of any note to greatly swing expectation towards either end of the spectrum. Expectations appear impressively balanced - much like the team itself and the system Coach Repisa employs.


                The golden era is but a distant memory and after poor displays in 2005 and 2007, Serbian basketball is coming to terms with the need to re-build. When you read down the list of stellar names who will be absent (again), holding onto former glories and setting levels of expectation in accordance with the halcyon days of yesteryear is no longer an option. Expectations now seem more realistic having been slightly re-adjusted after those successive Eurobasket failures.


                Biedrins and Co squeezed into the tournament and even with key players like Blums and Valters enjoying impressive rookie seasons in the ACB, Latvian expectation hasn't been raised and appears to be the same as it was when they originally booked their place.


                I was tempted to put this basketball obsessed nation into the category of ‘Great Expectations' but perhaps some high profile retirements and absentees have just taken the edge off expectation levels enough to balance matters. They still have a fantastic amount of depth, got close in the Olympics and will do so again. You sense expectation matches the reality of their ambitions.

                Falling Expectations


                With a few clubs in the Russian Superleague struggling off the court, JR Holden stepping down, Coach Blatt having been blanked by the potentially naturalised Travis Hansen and now Kirilenko expressing doubts about his availability, maybe the ambitions of the defending champions are dwindling with each week that passes. They still have huge talents but the chill wind of expectation previously howling in from Moscow is now more akin to a gentle breeze. Even if the bookmakers don't seem to have realised yet.


                With or without Nowitzki, it seems there is an acceptance of the need to re-build an ageing team and with that comes the need for a re-alignment of expectation. Inevitably it will be lower than in previous years.


                A traumatic qualifying campaign that came within a whisker of being a complete disaster combined with the recent retirement of veteran rock Meir Tapiro haven't exactly given reasons to expect a great deal in 2009. A bit like a ‘Nowitzki-less' Germany, Israel have a new generation to bring through and a new identity to mould.

                Expect The Unexpected

                FYR of Macedonia

                Winning their qualifying group and making a belated return ten years after their first appearance they could be dark horses - or maybe not. But seriously, if star forward Jeremiah Massey truly doesn't know what kind of ambitions the team should have, how can I or anybody else?


                The one team with a number of clichés they can cling to. Underdogs, David and Goliath, nothing to lose - the list is endless. So why not put them in ‘perfectly balanced' category? Well because they edged out Italy in qualifying and in Ibby Jaaber have a EuroBasket ‘X Factor' that could help prove a few people wrong. Maybe being rank outsiders but this isn't how the thought process is working in Sofia.


                Impressive in qualifying, ‘Hedo' had made it to the NBA Finals, Ilyasova is looking the real deal and it becomes easy to bump this nation up to the category of great expectations. However, how can you expect an accurate measurement of expectation when the players themselves can't even guarantee which team will show up? Just look at their last EuroBasket performances against their World Championship display. What should we expect from Turkey? Flip a coin and take a guess.


                The traditional burden of being an expectant host nation doesn't quite sit right with Poland. The lack of any major scalps on the court after not having had to qualify means most people are fumbling in the dark when it comes to even setting any kind of level of expectation. They could be surprisingly brilliant or toe curlingly awful. For the sake of the tournament, I hope it isn't the latter.
                Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
                Artificial Nature


                • #9
                  Great Britain stands higher than Lithuania, Croatia, Turkey? It seems that the guy knows few names like Biedrins and guys from NBA. I disagree with the list, though it's pretty interesting. Maybe we should start "expectations" thread?
                  LTU NT will snatch Eurobasket 2029 title with this roster:

                  Jokubaitis, Marciulionis, Laurencikas
                  Indrusaitis, Brazdeikis, Rubstavicius
                  Buzelis, Lelevicius
                  Murauskas, Sirvydis
                  Tubelis, Krivas


                  • #10

                    Hi there

                    I think you misunderstand the article.

                    The expectation levels are in relation to each individual country , not against each other in a tournament ranking sense

                    in otherwords the expectation of Great Britian is big within the UK but that is not the reality of the situation in the tournament, that is the point I was making

                    There is no way GB stands above Croatia, Turkey etc... that is not what the article is saying....

                    as for knowing about Biedrins and NBA players... I hopefully know a little more than that when it comes to Latvia for example - having watched the likes of Blums and Valters play over 20 times this season



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Paul Nilsen View Post
                      Hi there

                      I think you misunderstand the article.

                      The expectation levels are in relation to each individual country , not against each other in a tournament ranking sense

                      in otherwords the expectation of Great Britian is big within the UK but that is not the reality of the situation in the tournament, that is the point I was making

                      There is no way GB stands above Croatia, Turkey etc... that is not what the article is saying....

                      as for knowing about Biedrins and NBA players... I hopefully know a little more than that when it comes to Latvia for example - having watched the likes of Blums and Valters play over 20 times this season

                      Thanks for clarification, I got your point now! I have a better understanding of your idea and that only makes the topic more interesting. Welcome to the forum!
                      LTU NT will snatch Eurobasket 2029 title with this roster:

                      Jokubaitis, Marciulionis, Laurencikas
                      Indrusaitis, Brazdeikis, Rubstavicius
                      Buzelis, Lelevicius
                      Murauskas, Sirvydis
                      Tubelis, Krivas


                      • #12
                        Stick around Paul
                        Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
                        Artificial Nature


                        • #13

                          Impressive in qualifying, ‘Hedo' had made it to the NBA Finals, Ilyasova is looking the real deal and it becomes easy to bump this nation up to the category of great expectations. However, how can you expect an accurate measurement of expectation when the players themselves can't even guarantee which team will show up? Just look at their last EuroBasket performances against their World Championship display. What should we expect from Turkey? Flip a coin and take a guess."

                          Hah hah hah, i just saw the article and that's exactly what we are... Of course Tanjevic plays big role in it.


                          • #14
                            Nilsen: Potential Young Stars - Part 1

                            My friend sat shaking his head last week and gleefully began to pull apart my column piece before it had even been written - most people would at least have the decency to wait until it is actually published. He shook his head and started laughing, explaining smugly, "Ricky Rubio... now that's a genuinely young player."

                            He didn't seem to think that setting the criteria at 23 or under for a feature on the potential young stars of Eurobasket 2009 was reasonable. He seemed to think this was a little high although I did point out that there is only one Ricky Rubio and it might be unfair to judge everyone else by the standards of the anticipated EuroBasket Golden Boy.

                            In spite of his protestations, I have stuck to my guns with this one although believe me, it wasn't easy. My friend did seem to delight in pointing out a recent feature I did on the potential veteran stars of the tournament, gleefully reminding me that Meir Tapiro of Israel announced his retirement within days of it being published. Cue my friend telling me - "So you see, what do you actually know?"

                            I suppose he had a point with that one. I am hoping these guys last a little longer on the EuroBasket 2009 radar.

                            In the case of younger players heading to Poland, I don't think it is rocket science to state that at this most senior level of the game it is the exception rather than the rule when players under 20 have a significant impact on such a prestigious and major tournament. Going back a whole decade I am mindful (after being reminded) that players such as Sani Becirovic churned out decent minutes for Slovenia as a teenager and it will be interesting to keep an eye on whether anyone other than Ricky can manage this too.

                            I feel that in terms of young talent realistically hoping to make a big impression, most of the impact will be made firmly in the 20-23 year old category. For example, look no further than the absolutely packed amount of talent in a young and hungry Serbia team. I find it astonishing trawling through the potential rosters that will line up later this year that coach Ivkovic probably has as many young players in his team that warrant a place in this feature about potential young stars than the rest of the teams put together!

                            With Serbian teams like Partizan Belgrade and FMP keeping the production line running and handing young guys their opportunity to play in top competitions such as EuroCup and Euroleague at such tender ages, it is tempting to classify the glittering array of influential Serbian players as being nothing like young players. In terms of their playing history, many already with remarkable numbers and minutes you would probably be right - that doesn't change their date of birth in their passport though.

                            Those of you who prefer to be cynical (a bit like my friend) might cruelly point to a continual lack of appearances by senior Serbian players as to why so many youngsters are given their chance (re-enforced recently by Igor Rakocevic casting doubts over his return to action ) but in spite of this, there seems no better place to start a round-up than the team who will be more reliant on young players than any other.

                            Milenko Tepic, Serbia

                            The combo guard will be hoping to have more of an impact than he did at the last EuroBasket tournament when he played only 14 minutes without making any kind of impression. Won European gold with the Serbian U20 team in 2006 and 2007 and has since developed into a key member of Partizan's team at Euroleague level. A favourite of Ivkovic, Tepic played more minutes than any other player during qualifying and harnessed his wide range of skills to good effect. A solid shooter and passer, he is consistent for both club and country with his numbers reflecting this fact. A good decision maker and unlike others, doesn't always jack up threes unless he is well set. He is also a smart player at the defensive end - something recognised by Euroleague champions Panathinaikos who have signed him on a three year deal. Only a slight lack of that extra speed when handling the ball is a weak point. Pivotal cog in the Serbian machine.

                            Uros Tripkovic, Serbia

                            Could be heading for a big move to the ACB with Spanish regular season and Copa Del Rey champions TAU Ceramica with other Euroleague clubs hot on his trail. Tripkovic hails from the same birthplace as legendary Serbian shooters such as Stojakovic, Gurovic and Beric, he has perhaps suffered from the weight of expectation placed around his neck when he first burst onto the scene. Some claim he has yet to truly realise his potential and has a tendency to take too many off balance and impossible looking shots. Despite this, he remains a big danger and a player who could explode at just the right time for Serbia. He showed during qualification and during last season in Euroleague across 18 games for Partizan that he can be lethal from the arc and has to be considered as one of the best shooters heading to Poland. Defensively he could be better but remains a smart enough player to shine if he improves that shot selection.

                            Novica Velickovic, Serbia

                            It could be argued that there are few greater endorsements in European basketball than a legendary coach such as Ettore Messina signing you to spearhead a revolution at a giant club and institution such as Real Madrid. Velickovic has certainly made colossal strides in improving his game lately, his progress underlined when he scooped this years Euroleague Rising Star award turning the heads of eager suitors towards Belgrade. He was a major pulse within a talented Partizan team and some would say even the leader at just 22 years old. He has turned from a raw inside banger who could make a shot into a more versatile and well rounded forward who can do it all. Not the most athletic but smart and can grab game winning steals as well as making his team-mates better with his work off the ball. Only a lack of natural athleticism and worries he could end up being an NBA tweener in the future go against this hugely talented forward excelling in the best league in Europe for years to come. Will be instrumental and a major weapon in the Serbian team.

                            Stefan Markovic, Serbia

                            A surprise inclusion in the 2007 tournament at the age of 19, he has continued his excellent progression and has made the most of his impressive athleticism and size at the point. Has led Hemofarm to the semi-finals of the Final Eight in EuroCup and compared to rivals for the position has shown he can really look after the ball, run a team and show maturity beyond his years. Markovic can play solid defence, is brave and refuses to be intimidated by opponents. Considered a ‘sleeper' in 2008 has catapulted himself into the limelight with his European performances. A talent that is definitely getting better with every minute on court and could make a big impression if coach Ivkovic puts his faith in him. Yes, it is a big if, but many players have broken through in major tournaments. We watch with interest.

                            Milos Teodosic, Serbia

                            An interesting player that is likely to establish him as a big player in Europe over time. Has handled the pressure of being a young player at an institution like Olympiakos reasonably well though is rumoured to be about to be sent out on loan next year after his poor start relegating him to the bench. A great passer with good vision who can slice to the hoop, has the ability to develop into a playmaker but currently does not have the presence or leadership needed at the top level. Not the most gifted defensively and his outside shooting is so erratic that for long periods it can be either sensational or atrocious but rarely in between. Former U20 European Championship MVP and showed in EuroBasket 2007 he can produce at this senior level. A good chance to underline his talent and show why he went to Greece in the first place.

                            In Part 2 find out which other potential young stars will be lining up at EuroBasket 2009.
                            Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
                            Artificial Nature


                            • #15
                              Nilsen: Potential Young Stars Part II

                              EuroBasket 2009 will be another FIBA tournament blessed with a selection of hungry young players all eagerly looking to enhance their burgeoning reputations.

                              While teams like Serbia have based the bulk of their squad around a hungry and youthful core, there are plenty of other individual players on other rosters also looking to shine for their respective National teams.

                              Here's a selection of players to keep your eye on when we tip off in September.

                              Joel Freeland, Great Britain

                              Plucked from relative obscurity by Portland Trailblazers three years ago, Freeland has exploded in the past 12 months. He had an incredible qualifying tournament last summer and was arguably the best player in a Great Britain vest bar the inspirational Deng. He then took that red-hot form into the Spanish league where he has had a terrific breakthrough season with Gran Canaria, something underlined by his top five finish in voting for the ACB ‘Revelation of the Year' award. While he will have fierce competition in Poland for the 5 spot alongside Euroleague veterans like Robert Archibald and Andy Betts who missed most of qualifying, he will relish that challenge. He suddenly has a swagger in his stride stemming from a new found confidence - something previously absent when he was far too introverted on the court. Freeland can be particularly explosive for a center, he has quick feet, is a great offensive rebounder and is getting stronger and smarter with every game he plays. He maybe just needs to look after the ball a little better and avoid picking up cheap fouls to make further improvements. He is a great character and definitely a big talent who is being chased by top clubs across Europe and rumoured to be heading for Malaga and Unicaja if he doesn't stay in Gran Canaria. Will definitely be a player to watch in Warsaw when the Group stage gets underway.

                              Ante Tomic, Croatia

                              Tomic is now beginning to realise his potential and will head into the tournament off the back of a hugely impressive year, particularly in the Adriatic league. Averaged around the 15 point mark in all three competitions he played in and in terms of production, he has announced his arrival and made people sit up and take notice. He has also begun to justify why Utah Jazz drafted him in 2008. He has enjoyed a terrific spell of form in the Mediterranean Games, posting big numbers including a double-double in the gold medal game over the weekend which is likely to now land him a place on a competitive Croatian EuroBasket final 12. While it is not guaranteed he will make it, he has made it difficult for Repesa to leave him out and if he does get the nod, he could definitely make a big impression. He is very much the hungry young guy behind the injury prone and more experienced Kasun and Vujcic, and is reportedly being chased by Pamesa Valencia (his preferred destination apparently) and Maccabi Tel-Aviv which suggests his role and profile in the game could be about to explode further. Having always been on the radar of the big teams on both sides of the Atlantic because of his status as one of the most promising players of his age, Poland could be a chance for him to further cement his reputation although there is a chance he might not quite be ready at this level just yet. Runs the floor well despite his size and has some good moves in the low post. Seems to be adding much needed aggression to his game and he will need it. If he gets his ticket from Coach Repesa then enjoy the show.

                              Victor Claver, Spain

                              After a season blighted by a serious injury, the high flying Claver looked like he would struggle to make the final cut for Poland in an intensely competitive Spanish squad currently pencilled in as favourites for the gold medal. Even when he came back to the court in the last few months of the season for Pamesa Valencia having recovered from his broken leg, he was not been able to re-produce his pre-injury form. Testament to his potential and the trust that people have in his ability is that he was subsequently drafted at number 22 in the first round by Portland Trailblazers. It was a decision that caused a certain degree of uproar on both sides of the Pond and was undeniably one of the most contentious of all the picks. Claver is the future of the Spanish team in the 3 to 4 spot where Coach Scariolo has admitted the team is short of depth. He is someone that plays his game above the rim and the numerous online compilations of dunks by the versatile and athletic 20 year old is testament to the thrills and spills he can provide in the tournament. He has a super skills set and while the fevered analysis of his shock first round draft rumbles on across both sides of the Atlantic, he will probably keep flying high for Pamesa Valencia (as he isn't expected to play in the NBA any time soon) and could show the doubters at EuroBasket just why Portland snapped him up. Oh and as one wag suggested, the Trailblazers surely aren't just looking for a replacement in the NBA dunk contest for the supposedly unhappy Rudy Fernandez who could be on his way (although Turkoglu and a late change to the Raptors might ease that situation).

                              Ogus Savas, Turkey

                              Unlike most players listed, Savas is not exactly the silky skilled or high flying forward that you would necessarily pay good money to watch. He is however a hugely effective young player and one that will no doubt provide a significant contribution to a talented if unpredictable Turkish team. Right from the outset it is worth pointing out that because of his bulk and startling lack of an athletic physique, he often struggles to rebound effectively and can be caught flat footed on defence, both of which are obviously significant flaws. However when it comes to production at the offensive end, he is generally excellent and has shown this both in Euroleague and the Turkish League for Fenerbahce Ulker last season. This also followed a successful qualifying campaign for the National team last summer, his 9.7 points per game helping Turkey to remain unbeaten in an impressive spell. Savas is an intelligent player who utilises every last drop of that basketball IQ and as a result, the giant center could prove difficult to ignore in Poland - quite literally!

                              Omri Casspi, Israel

                              It has been a historic week for Casspi and Israeli basketball after the forward became the first player from Israel to be picked in the first round of the NBA draft after he was picked in the 23 spot by the Kings. The smart money is now firmly on Casspi playing for Sacramento sooner rather than later and becoming the first ever Israel born player to play in the big league. However every silver lining has a cloud and some fear this turn of events and historical landmark could adversely affect his commitment to the National team programme. It now remains to be seen whether he will now line up in Poland, the odds currently against this but there remains hope. The interest in his draft has been huge in his homeland with Channel 5 in Israel covering the draft pick live with the focus firmly on the Maccabi star who averaged over 12 points per game last season. At just 20 years old, Casspi is now primed to be the biggest star of Israeli basketball and indeed Israeli sport. His influence at Eurobasket could be huge and particularly with Israel one of the underdogs and the federation and coaching staff looking in part to re-build a new team around the likes of Casspi. Now it is simply down to his commitment to his country and whether he can stand up to the rigours of any pressure from over the Atlantic not to play. If he does pull on an Israeli vest, watch out for his all round skills but particularly his ball handling, athletic ability and great physical attributes.

                              Ricky Rubio, Spain

                              It's pretty hard to write anything new about Rubio as he is one of the most talked about players on the planet and most definitely the most talked about young player in the game. Suffice to say, this EuroBasket tournament is his first proper opportunity to actually show his true capabilities at National team level. He got his feet well and truly wet at the Olympics last summer but with no Calderon on board this time and with backcourt challengers Lopez and Cabezas hardly enjoying stellar seasons, all eyes will be firmly on the recent NBA draft pick to see if he lives up to his reputation. Believe the hype.

                              Andris Biedrins, Latvia

                              Well I had to leave the best until last and perhaps shoot myself in the foot by listing the 23 year old NBA star. Including the irrepressible Biedrins who is simply a monster in a Latvia vest adds credence to my friends theory that 23 years or below was too high for a feature on ‘young players'. However despite is impressive CV in the NBA with Golden State, this particular Warrior's passport has him down as a young player - there seems to be no arguing with his date of birth. Biedrins is the heartbeat of the Latvia team and a talismanic figure in the same way that Luol Deng is with Great Britain or Dirk Nowitzki has been with Germany. He may still be a young in my book but he was the most dominant player during the entire Eurobasket qualifying campaign last summer. Prolific in most categories, the forward is already a legend in his homeland and ‘Beans' is a favourite in California too. When it comes to NBA stars of Eurobasket 2009, he is often talked about somewhere near to last, naturally overshadowed by the likes of a certain Gasol pairing. However the truth of the matter is that few players will have as much impact on their National team than Biedrins.
                              Die Liebe wird eine Krankheit, wenn man sie als eine Heilung sieht
                              Artificial Nature



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