Last week, en route to my press box seat on row number 14 at Nokia Arena, moments ahead of what revealed to be Maccabi Tel Aviv's heroic 80-79 Euroleague triumph over Khimki Moscow, I caught up with Shay Hausmann, a former executive of Israel's Maccabi Ashdod, who frequently covers the Israeli's Euroleague campaign.
Mulling over the obvious size advantages the Russian's enjoyed over their Jewish rivals, Hausmann said, "For Maccabi to win, they must run Khimki out the gym."
"Full-court pressure defense and a high-paced offense are the only styles of play for Maccabi to be victorious this season," he added.
Hausmann was he right.
Maccabi on the other hand, thinking differently, enrolled in a slow-paced match, allowing a brilliant Zoran Planinic to take full advantage of his lengthy 6-foot-7 frame and exciting handles to post-up defenders, score, and feed Khimki's big men easy buckets.
Though he was fabulous in the first twenty-minutes of the encounter, Planinic's dominance disrupted the Russian's execution down the stretch. The former New Jersey Nets Croatian Point guard / Shooting guard / Small forward, who according to Tel Aviv insiders is high on Maccabi's upcoming recruiting list, recorded key turnovers, displayed poor defense on Ricky Hickman, and was solely responsible for Khimki's meltdown.
Personally, I felt Planinic's nonchalant demeanor and whiny attitude towards the officials, took a toll on his teammates when seeking guidance.
Planinic knew his pitiable second-half had cost Khimki the game and possibly its ticket to the Euroleague Elite 8 series. Shirtless, Khimki's veteran star sat frozen in disbelief on a white plastic chair facing his teammates in sorrow.
Roughly 45 minutes later, Planinic, in a graphic t-shirt, blue above-the-knee shorts, and flip-flops, was last to stroll out of Khimki's locker following the loss.
One victim who appeared frustrated with his lack of touches due to Planinic's dubious decision making was 6-foot-5 shooting guard K.C. Rivers.
Rivers, sprinting the baseline from corner-to-corner, was clutch for Khimki, connecting on 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, scoring 9-of-his-11 points during the final 11 minutes. With Planinic in foul trouble, Rivers could have, and should have done some ball handling to free up Vitaly Fridzon, who was constantly burying shots.
After a quick hand shake with Rivers outside of Khimki's dressing room, the former Clemson graduate and I awkwardly found ourselves communicating in Hebrew. Rivers, it appears, is no stranger to the Holy Land lingo. Marrying into a family with Jewish identity, the 26-year-old journeyman showcased an impressive Hebrew vocabulary. In fact, our overwhelming conversation escalated into Rivers sharing tidbits on the various Jewish holidays and costumes his family observes.
Eurobasket spies informed that European power Real Madrid have inquired about Rivers, a crafty lefty shooter who averages nearly 10 points per game on 50% field-goal shooting, and 38% from deep in the Euroleague.
Nizhny Novgorod extends contract with Zoran Lukic for 2 more years - May 23, 2013
BC Nizhny Novgorod has extended the contract of their Serbian head coach - Zoran Lukic for two more years.
The team management were very satisfied with Lukic's job this season after he lead the team to the Quarter finals of the VTB League,passing favorites Spartak St.Petersburg in the 1/8 finals and losing only 2-1 to Zalgiris in the 1/4 finals [read more]
BC Nizhny Novgorod has extended the contract of their Serbian head coach - Zoran Lukic for two more years. The team management were very satisfied with Lukic's job this season after he lead the team to the Quarter finals of the VTB League,passing favorites Spartak St.Petersburg in the 1/8 finals and losing only 2-1 to Zalgiris in the 1/4 finals. Lukic,who is in BC Nizhny Novgorod from the 2008/09 season was delighted to continue with the club:"To be honest, I had some options for future employment . But I gave too much for the establishment of "BC Nizhny Novgorod" in Russian basketball and continue to see the huge potential there is in our team.In such a situation, to me personally, it is interesting to continue this work at the club. In finishing the season with the guys we have made a good step forward and should continue to progress in our results. Now we have coming off-season, but we have to work hard to improve the team for next season".
Ural Ekaterinburg tied Superleague Finals - May 22, 2013
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Avtodor - Ataman 82-78 (2-0)
The hosts were already 11 points ahead after 3 quarters before a 28-21 Ataman's run in the last quarter cut the lead to 82-78 at the end of the game. Avtodor forced 19 Ataman turnovers. They brought some defensive toughness making 8 blocks. Ataman was plagued by 28 personal fouls down the stretch [read more]
The hosts were already 11 points ahead after 3 quarters before a 28-21 Ataman's run in the last quarter cut the lead to 82-78 at the end of the game. Avtodor forced 19 Ataman turnovers. They brought some defensive toughness making 8 blocks. Ataman was plagued by 28 personal fouls down the stretch. American-Ukrainian guard Steven Burtt (185-84, college: Iona, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov) notched 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists to lead the effort and point guard Ivan Strebkov (192-91) supported him with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Even a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds (was perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line !!!) by center Alexey Kurtsevich (209-89) did not help to save the game for Ataman. Alexei Nesterov (204-88) added 19 points and 5 rebounds for the guests. Both teams had four players each who scored in double figures. Both coaches used bench players in such tough game. Top scorers: Avtodor: S.Burtt 20+7reb+6ast, I.Strebkov 18+5reb+4ast, H.Rollins 14+9reb, A.Podosinnikov 10+5reb, S.Toropov 7+3reb, A.Zaykin 7+3reb Ataman: A.Nesterov 19+5reb+3ast, A.Kurtsevich 19+12reb+1ast, V.Solovyev 10+8reb+1ast, D.Beliaev 10+2reb, D.Zagnoyko 7+8ast, A.Burtsev 4+3reb
Ural Ekaterinburg tied Superleague Finals at 1-1. Ural Ekaterinburg led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They made 28-of-36 free shots (77.8 percent) during the game. 29 personal fouls committed by Universitet-Yugra helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. American guard Chris Monroe (191-81, college: G.Washington) had a double-double by scoring 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists to lead the charge for the winners and the other American import power forward Aaron McGhee (203-79, college: Oklahoma) chipped in 19 points and 6 rebounds during the contest. Lithuanian point guard Linas Lekavicius (186-84, college: American) responded with a double-double by scoring 16 points and 12 rebounds and guard Anton Ageev (192-84) scored 20 points (was perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line). Four Universitet-Yugra players scored in double figures. Universitet-Yugra's coach rotated eleven players in this game, but that didn't help. Top scorers: Ural Ekaterinb.: C.Monroe 27+10reb+5ast, A.McGhee 19+6reb+1ast, D.Nikolaev 14+6reb+1ast, M.Tkachenko 9+1reb+1ast, A.Glazunov 8+5reb+10ast, O.Baranov 4+7reb+1ast Univ.Surgut: A.Ageev 20+1reb+2ast, L.Lekavicius 16+12reb+3ast, A.Rindin 13+3reb, I.Aleksandrov 11+5reb+1ast, D.Hloponin 9+4reb+1ast, G.Zelenskiy 4+3reb+4ast
Unics will not renew contract with Stanislav Eremin - May 22, 2013
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Unics announced their decision not to renew the contract of head coach Stanislav Eremin . The specialist took over the Kazan team in February. He replaced Aco Petrovic . However Unics finished in just the fifth position in PBL regular season. They also surrendered againt Lokomotiv Kuban at the quarterfinal stage of the VTB League. On top of it Unics lost to Valencia in the first round of EuroCup playoffs. [read more]
Unics announced their decision not to renew the contract of head coach Stanislav Eremin . The specialist took over the Kazan team in February. He replaced Aco Petrovic . However Unics finished in just the fifth position in PBL regular season. They also surrendered againt Lokomotiv Kuban at the quarterfinal stage of the VTB League. On top of it Unics lost to Valencia in the first round of EuroCup playoffs.
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