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Wednesday, 10 February 2010 16:16

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Greek basketball team Maroussi, has not enjoyed major success since they were coached by Panagiotis Giannakis, and their star player was Vasillis Spanoulis. They qualified for Euroleague play this season, and had a lackluster 4-6 regular season, but got enough wins to jump to the round of 16 field. They were put into a tough group that includes Partizan, FC Barcelona and Panathinaikos. In their opening game, Maroussi played unbeaten FC Barcelona tough, but lost 79 to 69 to the deep and well paid opposition. Their 2nd game was in Athens against last years Euroleague and Greek champions, Panathinaikos. The veteran Panathinaikos squad, shot the ball well inside, as Pekovic and Batiste, did their thing, going for 19 and 15 points, but the game was won at the 3 point line, where Panathinaikos shot 5-14 while Maroussi went 11-18. Veteran guard Billy Keys, who has played everywhere from Iceland to, Spain, Italy, the CBA, Venezuela, Israel, and now Greece, had a great game, going for 17 points, shooting 5-7 from 3 point range while dishing out 5 assists to his spot-up shooters, Pat Calathes 11 points, 3-4 from 3 land, and former Greek national team players, Michalis Pelekanos 10 points, 2-3 from 3 land, and Kostas Kaimakoglou 8 points, as he did much of the dirty work along with Jared Homan, who had 13 points and 7 rebounds. American guard Jamon Lucas helped, Billy Keys in the backcourt put pressure on the loaded Panathinaikos squad, as he had 10 points in 22 minutes, shooting 5-7 from the field. The game ended with Drew Nicholas making an bad pass and Marroussi coming up with their biggest win since the Spanoulis days, winning the round of 16 match 80-78. The joy of the Panathinaikos game, had little time to stay with them, as  a big Greek league game with the other Greek powerhouse, came upon Maroussi just days later, and Maroussi made it 2 big wins in a row, as they beat Olympiacos 82-74, tying the big name team at 13-2 in the Greek league standings for 2nd place, behind the leader Panathinaikos at 14-1.   Maroussi, does not have the big money players that Olympiacos and Panathinaikos have, but if the 2 major Greek teams are not careful, they could be upset in the Greek playoffs, unless they shore up their 3 point defenses, to this confident Maroussi team that has a nice mix of veteran and young players on it's roster. 


Last Updated on Friday, 12 February 2010 03:04
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 17:30

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Josh Childress had a fine start to his pro career, with the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 11 points per game in his first 4 seasons, in 31 minutes of play, shooting 52% from the field, and 36% from 3 point range, while pulling down 5.6 rebounds a game. When it was time for a new deal, the Hawks made an offer of 5 years, 33 million dollars. Josh had an enormous deal, from Greek poewerhouse, Olympiacos, of 3 years 20 million Euros, that he could not turn away from. So after years of playing ball in the U.S.A, Josh took his game to the crazed Greek fans, where he soon found out, the Olympiacos-- Panathinaikos rivalry, made Duke versus North Carolina seem like a timid crowd. Last year was a learning process for Josh, figuring out the players in the Greek league and the Euroleague. He averaged 13.5 points per game in the A1 Greek league, and 8.8 points in the Euroleague, with his deep club losing both the Greek Finals, and the Euroleague Final Four, to a Panathinaikos team, that has been together for a longer time. Both teams are tied for 1st place, of the Greek league, this season with 13-1 records. The one time, the two teams met thus far this year, Olympiacos won 87-76, with Josh going for 19 points and 10 rebounds, and veteran playmaker Theo Papaloukas, went for 20 points, in 18 minutes of play on 4-4 shooting beyond the arc. Olympiacos held the man they had major problems with, last season, (Nicola Pekovic) to 6 points, in 15 minutes, as he got into early foul-trouble.        Josh Childress is averaging 16.5 points per game, in the Greek league and 15.8 in the Euroleague, thus far this year, as he has picked up his 3 point shooting to 42% in Euroleague play.  Olympiacos is one of the deepest and best teams in Europe, that can compete with NBA teams, but there fans want to taste a Championship again, that has been taken away by the consistent play of rival Panathinaikos. Josh is playing well this European season, and has figured out ways to get it done thus far, and with the addition of Linas Kleiza, to help put pressure on the veteran Panathinaikos squad, it should be an amazing post-season of play between the two giant Greek teams. Fans all over Europe look forward to watching this great grudge- match and I think ESPN, of the United States, should pick-up these games, to show people this amazing match-up. The two crowds are enough to get your blood going.
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 18:22
Thursday, 21 January 2010 17:30

Brandon Jennings was the high school player of the year, out of Oak Hill Academy in 2008. Instead of going to the University of Arizona, he signed a 1.65 million dollar deal to play with Italian Lega A team Lottomatica Roma, and also signed a million dollar deal with Under Armour. At 6' 1" and 170 pounds, Jennings found himself playing against physically mature grown men, and although he was quicker than everyone in the Italian league and the Euroleague, the different zone defenses and physical play was a good learning experience for Brandon. The fact that he only played 2 games a week in Europe, and his practice sessions were against veteran Euroleague players, Ibrahim Jaaber, and Sani Becirovic, also helped him, because in college he would have dominated every practice session, against the backup pointguards. Going up against the quick and heady Jaaber and the crafty and NBA caliber, underrated , Becirovic gave Jennings a head start against other NBA rookies. His numbers in the Italian league were, 5.5 points per game, 2.2 assists, shooting 35% from the field and 21% from 3 point range, in 17 minutes of play. His totals, in the tougher Euroleague were, 7.6 points per game, 1.6 assists , shooting 39% from the field and 27% from 3 point range. He could have chosen more of a mid- level Italian or Greek league team, to get better minutes, but the practice time at Lottomatica Roma, gave him the toughness he needed going into his rookie NBA campaign. He was the 10th pick of the Bucks in the NBA, and he put a charge into the league, looking like a young Allen Iverson, as he went for 55 points against Golden State. He is a fine passer and unlike other great pointguards, in the league, who constantly go to their right hand every trip down the court, Jennings goes right and left and has the lost art of pulling up for the sweet 12 foot jumper instead of always going hard to the hole. Going to Europe for a year, is not something, I would advice to the majority of high school stars, but for a special talent like Jennings, it was nothing but a positive thing in my mind.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2010 13:52
Thursday, 28 January 2010 00:31

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Goran Dragic has been playing pro ball since the 2004-2005 season, in his native country of Slovenia, where he signed with Slovan Ljubljana as an 18 year old, and played 2 seasons with the club, scoring 11.7 points per game in his 2nd year. He moved on to the ACB league in Spain, to play with CB Murcia for 1 season, scoring 4.6 points per contest. After the subpar ACB campaign with Murcia, Goran moved back to his native Slovenia, to play with Euroleague team, Union Olimpija. He averaged 11.7 points in the Domestic league, helping Olimpija to a championship, and he scored 9.7 in 13 Euroleague games for the 2007-2008 season. Goran entered the 2008 NBA draft, and was a 2nd round pick of the Suns. His 1st season with the Suns was an up and down year, as he shot just 39% from the field, backing up Steve Nash. This new NBA season has started with a bang for Goran, with his 3 point shot improving to 47%, now defenses have to honor his one flaw of his game in previous seasons. Dragic has always had great driving ability, finishing at the rim and looking like a poor man's Manu Ginobili, with his left- handed darts to the hoop. He has had 2 breakout games in January, scoring 20 points against the Warriors, and then coming back the next game against the Jazz, going for 32 points, on 10-13 from the field, and 6-7 from 3 point land. Goran first caught my eye in the 2007 Eurobasket championship, against a veteran Greek backcourt, of Papaloukas, Spanoulis and Diamantidis, Goran was the best guard on the floor in the 1st half of play, showing the toughness and heart, he is displaying for the Suns thus far this NBA season. With the improvment of his outside shot, and his ability to guard on the defensive end, the Suns have played Goran as a combo-guard at times, and with his confidence growing, I think the Suns got a steal in the 2nd round. There is nothing but upside in his game in my opinion.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 February 2010 17:24
Monday, 11 January 2010 02:05

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Dimitri Diamantidis  is a player , who with hard work , has become Europe's premier defensive player, and has played with Euroleague, and Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos. He has been the glue of the team, shutting down the opposition on the defensive end, and has also developed a money 3 point shot. If teams double down on big-men Mike Batiste and Nikola Pekovic, he sticks the open-look.   He played with Greek team Iraklis  from 1999 to 2004, and had a fine last season scoring 15 points per game, and so Panathinaikos jumped in and gave him a 3 year deal  to guide the offense, but mostly use his defensive capabilities, to control the pace , but also at times push the ball and find open shooters, Antonis Fotsis, Sani Becirovic and Vasilis Spanoulis, for transition drop off passes and wide-open 3 point makes.   When fellow guard, Vassilis Spanoulis signed a deal to go to the Houston Rockets, Diamantidis became more of a scorer out of the back-court, and he helped Panathinaikos win it's first Euroleague title since 2002, when legend Bodiroga, gave the Greek fans glory, by beating Manu Ginobili in the Final.  This time it was Diamantidis winning the MVP for Panathinaikos, as he outdueled Theo Papaloukas of CSKA Moscow, in a back and forth game, with Panathinaikos winning 93 to 91.   The next season Spanoulis returned, from a tough year with Houston, and then head coach, Jeff Van Gundy. Panathinaikos got ambushed by a young Partizan team, that had a bull of a big-man down low, in Nicola Pekovic, between dealing with him ,and the crazed Partizan crowd, it  became an upset and the Greek squad had to regroup.         The next year Panathinaikos brought in Sarunas Jasikevicius, for the 2008-2009 season, and the 3 guard attack worked once again as Panathinaikos beat CSKA one more time in the Final, to give Diamantidis his second Euroleague crown.    This is Dimitri's final year on his 3 year deal, and NBA teams that need a defensive presence, should be ready to make an offer to this all-around team player.   Dimitri has also won 5 straight Greek titles, to go along with being named  DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, OF THE EUROLEAGUE , 5 STRAIGHT YEARS.    There are 4 teams that, I say SHOULD TAKE A HARD LOOK at this free-agent.  The PACERS, RAPTORS, KNICKS and 76ERS, all need to get better on defense, but Dimiti will not come cheap, I say it would take 5 to 6 million American dollars, to get the attention of Diamantidis.  I hear alot of talk about how teams want to win, and it starts on the defensive end, then this 29 year old ALL-Around guard, and 5 TIME DEFENSIVE ACE, should be at the top of many GM's list, right after the Greek Championship round.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 January 2010 03:58

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