The shift of generations always comes at some point, but I didn’t expect that it would come right now and in the way it did.
I fell in love with all of the youngsters already in the group stage when the round robin games occurred in Helsinki, Finland.
Finland, the host nation of the group stage games, had the talented Lauri Markkanen, drafted by Chicago Bulls, as their attraction number one for the basketball world and for the home crowd.
With his power and his look from the 1970’s he charmed everyone and brought Finland to playoffs. During the preliminary round they only lost against Slovenia, and that by very few points. They defeated Turkey, Greece, Iceland, Poland, and France.
That says a lot how much Finnish basketball has evolved the last years. But, Italy was too heavy for them in the 1/8 final, and the Finnish wonder journey ended there.
Besides Markkanen, there were Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic in Slovenia who played extremely well all the way to the final.
Together with their older teammate Gasper Vidmar, they outplayed and crumbled Spain totally in the Semi-finals, in a way no one could have expected before the referee tossed the ball in the middle.
Most likely I can’t have been the only one who rubbed the eyes after 2 quarters in that game.
Spain, on their hand, trusted too much in the Gasol brothers. Hernandez and Rubio were too exposed to make any difference and were stunned by the Slovenian super-trio and the other players like Prepelic and Dimec, who also showed that they can play high-level basketball.
Alexander Djordjevic had no other option than trusting the team he could gather before the journey to Helsinki and then to the knockout rounds in Istanbul.
Serbia had so many injuries among the big names like Teodosic, Bjelica, and Raduljica. Stefan Markovic, who only just turned 28, announced that he will retire from International basket.
The expectations that usually come from a medal in the Olympic Games were reduced least by 50 % among the fans and experts. No, Serbia will be excluded way earlier than the final was a common conclusion.
But Coach Djordjevic who singlehandedly himself 20 years ago crushed the Lithuanians in the final of EuroBasket 1996 (I remember this well as if it were yesterday) gave the trust to Bogdan Bogdanovic, Stefan Jovic, Vladimir Lucic, Dragan Milosavljevic and Boban Marjanovic
Not only them of course, as we shall not forget a player such as Milan Macvan. They showed definitely to the whole of Europe that things were otherwise, that there is a genuine basketball team. It was not just a bunch of missing names, but also the participating ones would defend the Serbian basketball pride more than well.
And, they did, in a way, no one could have thought before, led by Bogdanovic who demonstrated that he is the next superstar for real, a reliable player that Djordjevic can trust 40 minutes of a game.
In the final game, a battle between two Balkan countries who were once brothers when they were united as Yugoslavia was fought bravely for the shiniest medal.
And what a battle!
I thought myself for a long time between the 2nd and 3rd quarter that it would go to OT. But Slovenia at the end, without an injured Doncic, shaped themselves up and took back the lead they had lost for a moment.
With important points at the end of the game by Prepelic and Randolph and a re-woken Dragic who had some scoring issues from time to time during the 3rd and 4th quarter, they finally reached the championship of EuroBasket for the first time in their history!
Overall, it was also the most righteous victory as well, considering that the Slovenes outnumbered the former superior champions from Spain.
Hvala i cestitam (thank you and congratulations) Slovenia for a tremendous basketball show and we will look forward to adventures with this team in the coming years, in World Cup and the Olympics.
To the last:
I don’t know the deepest motivation for this Slovenian team except for the gold medal in a major tournament as the EuroBasket, but, perhaps they wanted so much to give a small country with a small population and big heart for sports something to enjoy greatly.
Most of all, something to remember as long as they live.
A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.
-Pat Riley, a Coach, born 1945 –
Highlights of the EuroBasket:
1. The youngsters Luka Doncic, Goran Dragic, Lauri Markkanen, and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
2. Slovenia and Serbia showed that there are a huge, huge basketball culture in the area, fantastic teams, and performances from both teams.
3. Finland who made no one disappointed as host nation but most of all, they show that they evolve all the time and have the capacity to beat any team, any day with the right temper.
4. Latvia ended up as the best team of the Baltic countries. For a long time, it has only been Lithuania. A very nice surprise and they were so close to defeating Slovenia in the earlier playoff rounds.
5. Fantastic fans from all countries who have been chanting, singing and cheering. A total basketball party as a sporting event of this significance always should be.
Eagles’ Jalen Mills Arrested
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested in Washington D.C following an altercation with Washington Wizards player Devin Robinson, according to the Associated Press’ Howard Fendrich (via the Washington Post).
Both men were charged with disorderly affray, which is described as fighting in a public place.
According to the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, a verbal altercation broke out between the two that escalated into a physical fight that took place on the sidewalk.
Robinson was transported to a hospital following the fight with Mills and upon his release he was taken to to department’s 2nd District station where Mills was detained.
Mills and Robinson were “involved in a verbal altercation which escalated into a physical altercation on the sidewalk adjacent to the Opera Night Club” in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the police report.
Both teams have since responded, with the Wizards essentially parting ways with Robinson due to the incident.
“We are aware of the incident this morning involving Devin and are disappointed in his actions. We will not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season,” the Wizards said in a statement.
The Eagles issued a statement saying that they are “aware of the situation” and “continuing to gather more information.”
Mavs’ Kristaps Porzingis Accused of Rape in New York
Dallas Mavericks big man and former New York Knick Kristaps Porzingis is being investigated back New York for an alleged rape that a woman told police took place sometime last year, according to the New York Post.
The woman, who informed police about the alleged rape on Thursday, says that she waited more than a year to come forward regarding the incident because she had discussed receiving $68,000 from Porzingis to keep quiet.
Roland G. Riopelle, the attorney for Porzingis, has since denied the allegations and has said they had previously referred the case to federal authorities due to the “accuser’s extortionate demands.”
“We are aware of the complaint that was made against Mr. Porzingis on Friday and unequivocally deny the allegations,” Riopelle said. “We made a formal referral to federal law enforcement on Dec. 20, 2018, based on the accuser’s extortionate demands. We also alerted the National Basketball Association months ago, and they are aware of the ongoing investigation of the accuser by federal law enforcement. We cannot comment further on an ongoing federal investigation. Please refer any questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the National Basketball Association.”
The woman alleges that the incident took place on February 7th, 2018, at the Sky building in New York, where Porzingis lived, just hours following Porzingis suffering a torn ACL, the injury that has kept him off the court for more than a year.
An NBA spokesman said the league is aware of the situation while the Knicks’ team spokesperson said; “This is Kristaps’ personal matter and not related to the Knicks.” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated that the team is aware of the situation but “we have been instructed by federal authorities not to comment.”
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks had informed the Mavericks of the pending Porzingis rape allegations during a trade call with NBA headquarters, that took place on January 31st, that finalized the deal that sent Porzingis to the Mavericks.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department issued the following: “The NYPD takes sexual assault and all rape cases extremely seriously, and urges anyone who has been a victim to file a report so we can perform a comprehensive investigation, and offer support and services to survivors.”
Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins Says Fans Have Called Him ‘N—-r’, Says He’s Reported it to League
Golden State Warriors big man DeMarcus Cousins is speaking out about how NBA fans treat players, revealing that fans have called him the N-word during games and stating that he had reported the incidents to the league.
Cousins discussed the incidents during an interview with Chris Haynes on the ‘Posted Up’ podcast:
“Oh, I’ve been called n—-r, and it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back, and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ [Westbrook] and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it. We’re the product. We push this league. So, I don’t understand. When does our safety, when does, it become important?”
While Cousins spoke candidly about his experiences, he did not specific which cities in which he heard the racial slurs.
“I don’t really want to, because I’m not really trying to put a label on an entire fan base” Cousins said when discussing which cities he heard the slurs. T”here are ignorant individuals in every city. I’ll just put it like that. [NBA] tells you to ignore it, or whatever the case may be. But how many times am I supposed to ignore that? Me coming from where I come from [Mobile, Alabama]. They lucky all they got was a response.”
While Cousins did not mention any cities or teams, Haynes reported that one city was Sacramento, where Cousins spent the majority of his career playing for the Kings.
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