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Live Blog, Barcelona 2011, Friday
LIVE BLOG SLIDESHOW: ANOTHER LOOK AT THE FINAL FOUR
For the first time in Nike International Junior Tournament history, a non-European basketball team is playing at the event. The Chinese junior national team came to Barcelona ready to showcase his talent and prove to everyone that young Chinese players can earn a chance to play in the Euroleague one day. Although it’s been tough going so far, with Team China losing both its games, it has proven itself a worthy competitor. After Zalgiris thrashed China 46-73 in the opening game for both teams, it kept things close against Regal FC Barcelona , losing 77-83. Zhai Xiaochuan was the only Chinese player to post back-to-back double-digit games. We took the chance to speak to head coach Fan Bin about the team’s experience. "I think this is a very good opportunity for China to learn at his tournament," he said. "This is a high-level competition even when we have many good teams in Asia. We got here and paid a high price for our jet lag. It would take some time for them to adjust.” Coach Bin added that the team is learning not only from playing but from watching the games. "We have learned many small details about rebounding and boxing out,” he said. Time will tell if we see some of these players in the Euroleague one day. "Some of them are very good players, at all positions,” he said. “I hope that one day they will have the chance to play in the Euroleague.”
Posted: Friday, May 6, 17:45 CET
As he likes to say, Eddy Vidal has “the best seat in the house.” The Voice of the Euroleague since his first Final Four in 2002, Vidal is enjoying this season’s event more than ever since he gets to work with Europe’s best basketball and stay close to home. A former professional player in Spain, Vidal turned to professional translating after his playing days ended and has also become a premier MC for sporting events, having also worked at the Olympic Games and EuroBasket championships. Although this is his 10th Final Four, it never gets old for Vidal. Aside from the excitement of the games, each season brings with it new challenges. When we caught up with him Friday afternoon, he was continuing to rehearse for the semifinals, meticulously reviewing the correct pronunciation of the names for players and coaches on all four teams, getting a helping hand from producer, basketball expert and Euroleague.net columnist Flavio Tranquillo. So what’s the best part about being the Voice of the Euroleague? “It’s like being part of the game,” Vidal said. “You get to sit near the players, go out on the floor in front of 20,000 screaming fans and hear everything that goes down up close. I really love it.”
Posted: Friday, May 6, 16:23 CET
Preparations are underway to launch the Devotion Fan Zone, an exciting new feature at this year’s 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four, which opens today at 16:00 CET and runs until the start of the second semifinal. With games, contests, eateries and shows, fans will now have more ways to enjoy the Final Four experience. Sponsored by Euroleague Basketball partners and located at the Palau Sant Jordi Esplanade, just outside the arena, the Devotion Fan Zone will be up and running on all three days of the Final Four.
The Fan Zone offers a three-on-three Best Fans of Euroleague contest, in which fans score points for their favorite teams; the Turkish Airlines Boarding Gates, where fans can “board” for the chance to take part in contests and win amazing prizes; the Ticket2Final meeting point, where the official T2F girls will be giving out gifts and posing for pictures; the EFES Sports Bar, an ideal spot to meet your friends before or after the games, or to relax after playing basketball; and the Casa Monte dei Paschi, where fans can sample drinks and food from Italy’s Siena region. Also throughout the weekend, the Turkish Airlines Crazy Dunkers and the EFES Dance Squad will perform in the Devotion Fan Zone.
The Fan Zone reopens on Saturday at 18:00 until the start of the Euroleague For Africa 40 Pop concert, and again on Sunday at 11:30 until the start of the 2011 Euroleague title game.
Posted: Friday, May 6, 14:58 CET
It hardly seemed the best place for celebration. “At least not yet,” must have thought Panathinaikos superstar Dimitris Diamantidis when surprised early Friday morning at the Palau Sant Jordi floor after his team’s morning practice with a homemade birthday cake by Euroleague staffers on the hardwood. His teammates serenaded the stunned and overtly-shy Panathinaikos captain with “Happy Birthday” before a blushing Diamantidis answered with a low-key “thank you very much” and a reserved smile. A man of few words indeed, the now 31-year old Diamantidis hopes to speak volumes in a few hours in his semifinals matchup against Montepaschi Siena. As birthdays come, his current one certainly had a sweet start with the yogurt and chocolate cake topped with the Final Four logo.
Diamantidis is not the only Final Four player celebrating a birthday Friday. Injured Maccabi guard Doron Perkins, who turns 28, received a similar cake after Maccabi’s afternoon shoot-around. Perkins received congratulatory taps on the head from his teammates, who sang to him in both Hebrew and English. Team captain Derrick Sharp helped present the cake to a surprised Perkins, who though claiming to be on a diet, happily cut off the corner of the cake and ate it whole straight off the knife. When asked of his birthday wish, the player who is recovering from surgery to repair two torn ligaments and damage to his meniscus replied “to get healthy.”
Posted: Friday, May 6, 14:10 CET
An undisputed legend in Spanish basketball, Emiliano Rodriguez has made it to the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four with his lifelong team, Real Madrid. Rodriguez was of the best European players of his generation as well as an unstoppable scorer and a gentleman like few others in basketball history. He led Real Madrid to its early European success, winning four Euroleague titles in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968. He also won nine Spanish Cup titles and lifted 12 consecutive Spanish League trophies from 1961 to 1973. Rodriguez averaged 23.6 points in the four Euroleague finals he won with Madrid and remains a basketball icon in Spain. He scored over 20,000 points in his 20 seasons in the Spanish League and won a UNESCO Fair Play award in 1973. Rodriguez now works for Real Madrid as advisor to the president on basketball issues and is looking forward to the semifinals. "We have been waiting for this moment for a long time and it came true this season. We are a young team with a great future, but also with good chances to win. I don't think there is a favorite in this year's Final Four even when we all think that Panathinaikos is the strongest team. Real Madrid has what it takes to fight for the Euroleague title," he told us. Rodriguez played a Euroleague final in Barcelona, losing against CSKA in double overtime in 1969 - so this Final Four is a good chance to leave Barcelona with a smile in his face. "It would be great, yes, but that final was played long ago. Of course, I don't have the best memories of that game because like you said, we lost in two overtimes and that is always difficult. This my personal chance to forget about that final and I am going to Barcelona with that hope," he added. Rodriguez was chosen as one of the 50 contributors to European Club Basketball at the 2008 Final Four and is proud to see how the sports has changed for the best. "From my point of view, everything has changed for the best. Basketball is more attractive and the competition is full of interest. In that sense, everyone around basketball should be proud of the Euroleague. I am very happy to see how basketball has developed since my playing days - and it is still on its way up. We will have to put in a great effort to make it even better."
Posted: Friday, May 6, 13:53 CET
An authority on African basketball, Anicet Lavodrama became a well-known player in the Spanish League back in the 1980s out of the Central African Republic. Lavodrama became a Spanish basketball icon with his high-flying dunks, blocked shots and physical play and has managed to stay active in basketball after he retired. He worked as a FIBA ambassador in Africa and now works for an agency, U1st Sports, which has more African clients than anyone else. One of the few basketball players in the world that can claim to have a pop band named after him (http://www.myspace.com/lavodrama), Lavodrama has come to the Final Four not only to enjoy the fight to win the Turkish Airlines Euroleague title, but also to keep an eye on the Nike International Junior Tournament, where we took the chance to catch up with him.
"The Final Four shows the current level of European basketball and how much it has improved in terms of clubs and competitiveness. Four great coaches made it to the event and that means it will be a top-level competition. If you ask me for a prediction, however, I think Panathinaikos may win the title," he said. It is a special Final Four for Lavodrama, as Romain Sato can become the first player from his country to win the Euroleague title. As an African basketball pioneer, Lavodrama paved the way for others to succeed in Europe. "I am proud of seeing Romain here. Maybe it is not an important achievement in my country because the information that reaches the Central African Republic is not enough to recognize the great career Sato is having. He was already at the Final Four with Siena and works incredibly hard. He had the luck to go to Xavier University and refocus his career on going to Europe and fighting hard to became a star in Siena. Again, I am proud to see him and he deserves a lot of recognition."
Posted: Friday, May 6, 10:48 CET
Saturday, May 07, 2011
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NIKE International Junior Tournament
Final Four Records
FINAL FOUR TEAMS
FINAL FOUR SCHEDULE
SEMIFINALS - FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2011
Panathinaikos 77-69 Montepaschi Siena
Maccabi Electra 82-63 Real Madrid
3RD PLACE - SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2011
Real Madrid 62-80 Montepaschi Siena
FINAL - SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2011
Maccabi 70-78 Panathinaikos
2011 FINAL FOUR TV COVERAGE
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PAST FINAL FOURS
TEL AVIV 2004
FINAL FOUR SLIDE SHOW
FINAL: Maccabi vs. Panathinaikos
3rd place: Real Madrid vs. Siena
EFES Pilsener Euroleague Awards Ceremony
Semifinal: Maccabi vs. Real Madrid
Semifinal: Panathinaikos vs. Siena
Special Olympics Final Four
Fans in Barcelona
Team Practices in Palau Sant Jordi
Euroleague for Life
Official Press Conference
Nike International Junior Tournament
Teams arrival Barcelona
Live Blog Slideshow
Semifinal: Maccabi vs. Real Madrid
Semifinal: Panathinaikos vs. Siena