The NBA once again spent part of the preseason overseas, this time teaming up with Euroleague to schedule games throughout Europe, culminating in a tournament in Koln, Germany called NBA Europe Live. Our main man Mauro Bevacqua, from Dream Team magazine in Italy, hit the games and filed this report…
Day One, Koln Arena
CSKA vs. MACCABI
Tony Parker knows how to throw a party! The whole Maccabi team was on display at VIP, a club on Paris’s famous Champs Elysees, on Sunday night, just half an hour after the Spurs beat Tel Aviv in Bercy. The Maccabi team probably enjoyed the party, but they were probably still recovering when they took the court against CSKA Moscow in Cologne, two days after. Maccabi had a slow start, down 16 at halftime. Rusty? Try sleepy…
Rockets second round pick Lioir Eliyahu was on fire at the beginning, but so was the man he was guarding, David Andersen (a center whose rights belong to the Atlanta Hawks). They traded baskets throughout the first half.
In the second half, as coach Ettore Messina said in the post game conference, Matjaz Smodis was the key, leading CSKA to victory.
The second game was the only all-NBA game of the NBA Europe Live tour. It was fun to see Amare’s puzzled face when the p.a. announcer at the Koln Arena introduced him as no. 32 (he just switched to no. 1). The correction came when both teams were already on the floor, ready for the jump ball.
But the funniest thing took place with the Suns still in the locker room. That’s when Steve Nash passion for soccer took over once again. The unofficial anthem of the world champion Italian team this past summer in Germany (a chorus stolen from White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” hit (that goes “po-po-po-po-po-po-po”) echoed through the hallways of the arena: The Suns were ready to take the court. Game time.
Iverson scored 9 of Philly’s first 10 points (18 by the end of the first quarter), while Igoudala brought the ball up the court most of the time. The first quarter offered several highlight plays, but both teams lost their rhythm in the second quarter, with sloppy plays and no great action (if not for a couple of Nash passes).
Second half: do you believe in coincidences? The two “dish of the game” plays came with 9:28 to play — both in the third and fourth quarter. First, Steve Nash found Boris Diaw with a one-hand bounce pass on a full-speed fastbreak. Then, 12 minutes later, it’s Andre Iguodala who brought the crowd to its feet with a behind the back pass in transition to Shavlik Randolph.
Plays of the game? Not yet. The award goes to Shawn Marion’s put-back dunk OVER Rodney Carney. The same Rodney Carney who scored the go-ahead three (making it 102-100) that topped the Sixers comeback from down 22. It was only a preseason game, OK, but Coach D’Antoni was fuming in the post game conference.
Day Two – Koln Arena
Maccabi vs. Phoenix
The teams change, the speaker stays the same. Lior Eliyahu is announced as the second pick of the Orlando Magic, though the rights to the young Maccabi forward belong to the Rockets. He seemed not to care, and scored 6 points in the first 4 minutes.
Maccabi lead most of the first half (33-21 at the end of the first quarter, 60-57 at halftime), but an 8-2 break at the start of the second half put Phoenix ahead. Then it was time for Leandro Barbosa to shine: two baskets and one steal from the Brazilian guard broke the game apart. The Suns were in control, but the icing on the cake came with 4 minutes to play: a two-handed put-back slam dunk from Boris Diaw off a miss by James Jones. Crowd went bananas, the Suns seals the deal.
CSKA vs. Philly
The game everyone was waiting for was the one pitting the European champions, CSKA Moscow, against the Sixers, who were already beaten in Barcelona at the beginning of the tour.
This time, Allen Iverson had other plans in mind. He scored 9 points in the first quarter, and when the Sixers played a zone defense, CSKA’s offense suddenly stopped. Philly, trailing 23-24, scored 15 unanswered points, good for a 38-24 lead, behind the great play of Samuel Dalembert (blocked shot, dunk, blocked shot, on three consecutive possessions).
The Sixers stayed in control for the rest of the game and the highlight of the night came with 10:00 to play in the 3rd, with a classic “Little A.I. to Big A.I.” combo — alley oop from Iverson, thunder dunk for Dr. Dre Igoudala!
It’s time to party, Sixers wins the Tournament and erase the bad loss in Barcelona. Fans go home happy, we still have the post-game party to attend, and then it’s over.
The NBA, we love this game!