The NBA is experiencing a gilded age. Clubs have never been more valuable, television contracts have never been more lucrative, and investors are chomping at the bit to invest in the league. One of the reasons The Association has been turned into a license to print money is basketball is played all over the world, especially in Europe. Next to football, there's not a more popular team sport on the globe. It's interesting that on the world stage, basketball is second to football. Yet, in... [read more]
The NBA is experiencing a gilded age. Clubs have never been more valuable, television contracts have never been more lucrative, and investors are chomping at the bit to invest in the league. One of the reasons The Association has been turned into a license to print money is basketball is played all over the world, especially in Europe. Next to football, there's not a more popular team sport on the globe. It's interesting that on the world stage, basketball is second to football. Yet, in the United States, it's third behind American football and baseball, but well ahead of MLS (Major League Soccer). Just how popular is basketball overseas? How common is it for a European to buy Cleveland Cavaliers hoops tickets when they plan on traveling to the U.S. for example? Or how about to the Lakers or the Celtics? We know there are leagues in countries like Russia, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Yet, there are also leagues in countries like Slovenia, Luxemburg, Malta, and Montenegro. Those are four of the ten smallest countries in Europe. Slovenia, the largest of the four, is the size of New Jersey. Below, we take a closer look at three leagues that are currently helping to popularize the sport of basketball, and indirectly, its greatest league, the NBA.
The top league in Malta, a country about the size of Lubbock, Texas, is the Powerade League Bank of Valletta Division 1. Their playoffs are scheduled for late March. In one matchup, Cynergi will battle Floriana. In the other, Athleta takes on Bupa. While we're talking about Bupa, in their last regular season game they blew out Hibernians, 118 to 58. It reminds me of the time in November of 2015 when the Golden State Warriors crushed the Memphis Grizzlies, 119 to 69. Marko Todorovic is the league's top scorer. He averaged 27 points a game during the regular season.
You may have seen James Augustine, Kenny Boynton, Jeremy Evans, Cory Higgins, Robbie Hummel, Aaron Jackson, and Jacob Pullen play in college and/or the NBA. Now, you can see them play in Russia. The world's largest country's first tier of professional club basketball is the VTB United League. The league is sponsored by VTB Bank. The VTB was founded in 2008. Its goal is to bring the top clubs of Eastern and Northern Europe into one league. Right now, the VTB contains teams from Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Latvia. Nonetheless, if you win the VTB League you're known as basketball champions of Russia. The VTB's top team is PBC CSKA Moscow. They are nicknamed the 'Red Army.' CSKA players that have also laced them up in the NBA include Andrei Kirilenko, Darius Songaila, Gordan Giriek, Nenad Krsti, and Dragan Tarla. Iceland
Even Iceland, Europe's most sparsely populated country, has a professional b-ball league. The Premier League, officially called the Domino's League, after its sponsor Domino's Pizza, is highest level of competitive basketball played in the Nordic island nation. The league contains teams like Skallagrimur, Snfell, and Njarvik, as well as nine more. Don't worry, there are also teams without tongue-breaking names, like KR, KFI, and IR. My favorite team is Thor Thorl from orlakshoefn. Their starting shooting guard is American Tobin Carberry. He used to play for the LIU Post Pioneers. KR and IR are from Reykjavik. They are the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers of the Domino's League. Each team has won 15 league titles-tied for the most all-time. KR has won the last three championships. Prominent American hoopsters that have balled in Iceland's Premier League include Stew Johnson, J'Nathan Bullock, Justin Shouse, and Nick Bradford. Current American players include Atkinson Jeremy, Cedrick Bowen, Aaron Brown, and Myron Dempsey. The league was founded in 1951.
BOV Division 1 Men Top four spots remain unchanged The play-off spots were determined after the last day of the regular season, although nothing really changed in the league standings from last week as the top three remained joint leaders after they all won their games in the weekend. As a result, Cynergi Depiro ended in the top spot on the basis of superiority in the direct encounters between the top three and now will face fourth placed Floriana MCP Car Parks in the best of five semi... [read more]
BOV Division 1 Men
Top four spots remain unchanged
The play-off spots were determined after the last day of the regular season, although nothing really changed in the league standings from last week as the top three remained joint leaders after they all won their games in the weekend.
As a result, Cynergi Depiro ended in the top spot on the basis of superiority in the direct encounters between the top three and now will face fourth placed Floriana MCP Car Parks in the best of five semi-final series whilst neighbour rivals Gzira Athleta and BUPA Luxol will cross swords in the other semi final series commencing in two weeks time.
Gzira Athleta 98 Starlites Naxxar 87 (27-21, 26-19, 27-20, 18-27)
Gzira Athleta: M. Naudi 28, R. Vella 8, D. Camilleri 8, M. Williams 15, P. Shoults 11, F. Mifsud Bonnici, B. Zammit 6, L. Stefanovic, S. Vincic, M. Gauci Montaldo, J. Whitehead 22 Starlites: I. Mitrovic 22, R. Carabott 15, A. Schembri, M. Falzon 4, A. Felice Pace 3, N. Stankovic 10, J. Formosa 30, I. Felice Pace 3, I. Pace Referees: B. Vassallo, Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Simic
Gzira Athleta were the first team from the leading pack to play in the weekend and they prevailed comfortably over Starlites in a high scoring encounter, the latter making their last official showing for the season.
Starlites were ably led by Jacob Formosa (188-G-97) and Ivana Mitrovic (96) as this duo shared 52 points between them with Formosa now surely eagerly eyeing his return to Australia next week after signing a contract to immediately play with the Sunbury Jets in the State of Victoria Division One, the tier below the Victoria State Championship.
On the other hand, Gzira Athleta looked always in command and early three point shots from Josiah Whitehead (198-F-86, college: Robert Morris) and then David Camilleri (SG) and Roderick Vella (180-PG-85) gave them an early lead. Their skipper Michael Naudi came more into the offensive picture in the second quarter on his way to a team high of 28 personal points whilst the latest import addition, British centre Morakinyo Williams (213-C-88, college: Citadel, agency: Interperformances), used his height advantage under the opponents' boards to further help his side to clearly win the rebounds game, a total of 53 to 20, including 23 offensive rebounds.
The margin between the two sides extended to over 20 points as Gzira Athleta set off the second half with a 8-0 run and then play became more open on the court, with points, including a number of treys, raining in consistently at both ends with Starlites closing with a very good 54% in 24 attempts from the long distance.
The last minutes of the game had a number of bench players having the opportunity to get in some playing time.
Hibs: P. Attard, M. Hampton, L. Farrugia 10, S. Attard, I. Bonett 2, A. Micallef 15, M. Matijevic 13, S. Vella, F. Mariani 9, A. Lizaur 6 Luxol: M. Mercieca 4, D. Meli, J. Maistre Melillo 2, JP Schembri 11, K. Dimech, W. Ahlberg 27, P. Cumpstone 23, S. Deguara 43, S. Cappello 8 Referees: B. Vassallo, E. Mangani, I. Simic
BUPA Luxol closed off the regular season with an easy win over Hibernians who were making their last showing for the season.
Samuel Deguara (223-C-91)'s towering presence was again the main determinant as Luxol did not waste much time to take the lead, helped also with the return on Swede William Ahlberg (91) who had a good shooting had on the day netting six treys.
Hibs did have an encouraging start with a couple of early hoops but Deguara soon started making his presence felt after guardJean Paul Schembri had embarked with nine consecutive personal points.
Luxol extended clearly their lead in the second quarter with import player Pierce Cumpstone (203-F-94, college: Stonehill) netting a series of baskets and there was a hefty 35 point margin between the sides at the interval, 62-27.
The third quarter was again dominated by Luxol with Deguara clearing the boards at both ends and then a number of bench players were utilised in the last quarter by both teams. Hibs bowed out from their first season, after many years, in the top division with a significant honour, the BOV KO, whilst Luxol managed to surpass the century mark in this game.
Floriana MCP Car Parks 61 Cynergi Depiro 73 (17-24, 10-23, 12-14, 22-12)
Floriana: C. Patus, S. Pace 10, S. Borg 2, N. Vasovic 25, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 13, N. Andrejevic 9 Depiro: D. Bugeja 9, R. Bonnici 4, D. Schembri, A. Aquilina 5, D.J. Mason (198-F-94, college: Campbell), T. Zammit, M. Mallia 4, A. Quiros 8, K. Xuereb 5, M. Borg, D. Scafidi 38 Referees: E. Mangani, S. Micallef, C. Farrugia
These two play-off sides tipped off already knowing the outcome from Gzira Athleta's and Luxol's games. The end result, a win for Cynergi Depiro who were also 20 points up at half time, meant that the standings remain unchanged and the same two sides will meet in one of the semi-final series in a few days time.
Both sides opted to rest an import player but Depiro still had an extra import to rely on and he did somewhat make a significant difference in the game. In fact, Floriana played without their Canadian Chad Patus (203-F-87, college: Belm.Abbey) whilst Depiro also rested their American centre D.J. Mason but had fellow American Dominic Scafidi (196-F) playing his best match this season and netting a high 38 personal points.
The first minutes were balanced with Floriana having a momentary lead after treys from Nikola Vasovic and Shaun Pace but gradually Depiro took command of the game and a 16-2 run, early in the second quarter, put them clearly on the driving seat.
Buoyed by a large lead, Depiro controlled the tempo in the second half although Floriana did manage to decrease the margin to a more respectable score line.
Play-Offs Semi-finals series (best of 5) Cynergi Depiro vs Floriana MCP Car Parks Gzira Athleta vs BUPA Luxol
BOV Men Division 1 Floriana MCP Car Parks 83 Hibernians 64 (22-17, 17-14, 17-17, 27-16) Floriana: C. Patus 42, S. Pace 9, S. Borg, N. Vasovic 15, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 13, A. Micallef Trigona, N. Andrejevic 2 Hibs: M. Hampton, E. Xuereb, L. Farrugia 2, S. Attard 12, I. Bonett 2, A. Micallef 14, M. Matijevic 20, S. Vella, F. Mariani 6, A. Lizaur 8 Referees: E. Mangani, C. Farrugia, Z. Dobrosavljevic Floriana MCP Car Parks booked their place in the play-offs after beating Hibernians,... [read more]
BOV Men Division 1
Floriana MCP Car Parks 83 Hibernians 64 (22-17, 17-14, 17-17, 27-16)
Floriana: C. Patus 42, S. Pace 9, S. Borg, N. Vasovic 15, C. Calleja 2, A. Axiaq 13, A. Micallef Trigona, N. Andrejevic 2 Hibs: M. Hampton, E. Xuereb, L. Farrugia 2, S. Attard 12, I. Bonett 2, A. Micallef 14, M. Matijevic 20, S. Vella, F. Mariani 6, A. Lizaur 8 Referees: E. Mangani, C. Farrugia, Z. Dobrosavljevic
Floriana MCP Car Parks booked their place in the play-offs after beating Hibernians, the latter seeing their last chance to make it to the post-regular season vanish as they needed an 11-point win to surpass their opponents in the table. Hibs did manage to overcome a slow start, falling 2-13 behind after four minutes, to keep contact with the greens for 36 minutes of play, even after they had to see their season top scorer Alvaro Lizaur leave the court through injury early in the second quarter. However Floriana, led by a great shooting display from Chad Patus (203-F-87, college: Belm.Abbey) who had a seasonal high, sealed off the game with a strong 12-0 in the next two minutes. Hibs came closest at 38-39 just after the interval after five consecutive points from Simon Attard but three hoops from Anton Axiaq distanced Floriana once again and they maintained the margin until the final decisive run late in the game. With just one round of games to go, to be played this weekend, the four top teams are now known, although the placings are still to be decided. Floriana now meet Depiro and they could leap frog from fourth to a higher spot with a five point win. On the other hand, a Depiro win can keep them in top position if both Gzira Athleta and Luxol win, but would place them second, behind Gzira Athleta, if Luxol fail to win against Hibs on Sunday. Gzira Athleta play first on Saturday against Starlites. A win can give them either the second or first place but a loss can either move them down to third, if Luxol and Depiro win or if both the latter also lose, we would have four teams tied and Depiro would end in the top spot and Floriana in the fourth place.
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