2016: The year of change!

A lot of things happened in the 2015-2016 NBA season. We got the first unanimous MVP in Steph Curry and we got the first championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hell, they came back from 3-1 down, something that never happened in the NBA finals before. After the crazy play-offs (the Western Conference play-offs, the Eastern Conference were a bit rubbish) people were pretty certain that the craziest things were behind us and moving on towards the 2016-2017 season would be a fun ride. Well strap in and let’s hop onto this ‘fun’ ride and let’s recap what has happened over the last few weeks.

Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are no longer members of the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose got traded to the Knicks and a couple of weeks later Noah joined him in New York, signing there as a free agent. This is definitely the end of an era in Chicago. During the heyday of the Rose-Noah Bulls they were considered legitimate contenders and probably the biggest rival of LeBron in the East (the Pacers were also worthy foes). But that never really capitalized. Rose won the MVP trophy in 2011 but after that he had injury after injury and he never really returned to his MVP form. Noah was always the leader of that Bulls team; being the hart of the team and the leader on the defensive end. He even won the DPOY award in 2014. But last season Noah didn’t look good and the Bulls decided that it was time to move on. This is now Jimmy Butler’s team and I’m curious to see how long it takes for the Bulls to get back to contending. The Knicks are on full ‘win now’ mode and I hope that that works out for them (I really want to see Melo in the finals).

Noah and Rose.

Noah and Rose.

The biggest question of this years free agency was where Timofey Mozgov would sign … Ooh wait that isn’t true at all. The Lakers just decided to give him a MASSIVE contract even though Mozgov barely played for the Cavaliers last season. The real question was obliviously; where would Kevin Durant go? Most people believed he would stay in Oklahoma and try to get back to the finals. They came very close this season but they chocked when it mattered most. The Thunder even made a great move by trading Ibaka (he was useless in OKC’s offense even though he stretched the floor and his defense digressed this season) for Oladipo; a young 2 guard who can handle the ball (but he is a worst 3 pointer shooter than Ibaka which is kind of funny). With this move people were 99% certain that Durant would return to OKC and give it one more shot. But then Durant surprised the basketball world by announcing that he would go to the Golden State Warriors; the team that had just beaten him in the Western Conference Finals. This move was considered by many as an easy way out and the easiest route to a championship (Durant claims that it is the hardest but who believes that?). It goes without saying that the Warriors are now the most hated team in the NBA; move over Clippers and Cavaliers; there’s a new villain in town!

Boston seemed to be in the running to get Durant; they even got Tom Brady to meet with him to tell him how much fun it is to be a superstar in Boston. The pitch didn’t help (see above) but the Celtics did sign a pretty big free agent in Al Horford. Horford is the big man that the Celtics were looking for and now they can probably attract more free agents (lot’s of assets, sports city, Eastern Conference team, …). The Hawks also traded away Jeff Teague which now means that Dennis Schröder is their starting point guard; something Schröder really wanted.

Remember this 'big' 3 ?

Remember this ‘big’ 3 ?

Then today Tim Duncan announced that he would retire after 19 seasons in the NBA. Duncan is arguably the greatest power forward of all time and his definitely the best player in Spurs history. Duncan never missed the play-offs and he won 5 titles in San Antonio. The Big Fundamental also won 2 MVP awards and he made 15 All-Star games; weirdly enough he never won a DPOY award which seems odd considering he has been a very good defender his entire career. Duncan will be missed because of the his basketball capabilities but also because he was a great guy on and off the floor (http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/04/etan-thomas-tim-duncan-story).


A lot more has happened over the last few weeks (the whole Thon Maker situation was pretty funny) but these are, at least for me, the most important/weird things that happened. What was the biggest surprise for you? Let me know in the comments!


Game of Zones: Golden State Warriors Edition

Game of Zones is BACK! This time with a special Golden State Warriors edition! Just keep watching until the very end to see a little cameo of a former Warrior player.

Want to see how the Warriors reacted to this video ? Watch the video below to find out.


Belgium vs Czech Republic: first quarter highlights!

Belgium plays against the Czech Republic; a team that they are able to beat without having to rely on a last second buzzer beater. If they win this game then they are pretty much sure of a spot in the next round. These are the highlights from the first quarter (Belgium only) and that’s all I can do because I can’t watch the rest of the game! Hope you guys enjoy it!

Lithuania vs Belgium: a quick recap!

Lithuania has a better team than Belgium: that’s a fact (they finished second in 2013 and that wasn’t a fluke). But on a good day the Lions have a (very slim) chance to get a win!

The man of the first quarter was Jonas Valanciunas ; he dominated under the boards and he finished the quarter with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Axel Hervelle had a good start of the game, hitting a couple of nice shots. But then the defensive errors (Tumba again got in foul trouble early in the quarter) became more frequent and Lithuania ran away with it. At the end of the first Lithuania had a 8 point lead: 20-12.

Quarter number two was the same story but just without Valanciunas for the most part. Belgium couldn’t hit their open shots and they made some mistakes on the defensive end. Jean-Marc Mwema then showed why he has a spot on this team by playing excellent defense on the much bigger Valanciunas. Belgium found some life at the end of the second quarter with some great offensive sequences: a 3 pointer from Mwema, a steal and lay up from Bosco and then a 3 pointer from Lojeski. Lithuania couldn’t respond to this excellent play from the Lions which led to a score of 35-35 at the end of the first half.

Mwema did a great job defending against Valanciunas in the second quarter.

Mwema did a great job defending against Valanciunas in the second quarter.

Lojeski was on fire in the beginning of the third quarter scoring 6 quick points. Belgium then continued their great play from the end of the second quarter and they had a 49-53 lead with 3:43 remaining in the third. The Belgian Lions were oozing with confidence and that showed in their play: Lojeski was the offensive leader and Mwema anchored their defense. Belgium finished the quarter on a bad note (missed FT’s from Bosco and a bad last play of the quarter) but they did have a lead at the end of the third: 54-57.

Valanciunas started the fourth on a mission and he cut away the Belgium lead pretty quick. No idea why Casteels didn’t put Mwema on him from the start of the fourth ; Jean-Marc did an amazing job on him in the previous 2 quarters. Casteels eventually put Mwema back on Valanciunas but the lead was already gone. The game went back and forth from that point on. Belgium made some little mistakes on the defensive end and some of their open shots weren’t falling. Lithuania had 1 tactic: give the ball to Valanciunas inside and see what he could do.

Because of the size mismatch (and Mwema on the bench) Valanciunas went to town and he pretty much scored every single time they went to him. The game seemed over but then the Lions fought back with some great offensive possessions (a pair of 3’s from Tabu and Hervelle) and the game was tied at 74-74 with 1:17 remaining in the final quarter. Lojeski then followed a missed lay up from Van Rossom in the dying seconds and it counted! The shot might have been a little too late but they called it a basket on the floor and they weren’t sure that it wasn’t one so they didn’t change the call they made on the floor.

Probably the best game I’ve ever seen from the Belgian Lions! They played some amazing defense and they deserved to win!

An amazing game from the Belgian Lions!

An amazing game from the Belgian Lions!

Estonia vs Belgium: a quick recap!

After their loss against Latvia yesterday Belgium needed a win against Estonia. Estonia isn’t a great basketball country so a win was surely a possibility.

The game couldn’t have started better. The Lions started with a 2-10 run and everything was fallen for them (4-5 from deep in the first quarter). Sam van Rossom wanted to improve on his abysmal performance from yesterday and he sure did. He scored 9 points without missing a single shot. Estonia couldn’t hit a shot in the first (partly because Belgium played great defense) and they finished the quarter with 7 points (15.4% from the field). Belgium had a comfortable lead at the end of the first: 7-27.

Nothing changed in the second quarter: Estonia couldn’t hit a shot and Belgium kept on playing good, solid, basketball. Maxime de Zeeuw got injured in the beginning of the second quarter and I hope that his injury isn’t too serious: he’s an important bench player for the Lions. Estonia did find some life at the end of the second quarter but that was mostly because the Lions used a lot of their bench players who aren’t used to playing together. Belgium had a 28 point lead at the end of the first half: 18-46. The Lions shot 66.7% from the field and 54.5% from deep. Estonia on the other hand shot 18.5% from the field and they didn’t hit a single 3 pointer: they were 0-11 from the great beyond.

This picture is a good summary of Estonia's first half.

This picture is a good summary of Estonia’s first half.

Estonia started furiously in the second half and Belgium didn’t have an answer. Estonia’s shots started falling and the Lions didn’t look focused. Matt Lojeski and Sam van Rossom then took on the leading roles on offense to keep the lead as it was at the end of the first half. Estonia scored 26 points in the third but Belgian still held a nice lead: 44-69.

The fourth quarter was pretty awful from Belgium: a lot of defensive errors and too many iso plays on offense. But all that matters is that they won the game without too much trouble (55-84 is a pretty big win). Tomorrow they play against Lithuania which will be a near impossible game to win. But anything can happen! Link to the Belgian box score: http://live.fibaeurope.com/www/Game.aspx?acc=1&gameID=69769&lng=en

This image symbolizes Estonia's second half.

This image symbolizes Estonia’s second half.

Belgium vs Latvia: a quick recap!

The Belgian Lions finished 9th last time so they want to replicate that success (and possibly do better). A win in their first game would help them to achieve that. Let’s see how they did!

The Lions started the game pretty good; Lojeski fueled the Belgian offense in the opening minutes but then it all went away . Van Rossom didn’t do anything in the first quarter and the Latvian’s kept on hitting their outside shots (4-7 from deep). Belgium did have some luck at the end of the quarter when a buzzer beater 3 pointer was called off. The score after the first quarter was 19-25.

The second quarter was a bit better offensively; the Lions started to hit their outside shots and they also finished some easy lay-ups. Latvia cooled down from deep (0-5 in the second quarter) which led to a close score at the end of the first half: 38-40. A thing to note is that the Lions didn’t get a single free throw in the first half. That’s really bad considering that Latvia was in foul trouble with 7 minutes remaining.  Another random note: Van Rossom tried to dunk twice in the first half and he got rejected as many times; can’t be too good for your confidence to drive to the rim.

A miracle happened in the third quarter: the Belgian Lions created free throws! Latvia kept shooting from deep but they stayed cold (0-5). The Belgian Lions had some great opportunities to extend their (small) lead at the end of the third quarter but they made some dumb decisions. Because of those decisions, the Lions just had a 1 point lead going into the fourth: 52-51.

Tabu continued to do in the fourth quarter what he did in the previous 3: make mistakes. He tried a couple of dumb passes (or he didn’t pass when he should have) which cost the Lions some important points. Latvia heated up from deep when it mattered and they created a 7 point lead with 7 minutes remaining in the fourth. From that point on the Lions lacked offensive strength to fight back. They showed some life at the end of the game but Lojeski missed two crucial free throws to cut to deficit to 5 points. The Belgian Lions lost their first game 67-78 which makes their next game (against Estonia) crucial for their survival in the tournament.

Link to the Belgian boxscore: http://live.fibaeurope.com/www/Game.aspx?acc=1&gameID=69741&lng=en

This guy wore a pretty cool hat

This guy wore a pretty cool hat