Could Europe’s top basketball sides compete with the NBA?

April 3, 2009


The above question is one that comes up now and again around Europe and my colleagues were at it again after CSKA Moscow beat Partizan Belgrade to reach their seventh consecutive Euroleague Final Four.

A lot of them think CSKA and the like could indeed pose a threat to many NBA teams today because the era of great players in the world’s toughest league is gone.

It was interesting, then, to hear CSKA coach Ettore Messina flatly deny it even after watching his well-drilled do so well.

“We are too slow, not athletic enough and not one of our players is outstanding by NBA standards,” he said. “We have done a good job of playing within our limits in Europe but that’s not enough for the toughest basketball league in the world, so we would find it very difficult to compete.”

Indeed, it is hard to imagine CSKA point guard Jon Robert Holden, who guided Russia to the 2007 European Championship title after adopting the country’s citizenship, stopping even an average NBA rival, never mind someone like Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade, the driving force behind the U.S. team’s gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.

Much less would their forwards Ramunas Siskauskas or Trajan Langdon, ranked among the best in European basketball, be able to hold their own against LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.

Several national teams have been able to stun U.S. “dream teams” in Olympics and Worlds down the years, fully exploiting the slight differences in NBA and international rules.

But in an NBA environment with an 82-game regular season, 12 minutes instead of 10 in each quarter and the three-point line further back than they would like it to be, CSKA would stand no chance of making an impact.

Still, that won’t bother Messina as the charismatic Italian continues in his quest to win a fifth Euroleague title and make CSKA only the third team in the competition’s history to retain the silverware.


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Ive tried to get into basketball here in Italy but soccer is so powerful that basketball lets little media coverage and hence is hard to track

Posted by mark | Report as abusive

Mark, that’s why Italian clubs have become second-tier opposition for teams like CSKA, except Montepaschi Sienna. Milan, Treviso and Bologna used to be the teams to beat in Europe, now they are easy prey.

Posted by No. 23 | Report as abusive

i think its a little too early to put europe against the NBA. Although I think they are great, its a different battle arena in the NBA

Posted by Europe Web Directory and Search Engine | Report as abusive