Euroleague Weekly Review
Olympiacos is ran out of the gym!
by Erildas Budraitis
While NBA fans were celebrating the new season tip-off this week, Euroleague fans were commemorating the game’s second week. After two weeks, in Europe’s strongest basketball competition, six teams remain undefeated.
This week’s biggest surprise for the tour happened in Moscow, where last year’s Euroleague runner-up CSKA lost a tough match to Lottomatica Roma (69-74). It could be a sign that CSKA is not the same dominating power that we saw a few years ago. Certainly, it’s too early to say who’s hot and who’s not. Next week will bring a true test, as the Russian powerhouse will try to pass the Maccabi Tel Aviv exam.
This week I will review another Euroleague game, wherein fought B group favorites — Unicaja Malaga and Olympiacos Piraeus.
GAME OF THE WEEK
During the offseason, like almost all offseasons before, Olympiacos was trying to sign several well-known NBA players… and they did. The Greek club got ex-Nugget, Linas Kleiza, and ex-Rocket, Von Wafer. Of course, don’t forget former Atlanta Hawks guard, Josh Childress. Now we have three talented former NBA players on one European team.
After easy first week win against the Euroleague debutant, Entente Orleanaise (94-72), Olympiakos got strong hit from the Unicaja Malaga – (68-86) – throughout the second game.
Olympiakos had big trouble in defense from the get-go. In the first quarter they let Unicaja to score 30 points, falling behind by 12 points (30-18). The Greek team tried to close the gap, but to no avail. Unicaja raised its advantage and took the easy win.
Remember Kleiza, Wafer and Childress, in their last seasons in the NBA, averaged a combined 30+ ppg. Unfortunately, in the game against Unicaja, those three athletes combined for just 20 points. What a miserable night.
Spanish club didn’t need NBA players, but they did have ex-Louisville Cardinals team star Taquan Dean. He scored the team 19 points and was the key to victory.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week’s MVP award will be shared by Matt Walsh from Union Olimpija Ljubljana and Caja Laboral center Tiago Splitter. Both players finished with a 36 index rating. Walsh scored 32 points against Maroussi Athens. Splitter, 24 years old, once again showed perfect form, scoring a career-high 26 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. The Brazilian also helped Caja Laboral defeat Maccabi.
Third in this week’s ranking was the unstoppable Ali Traore from ASVEL. The Frenchman finished this game with 29 points, 13 rebounds and a 34 index ranking.
Next week the Euroleague will bring us two monster games – Real Madrid plays Panathinaikos and Maccabi battles CSKA. Will Panathinaikos stay perfect with three wins in a row? And which champion — Israeli or Russian — is stronger now?