Euroleague Weekly Review
The Lavrinovic brothers take over Week 1.
by Erildas Budraitis
Every week, SLAMonline will publish a weekly review about the most prestigious basketball tournament in Europe – the Euroleague.
The ’09-10 Euroleague season started last week in Tel Aviv, where the local club Maccabi triumphed over the Union Olimpija Ljubljana (85-65). The other 22 teams started their Euroleague season at the beginning of this week. The European basketball experts actually picked every one of the first week games’ favorites with the exception of just one match!
GAME OF THE WEEK
Basketball is played by athletes, not by the salaries. For the second time the European Cup (the second-strongest league in Europe) Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius club confirmed this mantra as they beat one of the Euroleague favorites — Efes Pilsen Istambul (77-70).
The Turkish powerhouse has at least five ex-NBA players on their squad and the entire team consists of European basketball stars… millionaires. For example, this season Lietuvos Rytas’ budget is about $2.5 million (U.S. dollars) and a single player like Mario Kasun earns even more than the entire Lithuanian team together.
Nevertheless, money doesn’t make a good player. Lietuvos Rytas proved that when he started leading at the beginning of the game and after the second quarter, Lithuanians were leading by 13 points. In the second half, Efes Pilsen club stars had nothing to show, while the ambitious Lietuvos Rytas team held off their opponents.
Martynas Gecevicius, a 21-year-old Lietuvos Rytas guard, shined brighter than ever. Gecevicius scored 21 points and made 5-8 threes. Newcomer Aron Baynes, (from the Washington State Cougars) had some problems adjusting to European basketball. During the first few minutes of the game, he received 3 fouls, but later became a dominating player. Baynes finished his first Euroleague game with 14 points and 6 rebounds.
On the other side, ex-Syracuse University Orange, Preston Shumpert, was the leader of the Efes Pilsen with 12 points. Former Orlando Magic center, Mario Kasun, scored 9 points and the former New Jersey Nets forward Bostjan Nachbar added 8 points. Honestly, it was a really bad night for ex-NBA players.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
A fantastic performance in the first game earned Real Madrid power forward, Darjus Lavrinovic, the Euroleague Player of the Week. The Lithuanian national team member scored 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and ended the game with a 49 index rating against the Khimki Moscow Region.
Interestingly, second in this week’s MVP ranking was Ksystof Lavrinovic, Darjus’ twin brother. Ksystof, the Montepaschi Siena forward, made 26 points and got 34 index rating. The third is Regal FC Barcelona scorer, Pete Mickeal, with 26 points (9/10 field goals) and 32 index rating.
Ex-Nugget Linas Kleiza with 31 index rating is at the fourth position in MVP ranking this week. The true Olympiakos Piraeus leader in his Euroleague debuting game scored 23 points in 23 minutes and became the main man of the team.
First week is done. Wonder what surprises are we to see this next week.