Euroleague Weekly Review
Real Madrid takes down a Greek superpower.
by Erildas Budraitis
In this third edition of Euroleague Weekly Review, we are going to evaluate Euroleague teams performances and look at what’s going on in Europe’s strongest hoops competition.
In the first round, last year’s Euroleague runner-up CSKA Moscow tried to pass the Maccabi Tel Aviv exam. And they failed. The Russian club suffered defeat by 17 points and once again showed amazingly poor offense (54-71). Now it’s obvious that CSKA has big problems with scoring. In the previous two games they scored only 66 and 69 points. Can we say the CSKA days are over? Not so fast. It is only the beginning of the season, and it’s difficult to believe that European basketball stars including Zoran Planinic, Ramunas Siskauskas, Trajan Langdon, JR Holden and Viktor Khryapa can’t contend for the spot in Euroleague Final Four.
While the CSKA was trying to solve their problems, two Euroleague D group leaders, Panathinaikos Athens and Real Madrid, were fighting for place as leader.
GAME OF THE WEEK
The defending Euroleague champions, Panathinaikos, got its first knock of the season from the other top European club, Real, who hasn’t advanced to the European Final Four since 1996. Real Madrid ended Panathinaikos’ two-game winning streak with an 80-70 win.
The Greek powerhouse started the game very well and after first 10 minutes Panathinaikos was leading by 9 points (21-12). Nevertheless, Real changed everything in the 2nd quarter – they showed excellent defense, made impressive 20-0 run and took the game to their hands (34-28). In the second half nothing changed – Real held onto their lead and won a tough match.
“It was a great game against the defending champion, which is always important, but we cannot forget this is just another win. This win will make us stronger and teach us to compete in the future,” said Spanish club coach Ettore Messina. These words tell us that Real is definitely one of the two or three favorites to win Euroleague. They are strong, ambitious and confident. What more do you need?
As usual, the Lithuanian duo Rimantas Kaukenas and Darjus Lavrinovic led the way. Kaukenas scored 17, and Lavrinovic – 15 points. Ex-Raptor Jorge Garbajosa added 6 points in 25 minutes.
Nikola Pekovic, the Minnesota Timberwolves 31st pick in 2008 NBA Draft, led the Greens with 22 points and 7 rebounds. The former Maryland star Drew Nicholas scored 16.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
One of the most talented scorers in league, Montepaschi Siena forward Romain Sato was named this week Euroleague MVP. Sato, who helped Montepaschi to get its third win in a row, collected 33 points, 6 rebounds 2 steals and a 37 index rating in a game against Asvel Villeurbanne.
Second in this week’s rankings is last week’s co-MVP Matt Walsh from Ljubljana Union Olimpija. The American scored 27 points and grabbed 6 rebounds (29 index rating).
Last in this week’s top-three is Khimki Moscow Region forward Paulius Jankunas who earned 27 index rating points. Jankunas was the key to victory — he finished the game with 23 points and 7 boards.
Next week all Euroleague fans’ eyes should follow what’s happening in Rome – C group leaders, Lottomatica Roma and the Maccabi Tel Aviv will fight for first place in the group. Which team’s players will leave the court with raised heads?