Euroleague Weekly Review
The better the opponent, the better Ricky Rubio plays.
by Erildas Budraitis
Now that the Euroleague’s regular season is over, the Top 16 teams are set and will continue to fight for the Euroleague title. Some teams still can’t believe how lucky they were, and some clubs still don’t understand what happened during the last Euroleague tour.
First of all, Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius, which won three of its first four games, lost to Unicaja Malaga by only 2 points (71-73) and failed to make the Top 16. If Lietuvos Rytas, which finished with a 4-6 record, grabbed the win, they would have been walking through the Top 16 doors.
Regal Barcelona, the Group A leader, ended the regular season without a loss and became first team to do this since the ’04-05 season. Regal Barcelona’s guard Ricky Rubio recorded his first career double-double and showed why he was the fifth pick of the 2009 NBA Draft.
But the most interesting and dramatic game was played in Istanbul, there Zalgiris Kaunas managed to win against Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul and get the last ticket to the Top 16.
GAME OF THE WEEK
There’s no doubt — the biggest sensation of the tour was how Zalgiris Kaunas — which won only one game of its first eight — made a miracle and make the Top 16. Nevertheless, after the ninth tour, Zalgiris made the right move – they changed the head coach and won two last regular season games.
In last game of the regular season, there was a lot of drama. Zalgiris need to win by 6 points to secure a place in the Top 16, and they did it. The Lithuanians had the lead the entire way, but, at the end of the game, Fenerbahce Ulker reduced Zalgiris advantage to five. Nonetheless, Marcus Brown, Zalgiris’ 35-year-old guard, made a last second buzzer-beater, and Kaunas won the game by 8 points (76-68).
“We knew that it was going to be a very tough game. Roko Ukic made it harder for us, but we remained focused in the game in the hard moments especially at the end of the game,” said game’s hero Marcus Brown, who scored 17 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 4 assists.
For Zalgiris ex-Duke guard Martynas Pocius scored 18 points, Tadas Klimavičius added 13, Mantas Kalnietis 11.
Fenerbahce Ulker’s star, ex-Milwaukee Bucks guard Roko Ukic ended the game with 20 points, 6 boards and 6 assists. Gordan Giricek scored 16 points and grabbed 8 boards. Tarence Kinsey scored 11.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week’s MVP award was shared by Regal Barcelona’s youngster Ricky Rubio and CSKA Moscow’s leader Ramunas Siskauskas. Both guards ended the game with 33 index ranking points.
Ricky Rubio scored 14 points and dished a career-high 10 assists in match against Montepaschi Siena. Ramunas Siskauskas, the ’07-08 Euroleague MVP, made 21 points, grabbed 7 balls and dished out 4 assists.
The Top 16 will start January 27 and this season’s greatest 16 teams will compete for one goal: the Euroleague championship.