Euroleague Weekly Preview
Win in Rome…
Worth the Price of Admission
Lynn Greer (Fenerbahce Ulker) vs. Terrell McIntyre (Montepaschi Siena) – Europe’s smaller, less injury-prone version of T-Mac is the best point guard on the continent, but it was only a few years ago that Lynn Greer may have held that distinction. With Fenerbahce’s release of combo guard Willie Solomon earlier this week, it’s Greer’s car to drive against McIntyre and Montepaschi. Luckily for us, both of these guys have terrific shot blockers behind them on defense, so if they want to spark the offense it’ll have to be on the perimeter. That means the fireworks will be crackling in plain sight, which should promote a one-on-one scenario rarely present in European offenses.
Whippersnapper of the Week
Giorgi Shermadini | 20 | 7-1 | C | Panathinaikos
One look at the lanky fella from Georgia (the country) doesn’t evoke fantasies of powerful drop steps and monstrous jams. Shawn Kemp, he is not. But Shermadini is far more bouncy than he appears and is actually quite competent off the dribble. If ever there were a chance to prove himself against the best in the world, he’s stumbled upon it this season in Athens. With starter Mike Batiste and key reserve Kostas Tsartsaris out to start the year, Shermadini has been thrust prematurely into the rotation. After fouling out with 2 points in 12 minutes in his first game, he scored 10 on 4-6 shooting in 11 minutes the next time around and last week he hit both of his shots and both of his free throws for 6 points in 10 minutes. Don’t expect him to unseat the vets once they’ve rehabbed, but once Panathinaikos has clinched a Top 16 berth, Shermadini might get some serious minutes to fiddle around with.
Now, to the games…
Cibona (0-3) vs. Zalgiris (1-2) – Nobody wants to see the 15-time Croatian champs go winless, but they’ll be a tough sell until they stop putting up high school numbers on offense (54 points per game, 21 percent on three-pointers). If they can’t find an answer down low for Travis Watson, they could be in for another long one. Zalgiris.
Fenerbahce Ulker (2-1) vs. Montepaschi Siena (3-0) – Montepaschi’s record-setting defense (they held Cibona to 40 points in week one) could be in trouble if the three-headed Fenerbahce mammoth of Oguz Savas, Semih Erden and Omer Asik all put their best feet forward. Fortunately for Siena, those feet often end up tangled, in foul trouble, and clogging up the lane for the likes of Lynn Greer and Gordan Giricek. Montepaschi.
Regal FC Barcelona (3-0) vs. Asvel Basket (0-3) – This would have been a waltz for Rubio and the boys last week even without Juan Carlos Navarro, so the resurrection of the reigning MVP doesn’t bode well for the Frenchmen. Asvel’s got enough talent to sneak in a win or three, but Barca’s too deep to fall asleep at the wheel. Barcelona.
Entente Orleanaise (0-3) vs. Unicaja Malaga (3-0) – Life is good in Malaga: Joel Freeland is blossoming a year earlier than expected, Taquan Dean is happy, healthy and heaving shots, and Omar Cook has finally struck a balance between speed and precision. There are not as many nice things to say about Orleans. Unicaja.
Lietuvos Rytas (2-1) vs. Partizan (1-2) – With Aleks Maric putting up numbers and Lawrence Roberts in tow, 19-year-old Jan Vesely is finally free to shake off the leadership role and just play his game. Let that pressure roll off of your skinny shoulders, young man. It’s time to play. Partizan.
Olympiacos (2-1) vs. Efes Pilsen (1-2) – Last year’s scoring champ Igor Rakocevic hasn’t scored more than 14 yet this year, so this could be the week where he finally clicks with his new Efes teammates. Olympiacos doesn’t care if he scores 40. It won’t be enough to hang with Josh, Linas, Von and the gang. Olympiacos.
Maroussi BC (1-2) vs. Caja Laboral (1-2) – Caja Laboral’s Marcelinho Huertas had been running the point as well as nearly anyone in Europe entering week 3. Then he dropped 21 points on Union Olimpija. Then he tore a muscle in his left thigh. Oops. Now, the backcourt duties fall squarely into the 22-year-old hands of Pau Ribas. The first thing he’ll have to learn: give the ball to Tiago Splitter and Lior Eliyahu and get out of the way. The second: stay out of the way. Maroussi will be an unwilling practice dummy. Caja Laboral.
CSKA Moscow (1-2) vs. Union Olimpija (0-3) – Despite CSKA’s early struggles—their lone win came on a Viktor Khryapa buzzer beater in week 1—Union Olimpija just keeps proving that each game can be more disappointing than its predecessor. The fact that they’ve wasted Matt Walsh’s back-to-back brilliance in their own arena—36 and 29 points respectively—is enough to make a Slovenian sick. CSKA Moscow.
Lottomatica Roma (3-0) vs. Maccabi Electra (2-1) – I’m afraid this is where Roma’s surprising little jumpstart runs out of juice. Although Ibby Jaaber has been the architect of this prodigious beginning, it’s been the activity of Roma’s big men that has shoved them over the top. Maccabi’s D’Or Fischer, Stephane Lasme and Maciej Lampe may occasionally be outscored, but they’ll rarely be out-hustled and they’ll never be outclassed athletically. Maccabi.
Asseco Prokom (1-2) vs. Panathinaikos (2-1) – David Logan’s a nice scorer. Really nice. But Dimitris Diamantidis treats really nice scorers like afternoon snacks. The champs don’t lose twice in a row, I don’t care where or who they’re playing. Panathinaikos.
EWE Baskets Oldenburg (1-2) vs. Real Madrid (2-1) – After three weeks, one thing has been become painfully clear in Oldenburg: starting point guard Daniel Hain was not the German League MVP last year. That’d be Jason Gardner, who’s sidelined with back problems. Without their fire starter, EWE’s uptempo offense has fizzled. They’ll need a huge day from Rickey Paulding just to keep it close. Real Madrid.
AJ Milano (1-2) vs. BC Khimki (2-1) – With speed at the point (Morris Finley), scorers on the wings (Alex Acker, Jonas Maciulis), and a rock down low (Marius Petravicius), AJ Milano is Real Madrid Lite. Khimki’s blend of talent was enough to knock off the full flavored version in week one, so they should be able to handle the impersonators. BC Khimki.
Nick Gibson is the co-creator and producer of Slam and Freaknick’s Euroleague Adventures, which features a blog, podcast, prospect watch and a closer look at Americans playing overseas. Gibson is a broadcast journalism student at Syracuse University and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.