Euroleague Weekly Preview
One win. Four losses. No problem.
Whippersnapper of the Week
Martynas Gecevicius | 21 | 6-4 | SG | Lietuvos Rytas
He’s not the sexy, “upside” kind of prospect that pops up on people’s draft boards, but he may very well take home this year’s Euroleague’s Rising Star Award. He’s averaging 14.2 points in 33 mpg and his team has even let him run the point whenever October MVP Bojan Popovic needs a breather. This week he should get some good looks against the laid back, offensive-minded Efes Pilsen backcourt that saw him drop 21 points in week 1. The fact that he’s hit 54 percent of his three-point tries this season is pretty encouraging, also.
A 6-6 Week 5 dropped me to 33-15 in the season standings. Let’s see if this week’s slate can get me back on track…
Montepaschi Siena (4-1) vs, Cibona Zagreb (1-4) – Prematurely billed as an “instant classic,” last week’s slaying at the hands of Barcelona exposed Montepaschi’s weaknesses on both ends of the floor. Offensively speaking, Siena cannot win if Terrell McIntyre is held assistless; on defense, it looks as if size is going to be an issue, along with coaxing some sort of effort out of Ksistof Lavrinovic down low. Luckily they’ve got a date with the league’s easiest rebound girl, Cibona. Montepaschi Siena.
Regal Barcelona (5-0) vs. Fenerbahce Ulker (3-2) – After winning a close one last week at Zalgiris, Fenerbahce carved out a spot among the Euroleague’s top half, and based on talent alone they should keep on climbing. There’s no shame in losing to the Euroleague’s best team on their turf, however, which is exactly what’s going to happen this week. Regal Barcelona.
Asvel Basket (1-4) vs. Zalgiris (1-4) – Down 10 to Cibona with just under three minutes remaining, it looked as if Asvel was careening toward an 0-5 record. What happened next was both pathetic and inspiring, but it ended up with Asvel in the wins column. With a 2-7 record in the French League, Asvel’s impotence in the EL is truly a reflection of their personnel, but I think they can ride Bobby Dixon’s heart and Ali Traore’s muscle for another week or so. Asvel Basket.
Orleans (0-5) vs. Olympiacos (3-2) – These 24 teams have been masterfully divvied up so that each group has at least a pair of doormat caliber teams, giving even the most woefully hopeless a chance at fleeting success. Then Lietuvos Rytas’ overachievement and Partizan’s unparalleled home court advantage had to go and screw everything up, leaving Orleans as the lone bottom feeder of Group B. Even with a hurt Patrick Beverley and a disgruntled (pissed) Von Wafer, Olympiacos is deep enough to hardly care. Olympiacos.
Unicaja (5-0) vs. Partizan (2-3) – Even a so-so performance from Taquan Dean and a DNP from Robert Archibald couldn’t keep Unicaja from finishing the first half without a blemish. Omar Cook returned to form with 16 points and 6 assists while Carlos Jimenez had 11 points and 9 boards for an index rating of 24, proving that two guys with odd foreheads can thrive on a single strip of hardwood. Can’t pick against that. Unicaja.
Efes Pilsen (2-3) vs. Lietuvos Rytas (2-3) – With rumors swirling of a trade that would send Bostjan Nachbar to Madrid, Efes Pilsen should shrug off the drama and thank Heavens they’ve already gotten their three toughest road games out of the way. It’d be nice if Igor Rakocevic could remember how to shoot, but his ineptitude has opened the door for the springy Sinan Guler to see the floor and lock down the opposition’s swingmen. Rytas’ only win on the road this year came at Orleans, which, as we discussed, hardly counts. Efes Pilsen.
CSKA Moscow (3-2) vs. Maroussi BC (1-4) – Hello, Sasha Kaun. Nice to see you again. Sorry it took injuries to all three guys playing in front of you (plus Ivan Radenovic playing not-too-special basketball) to get you some legitimate burn. But hey, if you can keep Matjaz Smodis’ seat warm while positioning CSKA for a run at the playoffs, you’ll be a massive mini-hero. Oh, and Maroussi’s pretty bad. CSKA Moscow.
Caja Laboral (3-2) vs. Lottomatica Roma (3-2) – Caja is semi-putting it together in the backcourt, but the frontcourt is still a whole lot of Tiago Splitter with sporadic outbursts from Lior Eliyahu. Meanwhile, “power forward” Mirza Teletovic looks in the mirror, sees Reggie Miller, and ends up shooting his team out of games. I would love to pick them as the losers, but after watching the winless Union Olimpija (without scoring leader Matt Walsh) embarrass Lottomatica last week, I just can’t do it. Caja Laboral.
Union Olimpija (1-4) vs. Maccabi Electra (4-1) –Walsh played this weekend in the Adriatic League and should be able to go for Union, but Sani Becirovic’s 24-point explosion makes me wonder if the two scorers can play nice and share the ball when both are healthy. With Maccabi, I have no such concerns; they’re wise enough to view depth as a luxury and not a hindrance. It might be Alan Anderson, it might be Chuck Eidson, or it might Maciej Lampe. Somebody’s going to burn you. Maccabi Electra.
Real Madrid (4-1) vs. BC Khimki (4-1) – As if Madrid needed any more help, Felipe Reyes returned from injury last week to fortify their frontline (because Darjus Lavrinovic and his 18 points really weren’t cutting it). What’s even more impressive is the resurgence of last year’s Rising Star winner, Novica Velickovic, whose 6.3 ppg in his first three contests have ballooned to 17 in his last two. It will be interesting to see who Coach Ettore Messina throws at Khimki’s Keith Langford, who posted a 38 index rating last week to pick up Week 5 Co-MVP honors (along with Partizan’s Aleks Maric). I’m sure he’ll figure something out. Real Madrid.
Panathinaikos (4-1) vs. AJ Milano (1-4) – I picked the Greens to lose at home earlier this season. I was a mere 35 points off. I can’t jeopardize what’s left of my “reputation.” Panathinaikos.
EWE Baskets (1-4) vs. Asseco Prokom (1-4) – It’ll be these two teams plus AJ Milano fighting for that number four spot behind Panathinaikos, Madrid and BC Khimki. With Milano stuck in the guillotine this week, this game’s victor forges into the second half with the all-important leg up. EWE finally picked up Bryan Bailey to relieve Daniel Hain at the point, but I still think the nod goes to the best duo on the floor, David Logan and Qyntel Woods. Asseco Prokom.
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.