Euroleague Weekly Preview
Bye-bye, Von Wafer.
Whippersnapper of the Week
Alexey Shved | 21 | 6-6 | 183 | Dynamo Moscow
After lugging around a stagnant draft buzz for the past three years on CSKA Moscow’s bench (4 minutes in two games this year), Alexey Shved was loaned to Russian League foe Dynamo Moscow, who was in for a pleasant surprise: Shved can still play a little ball.
In fact, with 16 points and 8 boards in his Eurocup debut, he can still play a lot of ball. Luckily for Alexey, his performance won’t go unnoticed; after all, he was playing against Benetton and Mr. ÜberLottery himself, Donatas Motiejunas (whose line was literally half of Shved’s at 8 and 4). This 20-year-old has seen more peaks and valleys than most men twice his age, so it’s nice to see him silence the haters just by moving across the street. Now if we can just convince them to build a weight room on that side of the street…
I thought Week 7 would be rather upset-free and it turned out to be quite the opposite. My gutlessness gave me a weekly tally of 8-4 and I’m 55-20 on the season. Let’s do it again:
Cibona (1-6) vs. Fenerbahce Ulker (3-4) – Last year it was a knee, this year it’s the shoulder. For a second straight season, promising young center Omer Asik will miss extended time for Fenerbahce, casting doubt on a team that came in with sky high Final Four hopes. To add injury to injury, Lynn Greer is questionable with ankle issues. But all is not lost in Istanbul, where chemistry has gone to die on a weekly basis. Maybe—just maybe—Asik’s injury can fire up Emir Preldzic (2 points in 28 minutes last game) and coax some consistency out of Tarence Kinsey. Fenerbahce Ulker.
*Montepaschi Siena (6-1) vs. Asvel Basket (3-4) – After starting 0-4, Asvel turned it around to hold three straight opponents under 70 points and, suddenly, they’re the favorites to lock up the fourth Top 16 bid in Group A. Montepaschi has only been held under 80 points once all season. The Basket stops here. Montepaschi Siena.
*Regal Barcelona (7-0) vs. Zalgiris (1-6) – One might think Barcelona would send in the scrubs now that they’ve secured a spot in the next round. And one might actually be correct, if only Barcelona had scrubs. Barcelona.
Lietuvos Rytas (4-3) vs. Olympiacos (5-2) – Wafer left. And there was much rejoicing. With the weekly haircut—I mean headache—out of the locker room, the Olympiacos backcourt will finally feature a little breathing room. Patrick Beverley will be able to play his hellacious defense, Milos Teodosic gets to do what he does (shoot, and shoot, and shoot), and nobody will be happier than Yotam Halperin, whose average index rating of 4 the first four weeks has vaulted to 18.7 over the past three. This might be one of those “Aha!” moments for Olympiacos, even on the road. Olympiacos.
Efes Pilsen (3-4) vs. Unicaja (5-2) – Igor Rakocevic finally cuts loose with 24 points, and of course Efes has to run into the Partizan in Belgrade. Tough. Rako won’t spend much time sulking. Put him down for another 20 spot. Efes Pilsen.
Entente Orleanaise (0-7) vs. Partizan (4-3) – Aleks Maric is really, really, really good. As in 34-points-and-16-rebounds-last-week good. Orleans is 0-7 for a reason. A lot of reasons. Partizan.
Caja Laboral (5-2) vs. Union Olimpija (1-6) – My nemesis Mirza Teletovic went out last week and made me look like a fool. Constantly berated (by me) for the way he shoots Caja out of games, ol’ Mirza sunk 8-14 from deep to lead his team 91-82 over Maccabi. It couldn’t have come on a better week, as Splitter’s 6-point output was his sorriest of the season. Union Olimpija blew any real chances they had at the Top 16 by losing to the lowly Maroussi. Caja Laboral.
Lottomatica Roma (3-4) vs. Maroussi BC (2-5) – I have a feeling that Coach Nando Gentile forgot to glance at the schedule before resigning a few days ago. His inattention bodes well for his successor, Matteo Boniciolli, who should begin his regime with a win in front of the home faithful. Although, on another note, what the hell has happened to Ibby Jaaber (15.8 PPG his first four, 4.6 his last three)? Lottomatica Roma.
*CSKA Moscow (5-2) vs. Maccabi Electra (5-2) – No team in this write-up is more relieved to see that little * next to their name than Moscow, whose injuries and free agent losses left the European powerhouse gasping for air early on. Their relief might surface in the form of pent-up exhaustion this week, especially against a Maccabi team coming off of a frustrating home loss. Maccabi.
EWE Baskets (1-6) vs. BC Khimki (4-3) – Dear Jason Gardner, what took so long? BC Khimki.
*Panathinaikos (6-1) vs. Real Madrid (5-2) – With Mike Batiste inflicting pain on European rims again, Panathinaikos looks unbeatable. Madrid is coming off a road loss at Asseco Prokom in which Darjus Lavrinovic laid an egg. I’d like to pick Madrid here, but the only person capable of keeping Spanoulis out of the lane will be wearing green this week (Diamantidis). Panathinaikos.
AJ Milano (2-5) vs. Asseco Prokom (3-4) – With David Logan and Qyntel Woods no longer engaged in a season long game of H-O-R-S-E, Asseco Prokom are playing with passion and are winners of two straight. Meanwhile, the Denim Dozen seems to be doing just fine without Alex Acker, as they did work (79-51) on EWE last week. Momentum edge goes to…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.