Euroleague Weekly Preview
Alan Anderson: Shaking off the ‘streaky’ tag.
by Nick Gibson
The champs fell victim to premature elimination. CSKA Moscow’s ten-game winning streak came to an end. Olympiacos and Cibona lit up the scoreboard for 191 points as Jamont Gordon tied a Top 16 record with an index rating of 40. Group F is shattering the unbelievably high expectations it had coming in, as all four teams are tied with 2-2 records and the home teams have yet to budge. Still, there is one thing—one solitary accomplishment—that has the international basketball community abuzz seven days later: My 6-2 record in the Euroleague’s 14th week of play shoved me up over a hundy for the year at a mark of 101-39. Bravo, me. Can we get an encore?
Maroussi (2-2) vs. Regal Barcelona (3-1) – Senegalese 7-footer Boniface N’Dong is far from polished on the offensive end. Consider now that he’s leading Barcelona in scoring after four Top 16 games at a 15 PPG clip, good for 19th in the EL during that span. Meanwhile, last year’s MVP Juan Carlos Navarro is sitting at 43rd with 11.8 points and November MVP Pete Mickael’s 9.8 average doesn’t even land him in the top 50. This is reserved dominance at its best. Barcelona.
Partizan (3-1) vs. Panathinaikos (0-4) – On the one hand is Panathinaikos. Last year’s champions. Knocked out last week. Nothing to play for. On the other is Partizan with the strength of a word class cheering squadron behind them and a playoff berth right in front of their noses. If Pekovic no-shows like he did in their first meeting (7 points, 3/8 shooting), then it’ll be 0-5 for the Greens. Pretty strange. Partizan.
Efes Pilsen (2-2) vs. Real Madrid (2-2) – Mario Kasun didn’t come out of nowhere; the Croatian center has always had the power and athleticism to be one of the scariest bigs on the continent. Like so many in the same mold, however, injuries have continually kept him off the court. Last week’s 14 point, 13 board performance is enough to inject some roughhouse into an Efes frontcourt which has leaned exclusively on Kaya Peker and the occasional Daniel Santiago cameo. Efes Pilsen.
Maccabi Electra (2-2) vs. Montepasci Siena (2-2) – Before Alan Anderson exploded for a combined 75 ranking in two games against Madrid and Efes Pilsen (40 and 35, respectively), only Anthony Parker, Mirsad Turkcan, Arvydas Sabonis and Jaka Lakovic had even broken the 60 mark for any two week span in the Top 16. Pretty remarkable considering all four of those men have been nominated for the Euroleague’s All-Decade team. With all four Group F residents sitting at 2-2 and only two games remaining, cumulative point differential will loom large down the stretch. Maccabi has already ensured the tiebreak over Efes Pilsen (won by 10, lost by 7), and a 5-point margin this week would do the trick against Siena. Maccabi Electra.
Zalgiris (1-3) vs. Asseco Prokom (3-1) – Dainius Salenga and Martynas Pocius were hitting early and often and Aleksander Capin had his best game with his new club en route to an 89-84 win over Unicaja at home. After roster shuffles and two coaching changes already, things seem to be settling down in Kaunas, Lithuania. They’ll need to refocus defensively if they want to slow down Asseco Prokom, whose +40 differential in the Top 16 is the best in the EL by 12 points. If Jan “Jaglameister” Jagla plays tough inside for a second straight week, it might get ugly. If not, we’ve at least got ourselves a ballgame. Asseco Prokom.
Unicaja (1-3) vs. CSKA Moscow (3-1) – CSKA Moscow had one of their most balanced efforts of the season last week despite a loss to Asseco Prokom. Unicaja is a hot mess. CSKA Moscow.
Cibona (0-4) vs. BC Khimki (2-2) – Cibona’s Marko Tomas and Jamont Gordon’s combined scoring average of 45 during the Top 16 bests any other duo in the EL (next best pair: Trajan Langdon and Viktor Khryapa of CSKA at 41 points per game). I need to get these fellas a win, especially after keeping it close with Olympiacos in back-to-back weeks (78-75 in Piraeus, 97-94 last week in Zagreb). Besides, Khimki couldn’t take down the Splitter-less Caja a week ago at home. That’s grounds for Freaknick’s naughty list. Cibona.
Olympiacos (4-0) vs. Caja Laboral (2-2) – Maybe Olympiacos head coach Panagiotis Giannakis doesn’t read my column (I’d be appalled). Maybe he does and just doesn’t think too highly of it. Either way, he was somehow uninspired by my grassroots movement to get Patrick Beverley’s energy onto the court and let Scoonie Penn’s matador defense take a breather. Well, Mr. Beverley registered a DNP. Lead Cibona guards Tomas and Gordon racked up 52 points on 16/28 shooting while receiving 16 fouls and only turning it over three times between them. Milos Teodosic’s 22 points and 6 assists help mask his defensive shortcomings. Scoonie’s 14 points in 107 minutes with Olympiacos—last week’s 5-point performance dwarfed his previous season high of 3—lead to my hopeless bewilderment. The movement continues. Olympiacos.
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.