By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s what we expect from Top16. Great games, great performances, stars stepping up and thrills all over Europe. It’s exactly what happened in the first week of the second Euroleague phase with the last game of Friday, Olympiacos against Fenerbahce, being the biggest show of the premier.
As his team wanted to rebound after two defeats and start Top16 with a big win, he responded. The result was spectacular: 28 points on 9/15 shots, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 34 minutes. He was a true leader in a game that was a test of himself and also a test for the champions. As you can understand by the final 95-82 score, they passed the test. His 39 ranking is a Euroleague career best.
- Ricky Hickman: Playing without Shawn James, Maccabi needed a hero and he was the one with 24 points on 9/14 shots in the 90-84 road win against Galatasaray. If he can produce regularly like that, then Maccabi is in good hands
- Vasilis Spanoulis: One of the best nights of his great career…
- Viktor Khryapa: In the first ever Top16 duel between Russian teams, the captain was there and his game was a beauty. He had 15 points on 5/6 threes, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the 84-77 overtime win over Lokomotiv proving once more that he is the best all around forward in Europe.
- Andres Nocioni: He was spectacular once more with 20 points, 4/4 threes and 9 rebounds as Laboral Kutxa prevailed on the road over Unicaja (93-79).
- Giannis Bourousis: A double double in 25 minutes (15 p., 10 r.) as Real Madrid stayed perfect even in front of 21.000 fans of Partizan in Belgrade, getting the 80-64 win.
Best losing performance: Aleks Maric
He is not considered at this point a star, but the former All Euroleague center against CSKA Moscow sure did damage with a double double (12 p., 10 r.) and three steals. However despite the extra boost he provided, Loko couldn’t start Top16 with a statement-win against its biggest domestic rival.
Biggest win: Olympiacos
Olympiacos not only wanted to start Euroleague’s Top16 with a win, but also to leave behind the losses by Panathinaikos for the Greek cup and KAOD for the Greek league. The Reds responded, got the impressive 95-82 win over Fenerbahce and a big game not only by Spanoulis, but also by Stratos Perperoglou. Two players “polished” by Zeljko Obradovic during their mutual years in Panathinaikos, became his downfall in SEF.
Τhe explosion: FC Bayern
It’s not a surprise at this point to see Bayern prevailing on the road. However the first ever Top16 game of the team was an absolute triumph, a blow out 84-66 road win in the full gym of Kaunas. With 9/14 threes the Germans had a 65-41 lead in the 24th minute and the game was essentially over. The self confidence of the Germans is impressive and they have proven from day 1 that can make even the wildest dreams.
The underachiever: Anadolu Efes
After changing coach, hiring Aggelou instead of Mahmuti, and adding Milko Bjelica, we expected to see a more solid version of Efes. That didn’t happen, Barcelona dismantled them from the first quarter and got the 84-65 win. However, the guests used just 8 players and among them weren’t included two very important “tools” on Aggelou’s plans, Scotty Hopson and Jamon Gordon.
The disappointment: EA7 Milano
On the contrary to Efes, EA7 Milano traveled to Greece in order to face Panathinaikos having a pretty complete roster and of course one of the most discussed players in the market, Daniel Hackett. Still the team of coach Crespi couldn’t do anything against the defense of the Greens who got an easy 73-57 win. Of course, it’s the same defense that beat Euroleague champion Olympiacos, however EA7 Milano couldn’t react convincingly in any part of the game.
Last word: Bad blood
Fenerbahce had cut the lead of Olympiacos to six points with 1,5 minute left, Spanoulis hit a big three and turned to the bench of the guests. “Kill Bill” dedicated his shot to his former coach and it’s not a secret that their relationship since Spanoulis left Panathinaikos is the worst possible. Of course, they didn’t shake hands after the end of the game and it will be interesting to see what will happen if they meet up also later in the season, let’s say in Milan.