By Panos Katsiroumpas/ email@example.com
It was a week full of tension in Euroleague, with great games taking place, new faces in the rosters and two days of great basketball around Europe, with comebacks, big wins and a huge battle in both groups’ standings. So let’s have a closer look inside this week games.
The haircut of Samardo!!!
Milano won a very important game against Panathinaikos that turned out to be a thriller in the last period due to the great comeback of the Greens thanks to their defense, but in the end it was not enough for the Greek team to get the win. The x factor in this game and also in the last three games for Milano is the emergence in the offensive end of Samardo Samuels. The center from Jamaica appeared with a new haircut (red hair), that seemed to give him some kind of extra power and helped his team to get the crucial win with his 16 points and the great defensive effort against one of Panathinaikos main attacking weapons, Stephane Lasme. Samuels has 40 points in the last 3 games for Milan comparing to only 21 points of the first 5 games and gives a boost inside the basket in a team like Milano which was considered strong mainly on the backcourt.
Thriller in Moscow, Milos got the last word
What an unbelievable game took place in Moscow!! Lokomotiv Kuban pressed CSKA to its limits with an unbelievable offensive team effort that had Derrick Brown and Krunoslav Simon as leaders, but in the end it was Milos Teodosic who had the last word in this great basketball game. The Serbian guard scored 11 points in the last 2 minutes leading the comeback of CSKA with three three pointers and two free throws and also the game winning foul by which he injured his finger letting Aaron Jackson to hit the two winning free throws. It’s a very big win for the Moscow team that keeps them alive in the run of the two first places in the group. It was definitely one of the most entertaining games in this year’s Top16. Teodosic is player full of talent who can win any game but also a player who can be negative factor for his own team like he did in the first 35 minutes of this game
Barca hold!! Erden is nowhere!!!
Another unbelievable thriller took place in the city of Τop16 thrillers, Istanbul. Anadolu Efes played their best game till now and they were just a rebound away of winningthea game that would give them the opportunity to get back in the qualification run. In the last free throw of Oleson, Semih Erden had his chance of being a hero in a very bad year for him, but he couldn’t make even a good block out. Dorsey tipped the ball in the basket to force overtime, an unfair end compared to the effort and the defense of the Turkish side. In the overtime with the psychological advantage of the comeback Barca dominated and won a game keeping them unbeaten in the Top16. What can you say about Navarro? He faced the hardest of defenses, he had a lot of difficulties and many bad shots, but he created plays for everyone else. His 11 assists of the total 23 dished by his team is an unbelievable number for a player who is above all a scorer. Tomic had an unbelievable game with 26 points and 15 boards and a ranking of total 40 points. For sure he is one of the most dominant centers in the competition.
Olympiakos backcourt without Spanoulis and Law: Average
The champions of the last two Euroleague seasons can’t get a lucky break this year. They lost due ti injury till the end of the season maybe the best transition offense point guard in Europe, Acie Law, and they were forced to play a very crucial game in Istanbul against Fenerbahce without the two times final four MVP with the Reds, Vassilis Spanoulis. His absence made obvious that Olympiakos was obliged to play much better defense in order to keep the game a low scoring affair, because it is not easy to overcome the offensive absence of his leader. Olympiakos has a very bad third period and despite the defensive effort of the fourth quarter, the comeback was not enough for the crucial win. Sloukas tried to be Spanoulis with 17 points, helping Perperoglou who was the best player of the Reds but they didn’t get enough boost from any one else. Fenerbahce played a mediocre game but had Mc Calebb and Kleiza in a big offensive day. If they want to have better chances for something big this season, they must take more from Bogdanovic and Preldzic.
The new faces
This was the first game of many of new faces in Euroleague’s Top16. All eyes were in Vitoria despite the very bad season of Baskonia because of Lamar Odom’s debut. But this was not a good game for him and his team, he played less than 6 minutes without scoring and Laboral Kutxa lost another game without a real fight against Unicaja Malaga. The best performance was that of Zachary Wright of Panathinaikos against Milano. He had a great presence on both the offensive and defensive end giving also some transition to a team that plays mainly set basketball. All the others new faces in the second round didn’t had important role in their teams and most of them didn’t even get a lot of minutes on the court. It is very early to say anything more and we have a lot of games coming in order to see what they are capable of.
Group of death!
We don’t remember in the recent past any other group with so many good and balanced teams, than this season’s Top16 group E. The only spots that are almost sealed are the first (Barcelona) and the last (Laboral Kutxa). Everything else is changing every week and it’s very difficult to predict the outcome. In our opinion the factor that will be the most crucial in the final standings are the away wins. Every team which can manage to win one or more games away from their home will get the boost needed in order not only to go through, but also to get the second place in the group which translates to the home court advantage in the play offs, which also means very good chances of being in Milan for the Final Four.