Βy Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The bulk of Euroleague games is divided between Thursday and Friday, but this time there is also a game on Wednesday between Prokom and Unicaja Malaga. This week on many duels there is a clear favorite, elsewhere there are some hidden traps, but the choice of the game of the week for Eurohoops is crystal clear!
Game of the week
Anadolu Efes vs Olympiacos (Friday, 19.00 CET) and it’s a choice for more than one reasons. First of all, it’s the most unpredictable and glamorous game of the week. Efes lost at Milan and needs the home victory, but also wants revenge for last year! The Turks wanted to be present at Istanbul’s Final Four, but Olympiacos beat them two times at Top 16 and got them out of the play offs.
The rest is history, as they say, with the team from Piraeus making a surprising title run and winning the trophy. And since then, it’s the first time the Reds return to Istanbul, the city where they shocked the global basketball community! The champions have their core intact, Efes has a complete roster, very good players in every position and its only problem seems to be the absence of Kerem Tunceri for one more game. Olympiacos will be ready to go and also should be ready on Monday for the first big showdown of the Greek league at OAKA, the home gym of its “eternal” rival Panathinaikos!
It’s hard to say which one could be considered the favorite in such a game, it’s still early in the season for both teams and the only thing certain thing is that you should watch this game! Big teams, open scores and an early test for the level of two teams competing for a place in this season’s Final Four.
HONORABLE MENTION: Τhe second most important game of the week seems to be the one of Khimki hosting Real Madrid at Moscow. The team which won the Eurocup last season lost the opening game against Fenerbahce and needs the home win. On the other hand, Real Madrid after the – not so impressive after all – win against Panathinaikos needs to prove that it can deliver also outside the borders of Spain. Some one should also consider the game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Siena a good choice, but after what happened last week, nobody would bet against the Israelis.
Under the microscope: Stephane Lasme
After missing the game against Real, Stephane Lasme will make his Euroleague debut with Panathinaikos at Athens against Cantu. After two seasons of absence from the top European league, Gabonese forward/center is a bet for the Greens. He was good enough as a member of Partizan, but could not make the next step in Maccabi Tel Aviv. He has to deliver, specially with Hilton Armstrong having problems to adapt at Panathinaikos.
The unknown war: Dule vs CSKA Moscow
Many big basketball personalities have been coaches of Partizan, but Dusko Vujosevic is the one with the most important contribution the last few years. He is also the biggest failure on CSKA‘s bench since the summer of 2002, when the Russian club became again a member of Europe’s elite!
He signed a three year contract on the summer of 2010 – after leading Partizan to Paris’ Final Four and losing in overtime the semifinal against Olympiacos – in order to be the successor of Etorre Messina and his “golden age”. He wasn’t only supposed to be the head coach of the team, but also the director of the youth section.
On the 26th of November 2010 he was fired, just after five months since he was hired! His record in Euroleague was just 1-5 after a defeat in Milano. Both him and CSKA Moscow’s president Andrey Vatutin used kind words about the “divorce”, but Vujosevic missed on the biggest opportunity of his career. He was the successor of Messina and he will also face Messina on Thursday!
The question: Zalgiris away from Kaunas
Zalgiris opened the season with an impressive 90-62 win against Cedevita. Last summer the Lithuanian team spend a lot of money in order to lure back to Kaunas many big name Lithuanian players. Can they deliver and make the next step in Euroleague this season? Their visit to “Fernando Buesa Arena” for the game against Caja Laboral should provide some answers and it’s the first crash test of the team after the… elections fiasco of Romanov. The political party of Zalgiris’ owner got just 0,25% of votes in Lithuania having also Zalgiris players as candidates, like Kaukenas and Lavrinovic brothers.
Numbers that count!
- Will he make them 20? Bo McCalleb has a nice run of 19 straight Euroleague games with a double digit in scoring. His record should be expanded in Ljubljana
- Sarunas Jasikevicius returns at Vilnius! He started his pro career as a member of Lietuvos Rytas (1998-9) and played again there for some months in 2010-11 season. Saras also needs to make just one free throw in order to have 500 in his career and get the sixth place on the all time list.
- At the same same game (Lietuvos Rytas vs Barcelona) Darius Maskoliunas will make his coaching debut in Euroleague, after replacing Alexander Djikic. Maskoliunas was a teammate of Jasikevicius in the Lithuanian national team at Sydney’s Olympic games, back in 2000!