By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Euroleague’s brass can be satisfied. We are at the 5th week of the competition’s regular season and from now on everything counts! After the thrilling last season when interested picked up after the Top16 and exploded in Istanbul’s Final Four after the incredible Olympiacos‘ run – a reality that could make a movie script capable of breaking the box office – things are getting hot very early this year!
Every single one match from this week’s 12 games could have an argument for being the game of the week! It’s not an exaggeration. The Top16 qualification makes things interesting at this point for everyone. So, here is Eurohoops’ preview for the 5th gameday with everything you need to now and be here also after the games for the aftermath in order to have the full picture.
Eurohoops game of the week: CSKA Moscow – Barcelona
It’s the encounter than opens the gameday and it’s also the most prestigious of the week. Two of the four unbeaten teams this season will face off in Moscow! CSKA Moscow – Barcelona and that names should be enough with any other explanation. You have to know that those two are Euroleague’s title contenders and the winner will remain alone at the top of the group D standings. CSKA is coming off an impressive game against Besiktas at Istanbul and seems to be in better shape than Barcelona.
The Catalans barely beat Partizan at home and lost on Sunday at Vitoria the game against Caja Laboral for Liga Endesa. The host team in Moscow is the favorite by default, but don’t underestimate Barca. After all big teams strive against adversity.
HONORABLE MENTION: We have to make some choice between many interesting games, but we pick Anadolu Efes vs Zalgiris and EA7 Armani Milano vs Olympiacos! After the big win at Vitoria the Turks want to climb at the top of group C standings and be the first team that beats Zalgiris. It will be a real fight, because this season’s version of Zalgiris, made by coach Juan Plaza, is a much better team than those ones of the recent past and can also “bite” when playing away from Kaunas!
The two teams which will compete with Caja Laboral – which will be tested at Zagreb – for two qualification spots also in group C are meeting at Milan. Some from those three will be excluded from Top16. It will be Caja again? It will be EA7 Milano which made it at the last moment last season thanks to a win against Partizan at Belgrade, or the defending champions will crash and burn really early? The result of the game between EA7 Milano and Olympiacos will give us one first answer!
Under the microscope: Trinchieri vs Panigiani
This is strictly an Italian coaching affair. Messina is above both of them, but Pianigiani is the next generation’s most accomplished coach and also the national team’s boss, while Andrea Trinchieri is one of the most talked about names all over the continent. He produces results without having teams with big budget and big talent.
In their duels the last two seasons at the games between Siena and Cantu, Trinchieri’s team fought till the end, being always overmatched. It will be interesting to see what will happen this team, with the odds being again the same and Pianigiani’s Fenerbahce being the favorite over Cantu.
The unkown war: Bourousis vs Olympiacos
That was an easy choice. Greek center Yiannis Bourousis (Milan’s second leading scorer and top rebounder in Euroleague) played five season for Olympiacos, he was loved by his fans but was released from his contract on the summer of 2011.
After doping accusation that never were proved – the player was tested and he was clean – his relation with the team owners, Aggelopoulos bross, deteriorated. The whole scandal started after the publication of a telephone conversation between Bourousis and the president of a football team (it was recorded by the Greek authorities as a part of their investigation for football match fixing) in which the player used a not so flattering adjective for Aggelopoulos. After that, nothing could keep him on the team.
So, the alternative was a new career outside the Greek borders! He signed a two years deal with Milano and now he will meet for the first time since then Olympiacos as an opponent! A big coincidence in a very important game!
The question: Will they stay alive?
Eurohoops have proven that there is hope for teams with a 0-4 record in Euroleague, but they also have to help themselves. Will Cedevita, after blowing a big chance to win at Piraeus, beat Caja Laboral (in a must win game for the Basques) at Zagreb? The same question applies to Partizan. Will the young guns of Vujosevic after their big – but winless – effort at Barcelona prevailed over Brose Baskets, which also needs the win?
And last but not least: How will Panathinaikos react at home against last season’s Eurocup winner Khimki? The Greens lost two straight games by Fenerbahce at Istanbul and by Ikaros BC for the Greek league. They also searching the market for new players, with Hilton Armstrong being at the exit door and Derwin Kitchen also in danger.
Νumbers that count!
- CSKA’s Sonny Weems is the top scorer of the competition with 19.8 ppg after four weeks
- The classic…Fenerbahce’s Bo McCalebb has a streak of 22 Euroleague games with a double digits number of points in the boxscore.
- Maccabi Tel Aviv and Zalgiris Kaunas share the best offense so far with 84.5 ppg.
- Efes‘ Jordan Farmar is the most productive player of the league with an index rating 24.8 and also the incredible 76,9% accuracy on three point shots!!
- Olimpija’s Aron Baynes is the only Euroleague player with three double doubles (in points and rebounds) after four weeks.