By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
We are already at the 6th week of Euroleague’s regular season and at this point of the competition things are starting to get complicated. There aren’t any excuses. Just five games are left in order to be decided which team will advance to Τop16 and at this point only few of them can feel safe about their future in the league.
In essence, no game from now on will be without interest in any of the four groups. Teams with great tradition have their backs on the wall, they need wins and they are in do or die situation. Panathinaikos, EA7 Milano, Caja Laboral, Siena, even Euroleague champion Olympiacos still have a long way to go in order to qualify.
The only safe conclusion for Euroleague 2012-13 so far is that Zalgiris Kaunas is the hottest team, but there are a lot of other contenders which still doesn’t have consistency in their performance and that makes Euroleague more competitive that ever!
Eurohoops game of the week: Caja Laboral – Olympiacos
Eurohoops chooses this time the game at Vitoria and there is a simple reason for that. The team of Dusko Ivanovic for the first time in its history didn’t qualify to Top16 last season and now faces the same danger for the second year in a row!
After losing to Cedevita, the Basques have a 1-4 record and they still don’t have a win at “Fernando Buesa Arena”. If they can’t prevailed in their home gym over Olympiacos, it will be difficult for them to recover. The irony is that the Reds and Caja were also on the same regular season group last season. Caja was considered a favorite, but shockingly the team missed the Top16, Olympiacos got the qualification by tooth and claw and some months latter even more shockingly won the Euroleague title. In the opening game of the season between the two teams, the Reds have won 85-81.
HONORABLE MENTION: The two teams with the most titles in European basketball history meet again! Panathinaikos (6) hosts Real Madid (8) in Athens. The Greens have already lost at home by Khimki and for the first time in their Euroleague history they have to fight in order to qualify to Top16. Panathinaikos needs the win and on the same time will follow closely the game at Ljubljana where Cantu will try to get its first road win.
Real is in a much better condition, has a quality roster, but Panathinaikos really needs the win, much, much more than the Spaniards. The performance of Diamantidis and Shortsanitis will be the key for them. “Big Sofo” had scored 23 points in Madrid, but he must stay clear of foul trouble. He has an projected average of 15 fouls in 40 minutes!
Under the microscope: Sergio Scariolo
The coach of EA7 Armani Milano Sergio Scariolo really is under the microscope. The Italian coach is in a really hard place. After a 3-4 record in Italian league – with two home losses – and a 2-3 record in Euroleague, not only his team will have to fight in order to qualify to Top16, but he is also under close surveillance by the front office and some say that he has a 30 days ultimatum in order to turn things around.
In the first game of the season, Milan beat Efes by shooting 15/28 three point shots. Can they do it again in Istanbul, against the host team that was beaten last week at Kaunas and wants to rebound? Efes needs the win and if that happens, then Milan will have a 2-4 record and already eight losses in the season, much too early and Scariolo could be left soon without any more chances to prove himself…
The question: Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown was Euroleague’s MVP for two straight weeks, as the league has decided to give the award completely based on the index rating of each gameday. On the contrary we decided in Eurohoops to use more criteria and back up with arguments, like the importance of each game and the level of the opponent, our choice, that’s why Marko Popovic was our last week MVP and Vasilis Spanoulis was chosen as the best shooting guard. B ut the official award is given by Euroleague and the question for Brown is if he will have again a top level performance against his old team (Alba Berlin) in order to became the first player in Euroleague’s history who will win three weekly MVP awards in a row!
Numbers that count!
- The streak was finally broken at Cantu! After 22 straight Euroleague games, Fenerbahce/ Ulker’s Bo McCalebb couldn’t score in double figures last week.
- Barcelona has by far the best defense in the league and lets its opponents score just 62,2 ppg.
- In his last 41 Euroleague games Zalgiris‘ Marco Popovic only once didn’t make at least one three pointer.
- Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos shoots from the three points line with a 75% percentage, surpassing Anadolu Efes‘s Jordan Farmar.