By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
Four games into the season and three teams are leading the way unbeaten so far. Fenerbahce/ Ulker in Group A, Real Madrid in Group B and Olympiacos in Group C are still perfect, while in Group D Maccabi Tel Aviv and Lokomotiv Kuban with a 3-1 record are tied in the top spot.
However with six more games to go into the regular season, nothing is yet set on stone and anything can happen, so expect a lot more to came as teams are responding to pressure, changes are made and stars are rising up to the challenge. Like one great player did in Barcelona…
The 79-70 win of Barcelona over CSKA Moscow is a direct result of one more big night by Juan Carlos Navarro. In 25 minutes he scored 20 points on 5/5 free throws, 3/4 two pointers, 3/5 three pointers and also had 3 assists and 2 rebounds. The blow to the Russians was devastating and no one could stop the natural leader of Barca.
- DeMarcus Nelson: He was the key in the first win of Crvena Zvezda (73-63) in the current form of Euroleague with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists on the road against Laboral Kutxa
- Juan Carlos Navarro: He was the MVP in the biggest game of the week.
- Rudy Fernandez: One more great game with 24 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 1 rebound and 5/9 threes on the road against Strasbourg (85-66)
- Emir Preldzic: Yes, Bogdanovic was hot with 26 points, but Emir is by far the most important player of Fenerbahce, having played 35 minutes and finishing with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists in the 88-78 road win over Partizan.
- Pops Mensah Bonsu: Welcome back! He and Erwin Dudley (21 p.) did the damage for Galatasaray in the road win over Zielona Gora (78-75) however Pops not only had 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals, but also made the 2 free throws that decided the game.
Best losing performance: Martynas Gecevicius
He did his best with 24 points on 5/10 three pointers, with the last of them tying the game against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last seconds. Then Tyrese Rice made the game winner, the Israelis beat Lietuvos Rytas (76-74) and “Gece” couldn’t finish the job. Also the French front line of Partizan’s Joffrey Lauvergne (20 p., 10 r.) and Strasbourg’s Alexis Ajinca (23 p., 8 r.) had great nights in games that didn’t had such a close outcome.
The biggest win: Barcelona
Both teams wanted the win in order to get over their latest bad results, Barca was in the worst position after losing at home to Nanterre and being the host with its back against the wall reacted. However the final result and the 79-70 win of the Catalans against CSKA Moscow has to do mostly with one person, the MVP of the game, Juan Carlos Navarro.
The surprise: Nanterre
Second straight win for the French champions who had active for the first time this season their last year MVP David Lighty. The final 80-61 result over Budivelnik was product of a team effort with Jekel Foster in his last game with the team being more than positive.
The underachiever: CSKA Moscow
Four mediocre games and a 2-2 record is a bad way to start the season if you are a perennial powerhouse aiming for the Euroleague title, despite the fact that the Russians will be waiting in Moscow both Fenerbahce/ Ulker and Barcelona in the second round. Still, CSKA at this point is tied with Nanterre and that’s not what we expected to see, not even in such an early stage.
Back on track: Bayern Munich
After losing on the road to Olympiacos, Bayern beat by 14 points an established Euroleague team like Unicaja (82-68) and with a 3-1 record has the second place in Group C standings. Not bad for a wildcard newcomer.
The disappointment: Siena
For the second straight week we have the Italian champions in this spot. Together with Strasbourg they are the only two teams with no wins after four gamedays. However, the fact that against Olympiacos, an opponent that Siena have tortured many times in the past, the team of coach Crespi couldn’t give a real fight this time, is a sign of making backward steps. The Reds got the 70-62 win without having not even one double digits scorer.
The last word: Simon’s shot
After having 1/15 threes in the season, the Croatian forward took the last shot of the game Panathinaikos vs Lokomotiv Kuban and gave the 72-69 win to the Russians. That big shot also solve one other problem, as the previous basket made by Dimitris Diamantidis which tied the game (69-69) was counted as a three despite being clearly a two pointer.