By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The first round of Euroleague’s regular season ended with a bang! Three teams are left unbeaten, the impressive duo of Real Madrid and Fenerbahce/ Ulker and survivor Olympiacos, three teams won thanks to a buzzer beater, again Olympiacos, Siena – the Italians first win for the season – and Lokomotiv Kuban, and only one team, Strasbourg is still left without a win after losing in the last game of Friday night to EA7 Milano.
In Group A, Fenerbahce (5-0), while Barcelona (3-2) and CSKA Moscow (3-2) follow. In Group B ,the situation is similar with Real Madrid (5-0), Anadolu Efes (3-2) and EA7 Milano (3-2). In Group C, Olympiacos is on top (5-0) and there is a tie between Galatasaray (3-2) and Bayern Munich (3-2) and in Group D, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Lokomotiv Kuban are tied on the top (4-1), having a clear advantage over Panathinaikos (2-3), Laboral Kutxa (2-3) and Crvena Zvezda (2-3) which beat in a do or die game Lietuvos Rytas.
So let’s elaborate on what happened this week.
He had 19 points on 7/14 shots, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and the winning buzzer beater three in the 85-84 win of Lokomotiv Kuban over Laboral Kutxa. It doesn’t get a lot better than that. In the case of Simon that’s half true, since this is his second buzzer beater winning shot this season, after executing Panathinaikos on the road also with a three. Yes, that’s MVP stuff.
- Justin Dentmon: His first great Euroleague game was a fact in the 91-81 win of Zalgiris over Brose Baskets. In 27 minutes he had 24 points on 6/6 threes and also 9 assist, 2 rebounds and 2 steals. A really impressive performance
- Daniel Hacket: He delivered 19 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in the 75-73 win of Siena – the first of the season – over Unicaja which kept the Italian hopes for Top16 alive.
- Krunoslav Simon: Will anyone leave him open again for the last shot?
- Giorgos Printezis: He was a big part in one more Olympiacos come back with 21 points (7/10 2p., 2/4 3p.) and 7 rebounds. His three in the last minute was also very important in the 79-77 win.
- Pops Mensah Bonsu: In record time he became the best player of Galatasaray, having 19 points and 13 rebounds in the 84-74 win of his team over Bayern Munich.
Best losing performance: Ali Traore
Unbeaten Fenerbahce got the 83-66 win against Nanterre but the French center proved that he is finally his old self after a troubled season because of injuries, by scoring 20 points on 25 minutes on 9/12 shots. His performance was great and kept Nanterre into the game until the last quarter.
The biggest win: Real Madrid
Against the second best team of their group, last season’s finalists got a 46 points win (103-57) over Anadolu Efes. So what else can you say? Every player of coach Laso’s roster scored, while Sergio Rodriguez is already making a case for being a part of the All Euroleague team. Losing coach Oktay Mahmuti said after the game: “My duty is to prepare my players to face this kind of games, but nothing went well on the court. I have been coaching for many years and I understand that losing games is part of life, but the attitude we had on the court tonight was a whole different thing”. Still, against Real Madrid nothing goes well for anyone else.
The explosion: CSKA Moscow
After a series of mediocre games the “Army team” destroyed Partizan (88-46) in Moscow. It was also a game where some things changed. Nenad Krstic was absent once more due to a knee injury, while Milos Teodosic played only 13 minutes, without scoring. So who create for their teammates? Sonny Weems who had 18 points and 8 assist and also Viktor Khryapa who had 4 assists in the first half.
The underachiever: Olympiacos
Yes, the defending champs are unbeaten, yes they have their way of making come backs and winning games, but when you are playing with fire you will eventually burn. It’s a nice story to win on the last shot of the usually unsung defensive hero Mantzaris, but the 79-77 win against newcomers in the league Zielona Gora proves that the Reds have a lot to improve in order to be ready for Top16, when their opponents will have more quality and experience.
The disappointment: Panathinaikos
You have to give credit to Maccabi Tel Aviv for its 75-68 win, however Panathinaikos had a really mediocre game. The Greeks were shooting so bad, that despite a 10 rebounds advantage against the Israelis, couldn’t be competitive until the end. Their offensive game seems based on threes and during an off shooting night (7/29), they didn’t found any other alternative option.
The last word: Andres Nocioni
The worst news for Laboral Kutxa in Krasnodar was not the 85-84 defeat by Lokomotiv Kuban, but the knee injury of Andres Nocioni. The team from Vitoria already has or had problems with Hanga, San Emeterio, Mainoldi, Heurtel, Causer and Hamlton, signed three different players (Kelati, Kaukenas and Clark) as temporarily replacements, however Nocioni is suffering just from a a mild sprained ligament in his left knee, so the situation is not that bad as it seemed at first.