By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Euroleague’s regular season ended in spectacular way, however the scheduling issues and the fact that not all the games of each group started on the same day and time left a bad taste. The point however is that after the end of regular season Top16 Group E includes Olympiacos, Fenerbahce/ Ulker, Barcelona, Unicaja, Ea7 Milano, Anadolu Efes, Panathinaikos and Laboral Kutxa. Group F consists of Real Madrid, Maccabi Tel Aviv, CSKA Moscow, Galatasaray, Zalgiris, Partizan, Bayern Munich and Lokomotiv Kuban.
As for Nanterre, Budivelnyk, Brose Baskets, Strasbourg, Siena, Zielona Gora, Crvena Zvezda and Lietuvos Rytas, their European season will continue in Eurocup. So here are our awards, points of interest and of course a big blunder by the league.
He had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. However that’s not the point. Granger made the most important shot of the night (video) which had a bunch of ramifications. First of all Unicaja got the Top16 ticket, but that was not the end of it. With Siena going to Eurocup, Hackett is going to be a resident of Milan and that may even change the fate of his new team in Euroleague. So Jayson Granger, you did it all, just with one shot.
- Justin Dentmon: After a slow start in the season, he proved himself as the leader of Zalgiris Kaunas and despite being already qualified by the half time he killed Brose Baskets with 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
- Jayson Granger: He created his own “shot”
- Bojan Bogdanovic: The “bomber” of Fenerbahce/ Ulker had 20 points against Nanterre in a very important game for Partizan. With this win of the Turkish club in Paris, the Serbs squeezed into Top16 thanks to their road win against Fener last week.
- Stratos Perperoglou: With Printezis missing due to his punishment, the Greek forward excelled as a “4”. He had 23 points against Zielona Gora and in total 66 points in the last 3 regular season game with 12/15 two pointers and 12/15 threes.
- Boban Marjanovic: He left Euroleague with a bang. That is 25 points on 11/13 shots and 11 rebounds against Lietuvos Rytas. Unfortunately for him, it was a game that changed nothing for anyone.
Best losing performance: Premyslav Zamojski
This Euroleague regular season was a learning process for Zielona Gora and Zamojski proved against Olympiacos that he is ready for this level. In 26 minutes he scored 22 points on 6/6 three pointers. Of course, there was no pressure on him, since it was a game that meant nothing in the standings, still his shooting touch against the champs will be something to remember.
Biggest win: Unicaja Malaga
With their back against the wall, coach Plaza’s players survived in the duel with Siena. In theory, even with Goran Dragic missing, Unicaja had more talent and should have produced better basketball, but against a scrappy team like Siena that’s easily said than done. The 64-62 win was ugly, but it gave to the Spaniards a spot in Top16 and a new chance to do better.
Last season’s champions and finalist are still hot. Olympiacos and Real Madrid for the first time in their history ended Euroleague’s regular season without a defeat and they are both the teams to beat in their Top16 groups. So who can stand in their way? It remains to be seen, but we have to remind you that both of them despite their perfect 10-0 run they star Top16 at zero.
The underachiever: Anadolu Efes
After a great start, Anadolu Efes flirted with fire and was saved by a miracle which we will analyze later. Despite the changes in its roster, everyone expected from Efes to be in Top16 and even try to get to the play offs. As it turned out, the suicide of Brose Baskets was the saving grace for the Turks who should present a much more focused unit in the upcoming second phase of the competition. And maybe they will have a new coach.
The disappointment: Brose Baskets
We love the Freak city, but we have to face the fact. The German champions had their luck in their hands, a talented roster, made additions during the season, they were hoping to prove that they are Top16 material, however they failed in the most unexpected way. Their opponents knew at half time that they had qualified, thanks to Real Madrid’s win, Brose Baskets entered the fourth quarter with a 69-60 lead but scored just 11 points and lost the game and the qualification. It can’t get much worse than that.
The last word: The blunder
Brose Baskets’ demise saved Euroleague. We are not exaggerating. Euroleague didn’t do something really basic in any competition. Last week’s games didn’t start at the same day and at the same time, despite in many cases being decisive for the qualification to Top16. It’s the only way to protect the status and the integrity of any professional league, but somehow the organizers managed to make themselves look ugly without winning anything. The excuse that it was a matter of television scheduling is just not enough. Friday’s game between Laboral Kutxa and Lokomotiv Kuban made practically indifferent the result of the game in Athens between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos on Thursday. And the win of Zalgiris Kaunas over Brose Baskets saved the league from the discontent of Anadolu Efes. The game in Istanbul ended during the half time of the match up in Bamberg. Zalgiris would have qualified even without a win and only the Lithuanian pride saved the Turks and the league itself from a parody.