By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The favorites prevailed in every game of the 6th Top16 week, however in most cases they just edged their opponents in the closing minutes. That’s how Barcelona remained unbeaten in Group E (6-0) and there’s still a three way tie on the top of Group F between CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid (5-1).
Defending back to back champions Olympiacos (4-2) has the second place in Group E, while EA7 Milano, Panathinaikos and Unicaja Malaga (3-3) are tied in the third place. Fenerbahce/ Ulker and Anadolu Efes (2-4) are one win behind, followed by Laboral Kutxa (1-5). In Group F, Lokomotiv Kuban is fourth but with a 3-3 record, Galatasaray and Bayern (2-4) share the fifth spot and finally Zalgiris Kaunas and Partizan (1-5) are at the bottom of the standings.
He had the solutions against Panathinaikos defense and he scored 21 points on the way to the big 87-71 win of Unicaja on 5/6 three pointers. It was his greatest Euroleague night so far against a unit that takes pride in keeping every opponent in check. Things may have been different if James Gist was not injured, but still, the way Caner-Medley was shooting, nothing seemed possible to get in his way…
- Sergio Rodriguez: Real was in danger and Sergi was always there with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. He is the brains of the team and it was evident in the 78-74 road win over Lokomotiv Kuban.
- Ricky Hickman: He became a father for the first time and he celebrated with an all around game in the crucial 66-64 win of Maccabi Tel Aviv against Bayern Munich. Ricky had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
- Brad Oleson: In a really close game, he gave Navarro the chance to rest by scoring 17 points, 15 of them in the last quarter and that’s how Barcelona got the 80-70 win over EA7 Milano.
- Nic Caner-Medley: If he continues like this, then Unicaja will have more than a chance for the play offs…
- Nenad Krstic: The Euroleague MVP of January is not cutting speed on February as he was once again unstoppable in CSKA‘s 74-71 win over Galatasaray with 24 points on 11/14 shots.
Best losing performance: Derrick Brown
Brown has already proven that he is a top level player and against Real Madrid he did again. He had a 21 points on 9/17 shots, but it was not enough. However his team, Lokomotiv Kuban tied the game at 74-74 and it was decided in the last minute, so Brown did more than his part on the court. Also Galatasaray’s Ender Arslan did his best with 19 points against CSKA Moscow and deserves at least a mention.
Biggest win: Unicaja Malaga
That’s the way to bounce back after losing at home the quarterfinal of Spanish final eight. Unicaja prevailed over Panathinaikos (87-71), a result that gave confidence to the team, joy to the disappointed fans of Malaga and above everything else translates to a respectable 3-3 record, as the fight for the play offs continues for coach Plaza and his players.
Τhe outbreak: Olympiacos
The Reds spend last weekend by watching Panathinaikos winning the Greek cup. When they returned on the court with Brent Petway being his good old self and the catalyst of the team, they destroyed Anadolu Efes (78-60) and reached four wins in six games.
The underachiever: Panathinaikos
It’s not just that Panathinaikos lost at Malaga. The point is that the Greens had one of their worst defensive games in the season. The 87 points of Unicaja were the most this season by a Panathinaikos’ opponent, the -16 points difference was the biggest and just three offensive rebounds didn’t help either…
The disappointment: Laboral Kutxa
Yes, Laboral Kutxa is plagued by injuries, just ten players were available, however the 1-5 record after the 98-64 defeat by equally injury riddled Fenerbahce/ Ulker is cold hard fact. It’s not good to point fingers, but a player who is almost cut by the team, Walter Hodge, being used for 30 minutes is a non understandable coaching decision.
Consolation: Zalgiris Kaunas
Zalgiris got its first win in Top16 this season over Partizan (89-77) and that doesn’t change much the fate of both teams, as they have a 1-5 record, injury issues while Lavrinovic left Kaunas due to financial problems. We hope to see a change in the near future, as both teams have the tradition, the fans, the gyms and the only thing they are missing is a stable financial environment.
The last word: “Eternals” in Euroleague
Olympiacos and Panathinaikos are called “Eternals” in Greece, as in eternal rivals. Next week those two teams will face each other for the eighth time in their European history. We have a lot to write until then and we just can’t wait to do it…