By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Can it get any better? The play offs are near and with the exception of Real Madrid which not only secured its place in the next round, but also is the favorite for the top of Group E, no other spot seems decided.
Real leads at 9-1, Barcelona follows (7-3), Maccabi Tel Aviv is third (6-4), Panathinaikos fourth (5-5), Zalgiris Kaunas and Alba Berlin are hunting the Greens, having both a 4-6 record, Crvena Zvezda is right behind (3-7) and Galatasaray is left at 2-8.
In Group F, there’s a tie on the top between Fenerbahce/ Ulker, CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos at 8-2, Anadolu Efes and Laboral Kutxa are also tied at 4-6, Nizhny Novgorod and EA7 Milano can also hope (3-7) and Unicaja last with a 2-8 record
You may call him soft, accuse him that he doesn’t make a difference in the Final Fours – at least yet – but Tomic is the best center in Europe. Even with the great progress of Boban Marjanovic, Tomic is much more complete and well rounded as a player, as his 16 points on 100% shooting, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal against the defending champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv, prove beyond any doubt. He led Barcelona against the team of an other great Croatian center, former player and current Maccabi’s manager, Nikola Vujcic.
- Milos Teodosic: Yes he is having probably his best Euroleague season and he is playing for the MVP award. He had 20 points on 5/8 threes and 9 assists in the big win of CSKA over Anadolu Efes.
- Jaka Blazic: Galatasaray is not at this point the strongest possible opponent, but Blazic had 19 points on 8/11 shots in 25 minutes of action for Crvena Zvezda. Not bad at all.
- Nemanja Bjelica: We can use him also as a small forward. After all he did almost everything for Fenerbahce with 16 points on 3/4 threes and 9 rebounds.
- Trey Thompkins: A double double (22 p. 10 r.), 7/13 shots in a win for Nizhny that still has a no-surrender mentality. Thompkins once more proved that he is a key part of this miracle-season.
- Ante Tomic: He was just amazing.
The best losing performance: Nikos Pappas
He exploded for 21 points on 8/10 shots on the road. Still the player who seems destined to be one of the future leaders of the Greek team couldn’t save the Greens from defeat in Kaunas. However there’s still a question about Pappas, the consistency of his game, but that performance was one more sign of things to come.
The biggest win: Fenerbahce/ Ulker
Fenerbahce/ Ulker is playing better on the road and that’s how the Turks are now the leaders of their group, having the tie breaking advantage over Olympiacos and CSKA Moscow thanks to two road wins. The triumph over the Reds came much more easier than in Moscow, however the point for Fenerbahce is that now the team can define its own fate and get the home court advantage for the play offs.
The hosts: Real Madrid
They became the first team which secured a play offs spot, Rudy Fernandez got his February MVP award and got an easy win over Alba. Anyone thinking already about the Final Four?
The underachiever: Panathinaikos
Just two weeks ago the Greens had their luck in their hand in order to finish even on the second spot of their group. After two losses, however, to Barcelona at home and to Zalgiris on the road, they have to fight for a place in the play offs. It’s the beauty of the Top16, but it’s also a reason for discontent in Athens.
The last word: D’ Antoni’s night
The jersey with the number 8 of Mike D’ Antoni is retired by EA7 Milano and a circle seems now completed. For the average US basketball fan, D’ Antoni is a coach that loves to play uptempo. For Europeans, however, he is also part of the great legacy that Tracer – the name of the sponsor at the time – Milano left. A team of Euroleague back to back champions in 1987 and 1988 and a roster that included also an other very familiar name in the US, NBA champion, both as player and as an assistant coach, Bob McAdoo.
|EA7 Milano||90 – 86||Unicaja Malaga|
|Zalgiris||76 – 70||Panathinaikos|
|CSKA Moscow||88 – 83||Anadolu Efes|
|Olympiacos||64 – 73||Fenerbahce|
|Nizhny Novgorod||89 – 85||Laboral Kutxa|
|Real Madrid||93 – 62||Alba Berlin|
|F.C. Barcelona||89 – 71||Maccabi Tel Aviv|
|Galatasaray MP||68 – 91||Crvena Zvezda T.|