By Antigoni Zachari / firstname.lastname@example.org
The first leg of this week’s action is complete with Anadolu Efes enjoying the top of standings alone (20-3) and at a safe distance after defeating CSKA in Moscow. Two Spanish rivals are at a tie for the second position, as both Real Madrid and Barcelona enjoyed respective victories to improve to a 17-6 record. CSKA is staying close to the top pack with a 16-7 record, with Maccabi monitoring closely (15-8).
With nearly all games ending with a 10-point deficit or less, quality is a huge factor as we’re heading into the last 10 games of the regular season.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona
Mirotic held Barcelona’s luck on his hands as he went to the free-throw line, to either win it for Barcelona or send the game against Valencia to overtime. Indeed, Mirotic succeded, handing Barcelona a tough victory in La Fonteta. He finished the game with a total of 26 points, four rebounds, two assists for a PIR of 32 and helped his team remain at the top-tier of the standings behind Efes.
Eurohoops Best Five
- Shane Larkin: He paced Efes with 23 points and 4 assists in Moscow, helping the team register its 20th win.
- Kevin Punter: A nerve-wracking finale and a morale-boosting victory for Zvezda, led by his 24 points vs Panathinaikos.
- Marcus Eriksson: His 22 points vs Olimpia Milano helped ALBA Berlin stir up trouble once again in the standings.
- Nikola Mirotic: Our well-deserved MVP of the round
- Adreian Payne: The ASVEL big man had one of his most productive evenings in this season with 15 points, 8 rebounds and a steal for a PIR of 20 in his team’s triumph over Bayern.
Coach of the round: Ergin Ataman
First victory in Moscow in 21 years for Efes and their first one in nearly eight years, this is a pretty huge deal for coach Ergin Ataman and the team. Adding up to that, Efes seems invincible at this point of the season and it would be safe to say that they are setting the foundations to finish the regular season at the top of the standings. An overall impressive course so far, for which Ataman deserves a lot of credit.
The big issue: Maccabi’s comeback
Feisty Khimki put on a challenge for Maccabi on Wednesday, though Elijah Bryant was there to save the day for the Israeli team in crunch time. Maccabi covered the first-half deficit and turned the game into a derby in the second, finally grabbing a much-needed victory in order to remain safe – so far – into the playoffs race.