By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The double-round week in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague came to an end with a number of close games which brought to light stellar performances by the players. Round 15 was, perhaps, the best so far when it comes to the number of big individual displays.
However, one tops it all…
MVP: Mike James
Mike James was the EuroLeague’s MVP for the last week and he will in all likelihood be receiving the honors once again as he slowly but surely establishes himself as the frontrunner for the most valuable player this season.
His latest piece came in CSKA Moscow‘s win over Zenit Saint Petersburg with James logging 20 points on 6-10 from two and 2-4 from three while also dishing seven assists, grabbing four rebounds and stealing the ball four times.
Mike James: The Natural.
Ioannis Papapetrou: Panathinaikos needed to bounce back from a heartbreaking overtime loss and Papapetrou took matters into his hands with season-high 22 points.
Guerschon Yabusele: ASVEL found itself down against Khimki in the first half but Yabusele embodied the grit, leading his squad to a comeback win with 20 points, five boards, three steals and two blocks.
Jalen Reynolds: Bayern’s big man put on 21 points and 8-11 shooting while adding nine rebounds for 29 PIR.
Coach of the Round: Pablo Laso
Real Madrid has been a really peculiar team this season when it comes to the way they outplay the opponents. They are a very experienced squad and their main qualities show through in the final minutes of a duel or they grab a crucial moment beforehand to break the opponent. All they need is a few minutes.
This week, they went on a trip to Greece and had to go through both Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. They won both, and both came after overtime(s). Four straight wins for the ‘Whites’ and nine out of ten last EuroLeague games after a slow start to the season.
It may be an experienced bunch but the coach gets huge credit in this case, especially for putting the team in the best possible position to win in the close finishes and doing it despite the changes to the roster midseason.
Fenerbahce‘s free fall
There’s a number of teams struggling currently results wise but it seems that none do as much as Fenerbahce BEKO (and Khimki Moscow).
The Turkish team started the season quite solid, however, they, it seems abruptly out of nowhere, started falling. And falling. Deeper into a dark hole. They’ve lost seven of their eight last games and the losing streak somehow coincided with the injury of Nando De Colo.
While not having De Colo is certainly a handicap, there can be no excuse for the lack of engagement on the court and giving up prematurely. Fener has been losing the games by more than 20 points on average and the return of De Colo didn’t change anything. Their latest loss came this week to Zalgiris as the Lithuanian demolished Fener by a 37-point margin.
A coaching change would traditionally be on its way, if taken into consideration the past season of EuroLeague teams, but the clubs seem to be more tolerant due to the pandemic-induced challenges. Or warier this due to tighter budgets and unpredictable future.
One of the moves Fener is hoping will lift the team back up is the signing of Marko Guduric. Sometimes, one ‘small’ change is all that’s needed…