By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 20 encounter of the two teams leading the standings produced a clear winner highlighting the bottom end of the double-game week. Back in Moscow to face CSKA Moscow as a visitor for the second time following his four-year stint with the Russian powerhouse, Cory Higgins shaped up a solid outing for depleted FC Barcelona en route to earning our MVP of the Week award.
MVP: Cory Higgins
The former CSKA star, two-time EuroLeague champion, in his first Moscow visit scored 17 points but was overshadowed by Nikola Mirotic’s game-winning and playoff-clinching effort. Those playoffs were not meant to be, but nearly a year forward with Mirotic among teammates sidelined, Higgins reset his season-high at 25 points for yet another “W” at the Russian capital. Barca packing the tiebreaking advantage and awaiting returning players is now just one win behind CSKA and looking great.
1. Shane Larkin: A game-high 25 PIR in a balanced offensive showing for Anadolu Efes lands him among our picks.
2. Cory Higgins: Our MVP highlighted the battle of the top 2020-21 teams.
3. Marko Guduric: Fenerbahce Beko has vastly improved since his return and his game-high 18 points inspired a fifth win in a row.
4. Guerschon Yabusele: The French power forward neared his EuroLeague-high stopping at 19 points and sending LDLC ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne to a win in Greece.
5. Edy Tavares: He dominated the paint at the Audi Dome piling up 26 points in the overtime win for Real Madrid.
Coach of the week: Ettore Messina
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milano finished last week with a historic win against Real Madrid but got stuck in the Spanish capital due to weather. Nevertheless, they managed to beat Valencia at home shortly after finally returning to Italy and went on for an away win over ALBA Berlin Thursday. Head coach Ettore Messina focused on keeping his players fresh through unexpected issues and was rewarded with his team remaining on track for the long-awaited playoffs berth.
Maybe too late for Khimki
Khimki Moscow Region off a 12-game losing streak parted ways with head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis. Andrey Maltsev was named interim head coach taking on the challenging task of motivating his players to fight back in a season that seems past the point of saving. Talentwise the Russian club certainly deserves better than its current 2-18 record.