By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
Ten games are left for the end of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season and things are already really tense. Time is running up and while some teams like Crvena Zvezda are on the rise, others like Barcelona are in trouble.
After the end of Friday’s games, CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid are sharing the top of the standings with a 15-5 record. Olympiacos is left alone at the third place (14-6), while Fenerbahce is fourth one step behind the Reds (13-7). Baskonia and Crvena Zvezda follow at 12-8, Panathinaikos is 7th (11-9) and Dogus Darussafaka has the last spot of the top8 (10-10). The race behind them is still open, but Barca is two wins behind them, because of this guy.
He delivered on the road and was the first among equals in the win of Baskonia against Barcelona with 18 points, 5 assists, 4 steals and also 3 turnovers. Larkin is emerging as the most important player at least in the offensive end for the club from Vitoria and his game against former Final Four MVP Tyrese Rice was one more proof not only of his quality, but probably also for things to come.
- Shane Larkin: He came with high ambitions in Europe and he is on the right path.
- Sergio Llull: He missed many shots (6/17) but he was still the top scorer of Real Madrid with 20 points and the top passer with 9 assists in the hard win over EA7 Emporio Armani Milano.
- Jan Vesely: He was everywhere in Fenerbahce‘s win over Galatasaray, finishing the game with 20 points (8/9 2p. 4/6 FT) and 7 rebounds.
- Khem Birch: He had his best game yet in EuroLeague as Olympiacos finally beat its nemesis, Brose Baskets. The Canadian big man had 15 points and 14 rebounds, a career high.
- Ognjen Kuzmic: Playing against his former team, Panathinaikos, he dominated the paint in one more Crvena Zvezda win with 10 points (4/6 2p. 2/3 FT) and 14 rebounds
Best losing performance: Thomas Heurtel
CSKA Moscow playing for the second streight game without Milos Teodosic managed to get the win over Anadolu Efes which was led by the French guard. Thomas Heurtal finished the game with 24 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and just 1 turnover. Considering the fact that the game was played on the road, those numbers are not bad at all.
Coach of the week: Sarunas Jasikevicius
Yes, he was here just two days ago. Saras’ team after two wins over Darussafaka Dogus on the road and CSKA Moscow at home is back in the playoffs race. Of course the Lithuanian club with a 8-12 record has a lot of ground to cover, but they got a fighting chance after beating the defending champs and the team of coach David Blatt who was oudueled by Jasikevicius.
Biggest win: Baskonia
It was a do or die game for both teams and Barcelona was in dire need for a win. However, Baskonia which was coming from three defeats, prevailed on the road and stayed tied with Crvena Zvezda at the fifth spot of the standings. Not only that, but the players of coach Sito Alonso kept Barca two wins away from the playoffs, so things couldn’t be better for them and probably for the rest of the clubs who are flirting with the home court advantage and don’t like the idea of playing against Barcelona in the playoffs.
Last word: Torture
Maccabi Tel Aviv managed to get a win over Unics Kazan, however this was the first game this season that didn’t hold any interest for the neutral fan. It was ugly and didn’t mean much in the big picture. That’s why it’s a success for the new EuroLeague format. that the first such game was played at the end of the two thirds of the regular season.