By Panos Katsiroubas/ email@example.com
What a week it was in Euroleague! Zoc returned in Athens to face his former team Panathinaikos, big games took place, teams stayed alive and some others committed suicide. Let’s have a closer look to this week’s games under the Magnifying glass
The perfect game!!
It was clash of the Titans in Madrid with Real hosting CSKA in the battle of first place in Froup F’s standings. The Spanish team played a perfect game and not only won, but also tied its defeat at Moscow with a point difference of 14 points. What made this game perfect for Real Madrid? ONLY ΤWO TURNOVERS! This number is unreal if we understand the rhythm and the pace of the game of Madrid. They played a very uptempo game once more having almost 80 possessions, that makes only 1 turnover in 40 possessions an all time record in Euroleague, while at the same time the ratio assist/ turnovers was 10, with 19 assist compared to 2 turnovers.
If we add the extra 7 offensive rebounds that Madrid grabbed we have a total number of 18 extra possessions which in a close game like that were more than crucial. This is the main reason that Real Madrid scored almost 100 points again, even agaimst a team with great defenders like Khryapa, Hines and Kaun and also players who can press the ball well like Aaron Jackson and Weems.
Another key to the Spanish win was that the four guards Real used in the three perimeter positions, played tremendously well. They managed to withstand the press, they created for their teammaes and scored many important points. Rudy and Llull played more than 32 minutes, while Sergio and Darden contributed also for almost 118 minutes of the 120 of action in the positions between 1 and 3.
Rudy was the MVP of the game, but almost every one else helped in scoring and creations, specially Sergio Rodriguez who dishing 8 assists. Even though the injuries of Carroll and Draper changed the rotation in the guards, Madrid seems to adapt perfect in this game. However this must continue also in the future as Coach Laso does not seem eager to use Mirotic as a small forward even for small parts of the game.
Greens prevailed in Obradovic emotional comeback!
It was an emotional night in Athens for Zelimir Obradovic and Panathinaikos fans who had in store a very warm welcome to the coach that lead their team in five European titles the last 14 years. Despite the emotional part of the game, it was also a very important clash for both teams in their battle for a spot in the play offs. Panathinaikos got a very important win and the Greens in our opinion played their best 30 minutes in the competition between the 5th and 35th minute of that game.
In this part of the game, Panathinaikos was almost perfect and different from what the team used to be. The main differences were three. Panathinaikos had a lot of movement in the offense without the ball. We saw many off the ball screens and everyone was moving in the attacking plays. Secondly we saw a lot of times the Greens trying to have a transition game and in this part Zach Wright is very important. He can run the court after the defensive rebound and either finish to the basket or create open shots opportunities for other players.
Finally we saw the guards of Panathinaikos try to penetrate and attack to the basket scoring a lot by penetrations and also drawing fouls from their opponents defense. Diamantidis, Wright and Ukic together contributed for 18 fouls drawn. Also the Greens played wonderful defense in the post, stopping all the guards and forwards of Fener that have a post-up game. Specially Batiste filled perfectly the void of Gist in all the screen changes and protected the basket from penetrations.
We have to add on top of all this the great game of Mike Bramos who executed perfect in his role and gave Panathinaikos another very big weapon in order to win this game, covering also the absence of Curry, another great shooter of the Greeks.
From the other side Fenerbahce appeared again with chemistry problems and the main issue in games like that is the creation of the guards. They are all excellent scorers, but really the only player that can create for his teammates is Preldzic. He is the only player who can pass well in pick’ n’roll plays, something that McCalebb is not capable of doing. Mc Calebb didn’t found access to Panathinaikos basket with his penetrations and in 25 minutes he had only one assist. The talent is huge in this team but only the talent is not enough even though they are the favorites of going through to the quarterfinals, because of their easy schedule.
The “Juan Carlos” Arroyo show!!
Galatasaray continues to impress and after their road win in Krasnodar against Lokomotiv, they also won the big derby for the 4th position in Group F against Bayern Munich. Defense was the weapon of the Turkish team once again, as they kept their opponents below 70 points for a second game in a row.
In this part of the game the player that controlled everything was Mensah Bonsu who had 6 blocks and was the main reason of the protection of the Turkish paint. In the attacking end it was all “Juan Carlos” Arroyo! The star from Puerto Rico contributed half of his team’s points as he scored 16 and dished 11 assists. Most importantly, he had the control of the tempo giving his team transition whenever that was possible or stopping and playing a set game when his team was leading and control was the main thing needed at that time. He was the real conductor for his team and he let it all in the court, all of his talent and personality, for one more game.
Bayern had problems in creativity with Malcolm Delaney scoring a lot, but having the same number of assists and turnovers. Galatasaray was successful on putting press in Delaney and forced him not to take the ball as much as he wanted it. He is the barometer of his team and without his leadership in both scoring and creating it was not so easy for the Germans to win in Istanbul.
The must-win situations and the suicide!
Milano won a very important game against Efes in Italy that almost gives them 1 of the top 4 spots in group E and the qualification for the playoffs. They had their leader, and in our opinion MVP of the Top16 out of the game and also for all the remaining games of the second phase due to injury, so it was important to show that they can win without him.
They faced a lot of problems in the offensive end, something normal when the team misses almost 19 points and all the spaces that Keith Langford creates for others, but in the end they were too tough and had made some big shots especially from Jerrells in the 4th quarter. The help of Samardo Samuels was more than big, a player that improved very much in the 2nd round of the Top 16 with a double/ double in points and rebounds and also it was the second game in a row in which Alessandro Gentile had a very good offensive game.
In Malaga took place another “civil war” between Malaga and Barcelona with the team from Andalucía needeiong desperately a win against Barca which didn’t have strong motivation for the win, since the top spot is all but secured in Group E. However, despite the motivation aspect, Barcelona won easily in Malaga by controlling the tempo and playing great defense while their front court was really dominating with Tomic, Lorbek and Nachbar combining for 40 points and 19 rebounds.
Barcelona used all its 12 players and 11 of them, with the exception of Lampe who played 8 minutes, staying 10 or more minutes on the court,something that only few team can do in Euroleague. Malaga had a bad offensive game and at this time seems to miss a lot their top scorer Caner Medley. The two most important games for the team from Andalucía are ahead as they host Olympiakos next week and then travel to Athens to face Panathinaikos one week later.
The comeback of the MVP
Olympiakos was back in a winning mode after four straight defeats but the biggest event of this game was the return of the captain of the Reds Vassilis Spanoulis. This comeback also reinstated balance in the backcourt of Olympiakos. Spanoulis played well his role as a scorer and the focal point of any opponents, Sloukas and Mantzaris had more spaces, and the second one had a great game with 5 points, 8 rebound and 9 assists.
Lojeski was back in the small forward position and showed again something that we repeat. the last weeks. He is a small forward with specific aspects in his game and not a guard. Papapetrou and Katsivelis stepped also on the court for a lot of time in this game and showed that the team can count on them. Olympiakos’ defense did also a fantastic job against Pleiss with Dunston and Petway being impressive in the double teams and also in covering all the spaces in the defensive end of the Reds.
There were also two more or less same games with both favorites having trouble and one of them committing suicide and by result losing all hopes that had for a home court advantage in play offs.
Lokomotiv Kuban won in dramatic way at Kaunas against Zalgiris even though in the start of the 4th quarter they were ahead by 13 points. They stopped Dentmon who had a career low in Euroleague, but the Germans had all short of problems created from the other players. In the end the difference was one missed layup from Pocius and a missed three pointer by Saras in the buzzer. Derrick Brown and Richard Hendrix were impressive for Loko with 15 points each adding 9 and 8 rebounds.
Here is Belgrade folks!
Maccabi lost a game during which the Israelis were in control during the first three periods. In the last period they were outscored 25-13 and Partizan got in impressive win at home, the second big home win against one of the top teams of the group after their triumph against CSKA. This win is bigger if we add the fact that the Serbian team played without Tarence Kinsey.
Partizan got help from all the weapons they have, Bogdanovic, Tepic, Pavlovic, Lauvergne and Musli who had his best game so far in Euroleague. The main cause for this defeat for Maccabi was that they didn’t have not even one backcourt player in a good day. If we exclude Tyus and Schortsianitis all the other players who operate mainly in the perimeter had 16/48 field goals and a very poor for away game 33%.