By Panos Katsiroubas email@example.com
The biggest competition in European Basketball opened its doors for the new season this week with 24 participant teams in total. From this side of the web we will have an inside look in the most important games of every week and analyze almost every contest of this season. And that’s what we going to do from the get go, as even in the first gameday some really important things happened on the courts.
Huge win for the reds in a battle!
The game between Valencia and Olympiacos was one of the most important and competitive of this first week. Olympiacos got the road win after a real dogfight. Both teams had important absences with Valencia missing its best finisher after pick and roll and also a good pivot player Bojan Dubljevic. Olympiacos on the other side traveled to Spain without their best post player Giorgos Printezis and also without injured small forwards Darden and Papapetrou. The game was a real battle with both defenses playing very important role, but in the end the Reds prevailed mainly because of two facts.
The first one was the use of “small ball”. Without Darden and Papapetrou and with Petway, as the only “real” PF, playing more than 30 minutes, coach Tomic used Matt Lojeski as a power forward in order to open the Spanish defense and create space for one on one situations and open shoots. This was effective in the end of the game, Lojeski scored huge buckets, Spanoulis and Sloukas found room to penetrate and create plays for others. Valencia didn’t have a defensive answer against this kind of game by Olympiacos.
The second reason was Dwight Buycks’ lack of European basketball experience. He is a real talented player but he needs to learn how to play in a more European way. Valencia had created a lot of miss-matches because Olympiacos’ defence decided to switch in every screen. Buycks didn’t read well all these miss-matches and preferred to finish with individual plays. In 18 minutes he took 11 shots and in many of them there were clearly better options for him which he either didn’t recognized, or he ignored. In our opinion Valencia will only play better during the season and they will be very difficult opponents for every team
The Boban show!
In a full Belgrade Arena, Red Star beat with unexpected ease Galatasaray, a team with a deep and very talented roster. This was the day of Boban Marjanovic. The Serbian giant controlled totally the paint both in offense and defense. He scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while he didn’t let anybody step in the Serbian paint and finish plays with easy baskets.
The main characteristic of Red Star this year will be toughness and strength in the defensive end. This team consists of great individual defenders with good bodies like Blazic, Kalinic, Jovic, and Mitrovic. Those players can press on the ball with tons of energy and they don’t let the opponents play out their game.
Carlos Arroyo was the first star player that felt this pressure in the game. The Serbian team allowed 48 points after 30 minutes and had a 18 point lead in the beginning of the 4th quarter. The job was already done by this point.
Galatasaray faced a lot of issues in their offensive game. Most of them appeared because the team has not yet achieved the desirable chemistry. The Turkish roster has huge offensive talent but needs to find the roles in their game and have better cooperation between the players. We are sure that they will appear better in due time.
Good start for Duda and Efes Anadolu!
Anadolu Efes started the season with a win against Unics Kazan. It was a well-deserved victory for the Turkish side that controlled the game in the first 30 minutes. Efes used a balanced offense, using every possible option. They attacked in multiple ways, posting when reading the miss-matches with Perperoglou and Saric, using Krstic in the post where he had the advantage against almost every opponent. In the end Draper drained some big shots from the perimeter that decided the game.
Efes also controlled the rebounding battle (36-30) with 8 more offensive rebounds (12-4). On the other side Unics couldn’t create troubles from the post where only Fischer scored and they attacked mostly from the perimeter with Langford, Jerrells and White. Without variety and without team plays, it was very difficult for Unics to win this game. There are still some questions for both teams.
Efes in our opinion will face a lot of problems in the future in terms of their offense, having only Balbay and Draper in the point guard position. They are both very good defenders, but in offense they have limited game despite Draper scoring performance in this game. Janning can help but he is mostly a catch and shoot player and not a point guard. In our opinion Efes needs a guard that can score and also spread the ball well in order to be a real dominant team.
On the other side Unics has a total lack of inside game. Only Fischer can finish plays inside the paint mostly after pick and roll plays, while at the same time he does not attack very much in the post. Unics has the obligation to create a most balanced offensive game otherwise they will face many problems deeper in the season. This seems to be an unbalanced perimeter roster with a lot of talent. We have to wait to see how is going to work for coach Pedoulakis.
Huge game in Istanbul!
A high quality game took place in Istanbul and in the end the hosts prevailed after a real battle against Milano. In the end the huge three point shots from Goudelock and Hickman made the difference. Fenerbahce took a double digit lead early on but Niccolo Melli scored 10 points in a row, six of them by two three pointers after pick and pop. From that point the game became a very entertaining thriller for the fans but not for the coaches. In the final minutes both teams forgot what team play means and they attacked only with isolation plays. Goudelock scored a huge three pointer, Milano missed some open shots after offensive rebounds and in the end victory belonged to the hosts.
Fenerbahce proved to be a very effective team in transition but faced some problems in creation and ball sharing, especially when Hickman was used as a point guard, even though they used other sources for distributing the ball (Preldzic, Bogdanovic and Bjelica). It is more than obvious that Hickman, Goudelock and Bogdanovic have an almost similar game. Moreover Fener faced some problems when they have to defend with Vesely playing the center position. He doesn’t have the strength to guard players like Samuels or other Euroleague big men who are very good in post-up situations. Fenerbahce is a new team and they will improve during the season
On the other side Milano had a very disappointing performance not only because of the defeat but because they seemed so unaware of distributinh the ball in the offensive end. Only Hackett and Moss played team basketball, while Gentile, Brooks and Kleiza didn’t pass the ball well. Coach Banchi faced the same situation early in the Top16 last year and he found the way to improve teamwork. Now he has again the same problems to handle with a totally different backcourt.
Easy wins for the favorites
- Laboral Kutxa played the competition opener on Wednesday and beat easily Neptunas without impressing with their game. The story of this match was the performance of two players. Thomas Heurtel is one of the best guards in the competition. He controlled the tempo and spread the ball wonderfully reaching a personal record number with 10 assists. He added 13 points and 4 steals in a great performance. The second player that impressed everyone was Davis Bertans who began the first half scoring from everywhere from the perimeter. He finished the game with a personal record in points with 20 and 8/13 field goals. Neptunas played a mediocre game having terrible numbers from the perimeter 4/26 3pts shots and need to became a much better in order to be considered a Euroleague level team.
- Maccabi started the season in a convincing way. They played their usual aggressive, transition game with Jeremy Pargo showing that he didn’t forget how to play the game of basketball. He scored 20 points, added 9 assists and he was the MVP of the European champions. Devin Smith and Marques Haynes played also excellent and after a close first half they helped Maccabi to build a big lead in the third quarter. The story of Tyus is very important for Maccabi because the presence of this player changes everything in the paint for the Israeli team. Limoges played well for 22-23 minutes but in the end they couldn’t follow the rhythm of Maccabi, specially in their defensive end. The French team has the potential to create some upsets in the future of the competition.
- Unicaja Malaga started their campaign in Euroleague in style with an easy away win in Zagreb against Cedevita. The Spanish team controlled the game from the beginning to the end. They played very well in offense, moving the ball with excellent spacing that led them to the number of 24 assists and they produced many nice plays. Toolson scored a lot of big baskets, Vazquez and Kuzminskas played also great giving help in both scoring and rebounding. Malaga grabbed 12 more rebounds while Cedevita executed poorly from the three point arc with 6/29 and 20%.
- Real Madrid took their first win but the impressios they left with their performance was a bit disappointing. After a very bad first half they just played mediocre in the second. It was enough for achieving an easy win in the end against Zalgiris Kaunas. To understand how bad this day was for Real Madrid, they finished the game with lower shooting percentages than their opponents. The fact that led them to the win was that they almost gained 20 more possession from the difference in offensive rebounds (+10) and turnovers (-8). Ayon and Felipe Reyes had the biggest impact in this game for the Spanish team which have a very deep roster in comparison to Zalgiris. This is the reason why the Lithuanian team deserves all the credits. Despite their inexperienced roster they put Real Madrid in a difficult position throughout the game.
- CSKA played an excellent game in Berlin especially in the second half and got the away win against Alba. The Russian side used early the size advantage with Kaun in the paint and he was really dominanting. He scored almost in every possession giving the lead to the Russian team from the beginning. He finished the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds. The tempo was totally controlled by the Russians with Teodosic and Jackson having a classy performance. Milos scored 15 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and drained 5 assists while Jackson added 10 points and 4 assists. On the other hand Alba showed that they have skills but teams like CSKA in their good day are not easy to match.
Difficult wins for Pana and Barcelona
Panathinaikos started with a win the Euroleague 2014-2015 against Turow. The Greens had a slow start but as the game proceeded they start to find rhythm in their offense and demonstrated their advantages. They tried to post Batista or Diamantidis to create plays from inside, setting screens in the weak side for Blooms, Pappas and Jankovic or create isolation plays with Slaughter and Pappas. Still, despite the fact that Panathinaikos started to roll in offense, they struggled totally in the defensive end.
Turow scored many easy points in transition, even after a basket of Panathinaikos and this is totally unacceptable for this level. The Greens many times during the game lost their defensive concentration. Turow is a team that plays fast without a plan but they will be dangerous if they face such bad defenses. Panathinaikos must improve a lot in the defensive part because this group is very difficult and every game is very important.
In Barcelona a very entertaining game between the host team and Bayern Munich took place. The German side was in total control for the first 25 minutes. Djedovic had a great night and also John Bryant was excellent with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists, some of them reminding great post passers from the past like Tomasevic and Vujcic. Barca found solutions in offense when Navarro entered the court in the third period and created a 14-0 run, fro 54-59 to 68-59. Navarro gave rhythm and distribute the ball, mostly by executing high quality pick and roll plays, especially with Tomic who finished with a double double.
Oleson also scored some big shots from the perimeter in the final minutes that sealed the deal for Barcelona. Something that has to concern Barcelona is their performance in defense. Bayern created a lot of problems, scored a lot of easy baskets and was close to a huge surprise. Maybe Papanikolaou and Sada will be missed a lot this year.
Thriller in Novgorod!
After a very thrilling game between two teams debuting in Euroleague, Nizhny took an important win against Dynamo Sassari. The two facts that turn the game were the very quick comeback of the Russian side after the 7-26 start for the team from Sardegna and the bad offensive third quarter for Sassari. Nizhny used as sources of creations Rochestie and Kinsey and both performed extremely well, especially Kinsey who finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Sassari depends in the performance of its American players that play a lot in transition or in quick possessions, using mostly their instinct. They are a dangerous team but with limited potential. In the end Sassari scored some huge three point shots, came back in the game and had the chance to send the game in overtime but Dyson couldn’t make it in the last possession.