By Panos Katsiroubas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After 10 interesting weeks we came into an end in the 1st group phase in Euroleague. An interesting regular season with some real drama during the last 2 days. In the last “Magnifying glass” of the 1st phase we will sum up these 10 weeks and pick our own best 5.
Nizhny won the game of the year against Unics Kazan and gained a spot in the Top16. Despite the absence of Rochestie they saw Kinsey, Baburin, Parakhouski, Khvostov and Thompkins stepping up for two huge wins with defensive improvement and fighting spirit till the end. The team with the worst defense in the first weeks improved this aspect and found big shots in the closing stages in both games against Efes and Unics. With the comeback of Rochestie and with better defense, they are a team that can create problems to their opponents in the Top16.
Galatasaray was the second team that survived in the last week. With only 7 players, without Erceg and with the financial issues still remaining this team put their heart on the court against Olympiakos. The Reds had also their absences, but the situation in Galatasaray is critical after four players leaving. Arroyo and Patrick Young, the first in offense and the second in defense and also rebounding put their mark in this crucial win. The question that needs an answer is what roster will appear in the Top16 for the Turkish side.
CSKA and Barcelona were the two teams that showed their quality and class in the 1st round. The Russian giants were the only unbeaten team. They presented some great games with Teodosic playing his best basketball and with many beautiful adjustments especially in the offensive end from Coach Itoudis. They are a joy to watch, they run multiple offensive plays for almost all players and they can create threat from everywhere. As a negative spot we can only mention the backcourt defense in some games.
Barcelona managed to play good basketball despite having many additions in their roster. Marcelinho now looks in great shape and the offensive game of Barcelona becomes beautiful and unpredictable when he is hot. Doellman, Thomas, Pleiss and Satoransky are becoming a part of the team and they will be better in later stages of the competition. It is great watching two of the best young talents in Europe improving in this team and we love to see Abrines and Hezonja putting their abilities on the floor in both ends. The next generation in the wings of Barca is here.
Valencia and Bayern were the two teams that disappointed us in the 1st round. The winners of 2014 Eurocup played poor basketball especially in defense and they didn’t have an identity in their game. Injuries and wrong decisions in the creation of their roster were the most important factors for this failure.
On the other side Bayern never managed to overcome the absence of Delaney who left in order to play in Russia. Taylor lost almost all of the group stage due to injury and the remaining players couldn’t achieve the target of qualifying to the Top16. Defense was the biggest problem of the German team allowing their opponents to score more than 80 points in the 9 of 10 games.
The most intriguing team
No question about that. Red Star! They have the MVP of the 1st round in the face of Boban Marjanovic, they have one of the best Americans in the face of Marcus Williams, they have young talented players who are new faces in Euroleague like Mitrovic, Kalinic, Jovic, and Dangubic. They play the best and toughest defense in the competition and they were part of the best game in the 1st round against Galatasaray in Istanbul. In our opinion Red Star will be a very tough opponent for every team in the Top16 and they are real candidates for the qualification in the playoffs.
Galatasaray and Red Star gave us the best game in the 1st round. A game to remember for years. This huge game was eclipsed from what happened outside of the arena with the death of a young boy and what followed in the days after the event due the reaction of Ataman and of course of the fans of both teams. These teams will meet again in the Top16 and we want to believe that we will talk only about basketball after these two games. Anything else will be a real pity for the huge effort these teams are putting on the floor. We hope it will be ONLY ABOUT BASKETBALL
The best 5 of the 1st phase
This was a very difficult decision, because many players showed great skills and led their teams to success. We chose the players with a very big impact in their teams and shined in almost every game they were part of.
PG: Taylor Rochestie
He played in 8 of 10 games of Nizhny. He lost the final 2 games due to injury but he was real impressive. He was doing everything on the court for his team, scoring and creating plays for his teammates. He finished the 1st round with an average of 20 pts and 5.6 assists per game.
SG: Andrew Goudelock
He is the offensive weapon of Fenerbahce. He was unstoppable in the majority of the games and set a new record for successful 3pt attempts in a single game. He is unstoppable in isolation plays and his passing ability is improving. He finished the 1st round with 17 pts and almost 48 % in 3pt shots, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game
SF: James Anderson
He is the main reason of the qualification of Zalgiris in the Top16. He was crucial in almost every game and scored huge baskets in the last game against Sassari including the game winning three points play in the last second. He finished the 1st round with 17 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists average.
PF: Jamel Mclean
He is one of the rising stars of the competition leading his team to the Top16. He is very clever, he can create multiple threats in offense and he is aggressive in both ends of the floor. He finished the 1st round with 15 points (67% 2pt FG), 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
C & MVP: Boban Marjanovic
He is the game changer for Red Star in both ends of the floor. He is improving a lot this year in his offensive game and his court vision, while remaining also huge in defense and rebounding. He is our MVP of the 1st round with averages of 17 pts and 11 rebounds.