The Turkish Airlines Euroleague season got underway on Wednesay with Brose Baskets Bamberg and Galatasaray Liv Hospital getting off to a flying start. Bamberg defeated Strasbourg 84–70 in what was a comprehensive victory in the Brose Arina while Galatasaray saw off Montepaschi Siena 75–84 in the Nelson Mandela Arena.
Bamberg didn’t have the best of starts, trailing 16 – 21 after the first quarter, but when Jamar Smith came off the bench, the flow of the game changed. Making his Euroleague debut, Smith scored 11 points for the German champs, consisting of two jumpers, a three-pointer and a driving layup to bring Bamberg to within 25-26. Overall, he scored 19 points during his 14 minutes on the court, an impressive scoring rate.
Also helping out in the game was Anton Gavel who added 16 points and 6 assists, Sharrod Ford scored 11 while Maik Zirbes got 10. After Smith brought the side back into contention, it was Ford and Rakim Sanders that pushed them ahead 35 – 28. The final six minutes saw Bamberg finish the second quarter with a 19 – 1 run, bringing them into half time with a 43 – 29 scoreline.
However, Strasbourg wasn’t going to go down without a fight and always tried to catch up with Bamberg. Despite a forgettable third quarter where it trailed 66 – 45, Antoine Diot and Alexis Ajinca, who was Strasbourg’s top scorer with 19 points, brought the deficit down to 69 – 56. Yet it was Bamberg’s night as additional scores from Smith and Ford saw them lead 80 – 66 with two minutes left. Romain Duport reduced the lead to 12 but it wasn’t enough to worry Bamberg who ended the game comfortably. Continue Reading…
Now here’s an argument starter for you … with much debate perpetually going on among European basketball fans vis-à-vis the influence of American and/or NBA players on the Euroleague, BiE decided to take a look back at the 2011-12 season in hopes of drawing some comparison on an individual, player-by-player level.
Below, then, runs four all-star squads based on play in this season’s edition of the big league; for convenience and competition’s (rather than geopolitics’) sake, players from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and FYR Macedonia will be virtually suiting up for the “former Yugoslavia” team.
Congratulations go out from BallinEurope to the 2011-12 VTB United League champions – to the surprise of few, CSKA Moscow.
The Red Army’s 74-62 victory over Unics Kazan in a rematch of last year’s final represents not only its second VTB championship in three seasons of the league’s existence, but the first title in a potentially history-making triple crown. CSKA are big favorites to take the Euroleague title (one sportsbook with typical lines had Moscow at 3/4 odds and second-best FC Barcelona at 13/5) and are *serious* favorites (would you believe odds of 1/28?) in the PBL finals against BC Khimki after going 17-1 in the 2011-12 regular season.
In previous VTB championship-winning seasons, CSKA has managed to herd up an impressive lot of trophies: In 2008-09, the Russian league champs were nipped by Panathinaikos in the Euroleague finals and finished a disappointing third in the Russian Cup tournament after taking the VTB United League Promo Cup. In 2009-10, CSKA enjoyed three titles – a triple crown of sorts – in winning the Russian league and cups along with the VTB title; the Red Army finished third in the EL that year.
Also adding to his CV over the course of the VTB final four tournament was Andrei Kirilenko, who was named tourney MVP.
In the interests of complete transparency – hey, somebody in Hungary should aspire to such – BallinEurope today presents the outcome of a heavy Euroleague basketball-watching habit plus several hours of intense thought: Namely, the five names that went onto BiE’s media representative’s ballot for 2011-12 Euroleague MVP.
Since there’s no way the chosen quintet will make anybody completely happy – even though surely the top seven or eight (depending how you feel about certain American imports in Lithuania) individual performances in the 2011-12 ‘League would surely be agreed upon by the great majority of Euroleague fans – BiE will explain the thought process behind the vote and show the initial list of 25 from which the five players receiving points were winnowed. (Bonus: YouTube clips, natch.)
In backwards order, then…
• Toughest omissions – Henry Domercant, Erazem Lorbek and Sonny Weems. Each was so emblematic of their teams in 2011-12, with Domercant and Weems veritably carrying their clubs at times to unexpected Euroleague success. Unics Kazan got attention early in the regular season with a few monster performances by Domercant – including the amazing 30-point, seven-rebound show against Montepaschi Siena in the opener – but Bad Henry actually became more consistent and more well-integrated into the Kazan offense as the team’s season progressed.
Weems kept the overachieving Zalgiris Kaunas afloat – and more – after Ty Lawson returned to the NBA post-lockout, plus gets bonus points for performing among the more YouTubable in European ball. Keeping Weems off the ballot were a couple of off-games in the Top 16 round which may have ultimately kept the Greens out of the semifinal round – and the man did turn over the ball the second-most frequently in the EL, too…
Most notable about FC Barcelona – even more so than in previous years of title glory – is the team’s incredible defenses. Lorbek has controlled the paint on D to make the Blaugrana’s zone traps even more effective and together with Pete Mickael has been triggering fast breaks off the boards while playing in all 19 Euroleague games. Plus, what if someone had told you at season’s beginning that the leading scorer for 2011-12 on Juan Carlos Navarro’s team would be the big Slovenian?
Tough to leave off this expectation-scattering trio, one and all…
• 5. Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow
After not exactly fitting into the Boston Celtics after an ill-advised trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder late in 2010-11 and reading the writing on the wall vis-à-vis the player lockout, Krstic may have been the first NBA refugee headliner to sign in Europe. And whoa, has the investment paid off for CSKA Moscow. In Krstic, the Red Army has the ‘League’s no. 1 in accumulated performance index rating, no. 2 in average PIR and no. 5 in points scored – with a shooting percentage of just under 64% overall. A big man among the big men at Moscow, Krstic had to get on the ballot.
• 4. Bo McCalebb, Montepaschi Siena
• 3. Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos
• 2. Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos
BiE swears that with each coming year, the playmaking guard becomes even more disproportionately important to European and/or international success. Case in point, these three guys in 2011-12; first, the statistical highlights for each:
McCalebb – 16.9 points per game on 61.3% overall shooting, 2.6 apg, 1.3 spg, 17.29 average PIR
Diamantidis – 11.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 17.00 PIR
Spanoulis – 16.5 ppg on 49.7% overall shooting, 3.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 16.37 PIR
Bear in mind all are in the top five in average index rating behind a couple of dudes on CSKA Moscow and that none of three have missed a single game for their teams – now who do you choose? The reputed “fastest man in Europe” and Euroleague top scorer who can lead break after break though doesn’t have the best eye for the open teammate (Gee that’s kinda 2003-04 Kobesque)…
…or the more-than-sum-of-parts guy who just happened to chase last year’s EL MVP bid by leading the league in assists and three-pointers made plus added priceless veteran leadership of a three-time champion…
…or do you go with BiE’s selection from among the three, i.e. the “rock in the middle of that roster … on whom all the Reds could rely” with a career year on the only surprise in the Euroleague Final Four?
• 1. While deciding among the 2 through 4 and 5 through off-ballot positions was difficult, the top choice was the opposite. Yes, BallinEurope went for that most polarizing (only the basketball gods know why) player of 2011-12, Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow.
Forget what you may think about his consistent-if-not-mindblowing tenure with the Utah Jazz and the virtual all-star squad CSKA management set him up with in the 2011 offseason: The AK-47 has had a monster year. His average PIR of 24.07 per game played is more than 19% better than the nearest competitor (Krstic) – such a mark is currently the 15th best for a single season in the modern era and would be the highest by any player advancing past the regular season since Anthony Parker for Maccabi back in 2004-05. And while he’s “only” ranking seventh in ppg at 17.0, he’s tops in rebounds and blocks plus no. 2 in steals, making him the sole player even close to the top 10 in those four statistical categories.
Yes, Kirilenko missed five Euroleague games and yes, CSKA went 5-0 in that run, but BiE dares say that no single player in the 2011-12 EL became the center of focus every minute he’s on the floor the way that this season’s prospective MVP did – four player-of-the-week awards should prove it.
This season, Kirilenko rules. Let the comments begin.
The top 25 players, as BiE sees it for 2011-12, were the following.
Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos
Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos
Bo McCalebb, Montepaschi Siena
Henry Domercant, Unics Kazan
Juan Carlos Navarro, FC Barcelona
Milos Teodosic, CSKA Moscow
Jaycee Carroll, Real Madrid
Devin Smith, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Omar Cook, Emporio Armani Milano
Marcelinho Huertas, FC Barcelona
Andrei Kirilenko, CSKA Moscow
Sonny Weems, Zalgiris Kaunas
Nikola Mirotic, Real Madrid
Mike Batiste, Panathinaikos
Marko Banic, Gescrap Bilbao Basket
Viktor Khryapa, CSKA Moscow
Bojan Bogdanovic, Fenerbahce Ulker
Pete Mickael, FC Barcelona
Richard Hendrix, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Felipe Reyes, Real Madrid
Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow
Erazem Lorbek, FC Barcelona
Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Giorgi Shermadini, Bennet Cantu
Luka Zoric, Unicaja Malaga
Today taking a look at one of the two remaining Russian sides, Karaca writes “Zenit St. Petersburg reached its zenith when they managed to grab the UEFA Cup. Now, president Igor Lypsky, former deputy manager of Gazprom, has the same ambition. Isn’t it time for their citizens to win a European competition in basketball?
Talking about Spartak St. Petersburg is talking about history. Founded in 1935, the club stands as the oldest among the Eurocup Final Four competitors. However, as this marks the first time that Spartak has reached this level of competition, I think we can call St Petersburg experienced Eurocup rookies.
Heading into games two of the 2011-12 Euroleague Playoffs, BallinEurope acknowledges CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos’ superiority over their opponents, FC Barcelona having tallied an emphatic win, and Olympiacos shocking Montepaschi Siena in Italy.
So to get things started in advance of tonight’s game two matchups of Unics Kazan at Barca and Olympiacaos at Montepaschi Siena, below run the Euroleague’s official top five plays from the playoff openers – for some reason posted in silent-movie fashion…
After a week two loaded with upsets and shocking blowouts, BallinEurope’s Euroleague Power Rankings go through quite a shuffling going into Top 16 round, week three … except of course at the top, where all indications have the championship matchup between CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona feeling more inevitable than ever. How is your team faring on the (sorta) big board this week?
Traditional advisory warning: These ratings are pretty much highly subjective, as they are formulated from one source, i.e. BiE, and are based on the way teams are trending at present. While play in other leagues was considered, emphasis was put on Euroleague performance especially, and particularly on the two games each has registered in Top 16 play.
And on to the rankings!
The undefeated 1. (↔) CSKA Moscow (12-0 in Euroleague play overall; 9-1 in VTB United League, 8-1 in PBL) 2. (↔) FC Barcelona (9-1 EL; 13-3 ACB) 3. (↑) Montepaschi Siena (10-2 EL; 13-5 Serie A) – No surprises here, unless you count the emphatic statement wins recorded by each of these elite teams in week two at Maccabi Tel Aviv, vs. Anadolu Efes, and at Real Madrid, respectively. NBA fans are chattering about a shortened season? Ha! With each of these teams at 2-0 and having knocked off the no. 2 contender within their groups, they’ve all made the 2011-12 EL Top 16 round a hell of a lot more urgent for nearly every side in the big league.
Courtesy the Euroleague folks, BallinEurope brings a compendium of facts and figures spanning history and record books regarding tomorrow night’s slate of a half-dozen games – plus lines on the games and highlight clips. Enjoy!
CSKA Moscow vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
• CSKA leads the all-time series between the teams, 8-7.
• Nenad Krstic has scored in double figures in each of his last 16 Euroleague appearances dating back to the 2003-04 season.
• Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic lead the Euroleague in index rating with at averages of 27.8 and 21.5 per game, respectively.
• Kirilenko also leads the Euroleague in blocked shots (3.2 bpg).
• Milos Teodosic is ranked second in the Euroleague in assists this season with a career-high 5.6 assists per game.
• Darjus Lavrinovic needs three more blocks reach 100 for his Euroleague career. With his next block, Lavrinovic will tie former CSKA big man Terence Morris for 12th place all-time. Continue Reading…
• This game was quite the textbook example of the 13th man’s value to Kazan, as the second half was all Unics riding the home support after a disastrous second quarter.
• What was the deal with the Unics bench? Is coach Evgeny Pashutin simply unwilling to go seven deep with this side? Pashutin looked to be running his preferred quintet into the ground as Nathan Jawai, in for about 11 minutes, proved the only viable substitute for the Russian team last night. Terrell Lyday, Vladimir Veremeenko, Petr Samoylenko, Henry Domercant, and Mike Wilkinson all went for 28 minutes or more to score 68 of the team’s 76 points. Yes, Jawai had the other eight.
One hot-button topic in the European basketball world got a bit more heated yesterday: Word has it that The Azerbaijan Basketball Federation has opened talks that would install American-born players Jaycee Carroll and Nik Caner-Medley on the men’s national team in preparation for Eurobasket qualifiers.
Twitter tremors on the acquisitions – and let’s just call them acquisitions, shall we? It’s just business, after all – are still occurring, but the overriding sentiment only with an interesting bit of information was perhaps best summed up by Sportando’s tweet: