After a week off due to Cup Week, the Dish returns with a packed sched. From the Hall of Fame to the Rising Stars and a big slate of Euroleague action, it’s been a busy week in European hoops but I’ve got one question: What about Rudy?
The most hated man in European basketball may be considering a switch back to the NBA. Rudy Fernandez, a man who would wear ‘Everybody hate me’ on his back if Euroleague ever considered nickname jerseys, is being looked at by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Losing Rudy would be bad for ball over here for many reasons. He is a top tier talent in Euroleague and that’s enough in and of itself but that’s not why I’m concerned. The sheer unreasonable hate of Rudy is almost soothing. Heck even Greens and Reds can come to agree on one thing: “Fucking Rudy”. We can lose such a symbol of unity. Fortunately, Fernandez would need to be nuts to go back to the NBA. Yes it’s the best league in the world but why leave a starting job with a big salary to fight for minutes?
One man happy to fight for minutes Stateside is BiE cult favourite Pero Antic. The Macedonia big man was meant to play for Team Hill in the Rising Stars challenge but injury prevented him from playing and was instead replaced by Miles Plumlee. Jonas Valanciunas started for Team Hill and had 4 points, 2 boards, and 2 assists in his 19 minutes. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 9 points, grabbed 2 boards, and dished 2 dimes, as Team Hill took a 142-136 victory over Team Webber.
The Greek Freak got special attention from Jonathan Givony, arguably the most thorough assessor of young talent in the game today, this past week. Givony did a reassessment of Antetokounmpo after his first half season in the league. The full post can be found here and check out this extensive video by Givony on the Milwaukee Buck:
Speaking of freaks, we have to take you back to the top of this post. Alex Abrines laid down a just plain nasty dunk on EA7 Milano as Barcelona took an 80-70 win in the Palau to stay perfect. Yet again the Italians showed that they aren’t just in the Top 16 to make up the numbers. They gave Barca a big fright with the Milano on top for most of the game, spurred on by a first frame where they shut down the Blaugrana’s offence. Group E’s final two playoff spots are still very much up for grabs as we get read to hit the mid-point next week. The inability of Panathinaikos to establish themselves in clear control is surprising. Unicaja Malaga thumped the Greens this week and now in a three way tie with Milano and Panathinaikos for the final two playoff spots but the chasing pack is on their heels. A big win for Fenerbahce over Baskonia put Obradovic’s side on 2-4, just a game outside the playoffs. Olympiacos hammered Efes but the Istanbul club is still in contention for the post-season at 2-4.
The story of Group F is becoming clear. There are two things to be decided. The first, which of Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow, and Maccabi Elektra cedes home advantage in the playoffs. All three sit at 5-1 and even at this early stage, it’s hard to see anyone breaking up the top three. The fourth spot promises to be one unholy mess. Kuban lost narrowly at home to RMB but stayed one game clear of Bayern, who dropped a close one in Tel-Aviv. Galatasaray had a chance to go level with Kuban but they also went down narrowly, at home to CSKA. The one clear cut result saw Zalgiris Kaunas finally get off the mark, beating Partizan 89-77 and costing the Belgrade club a shot at joining Bayern and Galatasaray on 2-4.
Finally we come to a moment of celebration for European basketball fans. Olympic gold and double-bronze medal winner Sarunas Marciulionis will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on 8 August.