The 2010-11 Euroleague season tips off tomorrow? Right, then. Presenting the last preseason – and thus last totally subjective, because we’ll be able to base these things on, you know, wins and losses beginning next week – BallinEurope Official Euroleague Power Rankings™. (Plus lots of video clips.) Enjoy!
1. (↔) FC Barcelona – Yeah, as though we didn’t know how good Barça was going to be this season, they went and bored down behind mighty Pete Mickael to take out the Los Angeles Lakers at home. In addition, they’re 3-0 in ACB play thus far while outscoring opponents by an average of 82-68, the Human YouTube Clip has added a couple more highlights to the infinite reel, Juan Carlos Navarro has been “¡espectacular,” et cetera.
2. (↔) CSKA Moscow – Like Barcelona, the Red Army took out an NBA team in the exchange program … sort of. In the 90-87 loss, the Cleveland Cavaliers were going without Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao; sheesh, did they break Mark Price and Brandon Daugherty out of mothballs…? But seriously, folks, this team is good.
3. (↔) BiE tells ya who should have to go on the Euroleague American Tours: Montepaschi Siena, that’s who! MPS may not be a [powerful brand for salivating marketers] household name in the ‘States, but geez, all they’re doing otherwise is beating up on Italian teams. The team’s latest trophy: Its fourth consecutive Supercoppa Agos Ducato.
4. (↔) Panathinaikos – Since the last power rankings, PAO has qualified for the Greek Cup semifinals and taken the Rhodes tournament. Stratos Perperoglou is suffering from a minor injury and all the strike means is more time to rest up.
5. (↔) Olympiacos – The player strike may be a distraction, but the Reds are still showing up to play Real Madrid this week. Ettore Messina, doing his best Phil Jackson impression, has called Olympiacos the favorite in this game; Dusan Ivkovic says, “It’s a trap!”
6. (↑) Real Madrid is the only other 3-0 team in the ACB at present, and Messina’s lot has faced decent competition in Eurocuppers Asefa Estudiantes and Bizkaia Bilbao Basket … but doesn’t Madrid have a bit of a recent history of starting hot…?
7. (↔) Maccabi Tel Aviv – See Partizan Belgrade at no. 9.
8. (↑) Unicaja Malaga – See Caja Laboral Baskonia at no. 10.
9. (↔) Partizan Belgrade – BiE hates the whole “Group of Death” labeling mania that happens every time a big tournament-style season starts, but hey, if Group A (these three plus ACB champs Baskonia, red-hot BC Khimki, Asseco Prokom and Žalgiris Kaunas) isn’t a textbook illustration of the concept, BiE doesn’t know what is. And yes, the Grobari are getting the benefit of the doubt here after a spluttering 1-2 start in Adriatic League play.
10. (↓) Caja Laboral Baskonia – For Baskonia, call it the Tiago Splitter Effect: In ACB week two, Unicaja utterly exposed Caja Laboral’s weaknesses in adopting to a gameplan with less pick ‘n’ roll plays and heavier accent on the jump shooting. Joel Freeland and Robert Archibald in relief showed Unicaja can dominate underneath, combining for 10-of-18 from the floor and eight rebounds.
Caja Laboral’s lineup looks great on paper while Marcelinho Huertas and Fernando San Emeterio have been beyond deadly in exceeding expectations, but the Brad Oleson/Stanko Barac hasn’t found its way yet.
11. (↓) Efes Pilsen – What to make of Efes Pilsen? After outlasting Fenerbahçe Ülker to take its ninth President’s Cup, the team then went out to be upset at home by last season’s 11th-place TBL finisher, Antalya. Istanbul is probably catching a break in week one with Union Olimpija on tap – BiE wouldn’t want to be these guys facing CSKA or PAO this week…
12. (↑) AJ Milano may have escaped a close one in the Serie A opener at Banca Tercas Teramo, 89-83 in OT, but here’s to thinking the Jeans won’t be seeing another 17-of-30 performance from three-point range. They’ll have to enjoy their position this high up on the poll, ‘cause they’re going to Moscow to open the Euroleague; Milano’ll need another shutdown 8-of-28 performance underneath … not gonna get it!
13. (n/a) BiE says that, aside from Barcelona, no Euroleague team is as hot as BC Khimki Moscow region – and they’re doing it in games that matter. After taking six straight in the Euroleague qualifying rounds, Khimki added the away opener win against Yenisei in the Russian Superleague. Too bad they’re in that sick Group A, eh?
14. (↑) Union Olimpija – If there’s any team that’s more relieved than Olimpija to begin regular-season games, BiE can’t think of it. The Slovenian side hasn’t overwhelmed opponents in getting off to a 3-0 start in Adriatic League play, but a ‘W’ is a ‘W’ and this team can use the confidence builders, to be sure.
15. (↔) Back home, Žalgiris Kaunas is 5-0 against a bunch of LKL teams most outside the Lithuanian borders have never heard of, so make of this what you will. Žalgiris appears to be using the occasion to tune up its three-point shooting, going 42.5% as a team thus far.
16. (↓) Last seen losing in the President’s Cup final against rivals Efes Pilsen, Fenerbahçe Ülker starts its TBL season tonight at Banvit.
17. (↓) Asseco Prokom – BiE likes the recent additions of Filip Videnov, rookie Channing Toney and former University of New Mexico Lobo/Boston Celtic J.R. Giddens, but again, that Group A…
18. (↓) Lietuvos Rytas. But if they sign Sarunas Jasikevicius, they’ll move up a space or two.
19. (↑) Brose Baskets Bamberg – So far, so good for the German Euroleague entry back home: Bamberg is a neat 4-0 against Bundesliga teams and is tops in defense. How’s about an upset special in week one? BiE’ll take Brose Baskets over Roma in Italy, heh heh…
20. (↓) Power Electronics Valencia – Check out this schedule for the next 2½ weeks: vs. Panathinaikos, at Real Madrid, at Efes Pilsen, at DKV Joventut, vs. CSKA Moscow, vs. Caja Laboral. And they’re already off to a 1-2 start in the ACB. Welcome to the Euroleague, Valencia!
21. (↓) Cibona Zagreb has already recorded losses to KK Hemofarm and Cedevita in the Adriatic League. Now the nearly all-Croatian team gets FC Barcelona? Could be a long season everywhere for Zagreb…
22. (↓) BiE said he’d reserve judgment on Virtus Roma until after the Sassari Tournament. And after finishing fourth in the tournament, losing the final game to Pepsi Caserta despite the addition of long-persued Vladimir Dasic, 76-68, here they are.
23. (n/a) Spirou Basket – congratulations for qualifying, Spirou, but BiE still believes you’ll be the first Euroleague team to be mathematically eliminated…
24. (↓) Cholet Basket – an opening-day, away-game loss in the domestic league typically might not be such a big deal, but what was this? Perhaps Dunkerque should be representing France in the big league this season…?