Anzejs Pasecniks got active early against FC Barcelona but he ultimately sat through the business end of matters as Gran Canaria claimed their maiden victory in Euroleague. Emmet Ryan gives his quick breakdown on what he saw from the Philadelphia 76ers draft pick
It is a busy week in European basketball. Euroleague has a double round of games, Eurocup is on, the Basketball Champions League as well, and FIBA Europe Cup starts. In short, it’s a lot of hoops so standing out is going to take some work for any baller this week.
This was my first chance this season to get a look at Anzejs Pasecniks and wow has he gotten bigger. The kid was a gangly mess a year ago. He’s filled out and would walk onto Lang Whitaker’s muscle watch if he was in the NBA.
The Latvian had three stints on this outing as Gran Canaria bounced back from a shellacking at last year’s runners up Fenerbahce to take down traditional Spanish powerhouse Barcelona. The visitors have been down for a while, finding ways to make players lose huge chunks of their ability upon donning their jersey in recent years, but they had also trounced Granca in Spanish league action a few weeks earlier.
On the first possession for Granca Pasecniks got open down the lane as coverage was drawn away from him and he got in for an easy lay-up. He followed that up with rebounds at both ends, although the defensive one wasn’t recorded for some reason, and broadly looked confident. He was matched up in this stint against Ante Tomic and looked happy to get physical with him.
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Having seen less than half the first frame, he had an even shorter stint to start the second quarter. In his absence the lane had been awfully empty looking at Barcelona rushed into a big lead before veteran rookie, yes bear with me until the end notes, Albert Oliver came in to calm the ship. Pasecniks coming back in filled that hole. Without doing anything directly, Barcelona were immediately warier of probing the paint.
In this stint he was going up against Kevin Seraphin and that delivered the highlight of the night for Pasecniks. Seraphin thought he was going up one on one with Kim Tillie when Pasecniks came in from the blindside and blocked hard. Take a look at this.
— EuroLeague (@EuroLeague) October 16, 2018
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The last run out for Pasecniks was against Tomic again to start the third quarter and he drew his third foul of the night almost immediately. That was the only real fault in his outing. There was solid intelligence from him to drive at Victor Claver and Tomic looking for the dunk to draw a foul but he sat by the mid-point of the frame and that was the end of his night.
It is worth noting that the man he was largely in tandem with, Ondrej Balvin, looked a step slower than Pasecniks on the night despite putting in a solid performance. Balvin’s a smart player, in a Eurocup game against Tofas last season I saw him turn some terrible passes into smooth finishes at close range. He was intelligent in this one and is a good physical comparison to Pasecniks, less than half an inch taller than the youngster. Still having looked the more powerful baller last year, he was definitely the less physical looking presence of the two Granca bigs in this outing.Other notes
- Good man Albert Oliver. 40 years old in his debut season in Euroleague and he got Granca’s heads back in the game after a rough spell in the first quarter. He’s bounced around a few sides over the years, flirting with making it to the big show, but in his 22nd pro season he’s finally playing in the big league of Europe. It was great to see him play such an important role in this one.
- Naturally huge kudos to Gran Canaria on getting their maiden win. Barcelona may be damaged goods but that was still a serious roster the islanders beat and a first win at this level should always be celebrated.
- Aesthetically, despite the high score, this was one ugly ass game of basketball. There were so many fouls and stoppages and you really couldn’t blame the refs. Granca winning means it’s not a sour one, if it’s a bad game you at least want the underdog to get the W, but yeesh I’m hoping for more fun next time I watch them.
- This being the first home Euroleague game the commentator really wanted viewers to know this was an historic game. I’ve got a buddy of mine’s bottle of that Conor McGregor whiskey on my mantelpiece. If I’d had a shot every time the comm mentioned how historic this was, it would have been finished by half-time…although that might have made the game more fun to watch.
- The McGregor whiskey is fine although not memorable.
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