Games two of the 2011-12 Euroleague Playoffs have gone down … also down and just about out are Gescrap Bilbao Basket, once again outmatched and whipped by CSKA Moscow, 79-60. Unics Kazan may also be in the razor’s edge category as even a lackluster performance by FC Barcelona shooters – seriously, 19-of-57 (33.33%) overall and 13-of-43 (30.2%) not including Juan Carlos Navarro – wasn’t enough to buy the Russian side a win on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Montepaschi Siena managed to even up their series in a pair of thrillers: The former overcame Panathinaikos and lotsa noise for the 95-92 overtime win away, while the latter held off another fourth-quarter comeback by Olympiacos to tally an 81-80 squeaker in the win column.
And now, the BallinEurope YouTube compilation … what better to do on Saturday, anyway?
Right now, the team of destiny is clearly CSKA Moscow, and Andrei Kirilenko may just become the first player since Michael Jordan in any league to be labeled an “MVP of destiny.” With another killer performance – 20 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, performance index rating of 31 – run up last night, AK-47 may yet get a unanimous win for Euroleague Most Valuable Player.
For now, Kirilenko’ll settle for another W and a game two MVP nod. Of special note in the big league’s official highlight clip begins at about 0:30 into the vid: Check out the Russian’s twisty move inside on Roger Grimau plus subsequent two-handed jam and the and-one. (Actually, it seems like half the highlights on this thing involve a Grimau foul…)
Here’s Kirilenko talking with Greece-based Eurohoops.net for a couple minutes earlier in the week. The key quote: “I think next year I’m going to go back to the NBA.” (BiE thinks “think” is not strong enough a word.)
BiE isn’t exactly sure who at the Euroleague offices named match two of the FC Barcelona-Unics Kazan series “game of the week,” but, weeeellllllllllll…
While close throughout, BiE’s main impression was that the game was decided by the seemingly interminable cold-shooting stretches through the 40 minutes. A further bit of a shame beyond the fact that this one was winnable for Kazan was that Russian side appeared to have managed the daunted FC Barça defense with a steady diet of Bostjan Nachbar touches.
The Blaugrana seemed surprised when the ball went through Nachbar on possessions in the half-court – a nice tactic by Evgeny Pashutin after the Slovenian had seen 11 minutes of playing time in the past two games combined – and, reading the Barça mid-range D nicely, Bostjan ended up tallying 16 points.
Also wasted was an excellent 21-point, 10-rebound double-double turned in by Nathan Jawai. The secret to handling Barcelona’s bigs – “one of the best backcourts out there” – says Jawai to Spain-based Euroleague Adventures, is pounding it inside and “giving them something different.”
As for Montepaschi Siena vs. Olympiacos, you know BiE can’t get past Bo McCalebb. As though contributing 21 points from everywhere on the floor (though, let’s face it, mostly in transition) weren’t enough, the Team FYR Macedonia master contributed a buzzer-beater of a different sort, picking Giorgios Printezis’ pocket with seconds remaining to seal an 81-80 win.
Finally, Maccabi Tel Aviv resembled the sleeping giant awakening in coming back to top Panathinaikos in one of the Euroleague’s toughest arenas – though BiE wonders what the short-term effect will be from David Blatt’s going all-in in game two. With Richard Hendrix turning in another subpar game – 3-of-12 shooting for nine points, seven rebounds (to his credit, six offensive) and five PFs in under 24 minutes of court time – Blatt relied heavily on David Blu and Yogev Ohayon, who got 30-plus minutes on the floor while Devin Smith and Keith Langford played 40-plus: more than a regulation game.
In any case, Blatt cannot be happy with his side giving away a 10-point lead in the fourth, nor in giving up 25 points when PAO in desperation opened the floor for the final stanza.
Courtesy the Maccabi club’s YouTube channel, below run 20 minutes’ worth of highlights from the top game two.
By the way, how are you feeling about your EL tournament bracket…?