Look out, upcoming Olympiacos opponents: Big Sofo is just starting to heat up. After a marginal season in Euroleague play up in the early going (BiE is blaming it on that H1N1 the big man contracted in the autumn), Sofoklis Schortsanitis turned in his peak Euroleague performance of 2009-10 a week and a half ago, going for 19 points in just 18 minutes of playing time (read: “time spent dominating the paint”) against helpless Baskonia.
This weekend, the Red chased up his humdrum 2-of-6 showing in the BC Khimki game by taking the ESAKE All-Star Game MVP award with statistics insane even for such an exhibition: Would you believe 42 points of 19-of-21 shooting, including 3-of-5 on threes and a perfect 16-of-16 from within the arc?
Despite his Cameroon origin, Baby Shaq’s Greek citizenship got him named to the Greek Team, which outgunned the Rest of the World, 147-114. Panathinaikos’ Drew Nicholas took the three-point shooting contest and Kolossos’ Lance Harris won in dunking.
After bottoming out statistics-wise in Euroleague play last season, Sofoklis appeared headed for another low-figure disappointing season against Europe’s top clubs; after averaging just 5.4 points in the regular-season, though, Schortsanitis has picked up his game, going for double figures in four of his last five EL Top 16 games.
Back home, Sofoklis has improved essentially all his stats over his shortened 2008-09 season in Greece, bringing his scoring average up to 9.2 from 5.1, boards 3.3 from 1.5 and stocks (steals plus blocks, courtesy Bill Simmons) to 1.2 per game from negligible. Last Sunday, Schortsanitis, along with the remainder of his Reds teammates, made it look easy with 14 points on 6-of-6 “shooting” – let’s be realistic: that was mostly slams – and six rebounds in a 101-60 laugher over Ilisiakos.
Be afraid, final eight field, be very afraid: Few European clubs can answer a huge presence like Baby Shaq when his game is on – just ask the international teams to whom he often lays waste in the summertime. Combined with the ridiculous arsenal of weaponry Olympiacos is carrying, a red-hot Sofoklis may make the Reds the most viable Triple Crown threat in Europe not named “FC Barcelona.”
Oh, and if you guessed this piece was written mostly to justify the embedding of another Sofoklis highlight clip, well, you’d be very perceptive.