Wrapping up and putting a bow on week six of Euroleague basketball is BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Francesco Cappelletti, who today writes of Kleiza & Papaloukas, the Partizan player-making machine, and the league’s three biggest flops thus far in 2009-10.
Dear old Theo
Linas Kleiza has made us witnesses to what a former NBA sixth man is able to do: namely, score 19 points in 10 minutes, with all of his production coming in the last period, when Olympiacos seemed very close to its third consecutive loss outside of Athens. Kleiza scored from outside, going to the rim, penetrating, and in the final 24 seconds was simply unstoppable.
If the Reds can now face Unicaja Malaga with hope of avenging the 86-68 loss suffered in Spain less than a month ago, though, much credit has to be given to Theodoros Papaloukas. He switched the mind on, not only by serving up 14 assist (tying the Euroleague’s all-time high set by Tyrus Edney with Benetton Treviso in February 2004), but also by calming down his teammates who were going to the hell of isolation, without the benefit of a playmaker rather than a scorer like Yotam Halperin (good game, anyway) or an intermittent contributor like Milos Teodosic. Theo turned the volume of defense up, and from there Oly could again play its game, running the floor for easy transitions, stuff reserved for impressive athletes like Ioannis Bourousis.
It’s not the case Bourousis was the only big man Yannakis put on the floor at the end, for a small team that Entente Orleanaise couldn’t match, primarily physically and additionally for quickness. As The Frank Euroleague Roundup Week 5 said, Bourousis is without doubt the key player. Anyway, fans have to give thanks for a warrior called Theodoros Papaloukas.
Kitchen open 24 hours
In just the last four years, Partizan Belgrade has launched players such as Luka Bogdanovic, Kosta Perovic, Nikola Pekovic, Milenko Tepic, Novica Velickovic, and Uros Tripkovic. Next on the line are Czech Jan Vesely and 18-year-old forward Branislav Dekic, from a club whose primary ambition is the desire (need?) to form the heirs to Bodiroga, Djordjevic, and Danilovic, for itself and above all for the national team.
This capitalization of its young stars to maintain Partizan at the highest level in Europe is due to a lack of money that doesn’t allow the team to get the attention of non-Serbian players. However, the results obtained just by giving minutes to local boys are unbelievable when compared to other richer teams.
Simultaneously comes the question of why the majority of Serbian elite players emerge from Partizan, rather than Red Star or Buducnost, even if FMP Zeleznik has formed some intriguing players in recent years. Coaches Dule Vujosevic and Vinko Bakic, over the sports director Zoran Stevanovic represent the continuity of a plan which hasn’t a clear target in terms of trophies and results, but thinks only to keep the Serbian movement at the top.
And the peripheral moves made far from the lights are masterpieces as well. We have to remember the correct choices of Stephane Lasme and Bo McCalebb, and the wonderful revaluation named Dusan Kecman (annoyed by Panathinaikos’ bench), Aleksandar Rasic (the former European leagues’ wanderer) and Aleks Maric, the most lovely surprise after six Euroleague games. All these words to say this: No, it can’t be astounding to see Partizan dominate Unicaja Malaga on the road.
Up and down
We’ll return, at the end of the season, to who has disappointed and who has amazed us, but there is little evidence to say that the stats collected in six regular-season games are undeserving of attention. Here are three positive findings, and three negative findings. Listed are some revealing statistics from Euroleague 2009-2010; in parentheses are the respective numbers over the player’s Euroleague career.
• Fernando San Emeterio, Caja Laboral Baskonia: 11.5 points per game, 63% from two points, 40% from three points (career 3.5, 46%, 28%).
• Kennedy Winston, Lottomatica Roma: 16.3 ppg, 60%, 48% (4.7, 51%, 27%).
• Stratos Perperoglou, Panathinaikos Athens: 7 ppg, 73%, 43%, 2.2 steals per game (5.0, 56%, 28%, 0.8).
• Stefano Mancinelli, AJ Milano: 7.5 ppg, 25% on three-pointers (10.2 and 40% in his last season with Fortitudo Bologna, the 2006-2007 season).
• Nikola Vujcic, Olympiacos: 8.7 ppg, 47% free throw shooting (career 14.2 and 69.2%).
• Igor Rakocevic, Efes Pilsen Istanbul: 12.2, 40%, 32% (worst stats ever!).
EWE Oldenburg still has issues when the game is on the line: Against Milano, the team suffered a 8-0 run signed by Mason Rocca; at Khimki, Daniel Hain commited an unsportsmanlike foul on Vitaly Fridzon with 10 seconds left and the Russians ahead 73-72; with Prokom, in the last minute, it was a turnover – a shot blocked – and an offensive rebound allowed to Qyntel Woods … Panathinaikos got 46 points from its big men, against shorthanded AJ Milano (no Alex Acker, no Marius Petravicius); nevertheless, Massimo Bulleri and Jonas Maciulis pushed their squad to within six at 73-67 before Mike Batiste scored the first basket of fourth quarter, four minutes away … A million-dollar prize to anyone who understands Unicaja’s offense: Between ACB and Euroleague, Joel Freeland and companions have scored 60 points three times, 70 points six times, 80 points four times, and 90 points twice. To square the circle, last week against Barcelona *at home*, Unicaja scored 57…