So no further ado: Three quasi-brief impressions from the bigger games, done up bullet-style.
• Žalgiris: Ever interesting, ever relentless. BallinEurope’s recommended EL game of the week was Žalgiris Kaunas at Emporio Armani Milano. Žalgiris, with its slight vulnerability shown lately, needed to make a statement in this game in BiE’s opinion. Don’t worry Greens men and women: After this game, your guys will be sure to move up in the BallinEurope Euroleague power rankings…
The take from the game? Simply put, the Greens just keep coming with wave after wave of serviceable parts. Closing out the third quarter and having eaten up the home team’s advantage with a brilliant 9-1 run which consisted mostly of outrunning, outrunning, outgunning oh and did BiE mention outrunning? an increasingly tired Italian side.
During that run – and much of the tide-turning third quarter – Žalgiris ran (literally) with Oliver Lafayette, Tremmell Darden, Marko Popovic and Paulius Jankunas. With the exception of Ksistof Lavrinovic/Jeff Foote, this is a side well-equipped to fly in the open court and outsmart in the half-.
And so they did. How smart were they? BiE wondered how the bespectacled Sergio Scariolo (perhaps he’s disguising himself as Clark Kent) figured he’d defend against this swarm with a lineup dependent upon the relatively lead-footed likes of Omar Cook and Ioannis Bourousis…
When one talks of any Lithuanian team – and one may call the 2012-13 edition of Žalgiris a mélange of Spanish and Lithuanian styles – one inevitably speaks of depth. Yet for the Milano game, the short-handed Greens had Ibrahim Jaaber, Darden, Popovic, Lavrinovic and Jankunas all playing 28.8 minutes against four guys under 11 minutes of court time and two DNPs: Not the typical minute-sharing coach Joan Plaza had prescribed thus far, but it worked on this night.
Naturally, then, BiE had several things to look for in Žalgiris’ VTB United League match against Tsmoki Minsk – or perhaps not. Hardly a powerhouse, Plaza reckoned to be enviably able to rest the hard-worked first five or six in a romp. And lo, it came to pass. Leading the team in minutes played were Mario Delas (great to see this work-in-progress get quality time), 23-year-old Vytenis Lipkevicus and good ol’ Foote. Let’s just say that early on in this one, BiE was happy for high-speed internet and the NFL Game Pass…
Next up: Žalgiris hosts Anadolu Efes; Efes is locked into the no. 3 seed of Group C while Olympiacos is at home against the still-kicking Milano. With a win, Žalgiris enters the next EL draw as a top dog – not much of an advantage in this year’s Euroleague, but bragging rights nonetheless.
• Finally Dario! Kudos to Dario Saric, or the Next Big Thing Out Of Croatia as BallinEurope refers to the wunderkind, who saw his first action of the 2012-13 season in an Adriatic League game for Cibona Zagreb versus defending national champions Cedevita. In helping Cibona defend home court, Saric put in a nice well-rounded line – 0-of-5 three-point shooting notwithstanding – of eight points, five assists, four rebounds and one steal. Wait, was that contract controversy real or has this guy been playing all season?
And are you paying attention, NBA Draftniks?
Next up: Saric and Cibona host a Eurocup game against Ratiopharm Ulm; at 0-5, the game is mathematically meaningless for Saric’s side.
• Finally, in any “Buzzer-Beater of the Week” enumeration, how many would list an admittedly off-balance jumper off the rebound made just before the buzzer to cut the margin of loss to five points?
To the American basketball fan, the final shot by Brose Baskets Bamberg’s John Goldsberry – and his teammates’ subsequent delirious reaction – in the team’s 67-62 loss to Lietuvos Rytas looks like something out of Bizarro World.
Instead, it’s one of the oddities of European basketball; as the big league’s official website puts it, Bamberg “claimed the tiebreak advantage between [them and L.Rytas …] to keep the German champs’ fate in their own hands going into Game 10. Both teams now sport identical 2-7 records, as does Partizan mts Belgrade. Bamberg will reach the Top 16 from Group D if it beats Partizan next week in Germany. For Rytas to claim fourth place and a Top 16 berth, it must beat Beşiktaş on the road in Game 10 and hope for Bamberg to lose. Had Goldsberry’s last second shot missed, a win for Rytas next week would have seen it through regardless of other results.”
See? In Europe, every game – and every shot – counts.