By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
Barcelona’s defense held two opponents under 50 points this season. And those games were on the road.
But neither Lietuvos Rytas nor Besiktas has what Group F has: Bobby Brown, PG, Montepaschi Siena. EL-leading scorer and chucker of many a shot.
Or will Olympiacos’ momentum return from this brief sabbatical in top shape? And oh yeah; that yellow team from Israel.
1. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv (1B): If you’re like me and enjoy well-played basketball, then you’re scouting eBay for one of those flashy light things from Men In Black (it’s a called a neuralyzer, and it can be yours for just over $400). It’s my only hope if I want to live in a world where Group B never existed. For a flawed Maccabi team, it might help them shake the notion that their 8-2 record is slightly less than legitimate.
2. Barcelona Regal (1D): For a second straight season, Barcelona couldn’t quite complete the undefeated regular season after CSKA Moscow took a ‘meaningless’ week ten match-up by three, 78-75. Life’s rough.
3. Khimki Moscow Region (2A): With all the attention on Real Madrid, the family drama surrounding Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce’s futility, it was sort of easy to forget about Khimki Moscow, who had the sort of boring season coaches dream of. Win all five at home and earn your lone road victory against the Greens. Zoran Planinic is right in the thick of the MVP discussion.
4. Olympiacos Piraeus (2C): As the few I told you so-ers were cracking their knuckles and rolling their necks in preparation for unadulterated assault on those still hung up on Olympiacos’ championship run after back-to-back embarrassing losses in weeks two and three and a squeaker against Cedevita in the fourth, the Reds boarded a plane bound for Milano. They won by 18 there then took the next four by double digits, politely asking the naysayers to shut the hell up and enjoy the show.
5. Montepaschi Siena (3B): Bobby Brown.
6. Besiktas JK Istanbul (3D): Vladimir Dasic scored 37 points in eight Euroleague games this season. Patrick Christopher put up 45 (25, 20) in weeks one and seven alone. Probably not the sort of scoring duo they dreamt of in early October. But hey: here they are.
7. Fenerbahçe Ülker (4A): The yellow canaries were about as tough inside as the palm-sized, flying fluff balls for which they’re named. They sure picked a hell of a week to post their largest rebounding margin (+13) of the season, a finale against Cantu which ultimately scurried them along into Group F.
8. Caja Laboral Vitoria (4C): Not as easy to tolerate an abnormally intolerable level of crazed intensity when the team you’re yelling at is losing. I’m sure Dusko Ivanovic didn’t let the door hit him on the way out, because he probably punched it first.