By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
When competing within a one-game-per-week template such as the Euroleague, it’s easy to overanalyze. A loss stings more than it should, one deviant stat line feels more like a trend and an off shooting night feels like several; however, some things should not be ignored.
Like what? Like beating Montepaschi Siena on the road. Yet this is about far more than one measly road win (although for the record, it was far from measly; it was spectacular). This is about Unics Kazan mastering the Rules of Advancement:
1. Protect your home floor.
2. Beat the teams you should beat.
3. Snag a random road win.
Didn’t see Leave Dimitris Diamantidis open late in games or Lose to KK Zagreb on there, did you? Apparently Unicaja and Babmberg were given different lists.
Rank Team (EL Record) What they did to get here... Last Week
1 Barcelona (6-0) Lockout's over, huh? Barcelona didn't notice. 1
2 CSKA Moscow (6-0) Kirilenko's going bye-bye, but Milos and Shved have a pretty good thing going up top and Nenad Krstic just picked up November's MVP honors. I think they'll be all right. 2
3 Maccabi Electra (5-1) Sofo finally cranked out one of those monster first halves we've come to expect (complete with the lackadaisical second half, most of which is spent panting for oxygen), and Yogev Ohayon keeps getting better at the point. With Farmar gone, Langford will need to slide on into the scorer's role. 4
4 Unics Kazan (4-2) One of the only teams controlling their own destiny in the EL. Their three straight wins include two on the road, one of which was against Siena. Besides a week eight trip to Barcelona, it should be smooth sailing form here. 7-3 is possible, while 6-4 is the absolute worst they'll do. 11
5 Real Madrid (4-2) A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Madrid was on the up and up despite two straight L's. An Efes blowout and Spirou nailbiter later and it's still looking solid. The X-Factor now will be how Pocius and Carroll fill the void Rudy Fernandez will leave once he's in Dallas for good. Or, who Madrid signs to replace him... 13
6 Panathinaikos (4-2) It took one of Dimitris Diamantidis' grandest miracles to avoid a third straight loss last week in Malaga. Luckily for them, Group B is an absolute mess behind them. If they hold serve and beat Bamberg by 4+ in the final week, second place in the group (behind CSKA) is theirs for the taking. 3
7 Montepaschi Siena (4-2) Rimantas Kaukenas has been the only solid Plan B for Siena behind Bo, but they'll need to add another athlete if they want to compete with the EL's best. Mailk Hairston, we hardly knew ye... 5
8 Caja Laboral (4-2) Kevin Seraphin is D.C.-bound right as Milko Bjelica is sidelined with an injury. And just when they think they've found an answer at the point, Goran Dragic is summoned to Houston. Looks like they'll have to make due and dance with the dates who brung 'em. 6
9 Anadolu Efes (3-3) They don't strike me as a top ten team at the moment, but with two wins against Partizan and a win at Milano in their back pocket, they should feel pretty comfortable in the (likely) event of a tiebreak scenario. 14
10 Unicaja (3-3) Last time around I praised their mental toughness. Then, they turn around and blow a four-point lead with 15 seconds left against Panathinaikos. Yeah. That's the Unicaja I know and love. 8
11 Fenerbahçe Ülker (3-3) A .500 ball club right now any way you slice it. They've won three, lost three. They've scored 473 while letting up 479. They're in every game they play, yet they lack that foot-on-neck gear when they find themselves in the lead. They need to toughen up, and losing Sefolosha won't help things. 10
12 Olympiacos (3-3) Olympiacos' offense is chaotic, to say the least, but Spanoulis thrives when things break down. Against disciplined opponents, they'll surely struggle. 18
13 Galatasaray (3-3) As up and down and unconvincing as they've been, they've beaten the two teams they had to beat: Asseco Prokom twice, and once at Union Olimpija. If they bury the Slovenians in Turkey three weeks from now, they're likely through. 16
14 Partizan (3-3) On the heels of a three-game winning streak and one incredible fourth quarter comeback in Milano, Partizan showed up in Istanbul with more momentum than anyone in the league. They proceeded to empty out their pockets and leave all that Mo' just sitting there. Up for grabs. Help yourself, guys. Efes obliged, and Partizan lost. The game, their momentum and now their best player, Nikola Pekovic. 15
15 Cantu (3-3) The road tests proved too much for them, but they've still got two home games (Caja Laboral this week, Fenerbahçe in week ten) to get to .500 and enter into the precarious world of tiebreakers. 9
16 KK Zagreb (2-4) Just as ELA predicted, Zagreb has won two straight and now has an outside shot at qualifying. 24
17 Olimpia Milano (2-4) Cook, Fotsis, Nicholas and Bourousis have been huge disappointments and Hairston hasn't been as consistent as Milano had hoped. When folks are underachieving across the board, it's time to glance over at the bench and consider changes. 12
18 Bilbao (2-4) Aaron Jackson looks like a man who's forgotten when and how to put his confidence to good use. It might help if someone else on the team felt like penetrating off the bounce (Janis Blums, you reading this?). 19
19 SLUC Nancy (3-3) Nancy's hopes of advancing are leaving on the same plane that'll fly Nico Batum back to Portland. They don't have the tiebreaker with Cantu and their last four are against teams just as desperate as they are for every single point. Call it premature, but I'm nailing up this coffin for good. 7
20 Bamberg (2-4) Want to talk about killing momentum? Try beating Panathinaikos one week then losing to lowly KK Zagreb the next. If they don't advance now, they'll have week six (and themselves) to blame. 17
21 Zalgiris (1-5) Once Lawson leaves, Mantas can go back to being singular, uninhibited Mantas. But it's probably too late. 20
22 Union Olimpija (1-5) To keep hopes of advancing alive, Ljubljana needs to win both road games at Prokom and Galatasaray and likely one at home against either Siena or Kazan. Yikes. 22
23 Belgacom Spirou (1-5) With the exception of week one's 76-100 loss to Madrid, the Belgians haven't made getting blown out a habit. And...yeah. That's as positive as I'm willing to go. 21
24 Asseco Prokom (0-6) I'd like to thank Prokom's innumerable inadequacies for giving Donatas a chance to grow and glisten. 23