By: Nick Gibson and Sam Meyerkopf / @euro_adventures
With our backs stuck in a week-long hunch and our fridge full of little more than mustard, hot sauce and several slices of gouda, it’s time for a change of pace. Time to throw on pants and leave ELA Headquarters tonight. Destination: Palau Blaugrana Arena to spend some quality time with Barcelona and Asseco Prokom.
And since nothing does live better than hoops, here’s what we’re looking for:
1. Jerel Blassingame’s In-Person Quickness vs. Pooh Jeter’s: Watch a guy on television or a choppy illegal stream and quickness will jump out at you. You might raise an eyebrow, rock your shoulders back or even throw out an involuntary Damn. But in person, that same quickness will bear hug you, hog tie you and pimp slap your kneecaps until you cry Uncle. Last weekend in Badalona, Pooh Jeter’s pimp hand was strong. Tonight, just a few metro stops away from us, I expect Jerel Blassingame to dish out a backhand I won’t soon forget.
2. Donatas Motiejunas’ New Haircut: Not now, chief. He’s in the fucking zone.
3. Is Pete Mickeal still…Pete Mickeal? After 15 points in the Euroleague’s first week, it would seem he’s left last year’s injuries behind him, but two scoreless outings in his first four ACB contests are cause for concern. Is this Pete the one who could guards down on the blocks or forwards off the dribble? Or is he an aging star who’s already yielded to Barcelona’s new Mr. Versatile, Chuck Eidson?
4. Is Alonzo Gee a Post Player? He’s listed in the Power Forwards and Centers portion of the Euroleague Fantasy Challenge and he’s putting rebounding numbers to back it up: nine boards in his first EL game and an average of 8.7 in the VTB United League. Still, after watching him at Alabama and then last year with the Cavs, I just can’t see it.
Fine, you caught me. I didn’t watch any Cavs games last year. But still.
5. Is Fran Vazquez Still My Favorite? For a couple years I’ve called him the best big in Europe, an endorsement the Twitterspehere has not openly embraced. But after a Spain-less summer for big Frannie and spotty minutes for the better part of two seasons, he’s making it harder for me to validate my claim. Nothing like a little face-to-face to settle our dispute. Come back to me, Fran. They’re laughing at us.
1. Juan Carlos Navarro Live: I haven’t been able to witness the greatness that is La Bomba in person since the Paris Final Four, and that’s just far too long to go without seeing that tear drop live. He’s got the smoothest game in Europe and it becomes even more addictive every time you see him play. Maybe 20, 30, 40 points, he’s got it in him. Shoot for the moon tonight, Juan Carlos.
2. The Development of Donatas: A new haircut, a new attitude, and hopefully a more developed game. This is Donatas’ second ever real Euroleague game (he amassed 21 minutes and just four points in three games back with Zalgiris in 2007-08 and played four with Benetton in the 2009-10 qualifying round), and it won’t be easy; he’s going up against one of the best teams this continent has to offer. How will he respond? This is as close as you can get to an NBA-type frontcourt and if Donatas wants to play in the Association eventually, he has to start proving his worth against Europe’s big boys now.
3. Is Marcelinho Huertas the Best Pure Point Guard in Europe? I’m not sure if there is a better passer or creator for his teammates in Europe—Hell, maybe the world—than Marcelinho Huertas. He’s a wizard out there, magically finding his teammates in their favorite spots on the floor. If my eyes aren’t following Navarro around the court, then they’ll be fixated on the crisp passes of Huertas
4. The Palau Blaugrana Crowd: I’ve never witnessed a Barcelona game at home and I’m beyond curious what that that atmosphere. Also after the game, who stays around to answer questions and who darts right out to their car? Is there a local bar right by the stadium where all the players hang? What kind of shampoo does Victor Sada use? I’ll stop there before this gets weird(er).
5. The Possible Purchasing of Euroleague Jerseys: Will I find the Holy Grail of Euroleague jerseys shops tonight? Will I be able to walk in some little shop or find a souvenir shop inside that will allow to overpay for a jersey? Will I be rocking Navarro on my back when I awake in the morning? Only time will tell.