by Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
In this week’s preview Ricky Rubio gets exposed, Nando de Colo can’t buy a bucket and Madrid has a hoarding problem. Last time we did this, I finished 6-2 to move the overall record to 68-35.
Across the pond we go…
Panathinaikos (2-1) vs. Caja Laboral (2-1)
Esteban Batista’s arrival in Vitoria couldn’t have been more well-received by the Caja faithful. He runs the floor, he attacks every rebound with both mitts, and 74 percent of his shots have found the bottom of the net in his first three EL games. As an outlier of rigor, Esteban’s beefed up the backbone on a Baskonia team that was cotton soft during the regular season. But while boxing out opponents, he’s also shouldered out his teammate, Stanko Barac, whose 14, 7 and 1.3 blocks over the first 10 games had him projected as an All-Euroleaguer. But ever since Batista showed up, he’s been hogging all the fun; Stanko’s minutes have dropped from 26 to 15 and his 14 and 7 have shrunk to 6 and 3. If Dusko Ivanovic can figure out how to harness the beastliness of both going forward, Final Four aspirations shouldn’t seem silly. If the Barac-Batista dynamic deteriorates into a power struggle, the reputation of Caja Laboral’s paint as a one-horse town will persist, and the discontent will only fester. This round will go to the Batiste with an “e” on the end: Mike Batiste, and Panathinaikos.
Lietuvos Rytas (1-2) vs. Unicaja (1-2)
Unicaja plucked Terrell McIntyre from Siena this summer in hopes of stabilizing their their mercurial offense, swapping him in for the speedy Omar Cook who fled north and eastward for Valencia. Thanks to age and injury, T-Mac stumbled and sat his way to a forgettable first half, missing 11 of a possible 33 games between the ACB and EL, averaging just 7 and 3.5 assists when he did suit up. Not what you’d expect from a guy who’s been arguably the EL’s best point guard over the past three seasons with Siena. But over the last few weeks, he’s figured out a way to earn his paycheck, putting up 11+ in his last three ACB contests, which only happened twice in his first 12 tries. With McIntyre leveling off as a solid, ball control, old guy shooter (think Mike Bibby), it’ll be up to new addition Gerald Fitch to carry the scoring load against Lietuvos Rytas this week. If Rytas decides to guard him straight up with Martynas Gecevicius, put 20 points in the books and… Continue Reading