by Nick Gibson

Pionir Arena was half annoyed and half restless. Then just mostly annoyed. Ten minutes after watching Pete Mickael’s would-be gamewinner rim out, Partizan waited for the referees to confirm their victory. They conferred with one another then watched the replay, then conferred, then waltzed again to the video monitor to see if Partizan had interfered with the basket or not. Over the loudspeakers came the news, a Partizan win! But wait, an appeal was filed and the call went to arbitration. A week after that the Euroleague made it official: Barcelona had lost their first game of the year.

That’s how hard is to beat this year’s Barcelona team, who took down Real Madrid 79-57 in their December ACB match. Despite the total destruction that took place that evening, Real Madrid is second to Barcelona in the ACB and they’re sporting an 11-5 record in the Euroleague. Running the gauntlet in the impossibly difficult Group F will help them prepare for Barcelona. Hopefully.

Whippersnapper Watch: Ricky Rubio, PG Barcelona | 6-4 | 180 pounds | 1990
Oh, you’ve heard of him? Then I can skip all the hyperbole and tell you he’s playing extremely well keeps getting better. In his last ACB game against Caja Laboral he went 5/5 from downtown and he sits fifth in the EL in assists in only 20 minutes per game. One of the two times he played over 25 minutes in the EL, he wound up with Week 10 MVP honors based on this line:

14 points (2/5 FG, 9/10 FT), 3 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals, 1 turnover in 25:06

All in all he’s averaging 6 points, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game and he’s hit a Calderon-ish 37/39 from the line (if I said ‘Nash-ish’ the sky Continue Reading