Hoopsquad Hierarchy: Joe Ingles has Barcelona on his back.

By: Freaknick / @euro_adventures

Picking up Joe Ingles to fill in for the injured Gianluca Basile was like surgically repairing a scraped knee.  Basile’s best days are behind him, good for some shooting and ball management while Joe Ingles had put his name into the All-ACB hat with averages of 14 points and 5 rebounds with CB Granada.

Then, Juan Carlos Navarro got hurt and Pete Mickeal was hot on his heels, and suddenly Ingles’ presence on the wing was something of a necessity. He responded by transitioning seamlessly into Barcelona’s offense, scoring 16 as the only player to log 30+ minutes for Xavi Pascual in just his second Euroleague game.  Navarro and Mickeal should both be back before group play ends in four weeks, but those two superstars will quickly realize that they need to make room for one more.  More hungry hands for Rubio to feed?  Sounds good.

RankTeam (EL record)What they did to get here and who's up next...Last Week
1Maccabi Electra (5-1)After shooting under 50% both on 2-pointers and free throwsin their first meeting (the latter an unforgivable offense), Maccabi upped them all and held Caja Laboral to just 70 points after watching them drop 94 in the season opener. Nobody is playing better than November MVP Chuck Eidson, and no team can touch Maccabi right now. Thursday at Zalgiris1 (81-70 W vs. Caja Laboral)
2Fenerbahçe Ülker (5-1)A win against Lietuvos Rytas might not seem like anything special, but playing on the road coming off a loss is never easy, especially when that home team has Mo' on their sideline. One more warm up game against Cibona before the much-anticipated rematch against Barcelona. Wednesday vs. Cibona3 (75-81 W at Lietuvos Rytas)
3Montepaschi Siena (5-1)Ksistof Lavrinovic is lucky he plays in Pianigiani's defensive sets, because although committing only 8 fouls in 6 games is great for one's RKG, a big man being that passive on defense would usually spell trouble. Luckily Milovan Rakovic, Tomas Ress and Andrea Michelori are cool with picking up the pieces behind him and letting him pile up an EL-best 36 RKG last week. Wednesday vs. Lietuvos Rytas5 (70-61 W at Cholet)
4Regal FC Barcelona (4-2)So why the big jump after eating winless Cibona? Because Ricky Rubio woke up form his season-lon slumber and Joe Ingles proved that he can fill in for Pete Mickael when needed. In the long run, his and Navarro's absence are going to help the champs get close to the top, and now new faces could help them make the final push. Thursday vs. Cibona9 (75-94 W at Cibona)
5Zalgiris (4-2)Fast and loose has gotten this assembly farther than many expected, and if they can split the final four games then they can lock up second place in Group A. I don't need to remind you how huge that would be. Thursday vs. Maccabi Electra2 (68-62 L at Partizan)
6Efes Pilsen (4-2)Sinan Erdem held serve against the upstart Union Olimpijans, but three of their final four matches come on the road, so veterans like Rakocevic and Kerem Tunceri need to rub some composure off on their mates and snatch one or two if they want to creep onto Group D's precipice. Thursday at Valencia8 (84-78 W vs. Union Olimpija)
7Partizan (4-2)Oliver LaFayette was effective as a fire starter, but unlike McCalebb last year, he couldn't convert off the dribble, hitting only 22% of his shots this season. After cutting him loose, Partizan hopes Curtis Jerrells can bring Oliver's energy plus some made buckets. Lord knows he'll get his chances, as there's no viable option behind him. Wednesday at BC Khimki10 (68-62 W vs. Zalgiris)
8Union Olimpija (4-2)Their one road win this season came against AJ Milano, who they'll see at home this week. Saso Ozbolt is the only guy who hasn't gotten comfortablein Stozice, averaging 10.3 away from home and only 6.6 in Ljubljana. Considering his face was squashed underneath Mike Batiste's shoe in one of those contests, I guess I'll forgive him. Thursday vs. AJ Milano4 (84-78 L at Efes Pilsen)
9Olympiacos (4-2)Olympiacos is a different beast on the road, so their 14-point loss in Madrid certainly came with a silver lining: they still a 2-point margin in head-to-heads with Madrid, leaving them as a virtual lock for first place in Group B. Maybe now that Theo Paploukas is back in action, he can show them how to pick up W's outside of Piraeus. Thursday vs. Brose Baskets7 (82-68 L at Real Madrid)
10Real Madrid (4-2)The best rebounding team in the competition will never go on long losing streaks, and Madrid is no exception. With pablo Prigioni back at the point, Sergio Rodriguez will be freed up to do what he loves to do: dribble, dribble some more and then shoot.Thursday at Unicaja13 (82-68 W vs. Olympiacos)
11Panathinaikos (4-2)I forgive tough road losses, but embarrassments at home are no laughing matter. Maybe Aleks Maric's 11 minutes per game were the difference between winning and losing, as Kostas Tsartsaris is past his prime and Ian Vougioukas might not be as ready as I thought he was. Wednesday at CSKA Moscow6 (69-73 L vs. Valencia)
12Unicaja (3-3)Unicaja has already gotten four road games out of the way, but laziness cost them what could've been a pivotal win in Charleroi. I'm thrilled that Robert Archibald is back in the lineup, but keeping Joel Freeland under 20 minutes and benching Augusot Cesar Lima for the duration are two very bad ideas. Thursday vs. Real Madrid12 (79-74 L at Spirou)
13Virtus Roma (3-3)I beg for Charles Smith to pick it up and he responds with the shot of the year: a turnaround corner three to win by one as time expires. OK, Charles. You win. Thursday vs. Spirou Charleroi22 (67-68 W at Brose Baskets)
14Valencia (2-4)With questions about his and de Colo's ability to share a court without hurting production, Omar Cook turned his worst shooting day (1/8) into his most effective as a facilitator with 9 assists. They made Panathinaikos play their game last week, a feat not easily accomplished in OAKA Arena. Svetislav Pesic is 1-1 and things are looking up in Valencia. Thursday vs. Efes Pilsen21 (69-73 W at Panathinaikos)
15Armani Jeans Milano (3-3)I've always had an illogical obsession with Ibrahim Jaaber, and he finally reciprocated my fanhood by giving us a cash money three in the final seconds to give Roma the win in Moscow. And after grabbing 8 rebounds in 16 minutes, it looks as if 19-year-old Nicolo Melli is ready for his post up. Thursday at Union Olimpija19 (71-65 W vs. CSKA Moscow)
16Spirou Charleroi (2-4)Point guard Demond Mallet put together a combined RKG of 30 through the first four weeks, all Spirou losses. In the last two weeks he's stacked up RKG's of 19 and 23, good for 42 in total. His assists are up, scoring too, and Mallet seems poised to lead this team out of Group B's gutter. His issues are a reflection of his team's however, and consistency will be key going forward. Thursday at Virtus Roma 18 (79-74 W vs. Unicaja)
17Caja Laboral (2-4)This might be the best representative example of how insane this EL season has been: the ACB Champions beat whooped my #1, Maccabi, by 16 in week one and continued their tour de force the following week with a road win against Asseco Prokom. They levitated to the second spot on this very list before losing four straight games, one of them at home to Zalgiris. Determined to find positives in all of this, they now the 37 ways they can be beaten (common them among them all: physical toughness); also they only have one more game away from Fernando Buesa and Stanko Barac has performed at a Tiago-level all season long, scooping up 13 reounds, 18 points and 4 blocks last week and held Sofoklis Schortsanitis to 3/9 from the floor in Tel Aviv. Wednesday vs. Asseco Prokom14 (81-70 L at Maccabi Electra)
18BC Khimki (2-4)A team that once showed playoff and perhaps even Final Four promise has skidded off their original path and now look like a jumbled mess. Sergio Scariolo might be looking for a new job if things don't get better in Moscow. Thomas Kelati's return could give them a great shooter off the bench, but it also runs the risk of mucking things up in a rotation which already lacks definition. Wednesday vs. Partizan15 (71-67 L at Asseco Prokom)
19Cholet (3-3)With Fabien Causeur out with injury, I like Erman Kunter's decision to play DeMarcus Nelson in the 36-minute range, as few guards can stick with Nelson in the weight room. Nelson, Antywane Robinson and Randal Falker made up a super tough supporting cast for the Sammy Mejia show, which could use a week five re-run this Thursday. Thursday at Barcelona11 (61-70 L vs. Montepaschi Siena)
20Lietuvos Rytas (1-5)Sarunas Jasikevicius looked right at home last week in a close one with Fenerbahçe, but it's getting a little late in the season for moral victories. Wednesday at Montepaschi Siena17 (75-81 L vs. Fenerbahçe Ülker)
21Brose Baskets Bamberg (2-4)Two of their three straight L's have come at home, and now three of their last four are beyond German borders. Combined margin of defeat the past three defeats: 7. They're close, but close won't get them into the 2011. Thursday vs. Lottomatica Roma16 (67-68 L vs. Virtus Roma)
22CSKA Moscow (1-5)Pulling CSKA out of this tailspin would be one of Ramunas Siskauskas' finest feats as a pro. Seriously. Wednesday vs. Panathinaikos20 (71-65 L at AJ Milano)
23Asseco Prokom (1-5)I didn't think it would take a breakout performance from Filip Videnov to get Prokom over the hump. Wednesday at Caja Laboral23 (71-67 W vs. BC Khimki)
24Cibona (0-6)If the Euroleague had a U-22 division, Leon Radosevic and Bojan Bogdanovic would f*ck sh*t up. Wednesday at Fenerbahçe Ülker24 (75-94 L vs. Regal Barcelona)
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