BARCELONA — Bo McCalebb stands to Andrei Kirilenko’s left with Macedonia’s flag draped around his neck. Several feet to Bo’s left, just past Tony Parker and right before Pau Gasol is Juan Carlos Navarro, still wearing his number seven España jersey and smiling weakly. Both Bo and La Bomba are holding onto their All EuroBasket trophies, the undeniable heroes of the summer.
But only Navarro waits on a medal. A gold one, in fact. That’s how it works when you’re a superstar surrounded by super teammates like Pau and Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Serge Ibaka; you tend to win things.
That was September 18 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Spain had beaten France to take home EuroBasket gold behind 27 points from Navarro, and Macedonia had fallen to Russia despite 22 from McCalebb, missing out on the bronze. It was the last time McCalebb and Navarro shared a basketball court.
On Thursday night in Palau Blaugrana, they reunited for what was billed as a Euroleague prize fight. Two of the league’s remaining undefeateds in the same building: McCalebb’s Montepaschi Siena against Navarro’s Regal Barcelona squad.
But you know what happens when you’re a superstar surrounded by super teammates? That’s right. You tend to win things. Thursday was no exception, as Navarro sat back and scored just eight points, letting Chuck Eidson and Erazem Lorbek carry Barcelona to a 92-75 victory over the Italian champs.
Eidson, the former South Carolina Gamecock, started the game with a 3-pointer from the wing and capped it off with a lefty flush in the waning seconds to finish with a healthy 22 points and an index rating of 34 (only SLUC Nancy’s Nicolas Batum did better with a 35).
Lorbek, the 6’10″ Slovenian, continued his stealthy MVP push by dropping 17 on the Italians. Erazem made both of his threes, bringing him to a mind boggling seven-for-eight on the season (that’s 87.5 percent, people). His efficiency from inside the arc isn’t far off either, as 23 of his 32 shots have found the bottom of the net (71.8 percent, if you don’t have a calculator handy).
Thanks to that George Hill-for-Kawhi Leonard draft night swap with the Pacers, the Spurs hold Lorbek’s rights.
McCalebb darted around the court in his trademark shin-high socks and black low-top Nikes and ended up with 20 points, the most anyone has amassed against Barca this season, but his supporting cast stumbled. Kristof Lavrinovic had 13 and former Raptor, Hornet and Rocket David Andersen chipped in with 12 against his former team.
Yet there was still entertainment hidden within this one-sided battle. All night Siena’s David Moss and Barca’s Pete Mickeal had been bumping foreheads and forearms until they snapped simultaneously in the second quarter, leading to a skirmish which led to both of their ejections.
The fans weren’t too happy with referees’ decision and jeered them roundly, but from Barcelona’s perspective it was a pretty advantageous exchange. While Mickeal’s a more accomplished player than Moss, Barca’s bench is deeper than a Shakespeare sonnet and is built to sustain bumps in the road. Siena, on the other hand, isn’t as well equipped, especially after releasing DaJuan Summers last week.
But the nearly 6,000 Barcelona fans got what they wanted shortly after halftime, as McCalebb flew backwards out of bounds, knocking one ref off of his feet and into the scorer’s table. The tumble earned a standing ovation and giddy cheers from the crowd, who applauded the misfortune of their whistle-wielding counterpart.
Thanks to the 17-point margin of victory, the refs left the stadium unharmed. And I left knowing I’d just watched the world’s best team treat a title contender like a punching bag.
Elsewhere In Europe…
Andrei Kirilenko put a rough first half behind him and willed CSKA Moscow to a 78-76 overtime victory over Panathinaikos in Athens. AK-47 (wearing 15 in Euroleague play due to some arbitrary jersey regulations) had only nine points but mustered five blocks, including a big one late against All-Euroleaguer Mike Batiste. Moscow joins Barcelona as the only other 4-0 team in the EL.
On the rustier side of that coin is KK Zagreb and Asseco Prokom, who are bringing up the caboose at 0-4. Zagreb took it on the chin 99-85 to Unicaja and Unics Kazan bested Asseco Prokom 72-68, but the real fun for Prokom came earlier in the week when Cleveland Cavalier Alonzo Gee left the team via text message. I’m sure head coach Tomas Pacesas absolutely adored that.
Not the wisest career move for Alonzo, whose NBA deal is up after this season and might be looking for a job. Two weeks ago, Brose Baskets Bamberg—German champs and EL participants—had their scouting director at the Prokom-Barcelona game to size up Gee as a possible add for next season, but it’s stunts like these that land you on the Euroleague’s blacklist.
Sonny Weems continues to impress in Lithuania, and this time his scoring barrage finally came in a win as Zalgiris took down Bamberg in Kaunas 81-70 to move both teams to 1-3. Sonny dropped 22 and clanked in a go-ahead runner from just inside halfcourt as time expired in the first half, giving Zalgiris a three-point lead they’d never relinquish.
Add a dunk on the break and Sonny boy makes up 20 percent of your weekly top ten:
Jordan Farmar followed last week’s dazzling performance with another, scoring 18 with six dimes in Maccabi’s 79-72 victory over Anadolu Efes in Istanbul. Sasha Vujacic answered with 21 for the Turks, but it took him 17 shots (13 threes) to do it. You can’t fault the effort, just everything else.
And finally we bring you to Rony Seikaly. The Lebanese-born forward has made headlines a few times in his career—a consensus second team All-American for Syracuse in 1988, the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 1990 with the Miami Heat, a lucky (ex-)husband to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl Elsa Benitez—but now I present to you: DJ Rony Seikaly.
Grab your glow sticks and vibe out to his newest club banger, Crazy Powder. See y’all next week.
Nick Gibson covers Euroleague and other European basketball developments for SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear each Friday. Click here to follow him on Twitter.