Two weeks deep, the Euroleague is sliced into thirds: there are the eight teams that haven’t lost a game, the eight teams that haven’t won a game, and the eight teams that have split the pair.
Next in line at No. 3 was Fenerbahce Ulker, who gracefully eluded the Sheridan Hoops curse and beat Union Olimpija on the road.
But the curse still claimed two victims, however, as Fenerbahce had one starter sent to prison, and another hobble off the court with an ankle injury.
We’ll see if the Turks can hold the top spot for more than a week, but it won’t be easy: they’ve got a date with last week’s No.2, Real Madrid, this Thursday.
On to the rankings…
|1||LAST WEEK: Won 81-75 at Union Olimpija
THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Real Madrid
Union Olimpija’s guards weren’t as successful keeping Bo McCalebb out of the lane as Slovenian border control was at keeping Romain Sato out of the country. And while Romain Sato’s passport issues will be worth monitoring, the bigger question will be whether Fenerbahace will get McCalebb back for their game against Real Madrid, after the guard from New Orleans left in the second half with an ankle injury.
|2||LAST WEEK: Won 76-71 at Partizan in OT
THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Bamberg
Ettore Messina is 2-0 after leaving the Lakers’ bench to return to Euroleague sidelines, but his wins have come narrowly against two of the EL’s youngest teams, Lietuvos Rytas and now Partizan—whom CSKA needed extra time to beat. Week Two MVP Sonny Weems had 30 points largely on isolation plays, but the Russians will be at their best when they start figuring out how to play off one another. Just nine assists in week two and the lowest assist-to-TO rate in the league (.59) means they’re not there yet.
|3||Regal Barcelona(2-0)||LAST WEEK: Won 67-49 vs. Lietuvos Rytas
THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Besiktas
Barcelona has silenced any theories about a diminished defensive presence this season after letting go of Fran Vazquez, Boni N’Dong, Kosta Perovic and Chuck Eidson: no team has allowed fewer threes (4.0), free throws made and allowed (5.5 and 9.0, respectively) or points per game (54.5; Zalgiris is a distant second at 66.5). CSKA Moscow is the only team in Group D that can put 70 on them.
|4||Real Madrid (1-1)||LAST WEEK: Lost 86-85 at Khimki
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Fenerbahce Ulker
The right side of my brain saw Khimki’s bigs—Paul Davis, James Augustine and Kresimir Loncar—go 14-of-18 for 41 points and 16 boards as the Russians entered the fourth quarter up 14; the left side, however, remembers the creativity and vigor with which Jaycee Carroll and Rudy Fernandez helped the Spaniards briefly tie things up during a 30-point fourth quarter. Both sides remember that Sergio Llull was out.
|5||Olympiacos (1-1)||LAST WEEK: Lost 98-72 at Anadolu Efes
THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Zalgiris
Olympiacos hadn’t lost a game since March 23, and decided to blow that streak in style last week in Istanbul with a 26-point road failure. Olympaicos has given up a league worst 89.5 ppg in their first two and they almost let Jordan Farmar record the third EL triple double this millennium with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. (Nikola Vujcic, who played for the Reds between 2008-10, has the other two. If you don’t know Nikola, dig through YouTube. Sabonis Lite.)
|6||Maccabi Tel Aviv (2-0)||LAST WEEK: Won 70-68 vs. Montepaschi Siena
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Elan Chalon
Ricky Hickman is getting into the paint, getting to the line and getting into his opponent’s shirt on D. Though slightly slighter in build, he’s been everything to David Blatt that Jeremy Pargo was in 2011 on a Maccabi team that made it to the Euroleague Final Four in Barcelona.
|7||Khimki Moscow (1-1)||LAST WEEK: Won 86-85 vs. Real Madrid
THIS WEEK: Friday at Cantu
Much like Real Madrid’s loss, Khimki’s win this week poses a similar, albeit opposite, dilemma: how does one weigh three outstanding quarters and across-the-board contributions against one defensively inept period that nearly saw Khimki cough up an incredibly valuable victory? In the end, Zoran Planinic’s declaration that he’s a top Euroleague point guard and his potency when paired with a healthy Paul Davis has saved grace for that other Moscow team.
|8||Panathinaikos(1-1)||LAST WEEK: Won 78-76 vs. Cantu
THIS WEEK: Friday at Union Olimpija
Sofoklis Schortsanitis’ 23-point Panathinaikos debut raised plenty of eyebrows. While some were raised in pure awe, a majority of those brows were soaked with skepticism: “Well, just don’t get used to that every week.” Big Sofo had something for the skeptics in week two: 19 points in just 18 minutes with more rebounds and fewer turnovers. And what’s more, the career 58.7 percent free throw chucker made 9-of-11 from the stripe.
|9||Zalgiris (2-0)||LAST WEEK: Won 77-71 at Caja Laboral
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Olympiacos
I’ve called them old, slow and injury prone. Through two weeks, they’ve looked experienced, calculated and have achieved durability through depth. Defensively, only Barcelona has allowed fewer points (66.5 ppg); offensively, Zalgiris is in the top five for both field goal and free throw percentage and have seven players averaging between 8.5 and 13.5 points per game. (Paulius Jankunas has the slight edge over Marko Popovic’s 13.0 for the Zalgiris lead.) Now they’ll travel to Greece to face the recently defeated champs, Olympiacos. A win there would eliminate any doubt that Zalgiris should be taken seriously.
|10||Armani Milano (2-0)||LAST WEEK: Won 83-71 at Cedevita Zagreb
THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Caja Laboral
The apathetic slop we saw out of Milano last year seems to be a thing of the past, and a roster that seemed stale and disparate now looks more like a team that’s spent two offseasons learning one another’s tendencies. Seeing how Milano react to a hungry 0-2 Caja Laboral side at home will give us a better idea of how far Scariolo’s bunch has come since last season. We’ve known they can score, but can they scrap?
|11||Anadolu Efes (1-1)||LAST WEEK: Won 98-72 vs. Olympiacos
THIS WEEK: Friday vs. Cedevita
In every level of basketball, having an elite point guard means having a chance to win each time out. So even if you’re playing the defending champs who haven’t lost in seven months, a 25-point, 8-rebound, 9-assist explosion out of Jordan Farmar is enough to get it done. Make 9-of-14 threes as a team and get to the line 32 times (making 21 of those) and the rout, apparently, is on. Now after toppling No. 1, they get to feast on No. 23.
|12||Besiktas (2-0)||LAST WEEK: Won 86-71 at Bamberg
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Barcelona
On his third Euroleague team in as many years, ex-Baylor guard Curtis Jerrells is off to easily his best start with outbursts of 15 then 27 points for a Besiktas team that lost a majority of its scoring punch from last season when David Hawkins, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Marcelus Kemp left. The issues in the past have come in the consistency department for Curtis, and he’s just days away from going against the Euroleague’s stingiest defense in Barcelona.
|13||Alba Berlin (2-0)||LAST WEEK: Won 74-71 vs. Elan Chalon
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Asseco Prokom
Former UNC Tar Heel Deon Thompson had EL career highs in points (24) and rebounds (8) against Chalon. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered after another doctor ordered Nathan Peavy to sit out the entire season with a ruptured ACL.
|14||Unicaja (1-1)||LAST WEEK: Won 77-75 at Asseco Prokom
THIS WEEK: Friday vs. Montepaschi Siena
The new pieces aren’t clicking exceptionally well—this is still Unicaja, after all—but at least their team photo is feng shui.
|15||Caja Laboral (0-2)||LAST WEEK: Lost 77-71 vs. Zalgiris
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Milano
Getting Milko Bjelica helped, but not to the degree that losing Taylor Rochestie at the point hurt. Caja Laboral has size that can score in Andres Nocioni, Fernando San Emeterio, the Bjelica Boys (Nemanja and Milko–no relation) and Maciej Lampe. Without a show starter, however, it’ll become harder and harder for Caja Laboral to score as teams learn to double down and take away one-on-one scenarios.
|16||Montepaschi Siena (0-2)||LAST WEEK: Lost 70-68 at Maccabi
THIS WEEK: Friday at Unicaja
Bounced back from Berlin blasting at home with a tamer, 2-point road loss against a contender. Still not convinced Bobby Brown deserves the role he’s been handed as a go-to scorer.
|17||Partizan (0-2)||LAST WEEK: Lost 76-71 vs. CSKA Moscow in OT
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Lietuvos Rytas
At age 25, Andrey Vorontsevich and Milos Teodosic were the youngest CSKA players to see the floor against Partizan. Partizan’s oldest was Marko Cakarevic, who turns 25 next May. An overtime loss is nothing to be ashamed of.
|18||Cantú (0-2)||LAST WEEK: Lost 78-76 at Panathinaikos
THIS WEEK: Friday vs. Khimki
Cantu’s 2012 side—complete with Vladimir Micov, Giorgi Shermadini and Gianluca Basile—made it a habit to win close games. Those who’ve replaced them—Jeff Brooks, Alex Tyus and Pietro Aradori—have been on the wrong end of those same nail biters. I still can’t see this team in the Top 16 over Khimki or Panathinaikos.
|19||Elan Chalon (1-1)||LAST WEEK: Lost 74-71 at Alba Berlin
THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Maccabi
If it seems like the French team leans a little too heavily on Steed Tchicamboud, it’s because they do; the French point guard has sat only 4:04 all season long.
|20||Union Olimpija (1-1)|| WEEK: Lost 81-75 vs. Fenerbahce Ulker
THIS WEEK: Friday vs. Panathinaikos
The glass slipper slipped right off against Fenerbahce, but the Slovenians’ execution was en pointe. If they can hit more shots against a Panathinaikos team that’s still finding itself offensively, a 2-1 record is not out of the question.
|21||Lietuvos Rytas (0-2)||LAST WEEK: Lost 84-71 vs. Union Oimpija
THIS WEEK: Thursday at Panathinaikos
Opening the season against CSKA and Barcelona usually results in an 0-2 record, but this time it came with the Lithuanian bonus: one fired head coach, Aleksandar Dzikic. Loser of this week’s game against Partizan falls to 0-3, so Renaldas Seibutis will be pushing his troops as hard as ever.
|22||Bamberg (0-2)||LAST WEEK: Lost 86-71 vs. Besiktas
THIS WEEK: Thursday at CSKA Moscow
Not once did Anton Gavel shoot the ball more than 10 times last season in an EL game, but he’s put up 11 and 12 in Bamberg’s first two games, respectively. While Gavel’s an unlikely leading scorer, who else would you have create? Casey Jacobsen and Bostjan Nachbar are solid veteran assets, but outside of Gavel and maybe Teddy Gipson, nobody on this team can create his own shot.
|23||Asseco Prokom (0-2)||LAST WEEK: Lost 77-75 vs. Unicaja Malaga
THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Alba Berlin
Asseco Prokom excavates themselves from the bottom spot thanks to a Euroleague high 39 assists through two games and another forceful performance up top from Lukasz Koszarek, who notched 16 points and 8 assists for the Poles against Unicaja.
|LAST WEEK: Lost 83-71 vs. Milano
THIS WEEK: Friday at Anadolu Efes
Another huge game out of Mickael Gelabale + Another slightly-less-huge game from Bracey Wright = Another huge Cedevita loss. The fact that they were down just three to Milano entering the fourth quarter makes the box score blowout hurt even worse.
Nick Gibson, editor of EuroleagueAdventures.com, covers Euroleague and other international basketball developments for SheridanHoops.com. His Euroleague Power Rankings come out every Monday. Click here to follow him on Twitter.