Euroleague Update: Mirotic (Still) Rising, Barcelona Not Losing

Unicaja won its sixth game in a row, a 63-48 sludge fest against lowly Asseco Prokom from Gdynia, Poland.  Malaga got 12 points from Kosta Perovic, 11 from Atlanta native Earl Calloway, and single digits from eight others.  Calloway (12.7 ppg) and former UConn Huskie Marcus Williams (11.1 ppg) lead a helter skelter attack on offense, but it’s Unicaja’s team length on the boards that cleans up the club’s many mistakes.

This week, all 12 Unicaja players had two or more rebounds.  Zoran Dragic, brother of Goran, led the team with six.

Ante Tomic’s perfect night helped preserve Barcelona’s perfect season as the Catalonians beat Lietuvos Rytas 90-66.  Tomic, the 25-year-old Croatian power forward whose NBA future isn’t as much of a sure thing as it once was, went 7-of-7 and scored 17 points to go with his 7 rebounds, good for an EL-high PIR of 28.

He and Rudy Fernandez were this week’s Co-MVPs.  Here, I’ll let this guy tell you all about it with pictures.

CSKA Moscow nearly had a straight flush from Sonny Weems (14), Dionte Christmas (13), Andrey Vorontsevich (12), Aaron Jackson (11) and Viktor Khryapa (11) as they took out Partizan 78-61 to move to 6-1.

After Cedevita Zagreb handed Zalgiris their first loss in a 108-106 double overtime thriller last week, we got our first glimpse of how the Lithuanians bounce back from a bump in the road.  Well, they took that bump, laid some plywood overtop and used it to ramp up the defensive pressure against Andres Nocioni and Caja Laboral.  Zalgiris upended the traditional Basque powerhouse 82-45 in Caja Laboral’s first game under new head coach, Zan Tabak, to move to 6-1 as well.

Caja Laboral is an unthinkable 1-6, but unthinkably, are not out of the running for a Top 16 spot with three weeks remaining and only two games between them and fourth place Milano in Group C.

And it’s not Fenerbahce Ulker or Anadolu Efes, but Besiktas, Istanbul’s third and newest Euroleague member that has already clinched a spot in the next phase with their 83-72 win over Brose Baskets Bamberg of Germany.  Patrick Christopher had 20 for the Turks, his first voyage into double figures since posting 25 in the Euroleague opener six weeks ago.

Besiktas’ win makes it two straight years in which a Euroleague rookie has advanced to the Top 16, after Cantu gave us one exciting finish after another last year en route to the EL’s second phase.

Here’s the beauty of the regular season’s final three weeks: everybody still has a shot.  I’m talking about 19 teams playing three games apiece in hopes of being one of the last 11 teams to punch through.  And this season, the Euroleague has expanded the Top 16 slate to feature 14 games instead of just six.

Which means more basketball.  And that simply can’t be a bad thing.

Nick Gibson, editor of EuroleagueAdventures.com, covers Euroleague and other international basketball developments for SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear weekly. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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  1. AP says

    Oh, and I just wanted to say, the criteria of that Rising Star award isn’t really who is the best player of that age. That’s a common mistake. It is actually for the player that Euroleague deems to have the most promising future at that time.

    If you go back and look over the award, you would actually see that they often specifically did not give it to the best player of that age.

  2. AP says

    I have to ask, how is Mirotic a near lock to win the award over Kostas Papanikolaou? I would say it’s fairly even between the two of them right now. Certainly not a lock for Mirotic.

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