The Euroleague double-week (round 7 and 8) is completed and it verified for one more time that this is probably the most exciting season in the history of the competition. The differences between the sixteen teams are really small and you have to be prepared for literally any result combination.
Like every week, there were some big winners and losers. What makes Euroleague so special this year is undoubtedly that almost all the teams appear to be extremely strong and ready to win everywhere and under any circumstances. That’s why, we can see that the negative comments and atmosphere around a team can go away and return in no time.
Nobody is safe
A great example is surely Olympiacos. After the devastating loss against Panathinaikos just a week ago, there were many fans of the Greek team that wanted Ioannis Sfairopoulos out. Seven days later, everybody around the team from Piraeus couldn’t be happier after the great victory against Fenerbahce in Istanbul and the easy win against Crvena Zvezda last Friday.
Same goes for the “Greens” who seem to be very focused and dedicated only two weeks after the painful losses against Baskonia and AEK. Thanks to their captain, Nick Calathes, and key-players such as James Gist and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Panathinaikos has achieved three remarkable wins in a row (Olympiakos away, Khimki in OAKA, Efes away). If we also take into consideration that their program is getting much better now (5 out 7 upcoming games in OAKA), then it’s clear that the six time European Champions can be very optimistic.
A crazy week for Fenerbahce and Anadolu Efes, as well. After the shocking loss against Olympiacos last Tuesday, Zeljko Obradovic and his players traveled to Moscow and hurt CSKA. Nicolo Melli pulled a “Hakeem Olajuwon buzzerbeater” and Fenerbahce managed to win (93-95) in one of the roughest courts in Europe.
As far as Anadolu Efes is concerned, after two spectacular consecutive road wins against Barcelona (85-89) and Maccabi Tel Aviv (72-92), they failed to get their first home win against Panathinaikos (81-82). Errick McCollum got rejected by James Gist one second before the end of the game and Efes wasted one more opportunity in this year’s Euroleague.
Regarding the rest of the teams, Baskonia appears to be back on track. The emphatic victories against Real Madrid (105-75) and Zalgiris Kaunas (77-97) speak for themselves. Maccabi and Barcelona seem to constantly battle with their good and bad side (1 win – 1 loss each), while the same can be said about Real Madrid, too.
Lastly, this was a nightmare week for Crvena Zvezda as it lost both games with the same embarrassing score. In Belgrade against CSKA Moscow and in Piraeus against Olympiacos with 59-85.
The last castle
As we already said above, predictions can be too risky during the regular season of this year’s Euroleague. For that reason, the teams that will manage to be the most effective in their home court they have better chances of taking eventually the desired home-court advantage for the Playoffs. What is truly remarkable so far is that after the first 8 rounds of the regular season, there is only one team that has achieved to keep its castle protected.
That team is Panathinaikos which has 3 out of 3 wins in Athens so far. More specifically, the Greens have won Brose Bamberg (92-82), Fenerbahce (70-68) and Khimki (93-65). Next week, Real Madrid is visiting them in Greece in an effort to break this small tradition that Panathinaikos has started to build. We should not also forget that last year’s home-court record of the Greek team, during the regular season, was 14-1. Let’s see if they can do it again or if they can even reach to 15-0 this time.
We had some absolutely stunning performances in rounds 7 and 8, but I think that Nick Calathes was the man of the week. His stats were simply ecstatic: 29 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds against Anadolu Efes! He almost touched the triple-double and he was the one who led Panathinaikos to the road victory against Anadolu Efes with two spectacular 3-point shots in the end of the game.
Apart from Calathes, this was a memorable week for Errick McCollum who scored 31 points against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel last Tuesday. On top of that, Jan Vesely was one of the most crucial players for Fenerbahce in the huge win against CSKA with 31 points.
Results of Round 7
Results of Round 8
Euroleague Standings after Round 8
Source of the photos and stats: Euroleague.net