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Fabio Anderle's Euro League Roundup

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EUROLEAGUE 

batista_efes_pilsen_3.jpg There are only four undefeated teams after week 3 of the Euroleague: Lithuanian Lietuvos Rytas, Spanish Real Madrid and Greek Panathinaikos and Aris. Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow was shot down in Slovenia, when Union Olimpija Ljubljana managed the 82-80 win on a layup by former Sun Marko Milic with just 0.6 seconds to play. Partizan Beograd (2-1) did not manage to keep its impressive winning streak going, and had to bowed to Euroleague reigning champion Panathinaikos (3-0) 94-90. Serbian star Nikola Pekovic was protagonist of another strong outing (28 points on 8-for-10 shooting, 12-for12 free throws, 10 rebounds) and former Celtic Milt Palacio scored 23 points, but the greek team answered with a team effort and secured the away triumph. Lottomatica Rome was thrashed in Turkey, where Ulker Fenerbahce flew off the gates in a 20-10 first quarter run. Rome tried to come back several times, but a poor shooting performance by his marksmen (4-for-20 form the arc) in the end was the difference, and Ulker quietly breezed to a 85-66 success. Allan Ray scored 9 points on a not very impressive 3-for-11 shooting night. Estéban Batista (pictured) made the most of the chance he gained: scoring 14 points (7-for-11 from the field, 4 rebounds) in 17 minutes, he was Maccabi’s top scorer and the key factor in the come-from-behind 73-67 win the of Israeli champions over Turkey Efes Pilsen. Tony Allen’s good friend, Summer League teammate and partying buddy Will Bynum added 10 points. Polish Prokom Sopot was manhandled by Spanish Tau Cerámica Vitoria 82-66, and Ruben Wolkowyski’s 5 points (2-for-5 shooting) and 4 rebounds probably were the straw that broke the camel’s back. Unicaja Málaga finds it more difficult in the national league than in the Euroleague: the Spaniards quietly downed Italian Armani Jeans Milano 74-65 with a thorough domination of the boards (35-27). Italian rising star and sure NBA pick Danilo Gallinari scored 18 points and snatched 8 rebounds, while former Celtic Jiri Welsch registered just 3 points on 1-for-5 shooting.  

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PREMIER LEAGUE – ISRAEL

Estéban Batista is rapidly gaining coach Oded Kattash’s trust, at last: when starting center Nikola Vujcic went down with a knee injury, Estéban was able to step up and to put up a convincing performance in the Maccabi Tel Aviv (2-0) 103-80 win over Galil Elion (0-2). Batista scored 13 points (5-for-8 shooting) and grabbed 9 board in 19 minutes of action. 

"LEGA A" – ITALY

Italian league leader Montepaschi Siena (9 won – 0 lost) keeps rolling, even if this time Virtus La Fortezza Bologna (4-5) provided some competition. Siena used a third quarter run to close an 11 point deficit, and then pulled away thanks to impressive performance of Terrell McIntyre and Romain Sato. Ex-Celtic Kevinn Pinkney sank a three pointer at the buzzer to lift Angelico Biella (6-3) to a 78-77 win over Upim Bologna (3-6). Biella’s Valerio Spinelli had missed the winning shot, but the other former Celtic Brandon Hunter hauled down the offensive rebound and fed Pinkney for the clutch shot. Pinkney had 13 points (on 5-for-7 shooting) and 4 rebounds, while Hunter dominated the boards grabbing 17 rebounds – 6 of them offensive - and scoring 14 points (7-for-11 shooting) in the process. This time Jumaine Jones’ effort wasn’t enough for Eldo Napoli (2-7), which had to bow to sparkling Scavolini Pesaro (6-3) 73-84. Scavolini ran away in the last quarter and secured the win in spite of Jones’ second strong outing (18 points and 8 rebounds) in a row, while the other Naples’ former Celtic Jamel Thomas struggled again (10 points on 3-for-14 shooting). Thomas’ 27.5% shooting is one of the main reasons of the team’s shortcomings, and Eldo’s hot fans are starting to wonder if Jamel will be able to recover before it is too late. Allan Ray continues a peaks-and-valleys season: this time his solid contribution (22 points in 20 minutes, 6-for-7 from three point range) was one of the reasons why Lottomatica Rome (6-3) breezed to a 106-90 win over Air Avellino. Forward Roberto Gabini added 30 points on 8-for13 shooting from the arc as Rome converted 19 three point shots on 35 attempts. 

"ACB" – SPAIN

In the Spanish league no team seems to be able to pull away from the competition, with three teams sitting atop of the standings and three teams one game behind. The three leading teams all won: Real Madrid (6 won – 1 lost) conquered Akasvayu Girona 93-84, AXA Barcelona (6-1) defeated Grupo Begar León 67-56, and DKV Joventut Badalona (6-1) barely survived Ricoh Manresa’s (4-3) attack 87-86. Manresa used a barrage of three point shots to keep the lead for 39 minutes and 30", but wasn’t able to resist the comeback of the "verdenigros" (green and black) led by young phenom Ricky Rubio (20 points on 7-for-11 shooting). Jerome Moiso scored 4 points and snatched 5 rebounds for the winners. Pamesa Valencia (5-2) is just a moment behind the cream of the crop, but keeps winning thanks to the duo Shammond Williams – Ruben Douglas. Douglas was the team’s workhorse in the 81-70 away win over Grupo Capitol Valladolid (2-5), and Williams took control of the operations in the final minutes, when Valladolid had cut Pamesa’s lead down to 6 points. Albert Miralles (whose rights were sent to Boston by Miami in the Antoine Walker trade) scored 5 points (2-for-2 shooting) but couldn’t grab a rebound in 21 minutes of play. Unicaja Málaga (2-5) keeps struggling because of its sputtering offense, and is slowly sinking in the standings. The andalusian team faced the sensation of the year, Iurbentia Bilbao (5-2) and suffered its second home loss in a row, 76-77. But the final score should not deceive, since Bilbao controlled the final seconds and Bojan Popovic’s three point shot only managed to sweeten a bitter loss. Jiri Welsch made a short appearance in the second quarter of the game, playing 4 minutes and scoring 2 points on his only try, but a shaky display on defense and three quick fouls forced coach Sergio Scariolo to bench him for good. 

"SUPERLEAGUE" – RUSSIA

After being protagonist of the Euroleague "Surprise of the Week", CSKA Moscow (7-1) doubled the effort in the Russian league, kneeling in front of Dynamo (7-1) Sergey Bykov’s wild game-winning trey with 2.4 seconds left in regulation was the difference in the 82-80 upset. Henry Domercant scored 18 points and Lithuanian Robertas Javtokas snatched 10 rebounds for Dynamo to down CSKA and to leave Khimski (8-0) as the sole undefeated team in the league. Spartak Primorie Vladivostok (3-4) netted the second win in a row when J.R. Bremer went "in the zone". His 27 points (7-for-14 from the field) and 12 assists were the difference in the 83-80 impressive away win over Triumph Lyubertsy Moscow (7-2). Unics Kazan (5-3) easily downed Spartak St. Petersburg (2-5) 84-68 even without Joe Forte, who wasn’t in the lineup. 

ADRIATIC LEAGUE – FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

Partizan (8-1) prevailed in the "derby of the capital", defeating Cibona Zagreb (5-4) 78-77 to stay atop of the Adriatic League. Milenko Tepic sank the game-winning layup, rising star Nikola Pekovic scored 15 points and former Celtic Milt Palacio added 12 (4-for-6 shooting) and 5 rebounds. Serbian Črvena Žvezda (Red Star) Beograd (7-2) defeated Zagreb Croatia (3-6) 91-83 to stay just a game behind the leaders. Omar Cook scored 14 points and dished out 6 assists for the winners while local young star Tadija Dragićević poured 26. KK Split (4-5) pulled the upset, upending KK Budućnost (4-5) 77-72 on its court largely thanks to Marlon Garnett’s shooting performance. Garnett’s 24 points and his 6-for-11 three points barrage in the end left the home team without answers. 

PLK – POLAND

ruben_wolkowyski2.jpg Polish reigning champion Prokom Sopot (4-1) defeated Bank BPS 78-68 in week 6 of the polish league, but final score wasn’t the news of the day: the team, after its slow start both in the national league and in the Euroleague, decided to waive former Indiana Pacer Travis Best and former Celtic Ruben Wolkowyski. To fill the void, Prokom is seriously courting Mustafa Shakur and former Zalgiris Kaunas rebounder Tanoka Beard. Wolkowyski  was averaging 3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in the polish league and 5.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in the Euroleague.