Roundup: Belinelli, a Small Relief in a Bad Season

Roundup: Belinelli, a Small Relief in a Bad Season
Nov 13, 2006, 11:52 am
We open the roundup this time in the Italian League with Marco Belinelli, who is yet to get free from his shooting struggles, but even if this week was little different, he still managed to erupt for 31 points facing Armani Jeans Milano in the Italian League, adding also 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. He had to settle for 4/13 in three-pointers, though, and Climamio Bologna couldn’t get the win.

So far, it’s a bit of a disappointing season for the Italian scorer. He hasn’t been able to escape from his main weaknesses, particularly his excessive dependence on perimeter shooting, and his low percentages are hurting his all-around effectiveness. He’s shooting a miserable 23.6% in three pointers combining the domestic competition and Euroleague, nothing to do with the 40% he used to shoot. Coincidentally (although perhaps not much), his own team Climamio Bologna is noticeably struggling as well, also depending too much on its perimeter given its poor inside game; this factor is putting more defensive pressure on the shooters, which doesn’t benefit Marco at all.

Well, it’s time for the Euroleague, which brought us the surprise to see Semih Erden having some real action with the winless Fenerbahce-Ulker against Benetton. The Turkish center delivered a nice game with 9 points and 3 rebounds in 13 minutes, although 3 of those points came in an apparently very lucky play netting a three-pointer off the glass. Erden used his size pretty well on the defensive end, even if his lateral quickness was exposed at times, as well as on the offensive end, dunking on his rivals a couple of times and showing some decent movement without the ball. Still, he’s not always as active on the court as you would desire, but the potential is there.

Only an injury has stopped Rudy Fernández from his terrific run as of late. Not being able to hit the court in the ACB League, he still played in the Euroleague this week. 16 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals was his production, but above the numbers, we got the impression of an aggressive player on the offensive end, a guy who is ready to take responsibilities. He drove towards the basket with decision and success (7/8 in two-point shots), although he struggled from the perimeter (0/5 in three-pointers). Anyway, his recent performances are quite encouraging, even if NBA-wise he will have to show something more to secure a spot in the first round of the draft.

Jonas Maciulis had 19 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists for Zalgiris Kaunas against the undefeated Winterthur FC Barcelona. Maciulis is a strong small forward standing 6-6, and even if he lacks the combination of size, athleticism and skills to be an intriguing NBA prospect, he’s a very interesting player on the international front. He delivered plenty of hustle against the powerful Barcelona, showing aggressiveness in attacking the rim or looking for the offensive rebound, while also producing from downtown, as your typical Lithuanian usually does.

Although a bit inconsistently, Mirza Teletovic keeps producing for Tau Vitoria. He collected 12 points and 2 steals in the victory against RheinEnergie, although settling for only 1 rebound. Certainly his average size doesn’t help him when it comes to battling down low, although he makes up for it with his excellent strength and nice athleticism. Still, he keeps producing from the perimeter, and indeed all his points in this game came from 3-pointers.

Panathinaikos didn’t have much trouble to remain undefeated against Union Olimpija; Manuchar Markoishvili had 12 points and 4 rebounds for the Slovenian team. The Georgian wing is showing nice consistency lately.

The FIBA EuroCup, the third Pan-European competition (after Euroleague and ULEB Cup) kicked off this past week. We only mention Renaldas Seibutis, who had 18 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals leading Maroussi to the victory against Vojvodina Srbijagas.

Also the FIBA EuroCup Challenge, another Pan-European competition, started this week. The level here is really low, but we still can find some interesting prospect. Like Omri Casspi, who plays for Galil Elyon and had 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists in the loss against Olympias Patras. Nikita Shabalkin’s Samara also plays here. The Russian team opened the competition with a victory over Njardvik following the 23 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists of Shabalkin.

In the ACB League, Ricky Rubio again deserves some accolades. Sneaking into the starting five to replace Rudy Fernández, he played an excellent game to help DKV Joventut beat Grupo Capitol Valladolid. The Spanish wonderboy had 9 points (4 in overtime), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. Only 16 years old, and he’s just 2 steals short of leading the ACB in this department… Meanwhile, Marc Gasol continues showing remarkable consistency in Akasvayu Girona. Having to deal mainly with Curtis Borchardt, he had 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in the victory against Granada.

The Adriatic League is always redemption time for Partizan after their usual Euroleague struggles. They rolled over Geoplin Slovan with Luka Bogdanovic having 13 points and 7 rebounds while Nikola Pekovic settled for 14 points, 3 steals and, very surprisingly, not a single rebound for this very strong big man. This victory means regaining the league leadership after cashing off FMP’s loss. The outings of Dragan Labovic, with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, and Peja Samardziski, with 17 points and 7 rebounds, couldn’t make up for Zadar’s superiority in this game.

After a couple of so-so performances, Ante Tomic has gotten back on track this weekend against Siroki, netting 20 points in 20 minutes, and also grabbing 5 rebounds. Still, Zagreb couldn't get the final victory. It seems that Damjan Rudez is slowly becoming more productive as the season advances. He had season highs in points and rebounds with 19 and 6. Again, not enough for Split to beat Hemofarm. In the Slovenian derby, Helios upset Union Olimpija, that couldn’t take advantage of Domen Lorbek’s performance. The fundamentally sound wing had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.

Vasily Zavoruev seems to be finding his scoring rhythm in the Russian SuperLeague. Following his 18 points, Standart secured its first victory this season in the winless duel against Sibirtelekom-Lokomotiv. It’s interesting to note that the only field goals Zavoruev netted were three-pointers (5/11). Meanwhile, Ural-Great couldn’t overcome Khimki’s strength despite Egor Vialtsev’s 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

Now let’s go for a quick visit to Australia following the steps of Brad Newley. He delivered another of his gross scoring efforts on Saturday against the South Dragons. Leading Townsville Crocodiles with 31 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks, the victory remained in Melbourne, though.

We finish for the second week in a row with Vitor Faverani, who is emerging as a real star in the Spanish second division, the Adecco LEB. The Brazilian big had 24 points and 14 rebounds for Cai Zaragoza, although they were pretty much torn to pieces by Alerta Cantabria. He’s probably the hottest player in the international scene right now. Very few guys can match his combination of potential, and lately, production, while the Adecco LEB is maybe a top-10, surely a top-15, league in Europe.

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