Roundup: The Euroleague Kicks Off

Roundup: The Euroleague Kicks Off
Oct 30, 2006, 02:46 pm
Here at we worked on a quite detailed preview on the most interesting draft prospects playing this season’s Euroleague. 13 guys were selected to write extensively on them. Besides, we mention other 13 youngsters that weren’t expected to enjoy much action. 26 players and we didn’t cover who arguably ended up being the best performer in the first round of games… Dimitriy Khvostov.

There’s an explanation, for sure. On one hand, we didn’t realize Khvostov could make the final roster. Yes, he’s a nice prospect (indeed he’s listed in our very selective 1989 international ranking), but certainly not a very glamorous one (at this point) and still very young for Euroleague competition. On the other hand, we neither realized the window of opportunity he might have between the departure of Mire Chatman and the arrival of his replacement Eddie Gill. Khvostov certainly took advantage of this circumstance, and also of the average game played by his PG teammate Bojan Popovic, to stay 13 minutes on the court and have 11 points and 3 steals, while being fouled 8 times in the process and help his team to win over RheinEnergie.

Our Greek scout Dimitris Ritsonis watched the game. According to him, Khvostov surprised everyone by his clutch performance, making the crucial free throws at the end of the game. But there was more. The excellent use of his body and remarkable penetration skills helped him to hold his own against bigger and older opponents, while he drew more fouls than any other player in the game thanks to his nice ball handling skills.

Now it remains to be seen if this performance will provide him some future playing time, especially once Gill hits the court. For the moment, he hasn’t made Dynamo’s roster for the last Russian SuperLeague game.

Besides Khvostov, our attention goes to a couple of well-known shooting guards. The Euroleague veteran Marco Belinelli stuck to what he does best: scoring. He had 17 points, although shooting only 1/6 from the three-point land (he had already been struggling from the arc in the Italian competition), and 2 rebounds for Climamio Bologna in the loss against Le Mans. Rookie Rudy Fernández had 14 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists in the opener against Panathinaikos, but after an excellent first half, DKV Joventut couldn’t contain the Greek comeback in the second to end up with a painful three-point loss.

The losing trend for Joventut continued in the ACB League, falling against Pamesa Valencia, again in comeback fashion. However, Rudy shined with 20 points and 3 assists.

Only Real Madrid and Tau Vitoria remain undefeated in the ACB League now that the third team, Akasvayu Girona, lost its first game this weekend against Winterthur FC Barcelona. Marc Gasol was really motivated playing against his former team, and finished the game with 10 points, 5 rebound and 2 blocks.

In the LEB League (Spanish second division), it seems that Gustavo Barrera is recovering some of his playing level in Leche Rio Breogan. He had 10 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals, although it wasn’t enough against his former team Ciudad de Huelva. More useful was Vitor Faverani’s outing for Cai Zaragoza against Fahro Gijón Baloncesto. The promising Brazilian had 8 points and 10 rebounds in only 12 minutes before fouling out.

Emir Preldzic erupted in the Adriatic League for 22 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. It’s his first big performance in senior competition, and certainly won’t be the last one, but still wasn’t enough for Geoplin Slovan to beat Bosna ASA (Slovan ranks last in the league with a sole victory). Equally spectacular (and useless for Crvena Zvezda) was Tadija Dragicevic’s effort with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals. At 6-9, he’s a sort of a combo forward, but NBA-wise looks a bit of a tweener at the power forward position and not greatly athletic to play on the wing.

Nenad Mijatovic had 19 points, 3 rebounds and 4 steals leading Buducnost to the victory against Zagreb. In the Euroleague duel between Cibona Zagreb and Union Olimpija, the Croatians prevailed despite Manuchar Markoishvili’s 18 points, 2 rebounds and 3 steals.

However, the most interesting game was the Belgrade duel between FMP and Partizan. With home court advantage, FMP secured the victory. In his first start this season, Dragan Labovic had 11 points and 6 rebounds for FMP. With this victory, FMP conquers the leadership in the Adriatic League. It’s staggering to see how this team remains competitive season after season regardless of the many important deflections they have every summer (the last one, the likes of Marinovic, Jorovic, Vasic or Ilic) without enjoying the financial wealth to buy replacements in the market. And that’s because we’re talking about arguably the best talent producing team in the Balkans right now.

Only Mickael Mokongo deserves to be mentioned in the Italian League this week. He was the floor general for Upea Capo d’Orlando in the victory against Livorno with 12 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. The young French playmaker has really taken over the point guard position (and very quickly, since this is his first season in Italy). He’s actually the second player in minutes played, and what’s even more important, the team enjoys a terrific 4-1 record.

It was a tough week for Le Havre in the French League. Only the young couple Ali Traore and Aldo Curti managed to score in double digits. The strong power forward had 16 points and 8 rebounds, and the small playmaker settled for 12 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. As a result, only 52 points scored by the whole team and a home loss against Clermont. In Greece, Renaldas Seibutis had 15 points and 4 rebounds for Maroussi in the loss against AEK.

We pay our regular visit to the Chinese CBA League and Yi Jianlian, who tears up the box score game after game. His team Guangdong lost its perfect record losing against Jiangsu, but they still had time to add a couple of victories. Yi had 23 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 assists against Shandong, 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and 4 assists against Jiangsu and 38 points and 14 rebounds against Shanxi Yujun. In this last victory, actually a very comfortable one, Chen Jianghua added 17 points, 3 assists and 4 steals for Guangdong.

Back to Yi, he’s certainly improving, maturing, but still not sorting out some of his basic problems. He basically relies on his mid-range shot, quickness to beat his rivals and eventually delivers some semi-hook shots. Still, his low post game looks rather limited and he relies too much on his shot-blocking ability and general athleticism on defense. He should not allow his rivals to get under the rim so easily, because that won’t make the cut against superior competition. Physically, he keeps growing into his body, showing a terrific combination of size, athleticism and even frame. He’s NBA material for sure.

In the Australian NBL, Joe Ingles continues impressing with his potential. Even if he’s struggling a little bit with his perimeter shooting lately, he’s successfully splitting defenses with his very nice quickness and first step, finding the rim to score or his open teammates. Less impressive are his team’s results. The South Dragons collected their first victory this week against the Cairns Taipans. Ingles had 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. In the loss against the Adelaide 36ers he added for 19 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals. His coach, former NBA allstar point guard Mark Price was controversially replaced by Australian legend Shane Heal, so we’ll see how he deals with the change.

Also mixed feelings for Brad Newley and his Townsville Crocodiles. His 24 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists were a key factor in the victory against New Zealand Breakers, but the Melbourne Tigers, leaders of the competition, were too much even for his 30 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

Recent articles

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop