EuroLeague Round 3 came to an end with an impressive, close-fought battle between FC Barcelona and Olympiacos. Real Madrid won over Mike James, who did it all for AS Monaco Basket.
Josh Nebo continued his impressive performances in Kaunas, despite Zalgiris’ poor start. Also, Nicola Mirotic showed why he’s locked in early in the season.
FC Barcelona overcomes Olympiacos’ defensive masterpiece
FC Barcelona had to win over a really tough defensive team on Wednesday night, as Olympiacos is among the best defenses in the competition so far.
The Reds’ swarming defense put FC Barcelona in a difficult situation last night. Olympiacos allows 89.6 points per 100 possessions, which ranks as the best in the competition, according to EuroLeague’s advanced stats.
Giorgos Bartzokas team allowed just 59 opponent points per game in the first two EuroLeague matchups, including a game vs. European competition juggernaut Real Madrid.
They only went to concede 67 points in 40 minutes from Barcelona Wednesday, 21 less from the Catalans’ average in the first two games.
Olympiacos’ head coach Giorgos Bartzokas appeared satisfied after the game, despite the heartbreaking loss:
“I want to congratulate my players. We deserved to win. We played with heart and tried to stay with the game plan against a very difficult team like Barcelona. We had our chance to win this game, but unfortunately, we lost it. Let’s forget it. We have a game in two days against Zalgiris.”
Real Madrid survives the ‘Mike James show’
Mike James could be considered an ‘one-man show’ several times through his illustrious career in Europe. The AS Monaco Basket superstar went off against the top-tier EuroLeague competition.
Mike James was the one that ignited the rally that brought Monaco back from a 25-point deficit in the first half. The scoring guard combined for an amazing stat line of 24 points, 10 assists and a game-high PIR of 34.
His effort was not enough for Monaco, who succumbed to an eight-point loss, however, the French club is fighting for every EuroLeague game like it’s the team’s last one.
James shot 6-of-10 from deep, while he combined for three steals and three assists, completing an almost perfect performance.
Josh Nebo the only bright spot in Zalgiris Kaunas’ poor start in EuroLeague
Zalgiris Kaunas could not be proud of its horrendous EuroLeague start this season. While they weren’t many bright spots in another disheartening loss at the hands of Crvena Zvezda Wednesday, Josh Nebo remains the best part of the Lithuanian club early in the season.
The EuroLeague rookie showed his teeth again, especially on the defensive end at Zalgiris loss in Serbia. Nebo scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He made his only two field goal attempts and added 10 rebounds, two steals and one block for a performance index rating of 24, which was the highest of any player on the floor.
Nebo is a game-changer on the defensive end with his ability to deflect shots, as he averages 1.33 blocks per contest, which ranks as the fourth best in the competition. He’s also one of the best offensive rebounders in the league, averaging 3.0 per contest, only behind Luke Sikma, Devin Booker and Walter Tavares.
“This is my first year playing in the EuroLeague, so it’s going to take me a while to get used to the competitor and the playing style. So I feel like every game I’m going to get better,” the American big said after Zalgiris’ loss.
FC Barcelona star Nikola Mirotic is on ‘MVP mode’ at the start of the season
FC Barcelona had a difficult mission against a perfect 2-0 team like Olympiacos. Once again, Nikola Mirotic made his case for being the best player in the competition with another great performance.
In Wednesday’s thriller, Mirotic put up 22 points, on 6-of-15 shooting and a 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. He also added six rebounds, two assists, a steal and just one turnover in 34 minutes of play.
In the first three EuroLeague rounds, the superstar forward is among the top performers in the competition, being a crucial factor in the Catalans 3-0 start.
He is first in index rating (24.67), third in points (18.3), fifth in FG attempted (10.0) and fifth in FG made with 6.3 per contest. All in all, the Barca supestar is super aggressive and that will be huge for the Catalans’ success this season.
“I’m really happy about the win. I think we played a great game. We knew that Olympiacos is a good team and doesn’t allow many points. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we tried to find a way.
In the end, we found a way. We had some good looks and didn’t make them, but we won, which is the most important thing. We are 3-0 and we just want to continue this way,” Mirotic said after the win over Olympiacos.