The only undefeated run in the Top 16 this season has been highlighted every step of the way by the unmistakable image of a certain big man soaring to the rim and then swinging happily from it. If after a perfect start to 2016, Fenerbahce Istanbul stands above the crowd in an otherwise highly competitive Top 16, then a big slice of the credit belongs to forward Jan Vesely, Euroleague Basketball’s selection as MVP for January. The so-called Czech Helicopter flew well above the radar through four Fenerbahce victories last month, which Vesely started by matching a 12-year-old Top 16 record. By the time January had finished, he had accumulated more rebounds and blocks, plus a higher performance index rating, than any Euroleague player. He also scored 12 or more points in every game, thus posting the Euroleague’s only double-double average in January, too. Coming up on the 100th game of his Euroleague career, Vesely also set two personal highs, matched another and came close on a couple more. Fenerbahce ended the month as the sole Top 16 team with a two-victory lead over its nearest pursuer, which was the ultimate proof that Vesely’s dominance deserved full recognition as MVP for January.
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 12th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team’s performance. The award for January was based on the four Top 16 games that all teams played during the month.
Fenerbahce began 2016 with a challenging road trip to face Crvena Zvezda, but Vesely helped the visitors to their biggest win of the season by producing a spectacular performance packed with highlight-reel plays. He scored 15 points and claimed a career-high 15 rebounds, including 10 on offense that tied an existing Top 16 record dating to 2004. He also delivered 3 assists and blocked no fewer than 5 shots – another personal best – in a huge 65-88 victory as Fenerbahce remained the only visiting team to win in Belgrade this season.
Returning home for a first-place showdown against dangerous Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, Vesely scored 8 of his 15 points in the final 5 minutes as Fenerbahce held on to a 85-79 win. Next, in a crosstown journey for a local derby against Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul, Vesely spent all but 24 seconds on the court and recorded another big double-double, 16 points and 13 rebounds. His index rating of 30 was the second best of his career, just enough to secure his team a 100-106 triumph and earn Vesely his first weekly MVP award. In January’s last game, Vesely collected 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block as Fenerbahce used an 86-73 home victory over Cedevita Zagreb to maintain a perfect 5-0 record in the Top 16.