What can a Euroleague fan ask for more than what was offered during round 7? Not much! The 24 teams did their best to give us great upsets, unbelievable comebacks, fantastic plays, records and more and to produce the best round so far this season, arguably one of the best ever.
First things first. The game of the season was played yesterday in Hala Pionir of Belgrade. Partizan and Efes Pilsen went hand in hand throughout the whole game, constatly exchanging leads, right up to the end when a bucket by Dusan Kecman gave the home team the 1-point victory in the dying seconds.
But it was Aleks Maric' performance that spiced up this anyhow marvellous game. Maric is proving game by game that he is currently the most dominant big man of the league. Yesterday, he left no chance to his opponents to question this. His 34 points, 16 rebounds, 10 fouls drawn in 30:56 speak for themselves. It seemed as if every time Partizan missed a shot, Maric was there to grab the rebound and dunk it. His final index rating was 49, 8th best ever, tied with Darjus Lavrinovic' performance in week 1. Yet the performance of Maric was better than the one of Darjus. Why? 1) because the game did not go to overtime as Khimki – Real in week 1 and 2) because Maric' team won .
But why was the game so close if Maric was so dominant you may ask. Well it was mainly thanks to the awakening of another Euroleague great, Igor Rakocevic who pulled off his best performance of the season. 24 points with 5/8 2p, 2/4 3p, 8/9 ft, 3 assists, 10 fouls drawn and many of those points in crunch time. Rakocevic' final rating was 27, his best of the season so far.
And talking about awakenings, we should not leave out Juan Carlos Navarro, last season's MVP, who seemed to be dormid so far. Against Cibona, Navarro took advantage of Mickeal's absence and put on a show of his own. 20 points, 1/5 2p, 4/7 3p, 6/6 ft, 5 assists, 5 fouls drawn for 24 index rating.
Overall we saw 24 performances of a 20+ index rating, out of which 4 were 25+ and another 4 were 30+. I don't know if this is a record, but it is definitely an amazing production.
Talking about amazing we should point out a couple of things.
The amazing comeback of Panathinaikos against Khimki in Moscow. Panathinaikos was down by 7 with 25" to go, yet thanks to hard defense that forced turnovers by Khimki, quit buckets and Antonis Fotsis' unbelievable buzzer-beater, the game went to overtime, where the Greek team won.
The amazing 8/14 3pointers by Mirza Teletovic, who with 28 points took his team by the hand and led it to victory as Tiago Splitter seemed to be out of rhythm.
The amazing basket of Sean Singletary which was also his sole field goal in the game. It could even end up to be one of the best plays of the year.
The alley-oop dunks of Fran Vazquez. Barcelona have obviously worked a lot on those plays and produce spectacular basketball at times.
What is left to say? Ah, yes…upsets. Asvel played a solid game against Fenerbahce who looked like they were collapsing and as a result Frenchies won in Istanbul with 61-68.
Real suffered their second defeat this season, this time in the hands of Prokom in Poland. The Poles outlasted Real and won with 82-76.
CSKA Moscow beat Roma on the road. And not only that, but they also covered the margin of their first game's loss in Moscow.
As did Olympiacos who left no chance to Unicaja beating them by 21 and covering the margin of the first game.
Finally Caja Laboral surprised Maccabi in Tel Aviv, even if the Israeli team did a great job containing Tiago Splitter. The Basque team won and set fire on group C as three teams stand at 5-2.
All in all this has been the most entertaning and exciting week so far this season. We can only hope to see more like this.