Euroleague Power Rankings

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Euroleague Power Rankings

Two more nights of play and the Euroleague closes down play for calendar year 2012. With the majority of games on the slate still relevant, even the advancing squads will be playing for positioning in the next draw. And how are the 24 teams trending? BallinEurope takes a pretty much completely subjective look at who’s hot and who’s not going into edge-of-seat time…

1 (↔). FC Barcelona (9-0 in Euroleague play; 7-4 in Liga Endesa). Chalk the squeaker win over the energized Partizan side up to the absence of Erazem Lorbek (and perhaps a bit of backfired strategy by coach Dusko); in four games prior, the Blaugrana outscored opponents by an average of over 23 points. Including CSKA. And Lorbek’s back tonight.

2 (↔). CSKA Moscow (8-1 EL; 7-1 VTB United League). CSKA has righted the ship and rounded into shape well since the week 5 loss to Barça. Forget winning every game in EL and VTB play since then; Lietuvos Rytas is the only side to get within double figures of the geared-up Red Army since then.

3 (↑). Olympiacos (7-2 EL; 9-0 Greek League). Two questions: 1. Is it too soon to start wondering when Olympiacos might lose again? 2. Joey Who?

4 (↑). Maccabi Tel Aviv (7-2 EL; 8-1 Ligat Ha’Al). Declining to defend its Adriatic League title in 2012-13 may have been the smartest (if not very sporting) move made by a front office this summer. David Blatt has had plenty of time to hone this team’s skills – now adaptable enough to hardly miss the loss of Guy Pnini – with only Israel’s domestic league to worry about other than a Euroleague Final Four bid. Which looks more probable all the time.

5 (↔). Panathinaikos (6-3 EL; 6-2 Greek League). Against Fenerbahçe Ülker last week, PAO gave a demonstration as to their capabilities, shooting 62.8% inside the arc, destroying on the defensive boards (28-18), and constantly up and running again to follow the grabs off the glass. Tops in total rebounds, how exactly the undermanned frontcourt of Khimki can compete this week is quite a question…

6 (↑). Žalgiris Kaunas (7-2 EL; 6-1 VTB). After an ugly loss against Olympiacos, Žalgiris impressed at Milano last week in the ‘League, coming at the Italians throughout with varied sets and player combinations. The Greens looked young again, despite not digging deep into the roster with Darjus Lavrinovic sitting – and showed cool heads enough to come back in an easily losable match.

7 (↓). Real Madrid (6-3 EL; Liga Endesa 11-0). Still undefeated back in Spain, what the hell happened against Cantù? BiE’s theory is cement sneakers, because no other explanation of losing the rebound battle 45-30 is damn near otherworldly. Already weak on the glass, Madrid cannot afford for Nikola Mirotic and Marcus Slaughter to slack off for a moment, much less the wide swathes of time in week nine.

8 (↔). Unicaja Malaga (7-2 EL; 6-5 Liga Endesa). Unicaja happily redeemed the Montepaschi loss by bouncing Alba Berlin last week with a nice display of ball-handling and shot selection. Having benefitted from placement into probably the weakest group for the first round, Malaga hopes to maintain this smart play for sure.

9 (↓). Montepaschi Siena (5-4 EL; 8-2 Serie A). A loss to Elan Chalon? Yes, that will dump you in these rankings.

10 (↓). BC Khimki Moscow region (5-4 EL; 7-1 VTB). Last week, BiE wrote, “The only team that’s been able to stop Khimki lately is Real Madrid” while beating the drum in the Zoran Planinic parade. The jinx (unintentional, BiE swears) was in, it appears: Khimki lost in the squeaker and Planinic didn’t suit up. Here’s to thinking they’re gonna need him on the perimeter – the only area in which the Russian side might have an advantage – against Panathinaikos tonight.

11 (↑). Caja Laboral Baskonia (3-6 EL; 8-3 Liga Endesa). Everyone back on the bandwagon! The speedy recap of a saved season looked lost: After falling to Zalgiris in week 7, 82-45, reportedly its biggest loss in 10 years, Baskonia game back in week 8 as Thomas Huertel hit a game-winner on the final possession to squeak past the reeling Milano. In week nine, they won handily at Efes with Huertel putting in 22 and Maciej Lampe, looking as big and scary as he does in international play, contributed a 17-and-7. By the way, they’re in second place in the Liga Endesa, too.

12 (↑). Cantù (2-6 EL; 7-4 Serie A) was another team left for dead – at least by BiE – a couple of weeks back, only to suddenly have a realistic shot at advancing to the Top 16 round. For Cinderella to come to live again, Cantù must win at Fenerbahçe Ülker and who would have thought three months ago that this game would be relevant?

T13 (↑). Brose Baskets Bamberg (4-5 EL; 10-1 BBL)
T13 (↑). Partizan Belgrade (4-5 EL; 9-3 Adriatic League)
. Both teams took a loss-that-felt-like-a-win last week, from neither much was expected at season’s beginning and they’ll meet tonight in a classic win-and-in game.

T15 (↓). Anadolu Efes Pilsen (5-4 EL; 7-2 TBL)
T15 (↓). Beşiktaş JK (4-5 EL; 5-4 TBL)
. The three Turkish teams took a combined ofer last week, neatly summarizing the disappointing EL bids of each, but special mention goes to…

17 (↓). Fenerbahçe Ülker (4-5 EL; 8-1 TBL), who, in an embarrassing 69-55 loss to the defending champs, earned the sobriquet “The Los Angeles Lakers of Euroleague.”

18 (↑). Union Olimpija (3-6 EL; 6-6 ABA). An inspired win over BC Khimki kept the Slovenian side alive for one more week – and they can’t have faced a better time to face Real Madrid. On the other hand, depth will continue to be a bugaboo for Union, i.e. having just five players above a six-point contribution may not be enough should Real decide to start flying…

19 (↓). Alba Berlin (4-5 EL; 7-2 BBL). Already in and coasting.

20 (↓). Armani Milano (3-6 EL; 6-5 Serie A). A truly fearless prediction from David Hein during this week’s “Taking the Charge” podcast: The out-of-sync Milano loses at Olympiacos on Friday, loses to Italy-leading Cimberio on Saturday, Sergio Scariolo is fired on Sunday. Scarily plausible, but it hasn’t happened quite yet…

21 (↓). Lietuvos Rytas (2-7 EL, 4-4 VTB). Oh, Lietuvos Rytas…

22. (↑) Elan Chalon (3-6 EL, 7-3 LNB). Let’s get this straight: These guys ran up 108 points on Siena the week after they scared Maccabi Tel Aviv? Where were these guys in week one?

23 (↓). Cedevita Zagreb (2-7 EL; 7-5 ABA). Gotta love these young guys’ pluck, but the two Euroleague wins are looking more and more like anomalies. At least Cedevita fans may allow a little optimism for 2013-14, though, unlike…

24 (↔). Asseco Prokom (1-8 EL, 7-3 PLK), who BiE would not be surprised to see excluded from the Euroleague roll next time out…

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