Devotion
by: Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net
April 14, 2014
Sergio Rodriguez - Real Madrid - EB13_56807
Few players have surprised Turkish Airlines Euroleague fans as much as Sergio Rodriguez of Real Madrid. He may not have started any Euroleague games this season, but he certainly seems to be decisive in each and every one of them. Rodriguez, nicknamed 'El Chacho', has been playing the best basketball of his career this season. When he's not shooting the highest percentages of his career, he's putting the ball in the right hands by feeding one of his teammates, often for an alley-oop dunk. He is the flag bearer of Madrid's run-and-gun playing style. Rodriguez leads the Euroleague in performance index ranking per 40 minutes (31.5) and assists also on 40-minute basis (9.3). His long beard and flashy playing style have made Rodriguez a fan favorite, and not only in Madrid. Like the rest of his teammates, Rodriguez has never won the Euroleague and does not want to wait much longer. It all starts this week with a thrilling five-game playoffs series against Olympiacos Piraeus - a rematch of last season's final. Rodriguez, who averages 14.2 points on 53.5% three-point shooting and 5.2 assists in less than 23 minutes per game, thinks he can use that experience to beat Olympiacos this time around. "Both teams are slightly different. They changed more players than we did. It was a painful experience; it always hurts to lose a final, especially in the Euroleague," Rodriguez told Euroleague.net. "It also helped us to learn. We are more experienced now and that loss allowed us to be more mature this season." more
by: Euroleague.net
April 8, 2014
Fragiskos Alvertis, Georgios Bartzokas double interview
Their two teams have ruled over the Turkish Airlines Euroleague for three consecutive seasons, flying the trophy back with them to Greece each spring from Barcelona, Istanbul and London. There is a strong argument to be made that such dominance is a direct result of the intensity of the rivalry between Olympiacos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens, which will be on display for all the world to see in a very special Game of the Week to close the Top 16 on Thursday. With both teams having clinched playoff spots a week ago, head coaches Georgios Bartzokas of Olympiacos and Fragiskos Alvertis of Panathinaikos sat down together this week to discuss the uniqueness of the rivalry and the special opportunity of playing it for the first time in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Game of the Week. "What I want is for everybody in Europe and elsewhere in the world to understand that Greek basketball is at the highest possible level," Bartzokas said. "The pressure, no matter what the result means, is a given," Alvertis added. "This always is going to be Olympiacos-Panathinaikos." more
by: Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net
April 1, 2014
Ante Tomic - FC Barcelona - EB13
Riding a historic Top 16 winning streak over two seasons and 24 games now, unbeaten FC Barcelona has already clinched first place in Group E as it waits to find out who its playoffs opponent will be. This week, however, Barcelona gets to visit another playoff qualifier, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, barely weeks before the 2014 Final Four will be played at Mediolanum Forum. Center Ante Tomic is playing the best basketball of his career and the fact that he was chosen as the bwin MVP for March proves it. Never before in the nearly 10 years and 62 monthly MVP designations to date has the same player won the award even twice in the same season, let alone back-to-back. Tomic was chosen as the bwin MVP for February and continued playing rock-solid throughout March, dominating its four opponents by an average of 17 points. Tomic had the team's best performance index rating in every single victory, despite playing less than 22 minutes per game. So far this season, Tomic is averaging 12.4 points and 6.5 rebounds, hitting 63.1% of his two-point shots and posting career-best numbers in assists (2.1 apg.). In other words, at age 27, he is only getting better and better. Tomic asks for no more than good health for him and his teammates from now on, as he told us in this Euroleague.net interview. "We have to stay healthy because we had some bad experiences with Pete Mickeal and Nate Jawai's injuries last year. We will do our best to stay healthy and ready to play," Tomic said. "I hope we can make it to Milan - it would be my third Final Four and I think it is time to do something bigger than in my previous two." more
by: Frank Lawlor, Euroleague.net
March 26, 2014
Matthew Lojeski - Olympiacos Piraeus - EB13_53404
Locked in a tight race to reach the Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs, defending champion Olympiacos is battling at the end Top 16 to keep its chances for a historic three-peat alive. Central to that effort, in his first Euroleague season, is small forward Matt Lojeski, who is one of just three Olympiacos players who have appeared in all 21 Euroleague games so far and the team leader in minutes played. Lojeski flew under the radar for six years in Belgium, developing into an elite player. By the time he earned his second Belgian League MVP trophy and led Telenet Ostend to a domestic league and cup titles last season, the time was right for Lojeski to get a call from the champs. Lojeski has been more than rewarded the confidence of the Reds by averaging 10.9 points on 43.8% three-point shooting, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in those 21 games. On Thursday, in the Game of the Week, the champs visit Unicaja Malaga for their fourth game together this season. Olympiacos won the previous three, but none were as important as this, which comes with just three weeks left in the Top 16 and both teams tied at 5-6 for the fourth and final playoff spot from Group E. Knowing so much about your opponent can be a dangerous weapon, as Lojeski made clear in this Euroleague.net interview. "We know what the atmosphere is like, we know that travel will take its toll, so we just have to be really focused. It's hard to beat any team three times, let alone four, and especially a good team like Unicaja," Lojeski said. "The importance of the game will help us. We know we have to play well and focused because we really can't affort to lose. That might benefit us as we get ready for the game." more