by: Javier Gancedo,
April 23, 2014
Stephane Lasme - Panathinaikos Athens
Panathinaikos Athens bounced back from consecutive playoffs losses with a 65-59 win against CSKA Moscow in Game 3 of their best-of-five playoffs series. Defense was the key to that win, as Panathinaikos held CSKA scoreless in the final 3 minutes. As always, one of its biggest factors in that defense was Stephane Lasme, the reigning Euroleague Best Defender, who led Panathinaikos with 13 points, including a game-sealing layup on a pass from Dimitris Diamantidis that broke the competition's career assists record. Lasme also did what he does best, of course, helping Panathinaikos limit CSKA centers Nenad Krstic and Sasha Kaun to just 10 points - almost half of their combined average of 17.7. In just four Euroleague seasons with three different teams - Partizan Belgrade, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and now Panathinaikos - Lasme is already third in career blocks with 136 shots in 93 games (1.46 bpg.). As Panathinaikos gets ready to host Game 4 at Olympic Sports Center Athens (OAKA), Lasme hopes to use the momentum his team got in the final minutes of Game 3 to tie the series and return the series to Moscow for a do-or-die Game 5. "Ifeel really confident, while at the same time we all know that it's not going to be easy," Lasme told "Hopefully, we are going to let the energy carry us in Game 4." more
by: Javier Gancedo,
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 "It also helped us to learn. We are more experienced now and that loss allowed us to be more mature this season." more
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,
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 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