Were it not for his heroics, one of the top favorites coming into the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season might be a winless team right now. But since he was there when his team needed someone most, in the final stages of three potential defeats, CSKA Moscow is now undefeated and Sonny Weems is Euroleague Basketball's choice as the bwin MVP for October. As one of several new players on a revamped CSKA team that was runner-up for the Euroleague title last season, Weems arrived with a scoring reputation. But what he did throughout this season's opening month surpassed all expectations. In the Euroleague's very first game of the season, Weems single-handedly brought CSKA back to victory from 4 points behind Lietuvos Rytas with 75 seconds to play on its home floor. A week later, did everything needed for CSKA to survive overtime against Partizan in Belgrade. And back home to finish the month, Weems was instrumental in keeping CSKA in a home game against Brose Baskets Bamberg long enough to mount a late, winning rally. That he finished the month as the Euroleague's leading scorer, with 20.3 points per game, is not so surprising for Weems. But the fact that almost half of his points, 29 out of 61 total, were scored in the fourth quarter or overtime of three potential losses proves why Sonny Weems of CSKA merits being selected as the bwin MVP for October.
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its ninth 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 October was decided based on the three regular season games that all teams played between October 11 and October 26. Euroleague Basketball partner bwin is the sponsor of the MVP of the Month award. Just as the best Euroleague player each month combines performance and leadership for success, so does bwin's sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.
After unveiling a new arena, welcoming back head coach Ettore Messina, and honoring retired icons Ramunas Siskauskas and Matjaz Smodis in the very first game of the Euroleague season, CSKA found itself facing real trouble, down 67-71 to Lietuvos Rytas with just over 1 minute to play. That's when Weems went to work and saved the day, scoring on a three-point play and a step-back jumper before blocking a shot and adding a final free throw. CSKA escaped with a 75-73 victory and he finished with a team-high 14 points, 6 of them in the game's last 75 seconds. A week later, if anything, Weems was better. Playing against an upset-minded young Partizan team before its inspirational crowd, Weems was unstoppable all night, but never more so than while he was scoring 14 of CSKA's 27 in the fourth quarter and overtime to chase down Partizan from behind for a 71-76 victory. He finished that night with 30 points and a performance index rating of 38 based on near-perfect shooting – 8 of 12 two-pointers, 2 of 2 three-pointers and 8 of 8 free throws – plus 3 rebounds and 3 assists. His points and index rating were career highs for Weems and season highs for all players in the Euroleague. Weems finished October leading CSKA in scoring for a third consecutive game , with 17 points against Brose Baskets Bamberg in a 76-67 home win. Bamberg was ahead at the start of the fourth quarter until Weems tied the game with a layup and then hit a go-ahead three-pointer, after which CSKA never gave up the lead.
Expectations couldn't have been higher for CSKA and Sonny Weems when the season started with the return of a head coach who revived CSKA's glory days last decade. Those expectations met, however, with some hungry young Euroleague challengers looking to make their mark by stopping CSKA. The fact that CSKA is still one of the competition's four undefeated teams after a month owes a lot to Sonny Weems, whose new fans in Moscow can thank him again when he receives the season's first bwin MVP of the Month award at an upcoming home game.