In basketball, a winner is ultimately defined not by individual statistics, but by team success. Since 2005, only one player has won three titles in his first six Euroleague seasons, becoming just the second person this century to do so. That player, Stratos Perperoglou of Olympiacos Piraeus, is Euroleague Basketball's choice as bwin MVP for December after three of the biggest games in his career helped push the Reds to a 10-0 regular season finish. After debuting in 2008, Perperoglou won two Euroleague titles with Panathinaikos, in 2009 and 2011, and with Olympiacos last year, making his the second-fastest march to three trophies this century, behind only Sarunas Jasikevicius. At age 29, Perperoglou is also the youngest active player with three titles. His December performance proves that he wants more, too. Always a top defender and offensive threat, when the Reds needed serious scoring this month, Perperoglou delivered big-time. After 116 previous Euroleague games, half as a starter, Perperoglou responded in December with his best three scoring games ever! He averaged 22 points on near-perfect shooting, missing just 5 three-point shots, 3 two-pointers and 1 free throw for the entire month. By the time he finished filling baskets, the Reds had their first unbeaten regular season ever thanks in part to a true winner playing the best basketball of his career: Stratos Perperoglou, the bwin MVP for December!
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its 10th 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 December was based on the three regular season games that all teams played between December 5 and 20. 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.
Staying undefeated was far from guaranteed as Olympiacos started this month carrying three-game suspensions to big men Mirza Begic and Georgios Printezis and a sanction to play its next home game without fans following an on-court fight in November. Before the Reds arrived there for December's first game, Bayern Munich head coach Svetislav Pesic called them the best team to play in the Bavarian capital since the 1972 Olympic Games. The game backed up on his words, with Olympiacos winning a 103-105 thriller in the highest-scoring non-overtime Euroleague game since 2004. Perperoglou was not only the game's best scorer, hitting 6 of 6 two-point shots, 3 of 6 triples and 4 of 5 free throws, but his offensive rebound and free throws in the closing seconds iced the victory. Perperoglou left Munich with three career-high marks: 25 points, a 28 performance index rating and 6 two-pointers made. At home the next week in an empty arena, the Reds trailed Montepaschi Siena 46-57 entering the final quarter, then exploded with 32 points in 10 minutes to win 78-73. Perperoglou scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in that pivotal fourth quarter. Finally, on the road against Stelmet Zielona Gora in Poland last week, the Reds led from tipoff to buzzer for an 80-91 win worth a perfect 10-0 record and the club's first unbeaten Euroleague regular season ever. Again, Perperoglou was a catalyst, scoring a game-high 23 points. His scoring and index rating of 25 were the second-best of his career, following the Munich game, while his 5-for-6 three-point shooting marked Perperoglou's fourth career-high in three weeks.
Perperoglou packed a lot into December's three games. When the month was over, he had made 12 of 15 two-point shots (80%), 12 of 17 three-pointers (70%) and 6 of 7 free throws (85%). For someone who had stood out as an elite role player at both ends of the floor before this, Perperoglou's explosive December was a reminder of the many weapons Olympiacos can call on in its quest for a three-peat title this season. To start that quest with an undefeated regular season was a psychological boost that Perperoglou and his teammates understood well and made happen this month. Olympiacos fans will get to show their appreciation when he receives the bwin MVP award for December at an upcoming home game.