He arrived to one of the world's best-known basketball teams this summer looking just to fit in smoothly and contribute to a winning tradition. Now, five games into the Euroleague season, he leads the same team in minutes played, scoring, rebounds and performance index rating. Most importantly, that team is undefeated in the Euroleague after going 3-0 last month, which was all the extra proof needed for Euroleague Basketball to name Pete Mickeal of Regal FC Barcelona the Sportingbet MVP of the Month for November. Although three other teams - Khimki Moscow Region, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and Real Madrid - went undefeated in November, only Barcelona did so by winning two road games. Those victories were punctuated by a Week 5 showdown for first place in Group A in which Barcelona dominated previously perfect Montepaschi Siena on the road. Earlier in the month, Barcelona won at Zalgiris Kaunas despite missing MVP Juan Carlos Navarro and stopped upset-minded Asvel Basket at home. Mickeal's consistent presence at both ends of the floor from game-to-game during November was remarkable. He posted performance index ratings of 20, 21 and 22 as the month progressed and made opposing small forwards largely disappear with his defense. November ended with Barcelona alone at the top of Group A, one of just two undefeated teams in the Euroleague, with one foot already in the Top 16. Just like his position, small forward, Mickeal was in the middle of it all, doing whatever necessary to win. In the process, Mickeal made himself into a stellar choice as the Sportingbet MVP of the Month!
The Sportingbet MVP of the Month honor is in its sixth season. Although statistics and performance 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 November was decided considering the three regular season games played by all teams during that month. Sportingbet, a Euroleague Basketball partner, is the new sponsor of the MVP of the Month award. Just as the best Euroleague player each month combines performance and leadership for success, so does Sportingbet's sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.
Barcelona started November on the road in Kaunas, Lithuania with two conspicuous absences in the backcourt: Navarro and Gianluca Basile, the third- and seventh-best Euroleague scorers, respectively, all decade. Mickeal was pressed into extra duty, using his 34 minutes on the floor - the most by a Barcelona player until then - to lead the offense with 22 points as Barcelona pulled away to a 70-77 victory. He also paced the defense by holding Zalgiris's small forwards to just 3 points combined. A week later, at home against Asvel, Mickeal proved his versatility and efficiency by parcelling out 16 points on near-perfect shooting - 5-for-7 two-pointers, 1-for-1 from downtown and 3-for-4 at the foul line - as Barcelona rallied to win 76-62. Again, Asvel's small forwards had little impact with Mickeal guarding them. That set up Week 5's showdown in Siena as Montepaschi and Barcelona decided which would remain undefeated and lead Group A into the second half of the regular season. Mickeal again was on the court for 35 minutes, and again barely missed, scoring 14 points. This time, however, he also led Barcelona with 7 rebounds and had his second consecutive game without a turnover. When all was said and done, Mickeal had averaged 17.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in November, hitting 18 of his 21 free throws, locking down opposing scorers, committing just one turnover for the month while drawing 15 fouls and committing just 4 during 32 minutes per game. In other words, he was virtually flawless.
One thing is to join a superpower already full of stars. Another is to make immediate impact in a way that enhances the team's winning ways. In his three previous seasons in European competition, Mickeal had firmly established himself as winner. First, he led Makedonikos of Greece to an unexpected appearance in the ULEB Cup final back in 2005. In two Euroleague seasons prior to this, with Tau Ceramica, he reached the Final Four once and the fifth game of last year's Quarterfinal Playoffs - losing to Barcelona. Halfway through the Euroleague regular season, it is clear that Mickeal wants more, just like the Barcelona fans, who will get the chance to thank him when he receives his Sportingbet MVP of the Month trophy at an upcoming Euroleague home game!