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Sportingbet MVP for February: Alan Anderson, Maccabi Electra
In the middle of perhaps the most competitive Top 16 ever, in a group tied four ways with two games remaining, one player kept his team alive with a pair of standard-setting performances. Never before in a nearly a decade's worth of Top 16 games has anyone put together back-to-back performances like Alan Anderson of Maccabi Tel Aviv, who is Euroleague Basketball's choice as Sportingbet MVP of the Month for February. Anderson started the month by posting an individual index rating of 40 - then the best Top 16 performance in almost five years - to pace Maccabi past dangerous Real Madrid for its first Top 16 victory in Group F. He followed that up, a week later, with another explosive performance that rated 35 on the index scale and helped defeat Efes Pilsen. No player on the floor in either of those games had more points, rebounds or steals than Anderson, a small forward. With those victories, Maccabi finished February with a 2-2 record, the same as its Group F opponents Madrid, Efes and Montepaschi Siena. To understand how important he was to Maccabi still being in the Group F race, Anderson's combined index rating of 75 against Madrid and Efes was better than any player this decade over two consecutive Top 16 games. Until his February fireworks, the club of 60-plus performers in back-to-back Top 16 games had included only four names – Anthony Parker, Mirsad Turkcan, Arvydas Sabonis and Jaka Lakovic - each of them a Euroleague All-Decade nominee. Now, at the very top of that list, a new name can be added, Alan Anderson of Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Sportingbet MVP for February 2010.
Sportingbet MVP of the Month for February interview
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 February was decided considering the three Top 16 games played by all teams during that month. Sportingbet, a Euroleague Basketball partner, is this season's 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.
Although experts already called it the "Group of Death" once the Top 16 Draw was complete, the necessity to win at home in Group F was absolutely clear by the end of February, when all four teams were 2-2 and none had won the road. The first of those victories for Maccabi came over Real Madrid by 81-76 in the historic 40th meeting between the two teams. Anderson got an historic 40, too, the first index rating that high since another Maccabi superstar, Anthony Parker, almost five years earlier. Anderson was near-perfect in a close game against Madrid, scoring 20 points while posting 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and a block. Anderson made 4 of 5 two-pointers, 1 of 3 triples and 9 of 9 free throws while drawing 11 fouls. His index rating was worth the MVP honor for Top 16 Week 2. One week later, Efes came to Tel Aviv and Anderson, if anything, was even better in a 72-62 victory that matches the group's widest points margin so far. This time, Anderson made 8 of 8 two-pointers and 4 of 4 free throws on the way to 23 points while adding 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Without so many fouls drawn, his index rating was 35, second-best that week. Even though Maccabi finished February by losing the rematch against Efes in Istanbul, Anderson's 7 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals kept the losing margin below 10 points, what could be a key factor in deciding Group F's qualifiers to the Quarterfinal Playoffs when all is said and done.
There is little doubt that one of the Top 16's great attractions is the fact that every single play counts. That is truer than ever in what is already an epic battle to survive Group F. Saying only that Anderson finished the month having averaged such great across-the-board numbers as 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds. 4 assists and 3 steals doesn't do him complete justice. His big-play ability in February showed that in Group F's defensive crucible, Anderson's creativity could be worth more than showtime: it could produce the crucial points for survival.
Monday, March 01, 2010
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