The CSKA Moscow attack was back in peak form on Thursday night and at the center of it all was reigning EuroLeague MVP Nando De Colo, who came within 1 point of his career high in snagging MVP honors for Round 23 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season. De Colo became the first player to capture the MVP of the round honor four times this season as he posted 29 points in a 93-81 victory over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. He made 7 of 10 two-pointers, 2 of 5 from downtown and all 9 of his free throws in addition to delivering 3 assists and collecting 1 steal. All that equalled a performance index rating of 35, which was the highest among all players in Round 23. The second-highest rating was 32, achieved by two players from Zalgiris Kaunas in the Lithuanian team's thrilling 86-91 victory at Brose Bamberg. Lukas Lekavicius delivered a superb shooting performance, smashing his personal career high by netting 29 points. The guard scored 6 of his 7 two-point attempts, all 5 three-pointers and both free throws, missing a shot for the first and only time all night with just 3 minutes 30 seconds remaining. He was complemented by big man Paulius Jankunas, who set the tone for his team's performance with a dominant opening passage that saw him score the game's first 4 points, and 9 in a little more than 3 minutes. The veteran also came up big in crunch time, scoring 5 consecutive late points to open up a decisive 7-point lead. Jankunas netted 4 of 6 shots from downtown in his total of 24 points, also adding 6 rebounds. Another emphatic start was provided by Real Madrid's backcourt general Sergio Llull, who started off at astonishing pace as he scored 19 points in the first quarter alone, including 5 of 6 triples. Although he slowed down after that, Llull still had the final word in his team's big victory over Darussafaka by sinking a seemingly impossible half-court buzzer beater to finish with 26 points. He also dished 8 assists and grabbed a couple of steals for a performance index rating of 31 – the highest of his outstanding career. Rounding out the list of Rounds 23's best was two-time EuroLeague Best Defender Bryant Dunston of Anadolu Efes Istanbul, who anchored the paint with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots in his team's 96-85 home win over Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz. Dunston amassed an index rating of 30.
Individual leaders: Lekavicius and De Colo, 29 points each
Two players were tied at the top of individual scoring in Round 23, with De Colo and Lekavicius of Zalgiris both netting 29 points in victory, just edging out Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose 27 points saw Fenerbahce overcome Olympiacos. Keith Langford of Unics Kazan remains the season's top scorer, with an average of 22.2 points, ahead of De Colo's 20.1. This week's assists king is Thomas Heurtel of Anadolu Efes, the only man to break into double figures with 11 assists. Milos Teodosic is still the season's leader, averaging 7.4 assists. Another Efes player, Bryant Dunston, blocked 5 shots to share the weekly best with Fenerbahce's Ekpe Udoh, who tops the overall chart with 2.2 per game. Five players recorded 3 steals apiece: Alexander Vezenkov of Barcelona, Crveza Zvezda teammates Stefan Jovic and Charles Jenkins (who is in first place in the season's steals list, averaging 2.1), Colton Iverson from Maccabi and James Anderson of Darussafaka. And the leading rebounder this week was Johannes Voigtmann of Baskonia, whose 13 placed him ahead of CSKA's Kyle Hines and Darussafaka's Ante Zizic with 10. Voigtmann is now tied for first place on the season's rebounding charts, with 7.7 per game alongside Ognjen Kuzmic of Zvezda and Nicolo Melli of Bamberg. Those three plus Heurtel accounted for the four double-doubles in the competition for Round 23.