After 258 games played in the continent's premier basketball competition, Zalgiris Kaunas big man Paulius Jankunas has achieved another first by becoming MVP for Round 26 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season. Jankunas led the Lithuanian champs to an 80-82 road win at Unics Kazan with 21 points and 7 rebounds to keep the team's playoff hopes alive. His performance index rating of 30 was the highest of all players in the round. Jankunas made 5 of 9 two-pointers, 1 of 2 shots from downtown and converted all 8 of his trips to the foul line, including 2 late free throws to give his team a two-possession lead that all but sealed the outcome. He also dished 3 assists and blocked 1 shot in a tremendous performance. Jankunas becomes the first Zalgiris player to win an MVP of the round honor this season. Guards Bobby Dixon of Fenerbahce Istanbul and Jayson Granger of Anadolu Efes Istanbul shared the second-highest index ratings of the round, each with 26. Dixon starred with a career-high 26 points to lead his team to a 78-83 road win at Brose Bamberg. He made 5 of 9 threes and collected 6 rebounds. Granger erupted for 15 third-quarter points to lead his team to a come-from-behind 92-87 victory over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. He only missed 5 shots in posting 22 points plus 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Unics playmaker Quino Colom set a career high with an index rating of 25 against Zalgiris. He amassed 14 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists. Rounding out the list of Round 26's best performers were the EuroLeague MVP for January, Ognjen Kuzmic of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, and Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz power forward Toko Shengelia, each with an index rating of 24. The Zvezda center stepped up late to spark a game-deciding run in a 71-78 victory at EA7 Emporio Armani Milan and finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Shengelia shined against CSKA Moscow in a 79-78 win with 9 points on perfect shooting, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.
Individual leaders: Ante Zizic of Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul, 13 rebounds
Keith Langford of Unics Kazan remains the overwhelming favorite to win the Alphonso Ford Trophy as the league's top scorer after once more leading the weekly list of point-scorers with 27. With his performance on Friday, Langford's averaged jumped to 22.5 points per game. Center Ante Zizic of Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul was the round's best rebounder with 13 boards and if he had played enough games, he would qualify as the leader for the season with 7.583 boards per game. Instead, Brose Bamberg big man Nicolo Melli tops the charts for the season with 7.577 per game. Nobody had more assists in Round 26 than Colom's 10. CSKA Moscow's All-EuroLeague guard Milos Teodosic is ranked first among all EuroLeague players with 7.2 assists per game this season. Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul guards Sinan Guler and Vladimir Micov were joined by Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos Piraeus as the Round 26 leaders in steals with 4 each. Charles Jenkins continues to sit atop the season-long steals charts with an average of 1.96 per game. All-EuroLeague center Ekpe Udoh of Fenerbahce remains atop the season-long standings with 2.36 blocks per game after tying Baskonia forward Adam Hanga for the most rejections in Round 26 with 4 apiece. Colom, Efes big man Bryant Dunston (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Zizic (10 points, 13 rebounds) had the lone double-doubles in Round 26.