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MVP for March: Jeremy Pargo, Maccabi Electra
April 11, 2011
There was no shortage of heroes as the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs proved over the last three weeks to be as unpredictable and dramatic as elite pro basketball can get. When the dust settled on 17 games that thrilled fans everywhere, one of those heroes stood out tallest, Jeremy Pargo of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, who is Euroleague Basketball's choice as Sportingbet Monthly MVP for March. A rookie point guard, Pargo took his game from good to better to great as he inspired Maccabi to reach the Final Four again after a two-season absence. Pargo's only subpar performance during March came in the first and only game that Maccabi lost in its best-of-five series against Caja Laboral of Spain. After that, however, there was no stopping him. In Game 2, still on the road in Spain, Pargo hit the game-winning jumper with 1.3 seconds left to even the series for Maccabi. Back in Tel Aviv for Game 3, he lifted Maccabi to victory even after teammate Doron Perkins went down with a season-ending knee injury during the first half. And in Game 4, Pargo had season highs with 27 points and 7 assists as Maccabi won its third game in a row to roar into the Final Four! Pargo finished with the best performance index ranking average and the second-most points per game among all Playoffs participants. He also ranked among the top five players in three-pointers made, assists and steals. For all those reasons and more, Jeremy Pargo is Euroleague Basketball's choice as Sportingbet March MVP.
The Sportingbet MVP of the Month award now is in its seventh 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 March was based upon the five Playoffs series that were played throughout March and early April. Sportingbet, a Euroleague Basketball partner, 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 Sportingbet's sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.
Maccabi entered the Playoffs without the homecourt advantage, and despite seeming rested, healthy and confident, struggled in the series opener. As Maccabi's shooting numbers dipped far below their average, so did Pargo's. He finished with just 7 points on 2-of-9 two-point and 1-of-4 three-point shooting in a six-point loss. Facing a crucial Game 2 just 48 hours later, Maccabi knew whom to turn to. When Laboral jumped out to a double-digit second-quarter lead, Pargo rose to the challenge on both ends of the floor to keep the game close at halftime. And when crunch time arrived, it was Pargo again who stepped up. He drew a foul and made a free throw to tie the score at 81-81 with 35.3 seconds remaining. After Laboral missed a shot, Pargo grabbed the rebound, waited out the clock and pulled up for a long jumper that went through the net with 1.3 seconds remaining to give Maccabi a series-tying victory. The action shifted back to Tel Aviv for Game 3, but Nokia Arena was suddenly deflated when Perkins was carried off the floor early in the second quarter. Pargo, who already had 9 first-quarter points, didn't let the shock of his running mate's injury affect him. He took charge with a pair of triples in a 10-0 run en route to a 41-30 lead at halftime, after which Maccabi never looked back. Pargo finished that game with 23 points, best on the floor and his season-high to that point, on 4-of-7 three-point shooting. With Perkins declared out for the season and Maccabi facing one chance to clinch the series at home, Pargo made sure in Game 4 that he and his teammates celebrated with their fans. After an electrifying 20-minute shootout that ended with Laboral ahead 51-52 at halftime, Pargo fueled a 21-2 third-quarter charge with 10 points plus assists on 5 more as Maccabi zoomed to victory and a place in the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four. By the time he climbed on the shoulders of teammate Sofoklis Schortsanitis to celebrate, Pargo had raised his season-high of 26 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting and had matched his season-best 7 assists, all that despite the added pressure of what had become a must-win game at home after Perkins, who had started all 19 previous Euroleague games beside Pargo, was injured.
After entering the Playoffs without homecourt advantage and then having lost Game 1, Maccabi had to prove itself with its season on the line. Sparked by Pargo's game-winner in Game 2 and carried by his performances after that, Maccabi did just that, handing Caja Laboral its worse two losses of the season. Pargo finished his first Playoffs as the round's leader in average performance index rating with 19.5 per game. He was also second in scoring (17.3 ppg.), fifth in assists (4.3 apg.) and tied for fifth in three-pointers made (9-for-18) and steals (1.3 spg.). Moreover, Pargo led all guards in Playoffs rebounding with 4 per game. Most of all, he led his team in the absence of his injured teammate and gave the home fans in Tel Aviv a new taste of glory.
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