Turkish Airlines Euroleague
September 18, 2014
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bwin February MVP: Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos Piraeus
March 5, 2012
When February started, Olympiacos had a 0-2 record in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 and its streak of six consecutive playoff appearances was in danger. In fact, the Reds were still in rebuilding mode, having just added two more players to a roster that has seen 12 newcomers since last season. There was one rock in the middle of that roster, however, on whom all the Reds could rely. Four weeks later, having won every game needed by the point difference necessary, Olympiacos is headed for the playoffs and veteran guard Vassilis Spanoulis is Euroleague Basketball's choice as bwin MVP for February. Spanoulis, already a three-time All-Euroleague selection, shined as bright as ever in February. Over four games, he averaged 14.5 points on 45.5% three-point shooting, plus 3.3 assists and 2 steals per game. He was the main figure in the first game of February, with 18 points and 4 assists in an 83-65 win over Anadolu Efes that let the Reds keep dreaming. Then, he produced 20 points in the Top 16 finale against Galatasaray Medical Park to extend his team’s season. Spanoulis, already one of the all-time greats, proved himself not only worthy as ever, but the logical choice to receive his first bwin MVP of the month award.
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its eighth season. Although statistics and performance index 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 based on the last four games of the Top 16 that were played between Wednesday, February 1 and Thursday, March 1. Euroleague Basketball partner bwin 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 bwin’s sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.
In its first game of the February, Olympiacos faced more or less a must-win home game against Anadolu Efes. Spanoulis was more than up to the challenge as he picked up 18 points and 4 assists in an 83-65 win. The veteran combo-guard helped Olympiacos get out to a big start and then hit a pair of threes in a 10-2 fourth-quarter run to seal the victory. A week later the two teams met again, this time in Istanbul. Despite an off-night scoring-wise, Spanoulis spent more time on the floor than any other Olympiacos player due to great defense with which he matched his career high, set back in 2005, with 4 steals. The Reds held on for a 65-67 win to even their record at 2-2. The Reds lost on the road to CSKA Moscow in Top 16, Week 5, but that game had no bearing on their future - as long as they could beat Galatasaray the next week. With a do-or-die challenge before him, Spanoulis starred from the opening moment against Galatasaray, scoring 6 points and assisting on 7 more as the Reds went ahead 17-8. They would never trail again, but whenever Galatasaray got close, Spanoulis slammed the door shut, the last time with a clutch triple, a steal and a layup to make it 84-72 in the final minutes. In addition to scoring 20 points, his 8 assists were the most by Spanoulis this season and 4 more steals again matched his career-high.
By the time his February was over, Spanoulis was the top-ranked scorer left in the Euroleague this season, with 18.1 points per game. Among players headed into the playoffs, he has the fourth-highest average index rating, 18.1, and the fourth-most assists , 4.1 per game. The bwin MVP of the month trophy will go nicely in Spanoulis’s trophy case, where he also displays his awards as 2009 Euroleague champion and Final Four MVP and his three All-Euroleague awards. Spanoulis will receive his award before one of the upcoming playoff games at Peace and Friendship Stadium.
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