Not many players earn standing ovations on the road. But then not many players lead a team in every way quite like Olympiacos Piraeus guard Vassilis Spanoulis, who is Euroleague Basketball's choice as bwin MVP for November. The standing ovation was given to Spanoulis early in November by the fans of EA7 Emporio Armani Milan in recognition of his virtuoso performance in a key road win for the defending champs. At month's end, last season's Final Four MVP deserves another ovation for driving Olympiacos from a 1-2 start to five consecutive victories in November that leave no doubt how ready the Reds are to defend their trophy this season. Spanoulis led Olympiacos in scoring in three of those five wins, was second in the other two, and did it all while dishing more assists than any Euroleague player in November. Most importantly, a month that started with big doubts about Olympiacos ended with Spanoulis and the Reds winning the last four games against big-name opponents, all but one of them on the road, by an average of 16.5 points. They are now in second place in their group, although tied on victories with the leader. With two regular season games left, sure to make a run at winning the group, everyone knows already who will lead the Reds on that mission, Vassilis Spanoulis, the bwin MVP for November.
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its ninth 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 November was decided based on the five regular season games that all teams played between November 1 and 30. 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.
Despite keeping most of its players from last season, Olympiacos started November looking little like a defending champion. With a 1-2 record and coming off losses of 26 and 18 points, the latter at home, the team was in turmoil. The first game of November, with center Joey Dorsey having left the team, was difficult, too, but behind 21 points and 7 assists by Spanoulis, the Reds hung on for a 79-77 home win against Turkish Airlines Euroleague newcomer Cedevita Zagreb.
That proved to be a corner-turning victory for Olympiacos. A week later, against EA7 Emporio Armani in Milan, Spanoulis was magical. His 23 points included 5 three-pointers, the most he has hit in 125 career Euroleague games. He also dished 9 assists, the second-best passing game of his career. When he left the game after 29 minutes, the home fans in Milan rose to their feet in appreciation. With that performance, the team's confidence rose. On the road again a week later, Spanoulis went for 14 points and 8 assists in a 72-89 victory over Caja Laboral that the Reds led by 18 after three quarters. Next, they went home and took revenge for a big early-season loss by demolishing Anadolu Efes Istanbul 75-53 in the team's second-best defensive effort of the last four years. Spanoulis posted 14 points and 4 assists in that one. Then, in November's final week, it was time for more revenge. On the road again, the Reds blasted group leader Zalgiris Kaunas 63-77 with a 13-29 fourth-quarter assault to which Spanoulis contributed 16 points and 6 assists, including back-to-back three-pointers that made sure of the victory in the game's next-to-last minute.
Over his team's five win in November, Spanoulis posted averaged of 17.6 points and 6-8 assists while making 14 of 31 three-pointers, or 45%. For the regular season so far, he ranks first in assists (6.25 apg.), sixth in scoring (16 ppg.) and fourth in three-pointers made (19). This marks the second bwin MVP of the Month award for Spanoulis in less than a year – he also won last February – and one that his fans in Piraeus will be ready to celebrate with him when it is presented before an upcoming Olympiacos home game.