In addition to a gold standard of Top 16 perfection established by his team, a new precedent in individual excellence has been set by the player who has proven to be a driving force in one of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague's most amazing streaks ever. For the second time in a row, Ante Tomic of FC Barcelona is Euroleague Basketball's choice as the bwin MVP of the month. Never before in the nearly 10 years and 61 monthly MVP designations to date has the same player won the award even twice in the same season, let alone back-to-back. There is an overabundance of reasons why Tomic is the first, starting with Barcelona's 4-0 record in March, which extended the team's winning streak in the Top 16 - the longest and arguably the toughest phase of the season - to an incredible 24 games over Tomic's two seasons with the club. If Tomic needed to play a lot of minutes in February and post career-high numbers to keep that streak alive, in March he was pure efficiency, doing much of the same damage in 25% less time on the court. Barcelona nonetheless dominated its four opponents by an average of 17 points as Tomic had the team's best performance index rating in every single victory, despite playing less than 22 minutes per game. As such, Tomic ended as the Euroleague’s best per-minute performer last month, with a prorated average index rating of 38.5 over 40 minutes. The fruits of that effort were Barcelona clinching first place and home-court advantage in the playoffs with a still-perfect 12-0 record in what is considered one of the toughest groups in Euroleague history. All the more reason that Ante Tomic is making history of his own with a second award in a row as the bwin MVP for March!
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its 10th 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 March was based on the four games that all Top 16 teams played between March 6 and 28. 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.
With a March schedule that included four of its biggest opponents over the years, it was hard to expect Barcelona to maintain its perfect record, let alone win every game by 12 points or more. That dominance started with Tomic making 8 of 9 two-point shots and 3 of 4 free throws for 19 points in a blowout 93-73 win over visiting Fenerbahce Ulker. A week later, with defending champion Olympiacos in town, Tomic did it on both ends of the floor for a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds as Barcelona won 70-58. On the road against Unicaja Malaga the following week, he needed barely 17 minutes for another double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds, in a 61-77 triumph. Back home for the team's biggest victory of the month, 84-62 over Panathinaikos Athens, Tomic had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block in under 20 minutes. When March had finished, Tomic boasted averages of 21 in performance rating, third-best among all Euroleague players, 14 points (ninth-best) and 8 rebounds (fourth-best).
Counting his last two games in February, Tomic's performances over a six-week span - the length of an entire Top 16 until last season - were tied for the third-best average (26.67) in Top 16 history behind only Mirsad Turkcan, tied with Alphonso Ford and just ahead of Arvydas Sabonis. Even in that exalted company, what makes Tomic stand out is Barcelona's perfect record in that span and over the Top 16 as a whole. For that reason, Barcelona fans will be able to applaud Tomic again at center court when he receives the bwin MVP for March trophy at an upcoming home game.