The Euroleague Final Four tipoff will happen in 15 days and it also means that another intense and exciting season of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague has wrapped up. Before all you die-hard Euroleague fans sulk in your seats because it will mean you will be missing the action at the Euroleague hard court for a few months until another season opens, this is also the time to look back on the individual players who shone above the rest despite tough competition in the league to showcase their individual skills and talents at the hard court.
There are a few post-season awards to give away and this post will highlight only some of the most recognizable awards given by the Euroleague Basketball. Let us kick off with one award that is based purely on statistics, the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy, which is awarded to the player with the most impressive scoring performance for this current Euroleague season. And this year's winner is Igor Rakocevic of Efes Pilsen Istanbul. Although his team failed to qualify to the Playoffs and Euroleague Final Four 2011 after they were eliminated in the Top 16 round, Igor Rakocevic' outstanding performance cannot be denied. This trophy is given to players with the most number of points in minimum amount of games, which showcases their efficiency on the court. By the end of the regular season, Rakocevic has outdone Mirza Teletovic of Caja Laboral, Joel Freeland of Unicaja, Juan Carlos Navarro of Regal FC Barcelona, and Kenny Gregory of Union Olimpijia for this award. Also, Rakocevic earned the distinction of the only player to win this award more than once; in fact, this is his third time to win the trophy after he won it twice while still playing for Tau Ceramica.
Another notable post-season award is that of the Best Defender. For the sixth time, Dimitris Diamantidis owns the award, which is determined through votes given by head coaches in the Euroleague. It is an impressive feat for Diamantidis because in 7 seasons in the Euroleague, he has won the award 6 times, including his rookie year! That only goes to show his quality as a defensive player despite being quite an offensive powerhouse himself, thus making him a valuable player for his team! In doing so, he has assured his status as one of Euroleague's best defensive figures of all time, if not THE best!
Finally, Nikola Mirotic of Real Madrid earns the nod for this year's Rising Star award. Last year, it was won by Regal FC Barcelona's Ricky Rubio and this year, Mirotic has won it after making a huge transition from being a teenage reserve to becoming a decisive force that helped lift his team, the Whites, into the Euroleague Final Four 2011. It is also a historic moment for the club as they have broken a 15-year drought since it last reached the Euroleague Final Four. This award is given to any player in the Euroleague below the age of 22 that has shown massive leadership, excellent individual play, and a great overall performance to lift their team's performance. And for these reasons, Nikola Mirotic is deserving for the Rising Star award given to him by the Euroleague officials.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
With less than a month from today, the Euroleague Final Four will tip off in Barcelona, Spain wherein it will feature the following semi finals matchup: Panathinaikos vs Montepaschi Siena and Maccabi Electra vs Real Madrid. Three of these final four teams did not have home court advantage during the Playoffs round, except for Real Madrid who had to battle with Power Electronics Valencia until Game 5 to earn the distinction of becoming one of the Final Four 2011 qualifiers.
There are a lot of fans saying in blogs, forums, and social networking sites that a Maccabi-Panathinaikos finals is going to happen in Barcelona on May 8th. However, Montepaschi Siena has shown in the Playoffs round that this team is not a mere pushover, especially with the championship title in the line. They defeated 3-1 in a 5-game series Olympiacos Piraeus, which many basketball critics predicted to dominate this series - after all, Olympiacos battled Regal FC Barcelona in the finals last year in Paris. Sadly, Milos Teodosic and the rest of the Reds could not overcome the charge that Siena posed on them despite the fact that the Italians suffered from a rather forgetful Game 1 performance in the Playoffs round in Piraeus. It only shows you that Siena has an impressive character that goes beyond basketball skills and talent. Plus, the return of Bo McCalebb is still widely awaited by fans and the Euroleague Final Four 2011 could be the best avenue for that.
Real Madrid is also in a strange position entering the Euroleague Final Four 2011 because they are playing in Barcelona, the home of their eternal rivals, Regal FC Barcelona. Sadly, the defending champs were dethroned by Panathinaikos Athens in Game 4 of their series. Hence, Real Madrid (a team that is not new to being in the finals with its rich championship tradition) will become the sole Spanish representative in the Final Four. Although Maccabi is deemed as the popular favorite in this matchup, the size and depth of the roster of the Whites will be something that they can use to their advantage, especially without Doron Perkins in the side of Maccabi. Coach Emanuele Molin will have a task tough at hand going head-to-head with Coach David Blatt on the Israeli side, and this one is worth watching itself!
This is going to be an exciting Euroleague Final Four. What about you? Any predictions on the outcomes during the games on the weekend of May 6 & 8? Make sure to share them on the comments section below.