10 storylines from the regular season

Dec 04, 2018 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
10 storylines from the regular season

With the first eight rounds of the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season behind us, there has been much history set and even more could be on the way. In a season ruled by parity, here are 10 of the top storylines in the EuroCup so far.

No team dominating

Parity is the name of the game in this EuroCup season. Since Round 5 there have been no undefeated teams, which is the first time that has happened in the history of the competition. Last season, for example, there were still two undefeated teams at that point. Of course, there are teams that are better than others, but no team has dominated its group this season. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar is 7-1 in Group B, but had five games decided by 8 points or fewer. In Group C, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and Valencia Basket are both 6-2. ASVEL had an impressive five-game winning streak, but is still second in its group behind Valencia, which had three wins of 18 or more points, but also three close calls, too. The closest to domination, or in this case, co-domination, are Unicaja Malaga and UNICS Kazan in Group D. Those two 7-1 teams are also the two with the best point-differences in the competition. UNICS was the first to qualify for the Top 16 and has five double-digit wins, but is currently second in the standings behind Unicaja, which is on a seven-game winning streak and has won by an average margin of 14.4 points during the streak. Round 9 takes Unicaja to Kazan for a clash that will almost certainly determine who wins the group.

Giorgi Shermadini - Unicaja Malaga (photo Unicaja) - EC18

Scoring on the rise, again

Overall scoring has been on the rise in the past two years and teams have continued to find the bottom of the nets to keep in touch with that trend this season, too. EuroCup teams are scoring 81.6 points per game, which is almost a point more than what teams averaged last season, and above the 81.1 points per game average set in the 2016-17 campaign. Three teams are averaging more than 90 points per game and on pace to rank among the top 10 in scoring all-time: ALBA Berlin (92.4 points per game), Unicaja Malaga (92.0 ppg.) and Tofas Bursa (90.1 ppg.). ALBA's current average matches the scoring record Avtodor Saratov set in the 16 games it played in the 2015-16 season. Unicaja is on pace to rank fourth all-time and Tofas is ninth.

Home sweet home

While scoring is up, it has surged even more in home games. For the first time in a decade, and just the second time ever in the regular season, as many as five teams are scoring more than 92 points per game at home. This has only happened once before, in the 2007-08 regular season which featured 54 teams. This season more than 20% of EuroCup teams (5 out of 24) are scoring in those number. MoraBanc Andorra is above everyone, leading the way with 99.8 points per game at home and Tofas Bursa is right behind with 97.5 ppg. The remaining teams in this company are Unicaja (94.8 ppg.), ALBA Berlin (93.8 ppg.) and Zenit St. Petersburg (92.8 ppg). Consequently, home teams are winning 65% of the games, while last season home teams won 58.4% of regular season games.

Stefan Peno - ALBA Berlin (photo Andreas Knopf - ALBA) - EC18

Keeping up with ALBA's numbers

There have already been 16 instances in which a team has scored more than 100 points in a single game. Tofas and Andorra have each done it twice, while ALBA has scored in triple digits four times – or in half of its games. As mentioned above, ALBA's scoring average is 92.4 per game. Obviously, it will be tough to sustain that, but ALBA has maintained the high-scoring pace despite injuries to two of its top four scorers – Peyton Siva and Martin Hermannsson. Those two players have also combined to average 14.6 assists per game, but even though competition assists leader Siva (10.3 apg.) has missed four games, ALBA is averaging an unbelievable 24.8 assists per contest, currently shattering the previous single-season record of 22.9 set by Khimki Moscow Region in the 2013-14 season. ALBA also has a PIR average of 109.3 and is on pace to beat the single-season record set by Joventut Badalona (108.5) from the 2007-08 season. However, the leader in PIR category this season is not ALBA, but Unicaja, which is averaging 112.13 per game.

How is your inside game?

Unicaja is on pace to break a record in two-point accuracy. Unicaja is making an astonishing 62.2% of shots inside the arc, which is just above the current record of 61.8% set by Dynamo Moscow during the 2007-08 season. Valencia is second this season averaging 58.33% and shattered a 15-year old single-game record when it converted 21 of 24 shots from inside the arc for 87.5%, beating the previous best of 86.2% by Lukoil Academic. In competition history, there have been only five teams that finished the season with a two-point accuracy higher than 60%, and only once in the past decade. So, in a season of high scoring and with five teams making more than 40% of their three-point attempts, the percentages in the inside game are on the rise, too. Three players have been especially stellar in that department. Oliver Stevic of MoraBanc Andorra has made 27 of 33 two-point attempts, or 81.8%. That is on pace for the second-best ever. Second, this season is Unicaja's Giorgi Shermadini who has gone 47 for 61 (77.1%), while Michael Ojo of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade has made 23 of 30 for 76.7%. Those would be the eighth and ninth best on the all-time two-point accuracy chart.

Evgeny Voronov - Zenit St Petersburg (photo Zenit) - EC18_99vnng44cieypldr

Move the ball, please

The high scoring is likely to go hand-in-hand with good ball movement and a group of EuroCup teams has been dishing assists like few before. In EuroCup history, a total of only eight teams that played more than six games in a season have averaged more than 20 assists per game and all of them have been in the past three campaigns. This season, five teams are averaging more than 20 assists. Apart from ALBA's record pace, Valencia dishes 22.3 per contest, which is on pace for the fourth-best all-time. Tofas (21.1 apg.) and Unicaja (20.9 apg.) currently hold the eighth- and ninth-highest assist per game averages and Zenit St. Petersburg is also above the threshold at 20.3 per game.

Veteran scorers and new rebounding faces

EuroCup rookie Javonte Green of ratiopharm Ulm leads the competition with an average performance index rating of 19.9 and ranks first in steals with 3.9 per contest. Green has enjoyed a dream rookie campaign, but the rest of the players leading the way in the EuroCup are men with important experience in the competition. Among the best five performers in PIR, only second-ranked Diante Garrett (19.3 PIR) of Tofas made his debut last season, while everyone else boasts a lot more experience under their respective belts. Veterans Sergey Karasev of Zenit and Giorgi Shermadini of Unicaja are tied for third (19.0 PIR) while Rokas Giedraitis of ALBA and Vladimir Stimac of Turk Telekom Ankara are tied for fifth place (18.0 PIR). Karasev and Giedraitis are each in their fourth season in the competition and Shermadini and Stimac are in their tenth season when combining experience in the EuroLeague and EuroCup. Karasev is the EuroCup’s scoring leader (19.7 ppg.), and among 13 players scoring more than 15 points per game, Green and Bryon Allen of Brescia are the only EuroCup rookies. When it comes to rebounding, however, new faces have been ruling the glass. Crvena Zvezda rookie Mouhammad Faye leads the competition with 8.3 rebounds per game and five more rebounders ranked in the top 10 have not played a single EuroCup game before this season, including Uros Lukovic (7.0 rpg.) of Mornar Bar, who is tied for third, and Jock Landale (6.7 rpg.) of Partizan NIS Belgrade, who is tied for sixth.

Yakuba Ouattara - AS Monaco (photo Monaco) - EC18

Group A drama awaits

There are seven spots in the Top 16 that still need to be claimed and there are 13 teams fighting for them. Three of those open spots are in Group A, where only newcomer AS Monaco has qualified. Monaco did so in Round 8 thanks to a late rally against ratiopharm Ulm and escaped the drama waiting the rest of the teams in the group. MoraBanc Andorra (5-3), Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (4-4), Germani Brescia Leonessa (3-5), Galatasaray Istanbul (3-5) and Ulm (3-5) all have chances to go through. In addition, among the five teams, the only team that holds a sweep over another is Andorra with two wins over Brescia. All the others have either split victories or still have to play each other, making things even more interesting going into the final two rounds.

Coaching seats were hot in Group B

Coaching changes happen every season, and it has not been any different this season with four teams making the call. Interestingly, three of those teams have been in Group B and all three have made replacements within their own systems. Perhaps the most surprising of them was Lokomotiv parting ways with last season's EuroCup Coach of the Year Sasa Obradovic after a 4-1 start. But Lokomotiv did not do as well in the VTB League and assistant Vlada Jovanovic took over. Cedevita Zagreb also made a decision to replace Sito Alonso after a shaky start in both the EuroCup and Adriatic League and did so with a man who coached the club's Croatian League team, Slaven Rimac. Both moves paid early dividends, as both teams have since booked Top 16 tickets with respective three-game winning streaks. Limoges CSP is the latest Group B team to make a head coaching change with assistant Francois Peronnet taking over for Kyle Milling. Outside of Group B, however, there was only one coaching change, with Partizan NIS Belgrade hiring 2014 EuroCup Coach of the Year Andrea Trinchieri to replace Nenad Canak. Both Peronnet and Trinchieri sit at 2-6 and have a big challenge in front of them trying to sneak into the Top 16.

Bojan Dubljevic - Valencia Basket (photo Valencia) - EC18

Dubljevic takes over the all-time charts

After a year away, Valencia big man Bojan Dubljevic returned to the competition this season and continued where he left off, climbing up the ladder all the way to the top of the all-time charts in many different categories. The 27-year-old, now in his seventh season with the club, already entered the season as the all-time leading scorer and took over the career lead in field goals made in Round 7. Then, in Round 8, Dubljevic become the second player ever to pull down 200 offensive boards in the competition and now needs just 10 more to catch Vladimir Veremeenko who sits at 213 for his career. Veremeenko also happens to be the all-time leader in total rebounds, and Dubljevic needs 45 more to catch him in that department. But first Dubljevic will likely conquer the all-time performance index rating charts; he has accumulated a PIR of 1,471 through 105 games in his EuroCup career, just one shy of the all-time leader Mire Chatman.