By Hocine LOUKKAF on 12/18/2018

No surprise this year with Fenerbahce and the other bigs, Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow or Efes Istanbul at the top of the Euroleague regular season.

#1 Fenerbahce Istanbul (11-1)

With only one loss (against their archrival Anadolu) after eleven games, Fenerbahce seems once again the favourite to win it all. Sloukas (11.8pts 5.2as) still is the leader of the team, well surrended by Serbian guards duo Kalinic (9.5pts 1.8as)/Guduric (9pts 2.3as), Italian forwards duo Datome (10.1pts 3.7rbds)/Melli (7.2pts 3.7rbds) and big man Vesely (14.3pts 5.1 rbds 3as). French newcomer big man Lauvergne has had some interesting impact  too with 9.9pts 3.3rbds. Fenerbahce has important games coming soon against Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow to close the first leg.

#2 Real Madrid (10-2)

Madrid has not suffered too much from Doncic’ departure, standing only one loss behind Fenerbahce. With ten players between 14 and 24min playing time, Coach Laso can count on numerous talents. Campazzo has stepped up offensively (10.3pts 4.8as) to help Llul (10.7pts 3.4as) at the PG spot. Carroll (11.1pts) and Fernandez (9.8pts 3.1as) are efficient from outside. But it’s the inside sector which impresses the most with a versatile quatuor made of Anthony Randolph (13.1pts 5.2rbds), Ayon (9.4pts 6.8rbds 3.1as), Thompkins (8.4pts 4rbds) and Tavares (7.3pts 6.3rbds 2.1bl) to dominate the paint. Real will have a tough first leg with games against Panathinkaikos and at Istanbul versus Fenerbahce before January.

#3 CSKA Moscow (10-2)

With two losses against lower ranked Buduscnost and Vitoria, CSKA can be a bit disappointed after this first leg. Coach Itoudis can count on the same core who has been successful in Moscow for years with guards Higgins (16.8pts on 52% 3pt) and De Colo (13.5pts 3.7as) as good as usual. Clyburn is struggling from three but has been Moscow’s third best socrer and the best rebounder (12.9pts 6.9rbds). Hines and Hunter combined for almost 16pts and 8rbds while newcomer Alec Peters has been efficient as a stretch four (8.8pts 57% 3pt, 2.9rbds). CSKA has tough schedule in the next two weeks with games against both Istanbul teams anf Panathinaikos.

#4 Anadolu Efes Istanbul (8-4)

The second team from Istanbul is a bit dropped behind the first group of teams, but things can change pretty fast. Micic (12.4pts 5.5as 49% 3pt) is showing the way to his teammates with backcourt partner Beaubois the best scorer of the team (12.9pts 42% 3pt 3.5as). Behind them, another Frenchman, Adrien Moerman, is proving he’s one of the best PF in Europe with 12.3pts 6.8rbds on 43% 3pt. Anadolu mus win its next three games, including a tough one against CSKA, to keep the leading trio in its sights.

#5 Olympiacos Piraeus (7-5)

One of the best PG of the last decade in Euroleague, Spanoulis is starting to feel the pressure of the years as he has been less efficient than last year with 10.9pts 5.3as but also 3.8tp per game. At least, he has been a good mentor for Nigel Williams-Goss, who has been the other creator of the team with 9pts and 4.3as. Another interesting new signing has been Zach Leday who, for his first Euroleague campaign, is impressive on offense with 10.8pts on 59% FG including 53% 3pt. Inside, bruiser Milutinov and Printezis are combining 22.4pts and 12.6rbds. Olympiakos is playing the next three games against lower ranked teams.

#6 Panathinaikos Athens (6-6)

This Euroleague campaign has been pretty rough when you see the 6th ranked team with a balanced record. What Pana may lack is a real leader as only one player, Keith Langford (11.4pts), is averaging more than 10pts. Calathes is still the same impressive passing PG but his inability to score fom three (9.3pts 18% 3pt) is a big weakness for the team. The inside sector also lacks a real threat with Gist the best scorer with 8.3pts. With two of the next three games against Madrid and CSKA Moscow. It’s not sure Pana will finish the first leg with a positive record.

#7 Armani Milano (6-6)

If they hadn’t lost against Gran Canaria at home, Milano would have a positive record by now. With two important wins against Efes Istanbul and above all, against Olimpiakos at the famed “Peace and Friendship ” Stadium. Contrary to many other teams, the Italian powerhouse has his backcourt players Mike James (20.5pts 7.3as) and Micov (14.5pts 2.5as) staying on the court more than 30min a game. Yet, the best rated player of the roster, Gudaitis, has come from the bench and has been very prodcutive in the 23min he stays on the court (12.6pts 7.4rbds 0.9bl). Milano is playing his next game against Munich at home before  two tougher matchups at Tel Aviv and Pana.

#8 Bayern Munich (6-6)

After two years in Euocup, Munich has established as a solid Euroleague member this yeard but despite winning only only game against a better ranked team. Eight players are staying bewteen 18 and 25min on the court with former 2nd pick of the draft Derrick Williams the best scorer with 13.5pts per game. Behind him, only Dedovic (11.3pts 2.9as) and Lucic (11.4pts 3.8rbds) are averaging more than 10pts per game. The team may lack a true inside force and a strong PG , even if Jovic (8pts 4.9as) is doing ok at the PG position.  It will be hard for Bayern to win more than one of its last three first leg contests with away matchups at Milano and Madrid and a home game against Pogdorica.

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