By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Not so long ago, European players were an oddity in the NBA with a few exception, but that’s not the case anymore. Europeans can contribute or even become legitimate All Stars and Eurohoops will track them down during the season, starting from the first week (30/10 – 5/11).
And speaking about All Stars, Tony Parker is already making a case for himself. The Spurs started the season with a 4-0 record, their best ever start of a season, and TP was sensational with 24 points and 10 assist in the 110-100 win against Utah, 23 points and 6 assists in the game against New Orleans (99-95) and 14 points and 10 assist against Oklahoma City (86-84). In that game Parker had some help from fellow Frenchman Boris Diaw (10 p. 7 r. 4 as.), while against Utah Nando De Colo got his first three minutes of action. Spurs ended the week with a win over Indiana (101-79).
For Oklahoma City Thabo Sefolosha (8 p.) from Switzerland and Spanish Serge Ibaka (4 p., 9 r., 2 bl.) did just ok on the game against San Antonio, but Ibaka was better in the defeat against Atlanta (104-95) with 14 points and 5 rebounds where he clashed with Georgian Zaza Pachulia who had a really “evil” stats line (6 p., 6 r., 6 as.). So far OKC has a 1-2 record with a win against Portland (106-92) in which Ibaka (7 p., 5 r.) and Sefolosha (2 p.) didn’t shine. On the other hand the Euros of Portland didn’t cash out as Frenchman Nicolas Batum had just 3 points on 1/11 shots in 37 minutes and Montenegrin Sasha Pavlovic 0/2 shots in 23 minutes.
That doesn’t mean that Batum is having a slow start. He was excellent in the win against the Lakers (116-106) with 26 points and 6 six rebounds, while Pau Gasol put up his usual numbers (16 p. 9 r.). Batum was also all around the court in the win against Houston (95-85) with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals and two blocks. Yes, also Spaniard Victor Claver and Englishman Joel Freeland did debut with the Blazers, but Batum is a starter and a star as Portland has a 2-2 record. The week ended for Batum with a 14 point, 5 rebounds effort in Portland’s defeat by Dallas (114-91).
On the other hand the Lakers are at 1-3 and Gasol had a decent night for his high standards (14 p. 5 r.) in their only win so far against the Pistons (108-79) while Sweden’s Jonas Jerebko scoring 18 points for Detroit. His brother Marc Gasol is also his usual self for Memphis (2-1) with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the defeat against the Clippers (101-92) and 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the win over Golden State (104-94) which got just six points from Latvian Andris Biedrins. Gasol junior flirted even with a triple double (22 p., 8 r., 8 as.) in the win of Memphis against Utah (103-94).
One more Euro-big, Omer Acik proves to be a force in the paint at least defensively. The Turkish center of Houston (2-1) had 15 rebounds and 4 points in the defeat by Portland (95-85), 12 points and 9 rebounds in the win against Detroit (105-96) and also 19 rebounds – and 0/7 shots – in the 109-102 win over Atlanta of Zaza Pashulia (13 p. 8 r.).
He did much better than his compatriot Enes Kanter who had 6 points and 7 rebounds in the 113-94 win over Dallas, a 11 minutes cameo in the defeat by the Spurs (110-100) and was a little bit better (2 p. 4 r.) in the barnburner against New Orleans (88-86).
Speaking of European centers, Kostas Koufos is a really interesting case. The Greek-American started the season as a starter in Denver and in 30 minutes offered 9 rebounds and 6 points in the defeat by Philadelphia (84-75). His role was diminished since then with 21 minutes in the losing effort against Orlando (102-89) and just 14 minutes against Miami (the champs won 119-116). French guard Evan Fournier also got some minutes of action for Denver and Italian Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points against Orlando.
Hidayet Turkoglu who injured his hand and Nikola Vucevic had 6 points each in that game for the Magic, with the Montenegrin center exploding in the win against Phoenix (115-94) with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Marcin Gortat from Poland and Slovenian Goran Dragic are starters for the Suns and provide solid numbers regularly. They did it against Orlando (Gortat 14 p., 11 r., Dragic 12 p., 8 as.), in the 92-89 win against Detroit (Dragic 15 p., 10 as., Gortat 16 p., 16 r. – Jerebko 11 p.) and in the 124-99 defeat by Miami (Gortat 12 p., 13 r., Dragic 13 p., 9 as.)
Frenchman Ian Mahinmi did just ok for Indiana with 7 points and 8 rebounds against Charlotte, but his team lost the game by a point (90-89) and had a more diminished role (4 p., 2 r.) in the 106-98 win over Sacramento. The Euros of Milwaukee, Slovenian Beno Udrih and Turk Ersan Ilyasova, scored both in double digits, 10 and 14 points respectively, in the win over Boston (99-88) a game where Darko Milicic played five minute for Celtics. Udrih had one more solid performance (11 p. 5 as.) in the win over Cleveland (105-102).
The French invasion in the NBA’s paints could not be completed without mentioning the 19 points, 7 rebounds outing of Washington’s Kevin Seraphin in the 89-86 defeat against the Celtics – Czech Jan Vesely had four points and four rebounds for the Wizards – and, of course, Joakim Noah. Chicago has three players from Europe, Frenchman center Noah, Englishman Luol Deng and Italian Marco Belinelli who helped their team to a 2-1 record, two wins over Cleveland (116-86) and Sacramento (93-87) and a defeat by New Orleans (89-82). Noah was the best of the three with 23 points and 10 rebounds over Sacramento. Deng scored in double figures in two games (19 points against the Hornets, 14 points against the Cavaliers) and Belinelli also produced a 13 points effort against New Orleans and 8 points at Cleveland. In that game Cavaliers gave some minutes to Serbian Vladimir Radmanovic and Israeli Omri Casspi without a noteworthy results.
And now it’s time for two “European” teams of the league. Toronto faced Minnesota and won 105-86 with Italian Andrea Bargani having 10 points, Spaniard Jose Calderon 7 points and rookie Jonas Valenciunas from Lithuania 4 points and 4 rebounds. For the Wolves Andrei Kirilenko had a full stat line (17 p., 6 r., 3 as.), Montenegrin Nikola Pekovic did just fine (15 p., 3 r.) and Alexey Shved added 8 points. Toronto lost the game to Indiana (90-88) with Valenciunas having a double double (12 p. 10 r.), while Calderon (15 p.) and Bargnani (16 p.) scored in double digits. Toronto also lost the game against the Nets (107-100) with Bargani scoring 13 points.
Minesota did better, despite missing injured stars Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, with a 92-80 win over Sacramento (Kirilenko 10 p., 7 r., 5 as., Pekovic 9 p., 5 r.) and a 107-96 triumph over the Nets. It was an impressive show by the Russian duo of Kirilenko (16 p. 10 r., 6 as., 4 bl.) and Shved (10 p., 3 as., 2 r.) and also a big presence in the paint by Pekovic (21 p., 7 r.). What was missing from the game, from the European perceptive, was Mirza Teletovic who still waits for his NBA debut with the Nets.