We asked basketball journalist Yarone Arbel to take a look back at the EuroChallenge season, compare stats and pick the best of the best. And the award(s) goes to...
|Jeremiah Massey was the best power forward in the competition and the MVP of this EuroChallenge season in general, according to Yarone Arbel|
Ben Woodside (BCM Gravelines Dunkerque)
Stats: 18.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 3.5 rpg, 35.3% 3P, 1.4 spg, 2.9 tpg
This is the second season in a row for Ben Woodside with Gravelines and the second season he's playing with them at the EuroChallenge, but only this year he elevated his game to the top level. Woodside finished the season as the top scorer with 18.5 ppg, top passer with 5.5 apg and was also ranked 1st in Free Throws Made and Free Throws Attempted. It was enough to lift his club to the quarter-finals, which is certainly not a bad result for the French side.
Runner up: Patrick Beverly (Spartak St. Petersburg)
Stats: 15.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.3 apg, 56.1% 2P, 33.3% 3P, 1.5 spg, 2.0 tpg
Beverly joined Spartak at mid-season but certainly was one of the best players in the entire competition in the second half of the season.
Henry Domercant (Spartak St. Petersburg)
Stats: 16.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 51.4% 2P, 29.5% 3P, 1.6 spg, 1.7 tpg
Until the Final Four, Spartak were the most dominating team in the competition, and if you want to be dominant you need to be consistent. When talking about consistency at Spartak you talk about Domercant. He missed double-digits in only two games and in both he was just a bucket shy and all in all he collected 16.1 ppg and scored 51.4% inside the arc, which covered from a less than average season behind the new arc - only 29.5% or just 1.3 three pointer made per night. If you need another example of how important Domercant was for the run of Spartak go back to the semi-finals night, one of the two in which he missed double-digits in points. On that game Lokomotiv did a great job on him, and forced Domercant to shoot just 4 of 13 from the floor including 1 of 8 from the extended arc.
Runner-Up: Rashad Anderson (Ventspils)
Stats: 17.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 60% 2P, 37.1% 3P, 1.9 tpg, 1.4 apg
More of a 2/3 player than the classic shooting guard, but he belongs here for sure. The main reason Ventspils went just 8 points away from the Final Four. The number of points Ventspils was from that big win was the same number of points Rashad was missing that night to reach his season averages.
Matt Lojeski (BC Telenet Oostende)
Stats: 14.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 59.5% 2P, 30.2% 3P, 1.1 spg
Lojeski gave Oostende what any team would want from its small forward - stability and versatility. In his second season in Oostende showed a great set of tools and although he's not great in anything specific, he's certainly good in a lot of aspects. Not being a great shooter forces Lojeski to use his natural skills to convert plays and his 59.5% from two-point range shows how well he does it. That category is the one where he's ranked the highest among all others (7th) and despite all coaches are prepared to limit that aspect of his game, he makes it happen time after time.
Runner up: Alando Tucker (Lokomotiv Kuban)
Stats: 12.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.8 apg, 58.6% 2P, 11.1% 3P, 1.8 tpg
Tucker was one of the main forces of the finalists with his great athleticism. His shot was his weakest point this season, but he still managed to produce a lot for his team, and stepped up with his second best season high in the semifinals.
Power Forward & MVP
Jeremiah Massey - Lokomotiv Kuban
Stats: 16.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 59.6% 2P, 38.1% 3P, 1.6 spg, 1.8 tpg
Massey came one game short of winning the title, but at the end of the day he was the most dominant player around. He didn't score in double-digits at just a single game (and then had 9 points and 15 rebounds), while being ranked in the Top 10 of eight different statistical categories. Massey was 6th in Points Per Game (16.1), 5th in Total Rebounds (8.1), 9th in Defensive Rebounds (5.3), 3rd in Offensive Rebounds (2.9), 5th in Field Goal Percentage (54.8%), 2nd in Field Goals Made (6.4) and 6th in 2 Pts Field Goal Percentage (59.6%). But those are just figures. His big step-up in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals of the competition (21, 18 and 21 points again if you do miss the figures) was the difference maker for Lokomotiv and proved he's the player that most teams couldn't handle.
Runner-up: Andre Smith (Pinar Karsiyaka)
Stats: 17.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.6 apg, 61.1% 2P, 29.4% 3P, 1.3 spg, 3.5 tpg, 0.9 bpg
Smith was the main executer for the Turkish team that was stopped only in the quarter-finals by Spartak. He collected more double-doubles than any other player in the EuroChallenge (6) and in the last six games of the season his numbers were much higher than in the first six games of the season.
Chris Booker (KRKA Novo Mesto)
Stats: 12.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 52.2% 2P, 2.5 orpg, 0.7 bpg
If there's one player on KRKA that stood out it's throughout the entire season it's Chris Booker, the only import player on the team's roster. The 2.08m center wrote 12.3 ppg and 7.4 rpg which are some of the best numbers amongst big guys in the competition, yet by far more impressive is the fact that just like any KRKA player Booker shared his minutes the entire season, and he reached those figures in less than 24 mpg. With his back and face to the basket abilities he was a big presence in the paint for KRKA, but all of that was just a preview for the night of the title game. Booker set his 2nd best scoring performance of the season with 20 points and collected that with 70% inside the arc and 2-2 from long range. That was the first time this season he scored 2 three pointers, which certainly isn't the core of his game. He also ignited KRKA's amazing 18-2 run that earned them the title. Booker had a very good season but the fact he was able to step up in such way when it mattered the most makes it an even more impressive season for him.
Runner-Up: Pero Antic (Spartak St. Petersburg)
Stats: 9.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 56.7% 2P, 22.4% 3P, 1.1 tpg, 0.7 tpg
The F.Y.R of Macedonia big guy of Spartak added the dimension also of a shooting big, with his soft hand standing at 2.10m. In a competition that wasn't loaded with many great big guys, Antic was certainly a quality one, and was the best player of Spartak in the semi-finals.
Coach of the Year
Aleksandar Dzikic (KRKA Novo Mesto)
|KRKA head coach Aleksandar Dzikic led his team to the EuroChallenge title and impressed everyone around Europe with his coaching skills|
Awarding coach of the champs as "Coach of the Year" sounds like the easiest choice, but in the case of Coach Dzikic this award was deep in his pocket already on the night KRKA qualified to the Final Four. The next statement might sound as an insult, but truly it's nothing but a great compliment - KRKA is probably the best worst team to ever win a European title. That doesn't mean KRKA is a bad team, the exact opposite, but they do lack a lot of what we consider "pure basketball talent". KRKA was a team of hard-nosed blue collar workers. They fought, pushed, itched and scratched. A group of 12 gladiators who all contribute a piece to form a champion team and kept its tough-tough defense at maximum intensity the entire game, every game, all the way to the gold. It wasn't sexy basketball. It wasn't the type of game that makes you want to pull your hair in awe. It surely was team basketball with zero ego at its best that made the whole bigger than the sum of its parts. What's that if not the best possible a coach can achieve? KRKA was the best worst team to win a European title probably, which makes Dzikic the best coach in Europe this year, in all leagues and competitions.
Joakim Kjellbom (Norrkoping Dolphins)
Stats: 15.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 56.1% 2P, 1.9 bpg, 1.6 tpg
It might be a bit weird to award a 31 year old player this award but Joakim Kjellbom was an unknown name for most European basketball fans coming into this season, but certainly turned a lot of heads by its end. The Swedish 2.13m big guy never left his home country (other than a very short period in the 2nd division in Italy). Yet this season he averaged 15.3 ppg and 9.1 rpg and was ranked in Top 10 of 10 different statistical categories including 2nd in Double-Doubles, 2nd in Total Rebounds, 2nd in Blocked Shots, 1st in Field Goals Made and 3rd in Defensive Rebounds. Norrkoping Dolphins went as far as playing the Last 16, which for them is a great deal, and that's what kept Joakim from a spot in the All-EuroChallenge team. Nevertheless, how many players in the 4th decade of their lives can you say made such a breakthrough season from a minor league to the top of a European competition?
Single Game Top Performance
Tim Black (Antwerp Giants)
Stats: 34 pt, 12-17 FG, 6-8 2P, 6-9 3P, 4 rb, 2 to, 1 st He didn't scored the most points in a single game this season, it wasn't even enough for his team to win the game, but on the night of January 25th Tim Black of Antwerp Giants represented greatly the name of his team. He was giant. Black, a small point guard that stands at 1.78m, hit 34 points on the road against Dexia Mons-Hainaut in what was probably the best single game step up of the season. He tailed 34 points while shooting 6-8 inside the arc and 6-9 beyond it. That versatility and accuracy is what makes it so impressive, on top of the fact he scored 34 out of 73 points his team totaled. In case you needed a loud example this was a unique night, in the entire season Black scored 12 three pointers. That night he scored as many as in the entire season but that night.