BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Eurocup 2013 MVP: Nick Calathes|
Nick Calathes of Lokomotiv Kuban was named as the Eurocup MVP on Thursday, two days ahead of the final of the competition between his team and Uxue Bilbao Basket in Charleroi, Belgium.
The Russian finalists' 24-year-old point guard headlines a partial sweep of the Eurocup season individual awards by Greeks.
Bilbao head coach Fotis Katsikaris, who is also the new boss of the Russian national team, was announced as the coach of the year in the competition on Tuesday.
Calathes meanwhile was accompanied in the First Team by shooting guard Kostas Vasileiadis, also of finalists Bilbao, and center Loukas Mavrokefalides of Spartak St. Petersburg made the Second Team.
The young Greek playmaker must feel vindicated for the decision he took in the summer to part ways with Panathinaikos after three seasons, when the European powerhouse underwent a major reconstruction process which started with the departure of long-serving head coach Zeljiko Obradovic.
He had won both the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and the domestic league titles with the Athenians, but playing alongside the likes of Dimitris Diamantidis and Saras Jasikevicius, his role in Obradovis's orchestra was always complimentary.
In his last Euroleague season with Panathinaikos, Calathes averaged 7.6 points, 2.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 23 minutes of court time per night.
This season in the Eurocup with Lokomotiv, his playing time increased by 10 minutes and he leads the competition in assists with 6.6 per contest, while he is also his team's second-leading scorer with 13.1 points per game and second-leading rebounder with 5.9 boards per game.
|Calathes has been doing everything for Kuban this seasons, from points to assists to rebounds|
These stat lines translate in the Greek point guard being the second most efficient player in the competition this year, with an average performance index rating of 20.7 per game.
Calathes has posted similar figures in the VTB United league, where Lokomotiv will enter the play-off fight for a spot in the quarter-finals in May.
He is the third-leading player in assists in the competition, with 5.8 per game, averages a team-high 15 points and, again, an impressively high for a player at his position 4.6 rebounds per night.
While Calathes has been a valued member of the Greek national team for the past three years, this breakout season will help consolidate and perhaps transform his role in the team ahead of EuroBasket 2013.
One could say that Greece head coach Andrea Trinchieri is spoilt for choice in the backcourt, with the likes of Olympiacos star Vasilis Spanoulis and Greece captain Nikos Zisis, who will go up against Calathes in Saturday's final with Bilbao, also vying for the starting point guard position.