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Euroleague Final Four MVP Interview: Tyrese Rice Of Maccabi

Tyrese Rice is one of those players who had to advance through his basketball career the hard way. But patience and hard work brought the 6-1 Richmond, VA native success as he raised the Euroleague trophy in Milan last weekend after being awarded the Euroleague's Final Four MVP honor. Five years of waiting and playing overseas in Greece, Lithuania, Germany and Israel has helped Rice to get on top of Europe and win the second most prestigious club basketball award in the world. 

When Rice was attending L.C. Bird High School in 2005, people didn’t believe he was good enough to play DI college ball until he scored 30 points against Kevin Durant’s Oak Hill Academy. But later Rice became the leader of the Boston College Eagles, and successfully played there all four years, averaging 17.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game. Then Rice played for five different teams in Europe - Panionios, Artland Dragons, Lietuvos Rytas, Bayern and Maccabi.

I caught up with Rice in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, in 2011 while he was playing for a Eurocup team Lietuvos Rytas. We met on a sunny day for a photo shoot for SLAM to talk about his high school and college days, being an underdog, NBA dreams, life in Europe and a lot more. Despite conducting this interview nearly three years ago, it is a great opportunity to know more about the Euroleague Final Four MVP.

RealGM: After finishing high school, you were passed over by recruiters. In your opinion, why did this happen?

Rice: I really don’t know. I went to all the big-time camps like Nike camp, adidas camp. After I pretty much did my business there, everybody still passed on me. One thing I heard a lot was big schools didn’t think I was good enough, and smaller schools thought I was too good to go there.

RealGM: Do you remember that game against Oak Hill Academy, where you scored 30 points against Kevin Durant? Is it right to say that game brought a scholarship offer from Boston College?

Rice: Yeah, I remember it. It still gets brought up every once in a while in the city. I hear somebody talking about it. I definitely remember it and they remember it too. I think it brought on the biggest schools. They weren’t sure how I would be able to play against better competition. Playing against [Oak Hill], excelling… It really helped a lot. Boston College was always around, but there were other things, which stopped them from offering me earlier. 

RealGM: What goes through your mind when you think about those days you spent at Boston College? 

Rice: It was all great. I learned so much from coach Al Skinner. I think it was the best four years of my life. We were up—top 5, top 10 in the country. And then we were as low as a losing record. It was a great experience on both sides. We learned to be level-headed and to be in the moment. 

RealGM: Do you still think time-to-time about the game against North Carolina when you scored 46 points?

Rice: I thought it was a good moment in my career, but to me, it didn’t really mean anything because we lost. Having 40 points in a loss really doesn’t mean anything to me because you lose the game. I haven’t watched that game since that happened.

RealGM: What stopped the Eagles run at the Sweet 16?

Rice: We had all the pieces that year and we were just one play away from maybe having a national championship… They got a tip-in at the buzzer that won the game so I can’t really say that they did nothing. Anybody can lose, we seen that happening so many times. 

RealGM: Did you expect to be picked in 2009 NBA Draft? Did you receive positive feedback from NBA teams back then?

Rice: Coming out of college, I felt like I’d done enough to be drafted, but I never set expectations for myself. I go out everyday and take care of my business. Whatever happens after, if the team wants you, they might pick you. That’s what it was. Life still goes on. I thought I had done enough, but maybe I didn’t. There were teams that had a lot of interest in me.

RealGM: What were the main reasons you werent picked in the Draft? 

Rice: I don’t know, I always had to prove myself as a basketball player. In high school, I had to prove I can play in college and in college I thought I proved I can play in the NBA. It could be a lot of things. It’s not always on the basketball court.

RealGM: You played in the NBA Summer League last summer. Do you still feel your NBA dream is alive?

Rice: [Summer League] is good in a lot of ways. NBA teams, scouts and players can see you. And it’s also good because there are also a lot of European scouts as well. It’s almost a win-win situation. You go out there and play; one person likes you and then you have a job for next year. It’s a good opportunity for me to play and be seen. 

RealGM: Youre only 24 years old. What things would you like to prove in your game as a top-caliber player in Europe?

Rice: There are a lot of things that I could improve. Consistency in three-point shooting, rebounding the ball better defensively. I can do a lot of things but I think the main thing I have to do is just focus and get it done. At the end of the day, there’s nobody that is going to stop yourself from being better but yourself. 

RealGM: Have you ever imagined, especially in your senior year in college, that you might start your career overseas, not in the NBA?

Rice: I really never though about it. Like I said, I always take things in a moment. If it was meant for me to go the NBA, I would be going to the NBA. If it’s going overseas, that’s fine. I never looked at it as a failure or I’m not successful in life. I feel like at the the end of the day, I do what I love to do and that’s play basketball. 

RealGM: Last season you played in a small 12,000-person town in Germany, Quakenbruck. Was it tough to live in a such small town, considering you previously lived in Athens and Boston?

Rice: Not really. I’d been all over as a kid. In the summer time, going to different places and being there for weeks. I didn’t think it was that tough. Actually, I think it was really good because I was there, there was nothing to do and I knew I have to focus on basketball and become a better player. I though it was actually great because I stayed right across the street from the gym. There wasn’t much to do, so I went to the gym all the time. I think it was a great thing for me. 

RealGM: In those two seasons in Europe, who surprised you the most?

Rice: It’s just a really different game. Players here in Europe, I think they think the game better than American players, in my opinion. They really read the game a lot better. As you see, players come over from NBA, D-League, they play in Europe and they don’t last over a month, because it’s a totally different game. Off the court, it’s a different culture. If you’ve been to different places in the States then you can go to different places in Europe. The biggest thing to me is food. Just getting used to the food. Everything else is pretty much the same.

RealGM: Are there any funny or interesting stories you could share?

Rice: I got lost in Athens one time. I was about an hour and 30 minutes away from my house. I was thinking I was going on the right way [laughs]. I remember I asked an officer how to get back to where I live he started laughing like, ‘Are you serious? Do you know how far from your house you are right now?’ I had no idea where I was. I thought I was in Athens but really far away from my house. It took me about an hour and 30 minutes to get back home. It was like 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. It was really late and that was crazy.

RealGM: A lot of NBA guys are moving overseas for the first time. What is the best advice you could give them?

Rice: I think they just have to embrace the culture. If you come over here thinking that this is going to be anything like home, then you’re wrong. It’s better when you’re in bigger cities. Vilnius is good, there’s a lot of malls, lots of things to do. But you might get to the smaller city like I was in last year and I didn’t know what to do.

RealGM: Have you ever thought about playing in the D-League?

Rice: I thought about it but not much. I just want to go out and have fun playing basketball and be able to provide the right things for my family. To play in D-League is OK, but playing in the Euroleague to me is the second-best thing to playing in the NBA. If you can’t play in the NBA and you play in the Euroleague, you are almost just as good.

RealGM: Talking about your new team, why did you decide to sign with Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius this summer?

Rice: I thought it was great situation for myself. I knew they had a new coach coming in and I heard a lot of good things about him. I knew some players coming here and I knew we were going to have a great team. And being able to qualify for the Euroleague was another great thing. I thought it would be good for any player’s resume.

RealGM: Once you got here, you said you were ready to lead this team. After those friendly games, do you still see yourself as a leader of Lietuvos Rytas?

Rice: I’m still just learning my teammates. I think I can be one of the leaders of this team. I’m not coming over here and trying to take over but being a point guard, I have to be able to turn the team in the right direction.

RealGM: Did you have a chance to practice with Jonas Valanciuas or see him playing?

Rice: He didn’t practice with us yet but I have seen him play. I know he’s going to help me and I really think I can help him also. He’s going to be a really good player.

RealGM: Did you watch EuroBasket 2011?

Rice: Actually, I watch it every year. I watched the European Championships and World Championships. There are a lot of guys who you may not have ever heard of. But they are great in Europe—you just didn’t hear about them at home. Watching EuroBasket is like watching a bunch of great players playing at one time. It’s good to watch different people and learn from them. 

RealGM: You probably saw Bo McCalebbs superb performance at EuroBasket 2011. Would you consider an offer to play for a European country if you get one? 

Rice: If that opportunity came on my away, I would probably take it. I don’t see how it could hurt me and my career. It can only make me better. More experience and more people would see me. It would be a great opportunity. 

Euroleague Power Rankings (Mid-December Edition)

With less than two weeks remaining until the end of its regular season, RealGM presents the Euroleague Power Rankings. We evaluated and ranked all 24 Euroleague teams' performance over their first eight games and their perspective for the next rounds.

Ten teams have already guaranteed their places in the Top 16, while the rest, except Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius and Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, are battling for the final six tickets to the next stage of Euroleague tournament.

The number in brackets shows position in previous ranking.

1. (2) Real Madrid 8-0

Undoubtedly the best Euroleague team right now, Real Madrid started the season with eight wins in both Euroleague and Spanish championship and has a legitimate opportunity to finish 2013 undefeated. Last season’s Euroleague runner-up has seven games left this year and if they manage to win all of them, including the last one against FC Barcelona, they would enter 2014 with a 23-0 (!) record.

2. (1) Fenerbahce Ulker 7-1

Zeljko Obradovic made a huge turnaround in Istanbul changing Fenerbahce Ulker from a team full of big names into a squad that is capable to win it all. Similar to Real, Fenerbahce Ulker’s game is very balanced as four players average more than 11 points per game, while the fifth star, Linas Kleiza, who is averaging 9.3 points and 3.4 rebounds, should likely reach his peak in later stages.

3. (3) Olympiacos Piraeus 8-0

One of two Euroleague teams that remain undefeated, Olympiacos has been on a path to win it all again and pull off a threepeat. Moreover, Vassilis Spanoulis has finally started to play as 12-13 Euroleague MVP, averaging 18.8 points in last four games and also making at least two three-pointers in each of them. Olympiacos already secured first place in group C, therefore the rest two games are just a formality for the reds.

4. (5) FC Barcelona 6-2

After a slow 1-2 start, FC Barcelona is back to its normal rhythm - Xavier Pascual’s team has won five games in a row, including a huge win against Fenerbahce Ulker in Week 7. FC Barcelona still remains one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the lead as they make only 29.4 percent of their long-range shots (23rd result among 24 teams). That has to be improved in order to have a long run in the Euroleague.

5. (4) Maccabi Tel Aviv 6-2

Before moving to the Top 16, Maccabi will probably be the team that has the most experience in clutch situations - in six of eight games that Maccabi has played the margin between the scores was five points or less. Maccabi is currently the leader in group D, thanks to their defense that limits opponents field goal percentage to 43.4 (second best result in the league). And Maccabi will likely stay there till the end of the regular season.

6. (8) Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 6-2

Lokomotiv Kuban already proved to be not only a Top-8 caliber team but also a contender to steal one of the favorites spot in Euroleague Final Four. That would unlikely to happen without former NBA player Derrick Brown, who was named Euroleague’s MVP of November and is averaging 15.4 points and 5.0 rebounds this season. Also, even though Krasnodar has a lot of individually talented players, the team has no problems sharing the ball as they average the second-most assists per game at 20.4.

7. (10) Laboral-Kutxa Vitoria 5-3

It seems that the crisis in Vitoria has stabilized. Without injured Andres Nocioni, Laboral-Kutxa managed to win its last three games, including statement wins against Panathinaikos and Maccabi, and earn an early ticket to the Top 16. Laboral-Kutxa was suffering from early injury bug and now with players getting on the court the Spanish team will be a big threat for every team in the Top 16.

8. (7) CSKA Moscow 5-3

CSKA remains one of the most talented teams on offense on paper that has been failing to match expectations in real games. CSKA scored more than 74 points only once this season and is averaging 72.5 points per game, 2.6 points below the league average. Ettore Messina hasn’t won against an elite team yet, therefore the next game against FC Barcelona could be an opportunity to deliver a statement for CSKA that they desperately need.

9. (12) Galatasaray Istanbul 5-3

First, Galatasaray had to deal with lots of injuries and if that wouldn’t been enough, their savior Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who was unstoppable in his first five games, averaging 13.4 points and 11.4 rebounds, gets disqualified for the rest of regular season for getting involved in a fight against Olympiacos. Fortunately for Galatasaray, the rest of the players managed to get an important win versus Unicaja and secure their spot in Top 16, giving Istanbul some time to fix their issues and stay competitive in Euroleague.

10. (9) Panathinaikos Athens 4-4

The first eight Euroleague games were like a roller-coaster ride for Panathinaikos. The greens have been very unstable as they lost three of their last five games and also had problems with lower caliber teams such Lietuvos Rytas and Crvena Zvezda. The last two matches will be a challenge for Panathinaikos, who may finish the regular season with winning percentage below .500 for the first time in franchise history.

11. (6) Anadolu Efes Istanbul 4-4

Brose Baskets has been this season’s biggest nightmare for Anadolu Efes. In both games Anadolu Efes had a double-digit lead in third quarter but failed to finish strong and had to suffer two surprising losses. Anadolu Efes could be a Top-8 contender if the Turkish team improves their game inside the paint as they are ranked last, 24th in rebounds with grabbing only 28.8 boards per game.

12. (14) EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 4-4

If a loss can ever be a success, losing by seven points against the most dominant team in the league, Real Madrid, is not the worst thing that could happen for EA7 Emporio Armani. Keith Langford is once again having an amazing season and playing as an MVP, averaging 17.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists, but in order to compete for the award Langford needs to do what now seems hardly possible - carry his team all the way to the Top-8.

13. (15) JSF Nanterre 3-5

The biggest surprise of the season, JSF Nanterre is just one small step away from making their Top 16 dream become a reality. JSF Nanterre, which home city has a population of 90,000, beat Partizan in Week 7 and was only five points away from defeating FC Barcelona. To make more noise in the Top 16, the French team should work on their offense, as JSF Nanterre is currently the worst offensive team in the Euroleague, scoring only 64.9 points per game.

14. (23) Montepaschi Siena 3-5

Deja vu all over again for Montepaschi. Last season Montepaschi had a 0-3 start and managed to rebound and make it to the Top-16, while this year Siena’s team started the season with four losses and now once again is trying to make a turnaround. Daniel Hackett, one of the main contenders to win RealGM’s most improved player award, has been the face of Montepaschi this season, putting big numbers (14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists) on a game-by-game basis.

15. (17) Brose Baskets Bamberg 3-5

Before week 8, Brose Baskets’ chances to advance to the Top 16 seemed to be complicated. However, Zalgiris last-second loss to Strasbourg and their shocking comeback versus Anadolu Efes turned things around and now Brose Baskets is in a favorite position to get to the next round. If both Zalgiris and Brose Baskets lose their next week games, these two teams will meet in Germany in last week’s decisive game. The winner will take it all, while the loser will continue playing in the Eurocup.

16. (21) Zalgiris Kaunas 3-5

Zalgiris was one shot away from reaching their goal and almost securing a place in Top-16, but now everything will likely come down to the last game of regular season. Life would have been much easier for Zalgiris if not for the huge amount of turnovers. Zalgiris leads the league in turning the ball over more than 19 times per game (19.3), 4.5 more than the second worst result.

17. (13) Unicaja Malaga 3-5

After a solid 2-1 start, Unicaja lost four of their last five games and now have nowhere to go. Radical changes in the offseason caused many problems for Unicaja, which might miss the Top 16 stage for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Nevertheless, their season still can be saved in do-or-die type of games against Montepaschi and Bayern, as at least one of these teams won’t make it out of the group.

18. (11) Bayern Munich 3-5

At the beginning of the season, Bayern seemed to have a Euroleague debut of dreams (3-1), but the great start didn’t last long as the German team started to fall in the standings. Bayern has lost their last four Euroleague games and is traveling to Malaga to play a survival match against Malaga. If Bayern doesn’t record a win from there, there is a huge chance that the best rebounding team in the league might end up without a place in the Top-16.

19. (16) Crvena Zvezda Belgrade 2-6

Crvena Zvezda was one of the first two teams to lose all theoretical chances to advance out of the group, but their 2-6 record doesn’t reflect the real strength of this season’s club. The reds lost by more than seven points only once this season as they were many times just a few possessions away from defeating their opponents and getting closer to the Top-16.

20. (22) Stelmet Zielona Gora 2-6

Stelmet has already done as much as Asseco Prokom did last season and after winning two games and still holding a chance to make a huge surprise and reach the Top-16. That wouldn’t be possible if not Vladimir Dragicevic, who is having a career-year and has been playing as an MVP. The 27-year-old Dragicevic is averaging 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds so far in his debut Euroleague season.

21. (19) Budivelnik Kyiv 1-7

After a promising start, Budivelnik collapsed and became the biggest disappointment of the season. Budivelnik acquired Daequan Cook, who had to save their Euroleague season, but that wasn’t enough to beat Partizan and put them in a very difficult position. In eight games, Budivelnik managed to win only one and that means in order to keep their Top-16 hopes alive Kyiv team has to destroy JSF Nanterre next week by at least 20 points.

22. (24) Strasbourg IG 2-6

Louis Campbell's shot gave Strasbourg IG their second win in last three weeks, but his team's chances to become the first French club in the Top-16 since 2007 are very slim. Strasbourg IG has to beat two top group B teams, EA7 Emporio Armani and Real, and that still doesn’t guarantee anything for the Alexis Ajinca-led Strasbourg IG.

23. (20) Partizan Belgrade 2-6

This had to be the year when Partizan had to get back to Top-16 (where they haven’t played since 2010-11) but the injuries to Davis Bertans and Leo Westermmann limited Belgrade’s team chance to advance. On a positive note, 21-year-old Bogdan Bogdanovic is currently one of the main candidates to win Euroleague young player of the year award as he averages 13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

24. (18) Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 1-7

What seemed to start as a fairytale ended up a nightmare. Lietuvos Rytas tried to avoid early elimination and was ahead at halftime in both last two games against Panathinaikos and Laboral-Kutxa but couldn’t keep the lead later on. Also a tendency is that opponents’ big men - Boban Marjanovic, James Gist, Lamont Hamilton and others - take advance of Lietuvos Rytas lack of size and play their best game of the season against Vilnius team.

Euroleague Power Rankings For Mid-November

Euroleague has nearly approached Week 5 of its regular season, which is when RealGM traditionally presents the Euroleague Power Rankings. We evaluated and ranked the performance of all 24 Euroleague teams over their first four games and their perspective in future battles.

The number in brackets shows position in previous ranking.

1. (2) Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul 4-0

Zeljko Obradovic’s Fenerbahce Ulker has been the most impressive team throughout first four games as their offense is pretty much unstoppable. Fenerbahce Ulker has the best ORtg (offensive rating) in the league and average 124.5 points per 100 possessions. The Turkish team’s offense wouldn’t be as efficient as it is now if Fenerbahce Ulker hadn’t cut its number of turnovers. Fenerbahce Ulker commits only 9.8 turnovers per game, which is the lowest in the competition. In fact, Linas Kleiza hasn’t turned the ball over in his last 90 minutes of action and this is currently the longest active streak.

2. (1) Real Madrid 4-0

Real Madrid hasn’t faced the best Euroleague teams yet, but still has been dominant while playing against lower-caliber clubs. Pablo Laso’s Real has won all four of its games by a total of 98 points and that is more than any 4-0 team since 2000 (previous record was 94). That wouldn’t be possible if not for Nikola Mirotic, whose draft rights are held by the Bulls, and his amazing shooting percentages. Mirotic averages 13.5 points (66% FG, 64% 3FG, 92% FT), 6.3 boards, 1.5 steals and is currently the main candidate to win MVP.

3. (4) Olympiacos Piraeus 4-0

Olympiacos Piraeus is on their way to a threepeat as the Reds are one of only three teams that remained unbeaten through the first four games. Newcomers successfully replaced players that left the team in offseason as Bryatn Dunston, Matt Lojeski and Brent Petway, together average 32.6 points, 15.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Olympiacos should get another win next week as they face Stelmet Zielona Gora and got one step closer on wining group C. 

4. (9) Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-1

Maccabi Tel Aviv didn’t have many problems against Lokomotiv Kuban in Week 3 game and had built up an 18-point lead versus Lietuvos Rytas in Week 4. However, the game with Lietuvos Rytas went down to a Tyrese Rice game-winning shot, but Maccabi still managed to add two important away wins before heading home and hosting Panathinaikos and Laboral Kutxa. Their next two games should define where Maccabi is right now and whether they are worth being ranked in the Top 4.

5. (5) FC Barcelona 2-2

FC Barcelona lost to JSF Nanterre by a final score of 67-71, which was the biggest surprise so far this Euroleague season and just another proof that the Spanish team is far from being in top shape. Also despite having great shooters such as Kostas Papanikolaou, Juan Carlos Navarro and Bostjan Nachbar, FC Barcelona has been struggling with long-range shots and is currently ranked 23rd among 24 Euroleague teams in terms of three-point shooting percentage (28.7%).

6. (7) Anadolu Efes Istanbul 3-1

Even though Anadolu Efes slipped in Bamberg by losing to Brose Baskets, 86-88, Oktay Mahmuti’s team seems to be a Top 8 contender with plenty of offensive and defensive weapons to fight the best. Offensively, Euroleague rookie Scotty Hopson is currently third scoring at 17.8 points per game, while defensively, Anadolu Efes leads the Euroleague in number of opponents turnovers per game - 18.8.

7. (3) CSKA Moscow 2-2

CSKA Moscow continues to struggle to find its identity as they first had a slow start, then failed to compete with FC Barcelona and Fenerbahce Ulker. A team, which likely has the most talent on offense on paper - Nenad Krstic, Sonny Weems, Jeremy Pargo and others - is shockingly ranked 23rd in points per game and managed to score only 66 points on average in its first four Euroleague games.

8. (10) Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar 3-1

In their first serious Euroleague test versus Maccabi, Lokomotiv-Kuban seemed to have their hands tied as Maccabi was already up by 20 (52-32) in the beginning of third quarter. However, Lokomotiv-Kuban rebounded in Athens where they beat Panathinaikos with a last-second shot. The Russian club definitely belongs in the elite eight with their fast and talented team, but it looks like Lokomotiv-Kuban hasn’t used its all offensive potential and still has space to grow.

9. (6) Panathinaikos Athens 2-2

Dimitris Diamantidis, who will turn 34 years old later this season, has been averaging a career-high 8.3 assists per game and shows no signs of slowing down. Equally important, Diamantidis dished out 33 assists in total and committed only three turnovers in 131 minutes spent on the court this season.

10. (8) Laboral-Kutxa Vitoria 2-2 

Sergio Scariolo is once again on the hot seat. Scariolo, who won only 37 percent of his Euroleague games over the past three seasons with Olimpia Milano and Khimki Moscow region, has been struggling to implement his strategies and make Laboral Kutxa a winning team. Vitoria’s team won four games and faced face losses in Spanish championship and Euroleague so far and these results certainly don’t meet the expectations.

11. (11) Bayern Munich 3-1

Seeing Bayern beating Olympiakos and being one of three unbeaten Euroleague had been a huge surprise, but despite losing to the champs, the German team is still on a great pace to make it to the Top 16. Moreover, Bayern did make a surprise as even without healthy Deon Thompson, who should be a leading rebounder in Bayern in a long run, Munich team leads the Euroleague in rebounds with 40.8 per game.

12. (12) Galatasaray Istanbul 2-2

Galatasaray can be a Top 8 contender on two conditions (assuming their healthy). First, Carlos Arroyo needs to be back in shape and start knocking down shots as he did in Week 1. Second, Galatasay needs to fix its defense - they’re ranked 23rd in DRtg (defensive rating) as they have allowed their opponents to score 117.3 (!) points per 100 possessions.

13. (14) Unicaja Malaga 2-2

The absence of injured Nik Caner-Medley is definitely felt in Malaga as Unicaja destroyed Galatasaray with him and was destroyed by Bayern while Caner-Medley was not available. The players of Unicaja still need more time to adjust to Joan Plaza and each other and once this happens, Unicaja should move up in our Euroleague Power Rankings.

14. (16) EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 2-2

EA7 Emporio Armani is on a pace to grab all must-wins against lower-caliber teams, lose all games versus the best and that should be enough to secure them a third place in group B. On a positive note, Alessandro Gentile is currently the top contender to win Euroleague Rising Star award as he’s been averaging 12 points (46% 3FG), 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 23 minutes in first four games.

15. (23) JSF Nanterre 2-2

JSF Nanterre has made the biggest rise in RealGM’s Euroleague Power Rankings by capturing two sensational wins against FC Barcelona (on the road) and giving Budivelnik no chance at home. In order to become a real threat in group A, JSF Nanterre needs to improve its free-throw shooting as they make only 59.3 percent of the shots from the line.

16. (18) Crvena Zvezda Belgrade 1-3

Crvena Zvezda’s fast-paced basketball has finally produced results. Dejan Radonjic’s team beat Laboral Kutxa in last week’s games and kept their Top 16 hopes alive. So far Crvena Zvezda has been doing great work under its own basket, limiting opponents to only 6.5 offensive rebounds per game and this has been the best result in the Euroleague.  

17. (20) Brose Baskets Bamberg 2-2

Amazing performance by Casey Jacobsen, who nailed seven three-pointers, helped Brose Baskets to record a surprise win over Anadolu Efes and become a number one candidate to finish 4th in group B. However, next week’s game against Zalgiris could be decisive as stealing an away win would make Brose Baskets very hard to catch for both Zalgiris and Strasbourg IG. 

18. (13) Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 1-3

After grabbing a sensational win in Week 1, Lietuvos Rytas has been slowing down, mainly due to poor effort and lack of size inside the paint. Lietuvos Rytas allowed its opponents to grab 37.8 rebounds in its first four games and this has been the worst result in the Euroleague. The Lithuanian team also needs a better performance in away games from Milenko Tepic, who has been averaging 1.9 points (16% 3FG) so far this season.

19. (15) Budivelnik Kyiv 1-3

Last week’s loss to JSF Nanterre might be crucial for Budivelnik and their Top 16 hopes as they face FC Barcelona, Fenerbahce Ulker and CSKA in the upcoming three weeks. After promising performances in first two games, now Budivelnik has to start stealing wins from the giants and needs to win at least one of its next three games.    

20. (17) Partizan Belgrade 1-3

The 2012-13 season had to be a year for Leo Westermann to develop his game and adjust to the Euroleague level, but the adjustment period lasts longer than it was expected. While Bogdan Bogdanovic and Joffrey Lauvergne already play as candidates to win Euroleague Rising Star trophy, Westermann is still far behind, averaging 7.8 points (31% FG), 2.8 assists and 2.5 turnovers in 32 minutes. 

21. (19) Zalgiris Kaunas 1-3

Zalgiris Kaunas is the best three-point and free throw shooting team in the league, but the Lithuanian team has used its great range only once this season. Next week’s game against Brose Baskets is a must-win for Zalgiris, and it could also be a special match for team's captain Paulius Jankunas, who is 34 points away from becoming Zalgiris’ all-time leading scorer in European tournaments.

22. (24) Stelmet Zielona Gora 1-3

Euroleague tourists Stelmet won’t be the only Euroleague winless team as they beat Montepaschi in Week 3 and was close to put a surprise in last week’s game against Galatasaray. However, in order tq1o get another victory, Stelmet needs to fix their defense as they are ranked 24th in both opponents points per game (84.5) and steals per game (2.3) categories.

23. (22) Montepaschi Siena 0-4

It was expected that Montepaschi without Bobby Brown might struggle this season, but 0-4 is probably worse than most of Siena’s fans saw in a worst-case scenario. Montepaschi hasn’t lost a single game by more than 10 points, but that's not a big consolation for the supporters as Montepaschi doesn’t seem to be a team that would be able to rebound after a horrible start.

24. (21) Strasbourg IG 0-4

Alexis Ajinca has been playing like an MVP this season, but a one-man team doesn’t usually work in Europe. Ajinca cannot carry Strasbourg IG on his back - the French team is the least efficient Euroleague team in offense (ORtg 93) and third worse defensive team, which allow its opponents to score 115.6 points per 100 possessions. Strasbourg IG is slowly backing out from Top 16 race and now the question is if they can get a single win this season.

Euroleague Power Rankings (End Of October Edition)

While Real Madrid, Fenerbahce Ulker, CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos are at the top of the table and our rankings, Alexis Ajinca has been playing like an MVP candidate.

Euroleague Power Rankings: Power Forwards

Viktor Khryapa, Georgios Printezis, Felipe Reyes, Paulius Jankunas, Marcus Slaughter and Mike Batiste are amongst the best power forwards in Euroleague this season.

Malcolm Thomas Remains Undeterred

Thomasí NBA aspirations are still upbeat, but itís unmistakable that he is excited about the opportunity to play overseas. This will provide another challenge for him to meet, and heíll have immense support.

Preseason Euroleague Power Rankings

The 2012-13 Euroleague regular season will begin on October 19th and here are RealGM's preseason power rankings with CSKA, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Fenerbahce Ulker and Olympiacos comprising the top-five.

Americans Winning Titles In Europe

There were 107 American-born players who were on teams that won their league in Europe during the 11-12 season, most notably Montepasch Siena.

Top-5 Storylines Of Euroleague's Top-16 Stage

With 16 teams left, RealGM presents the Top Five storylines of Euroleague to keep an eye with teams like CSKA, Zalgiris, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos look to advance.

Euroleague Power Rankings Ahead Of Top-16 Stage

Barcelona, CSKA, Real Madrid, Panathinaikos and Montepaschi Siena headline our objective Euroleague Power Rankings.

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