Last night’s insights: Round 8: Thursday

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Playing on the road for your second game in 48 hours is never easy, but Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens and Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz rose to the challenge to start Round 8 with respective road wins. Then came Real Madrid, which returned home to rebound from a 30-point drubbing to win by 32! The EuroLeague gurus focus on the players, the defense and the shots that tell the story of those Thursday night victories.

All-around display – plus Doncic magic – gets Madrid back on track

There was a moment early in the second quarter of Real Madrid’s 89-57 battering of Unicaja Malaga which neatly summed up the many differences between the two Spanish teams on the night. Patient passes from Luka Doncic, Jaycee Carroll and Felipe Reyes allowed Rudy Fernandez to send up a two-point shot which hit the rim, but Trey Thompkins battled hard to win a strong offensive rebound, recycled the ball and then received a whipped pass from Doncic to sink a three-pointer from the corner. That play had everything good about Madrid’s performance on the night: crisp teamwork to set up the initial shot, hard work from Thompkins to win the rebound, a precise pass from Doncic to create a good look, and a clean three-point strike at the end of a passage of play which had seen every home team player touch the ball.

With its winning blend of collective play, creativity, determined hustle and end product, this was an impressive performance from Coach Pablo Laso’s team. And it was extremely timely, too, coming after a worrying three-game losing streak in the midst of a serious injury crisis which has sidelined three big men and last season’s EuroLeague MVP. The only way to respond in such a situation is as a team, and Madrid certainly did that to play with purpose, tempo and an impressive level of confidence considering its recent problems.

Of course, it helps when you can call upon the services of the hottest young player on the planet, and Doncic again showed there’s nothing he can’t do by producing an outstanding all-around display. With three big men missing, the ability of an 18 year-old to come in and grab 10 rebounds was just what Madrid needed, and he could well have finished with a triple-double if he hadn’t been rested by Laso for the whole of the final quarter. Perhaps most impressively, though, Doncic didn’t try to do too much all by himself, instead making good decisions throughout the game and thereby contributing significantly, but selflessly, to the team ethic which played the biggest role in the emphatic outcome.

Three-pointers explain Baskonia’s turnaround

Both Zalgiris Kaunas and Baskonia arrived to Zalgirio Arena with good momentum. Zalgiris came off a big overtime road win against Unicaja Malaga and Baskonia had handed Real Madrid its worst loss in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague history, 105-75. Baskonia got off to a strong start and led 11-21 late in the first quarter. Zalgiris got within 23-24 early in the second quarter and only then, Baskonia started to hit three-pointers, one after another. Rodrigue Beaubois opened fire with his second and third bomb from downtown, then another one by Jayson Granger started a 1-20 run in which Baskonia would hit 4 more shots from beyond the arc – by Matt Janning, Granger, Toko Shengelia and Janis Timma. All of a sudden, Baskonia led 30-52, and the visitors boosted their margin to 36-62 when Johannes Voigtmann and Rinalds Malmanis also struck from downtown. Baskonia had hit 12-of-17 three-point shots until that moment and 10-of-13 since the start of the second quarter. Always proud and getting great support from its crowd, Zalgiris rallied to get within 64-71 with over eight minutes left. Baskonia went back to its main weapon in this game to seal the outcome: Beaubois hit three more, Janning added another from downtown and Granger buried the visitors’ 17th triple with a minute left. When the dust settled, Baskonia had broken the club record for most three-point shots in a EuroLeague game with 17. It had previously had 16 against Khimki Moscow Region last week and in a road win against Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv back in December 2009. Baskonia also dished 26 assists, which was just 3 away from its club record, and only committed 10 turnovers.

Baskonia has won three of its last four games – and only lost to Khimki by 1 point – since Pedro Martinez became its head coach. Baskonia hit just 23 of 82 three-point shots in its opening four games (28%), but buried 58 of 118 in the next four (49.2%), which explains its great turnaround since Martinez joined the team. “I think we played a good game, with a great three-point percentage. We had some problems in the second half when Zalgiris pressed fullcourt. We lost our rhythm, made some turnovers and left us without confidence for some moments, but in general, I think a good game on offense and defense and for some minutes, we did great on offense,” Martinez said after the game. “I think that if we keep playing like this – like I said, as a team, offensively and defensively, we can beat anybody,” Shengelia added. If they keep making all those threes, that is surely the case.

The incredible Nick Calathes leads Panathinaikos

Nick Calathes had a career-game, coming a rebound shy of a historic triple-double, and Panathinaikos needed every single statistical input of his to snatch an 81-82 road win over Anadolu Efes Istanbul. There have been only two triple-doubles in the EuroLeague this century, both by Maccabi’s Nikola Vujcic, and the last one came in 2006. Calathes scored a career-high 29 points, had 10 assists and 9 rebounds last night. It’s is the second time he was that close to this historic feat, after posting 13 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists last year in Bamberg. “The triple double does not matter, the win is what it counts,” Calathes said after the game. “Me getting a triple-double or not getting a triple-double, for our team to get a win is a lot more important.”

Calathes was awarded his last rebound in the very last second of the game, when he took control of the game-sealing blocked shot by his teammate James Gist. His potential triple-double looked a lot more likely with 1:30 left in the third quarter, at that time he already had 16 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. However, in the final quarter, as Efes went up 69-62, Panathinaikos needed scoring, and Calathes delivered. He scored 13 points in the final 5:06 of the game. With his team down 71-67, he first made a pair of free throws, then had an easy-looking driving layup. His triple from way downtown put Panathinaikos up 73-75. After the hosts regained the lead, Calathes drove through the Efes defense for another layup, before beating the shot-clock with his third three of the night, 79-82. No Efes player managed to contain Calathes, let alone stop him: “Calathes played an incredible game, I feel that he had control of everything, had good mentality on defense and offense,” coach Xavi Pascual praised his point guard who played 36 minutes on the floor. “This is why I kept him a lot of minutes today. And I am very happy for him, because he is an incredible worker. When a guy like him has a night like this, you must be happy for him.”

Maccabi defense comes through at Khimki

If you peruse the box score from Maccabi’s road win at Khimki Moscow Region, the one number that should jump out is 20. That is the number of turnovers the hosts committed – which is tied for the second-most ever by a Khimki squad in a EuroLeague game – and more than a third of them came from Alexey Shved. Khimki’s star guard is second in the league in scoring and bettered his average with 21 points in addition to 4 assists, but his 7 turnovers put a damper on his performance. Maccabi’s also silenced Khimki playmaker Stefan Markovic, who did not score in 19 minutes and tallied 2 assists with 4 turnovers.

After the game, Maccabi let loose on the game plan to work Shved hard. “He is a great scorer. He can score in multiple ways,” Pierre Jackson said. “Our job tonight was just to throw a lot of defenders at him and make him shoot tough shots.” At times, that backfired as veteran forward Sergey Monia took advantage of Maccabi defenders overplaying Shved on the wing. On three different occasions in which Shved had the ball above the elbow, Shved made backdoor cuts and Monia delivered precise passes for layups of dunks. However that proved to be a small price to play as otherwise Maccabi made Shved and Khimki work so hard to get shots that the turnovers piled up.

”We knew before the game everything about Alexey [Shved],” Maccabi head coach Neven Spahija shared after the game. “He is definitely one of the best, probably the best player in Europe. I think we prepared the game well. Also we executed well. You can plan whatever you want, but if the players on the court are not following the instructions, it doesn’t go well like in the previous game.”

And his comment dives right into the second point. Maccabi had the right game plan and worked Shved and Markovic hard to disrupt the Khimki offense. To that end, five perimeter players spent at least 19 minutes on the court and took part in the defensive effort: starters Pierre Jackson, John DiBartolomeo and Michael Roll and off the bench DeAndre Kane and Norris Cole, the latter of whom collected 6 steals. Maccabi had a fairly average game on the offensive end, but team defense was worth a big win on Thursday.

source:-.euroleague

Last night’s insights: Round 4: Thursday

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There is always a question on the back end of the two-games-in-48-hours in packed EuroLeague weeks as to how will players hold up. Well we certainly saw some young guns at their best with Luka Doncic and Nikola Milutinov leading their respective undefeated squads, Real Madrid and Olympiacos Piraeus, to victory. But veteran Taylor Rochestie played a leading role as Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade came from behind to win as home, as did Jordan Theodore in a similar situation for AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. Want more insights on Thursday’s games? The EuroLeague Gurus have you covered.

Crvena Zvezda. Where everybody knows their role

When building a team and team chemistry, among the many things that coaches look for is for every player to understand his role. That is the case for Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, for which 10 players contributed in their come-from-behind victory over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. Some roles are easy to spot and define. Taylor Rochestie is the ball handler and go-to scorer; he delivered with 22 points and 5 assists. Milko Bjelica is the savvy big man with a sweet outside shot; he produced 16 points on 4-of-4 shooting from behind the arc. Center Mathias Lessort is the physical presence in the paint; he neutralized Maccabi’s starting center, Art Parakhouski, who came into the game leading the lead in blocks and finished with just 4 points and no blocks in 12 minutes. And then there are the starting wings, James Feldeine and Branko Lazic, who made sure that Maccabi’s prime scorers, Pierre Jackson and Norris Cole, had limited impacts for much of the night. On top of that, Feldeine produced the best offensive game of his EuroLeague career with 19 points, 8 assists and 4 steals, which were all career bests. And then there’s the bench… Nikola Jovanovic’s physical presence inside made things tough on the Maccabi centers. He also soared for the rebound on Maccabi’s last possession to in essence wrap up the victory. Pero Antic buried a pair of three-pointers and helped set the defensive tone with a tough foul on Maccabi power forward Jonah Bolden, who had 10 first-quarter points and none in the second half. And then there was Stefan Lazarevic, who spent less than six minutes on the court, but his defense on Michael Roll inbounding the ball on Maccabi’s final possession forced the visitors to inbound the ball three times and allowed his team to prepare its defense accordingly.

Zvezda is a young and hungry team, but kudos to Coach Dusan Alimpijevic for harnessing the skills of his players and making sure they all know their roles and are ready, able and willing to contribute everything they have from the opening minute till the final buzzer. And don’t forget, Zvezda won last night with injured forwards Marko Keselj and Nemanja Dangubic. So this team can only get better!

Madrid’s domination comes from different sources

Real Madrid is the most dominant team in the early stage of the new EuroLeague season. If for some unknown reason previous wins of 14 points on the road against Anadolu Efes Istanbul, by 13 at home against CSKA Moscow, and scoring 100 points against Milan on Tuesday left any doubts, the way Madrid handled Zalgiris in Kaunas on Thursday really stands out. Yes, Luka Doncic shined again, scoring 24 of his career-high 28 points in the second half, and had a run of 9 consecutive points midway through the third quarter when he singlehandedly extended Madrid’s lead from 9 to 16 points. However, even though the 18-year old was unstoppable in the second half, Madrid had a 31-40 lead at halftime despite Doncic not being that big of a factor in the first two quarters.

“I think tonight Doncic had a great game because he was hot shooting,” Coach Pablo Laso explained after the game. “But Campazzo played a great game for us, he controlled the rhythm. Felipe and Ayon were awesome underneath the basket, Maciulis, Radoncic, Taylor on defense. It’s more of a team thing, although Luka rises a little bit above the rest.”

In those first two quarters it was Gustavo Ayon and Rudy Fernandez making plays, while Facundo Campazzo hit long distance shots. Already in the first half Madrid had a 6 to 13 advantage in assists, and finished the game with 23 assists to only 13 by Zalgiris. The ball movement allowed the offense to repeatedly score with ease and find open players who nailed the open jumpers and three-pointers, a total of 15 shots behind the arc to be precise. Four different players had at least 3 dishes, with Campazzo leading the way with 6, and Ayon right behind with 5 passes his teammates turned into baskets. Doncic had 4 and Rudy Fernandez 3 assists. Madrid wins, and wins big, but evidence is there that it is a lot more to its 14.5-point margin of victory than just Doncic’s fantastic numbers.

Rebounds and sharing the ball keeps Olympiacos undefeated

Khimki Moscow Region arrived undefeated to Peace and Friendship Stadium after three big home wins, but Olympiacos Piraeus was ready to show the Russian powerhouse that life on the road is not easy for anyone in the EuroLeague. Not only did Olympiacos live up to the expectations with its trademark defense, but the Reds were able to run the floor and share the balls like few times before. Indeed, Olympiacos limited Khimki to very low shooting percentages – a season-low 44.4% from two-point range and 28.6% from downtown. Khimki averaged 24.5 assists in the last two games, but only dished 12 against Olympiacos. On the other hand, 10 Olympiacos players had at least 1 assist in this game – all but center Nikola Milutinov and, surprisingly, playmaker Vangelis Mantzaris. Sharing the ball (17 assists) and controlling the defensive boards (a season high 30 defensive rebounds for Olympiacos and the fourth-best mark this season) allowed the Reds to dominate the game, especially in the third quarter, in which Georgios Printezis and Nikola Milutinov combined for 14 points to break it open. Milutinov hit all 8 of his two-point shots to finish the game with 17 points, while Printezis added 15, but 11 Olympiacos players scored in this game. Olympiacos made 27 of 42 two-point shots, with the fourth-best percentage of the season (62.8%).

“In the third period, we showed all of our quality, defensively and offensively. We played great defense, they scored only 15 points and we had the chance to run in the open court and score fast break and transition points,” Olympiacos head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos said after the game. “That gave us a bigger lead. After that, we controlled the tempo of the game in the fourth period and continued to be focused on both ends of the court,” he added.

“We allowed, in the beginning of the game, 32 points in the first half from low post offense and transition through our turnovers,” Khimki head coach Georgios Bartzokas, who won the EuroLeague title with Olympiacos in 2013, added. “We tried to prepare our players for the different style of basketball that Olympiacos plays, especially in its home court but obviously, our approach was completely wrong.”

Milan’s Theodore joins the elite

AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan’s meeting with FC Barcelona Lassa on Thursday night was one of those games that kept you guessing. As the final minutes approached, nobody could have said with any confidence which team was going to win, or who would take the starring role. Apart from a bizarre second quarter which saw Barcelona race into a 15-point lead, but Milan immediately fight back to level before the break, the game had been closely contested all the way. Several players had briefly shined, notably Barcelona veteran and EuroLeague scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro with 11 points in less than four minutes during that second quarter charge, but as the final minutes arrived the game was very much in the balance and something – or someone – had to give.

In the end, that something proved to be Milan point guard Jordan Theodore, who delivered a masterful fourth quarter to round off an excellent all-round display and emphatically announce his arrival in Europe’s elite competition. It’s taken a while for Theodore to get there. At the age of 28, he is certainly not a fresh-faced novice, and his journey to the top level encompassed six different clubs in the last five years. The most recent of those was Banvit, where he finished last season as the Turkish League’s leading assister. His performances over the last two or three seasons more than warranted an opportunity to shine on the EuroLeague stage, and with Milan’s main scoring threat Andrew Goudelock watching from the stands through injury against Barcelona, he seized that opportunity with both hands. Theodore was particularly impressive in crunch time, scoring 9 points in two minutes midway through the final period to establish a lead that Milan would not relinquish, and his overall stats of 19 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals reveal everything about his effectiveness all over the court. As a late arrival into the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, Theodore is making up for lost time – and he’s doing it in a hurry.

[“Source-euroleague”]

HTC Desire 10 Pro India Launch Expected on Thursday

HTC Desire 10 Pro India Launch Expected on Thursday
HIGHLIGHTS
HTC Desire 10 Pro was launched in September
Comes with matte finish body and the metallic gold contours
Smartphone packs BoomSound stereo speakers
In September, HTC unveiled its Desire 10 Lifestyle and Desire 10 Pro smartphones with matte finish bodies and metallic gold contours. At the time, the company announced that Desire 10 Pro will be available in November. Now, it seems like the company will finally be launching the smartphone in India on Thursday as the company has started sending out invites for an event.

In its invite for the event, HTC says that it invites the recipient to the unveiling of its “latest innovation in sound and camera.” The gold and black outline of a smartphone further suggests that Desire 10 Pro smartphone might be launched at the event. To recall, HTC had launched the Desire 10 Lifestyle in India in late September – leaving the Desire 10 Pro as the launch candidate on Thursday.

The HTC Desire 10 Pro packs a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) IPS LCD display with Gorilla Glass protection. The smartphone is powered by 1.8GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor. There are two variants of the phone, one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage, or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of inbuilt storage. The storage is further expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB).

One of the most attractive features of HTC Desire 10 Pro is that it comes with BoomSound stereo speakers.

The smartphone comes with a 20-megapixel rear camera with laser autofocus, a BSI sensor, an f/2.2 aperture, and Auto HDR mode. The HTC Desire 10 Pro has a 13-megapixel front-facing camera with a BSI sensor, an f/2.2 aperture, and Auto HDR. In terms of connectivity options, it has Bluetooth v4.2, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, GPS/ A-GPS, and 4G LTE Cat. 6 (with support for Band 40 used by some LTE networks in India). It houses a 3000mAh battery, measures 156.5x76x7.86mm, and weighs 165 grams.

HTC Desire 10 Pro HTC Desire 10 Pro
KEY SPECS
NEWS
Display
5.50-inch
Processor
1.8GHz octa-core
Front Camera
13-megapixel
Resolution
1080×1920 pixels
RAM
3GB
OS
Android 6.0
Storage
32GB
Rear Camera
20-megapixel
Battery Capacity
3000mAh
Also See
Amazon
HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle (Polar White, 32GB) –
Rs. 15,990
Amazon
HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle (Stone Black, 32GB) –
Rs. 15,990
Flipkart
HTC Desire 628 Dual SIM (Sunset Blue, 32GB) – OFFER
Rs. 12,240
Tags: HTC Desire 10 Pro, Mobiles, Android, HTC, HTC Mobile Event

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Sony PlayStation VR Hits Stores Shelves Thursday to Take on Oculus and HTC

 

Sony PlayStation VR Hits Stores Shelves Thursday to Take on Oculus and HTC

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The games unit is now the single largest profit contributor for the group
  • Rival offerings in VR headsets include Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
  • Sony hopes to lure in customers with its more modest price tag

Sony Corp will join the race for virtual reality (VR) dominance on Thursday with the $399 PlayStation VR, a headset the Japanese electronics group hopes will beat pricier rivals and revive its reputation as a maker of must-have gadgets.

(Also see: PlayStation VR First Impressions)

Emerging from years of restructuring, Sony is reshaping itself to focus on lucrative areas such as video games, entertainment and camera sensors – rather than televisions or smartphones where demand is flat, competition acute and margins thin. The games unit is now the single largest profit contributor for the group.

The PlayStation VR headset, Sony’s first major product launch since it declared its turnaround complete in June, will put the company back on the offensive and test its ability to compete in one of the most talked-about spaces in the industry.

Rival offerings in virtual reality headsets include Facebook’s $599 Oculus Rift and HTC’s $799 Vive.

Sony hopes to lure in customers with its more modest price tag and by tapping the 40 million existing users of its flagship consoles – the headset is designed to plug into PlayStation 4, rather than requiring new equipment.

“Sony is well-positioned to build an early lead in the high-end VR headset race,” market researcher IHS Technology said in a report, forecasting sales of 1.4 million units in 2016.

Sony, developer of the Walkman portable cassette player and maker of the first compact disc player, hopes the headset will be a springboard to pull ahead of rivals in VR, gelling with the content portion of its business, specifically music and film.

In an interview with Reuters in September, Andrew House, Sony’s gaming division chief, said he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for Sony’s VR headset.

“We are talking about years into the future, but these are interesting conversations to start having now,” House said.

Sony, however, will compete in a crowded market. Nomura analysts expect cumulative shipments of all VR headsets to expand more than 20 times to 40 million by 2020, which along with accessories and other non-game content could be worth $10 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said last week the Oculus business will spend $500 million to fund VR content development and is working on an affordable standalone VR headset not tethered to personal computers or consoles.

Other new entrants include chipmakers Intel and Qualcomm, which said they are working on standalone headsets. They plan to make their technologies available to help developers make headsets using their chipsets or systems.

To counter those competitors, Sony may have to eventually open up its PlayStation console to make it compatible with other headsets, said Atsushi Osanai, a former Sony official who is now professor at Japan’s Waseda University Business School.

Sony’s largest gaming rival Microsoft Corp plans to release a new Xbox One console next year that is expected to support VR headsets of its partners including Oculus.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Sony, PlayStation VR, PS VR, Virtual Reality, VR, Wearables, PlayStation 4, Gaming, Home Entertainment

 

[“Source-Gadgets”]