Credit: Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS - scanpix, - scanpix, D.Repečka
Credit Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS - scanpix, - scanpix, D.Repečka

BasketNews continues the 3x3 EuroLeague edition, where three of our colleagues give three answers to three questions.

Points this season

Points made: 77,7
Accuracy: 46,4%
Place in standings: 8
Record max: 95
Record min: 63
Best scorer: Scottie Wilbekin

This week, Orazio Cauchi, Uygar Karaca, and Giorgos Kyriakidis discussed Ioannis Sfairopoulos' future in Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, the injury crisis at Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, and Dimitris Itoudis suggestion for a new EuroLeague format.

For those who missed, Itoudis gave an exclusive interview to BasketNews and reiterated his idea of altering the current EuroLeague format so that teams would not lose too much if an injury happened.

His idea:

  1. Expand the number of teams in the EuroLeague;
  2. Divide them into two groups;
  3. Play more games in the EuroLeague, less in domestic leagues.

If Maccabi lose to Monaco, do you think it will be the last game for Sfairopoulos at the helm?

Orazio: Personally, I don't believe that the game against Monaco will be the last for coach Sfairopoulos with Maccabi.

Surely, the situation is not ideal, and there's a lot of noise surrounding the environment. But I believe that Maccabi will continue to give him some more time, especially because there are not a lot of viable options to replace him.

Furthermore, Maccabi are in a particular financial situation. They received financial support from the government to cover some of the losses created by the pandemic, so they don't have a lot of financial flexibility.

Probably it would be cheaper to replace some of the current players, and that's a likely strategy that Maccabi will explore in the coming days/weeks. Plus, when you consider the other teams that have changed their coach this season, their strategy didn't really pay dividends so far.

Uygar: I am against such ideas: "Win this and that; stay."

There is no point in putting deadlines or credit points dependent on specific game results. I don't remember any coach who could turn things around and stay for many more years after facing such a mission.

They might win against Monaco, but I believe Sfairopoulos' days are numbered in Tel Aviv. 

Giorgos: Sfairopoulos has been on a hot seat for quite some time now.

Even though the season was cut short, he essentially led Maccabi to the EuroLeague playoffs in 2020. The loss to rivals Hapoel Tel Aviv increased the controversy surrounding the Greek coach, who doesn't seem to be on good terms with the team's fanbase.

Gradually, the former Olympiacos's tactician lost ground. Although the Israeli powerhouse extended the contract through 2023 in December 2019, this season has been disastrous at every level.

Maccabi are 7-10 in the EuroLeague, far away from the last playoff spot, while occupying third place (7-4) in Israel's Basketball Super League. So, if they were to lose again to tripping Monaco, Sfairopoulos, a two-time EuroLeague finalist, will approach the exit door even more.

For him, the upcoming game is his last chance to convince Maccabi's management that he deserves to be granted some more time. However, even in the case of a win, Maccabi will sooner or later face the same problems that have brought them to this point.

As long as their management doesn't sign new players to make the coach feel sure of his job, Sfairopoulos have every reason to view his future as highly uncertain.

Knowing the injury situation of Jan Vesely and Nando De Colo, is it the end of Fenerbahce season?

Orazio: The long-term injuries of De Colo and Vesely are a huge blow to Fenerbahce's playoff ambitions.

When the team looked on the right path, winning 4 of the last 5 games, these two injuries will cause many problems for the Turkish team.

De Colo and Vesely are important and fundamental pieces of the team. Vesely is having a fantastic season and often has been the heart and soul of Fenerbahce. De Colo will probably be out for more than two months, which will leave Fenerbahce with very limited options offensively on the perimeter, especially considering how much the other guys are struggling so far.

With Devin Booker, Ahmet Duveriouglu, and Danilo Barthel also out in the frontcourt, finding some alternatives will be difficult for coach Djordjevic. I believe that the current situation might put Fenerbahce in a really tough spot.

Uygar: Losing these two players puts you in a situation that is beyond repair regardless of any sort of extra addition or whatsoever.

The problem is not only the period that they will be out. When they are fully healthy, they'll need to get back into their rhythm. Their individual contributions sit at the very center of Fenerbahce's structurally vulnerable offense.

"Season is over" is a bold expression, but I cannot help myself thinking how hard it will be to catch the 7th or 8th spots for playoffs.

Giorgos: Since those two constituted an incomparable guard-big man combo, I definitely don't expect Fenerbahce to compete for the playoffs.

Besides, their 7-10 record is anything but encouraging going into the second round. Of course, other players (like Marko Guduric or Pierria Henry) could step up, although that hasn't been the case until now.

Vesely is Fener's best player, according to numbers. He's the team's first scorer and rebounder. De Colo is equally impactful, despite shooting only 30% from deep this season.

If the Turkish side had a better record, I think that their EuroLeague future would be up for debate. However, under these conditions (7-10), it would be a huge surprise if those two losses strengthened their team bonding or chemistry. Fener will have to learn how to play without their leaders, who are simply irreplaceable. 

What's your opinion on Itoudis' suggestion regarding the change of EuroLeague format?

Orazio: On paper, I like the idea of having more teams and consequently more games in EuroLeague.

The concept of modeling the competition on the NBA format with divisions or groups is also interesting. But there's one major issue: the domestic leagues. Itoudis' idea, just like coach Obradovic's one, is based on the fact that the team in EuroLeague should play fewer games in their domestic leagues, and I just don't see that happening.

The national leagues know how important teams like CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid, Olimpia Milan, Fenerbahce are for their brand and reputation. For this reason, the domestic leagues will not make things easy for these clubs.

Some domestic leagues are already struggling to attract enough interest from fans, losing the bigger teams for the entire competition or at least for a part of it would be a huge blow for them. FIBA would probably also step in, making this type of plan even more difficult to apply.

Uygar: If I understand it correctly, Itoudis suggests a weaker EuroLeague competition where some games are less intense than others.

That is contradictory with the EuroLeague motto, "Every game matters". As a branding culture, NBA never claimed that every game mattered in the regular season, but EuroLeague did.

More teams would probably mean a decline in the player's quality because the EuroLeague brand already has problems generating revenue. It could only work if EuroLeague would generate more revenues for the clubs to sustain the required talent.

Otherwise, that will "domesticize" EuroLeague, people would get even less interested in low-intensity games.

Giorgos: It could only work on certain conditions.

The EuroCup has changed its format starting from this year, dividing participants into two groups. The same could be done in the EuroLeague, taking geographical criteria into consideration.

If that were to happen, the competition would inevitably lose a lot of big games, and local leagues would see less of the EuroLeague teams.

Zeljko Obradovic added to his former assistant's thought, saying that EuroLeague teams could only join their domestic leagues' playoffs. Although expanding the number of participants would make the EuroLeague less of a closed-off league, increasing the number of games will have dubious results.

EuroLeague teams that go all the way have to play up to 41 games per season. That's a lot. Now, if the number of games increases, things can only go worse for players dealing with fatigue. For the most part and in less competitive leagues, star players appear for 15-20 minutes and then get some rest.

Fans want to watch the continent's best teams play each other - and that's exactly what EuroLeague offers. EuroLeague clubs want to make a profit, playing as many games as possible, but right now - in contrast to what is going on in football - maintaining a development team that would compete only in domestic leagues is a costly enterprise.

URBONUS podcast

Sveikiname! Jūs buvote pasirinktas dalyvauti naujame finansiniame projekte, kurio stabilios pajamos yra iki tūkstančio dolerių (1000 USD) per savaitę. Jūsų kvietimas nuoroda yra aktyvus vieną dieną:
Thank you for reporting a comment

Add comment

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website

Jan Vesely

Jan  Vesely
Team: Fenerbahce Istanbul
Position: C
Age: 31
Height: 211 cm
Weight: 109 kg
Birth place: Ostrava, Czech Republic