EuroLeague Week 9 Winners and Losers: Lessons from wins for Fenerbahce, Partizan, and Monaco

Week 9 of the EuroLeague season saw a boatload of high-quality basketball on display as Fenerbahce handed Real Madrid their first loss of the season, Partizan beat Panathinaikos in overtime, and Monaco beat Olympiacos at home. 

Fenerbahce Beko v Real Madrid - Turkish Airlines Euroleague
Fenerbahce Beko v Real Madrid - Turkish Airlines Euroleague / Anadolu/GettyImages

Week 9 of EuroLeague action delivered us some of the best basketball of the season, and also Real Madrid’s first loss. Here are some lessons we learned from Fenerbahce vs. Real Madrid, Partizan vs. Panathinaikos, and AS Monaco vs. Olympiacos. (If you missed last week's winners and losers, check it out here.)

EuroLeague Week 9 Winners and Losers: Did Fenerbahce give us the playbook on how to beat Real Madrid? 

The short answer to this question is no. Dimitris Itoudis, for as great a coach he is, did not produce some basketball mad science that Fenerbahce went out and executed to take out Real Madrid. Fenerbahce played an A game, particularly from the second quarter onwards, and Real Madrid played a C game. Even with that discrepancy, it took an all-time blunder from Facundo Campazzo (who had an A+ game) and overtime for Fenerbahce to squeak out a victory here. 

Yam Madar, who was shooting about 20 percent from 3 in EuroLeague play heading into this game made 3-of-4 from deep. Nick Calathes, who has shot roughly 30 percent from beyond the arc in his career went 2-of-4 including a clutch fourth-quarter 3 to make the score 81-77 Madrid and keep Fenerbahce alive. Marko Guduric, who was 2-of-7 from 3 at one point in the game ended up shooting 4-of-10. The shooting variance gods ruled in Fenerbahce’s favor and that was critical in their victory. 

But so were some other tactical decisions, this victory was not entirely rooted in luck. Campazzo had a great game, finishing with 33 points, 7 assists, and 8 rebounds. However, it seemed like that was by design. Fenerbahce was going under on pick-and-rolls, sinking deep in drop coverage, and generally inviting Campazzo to be a scorer. The theory of make Campazzo a scorer is too simple to actually work, but it is a step in the right direction. It makes Madrid slightly more uncomfortable than usual. 

Edy Tavares was the source of most of this discomfort. The EuroLeague star finished with only seven points and five fouls after 21 minutes of play. For Tavares, he had minimal impact on the game compared to what he’s capable of. His fouling out forced Madrid to lean on Vincent Poirier down the stretch who is a great offensive player, but not as intimidating a rim protector. Tavares was plus-16 even on a bad night, and Poirier was minus-18. 

It wasn’t just Campazzo’s increased activity as a scorer that pushed Tavares out of the game, but Fenerbahce also didn’t let him get to his spots. Instead of letting him catch the ball deep in the post or be a lob threat, the Turkish side forced him into no man’s land.

Tavares was catching the ball 10-14 feet out and facing the rim, far from his optimal scoring position. When he did catch the ball closer to the rim, multiple defenders swarmed him immediately. Tavares was not allowed to be the play finisher he had become accustomed to and was forced to do more processing. He wasn’t at his best because of it, and of all the things teams have tried to unsettle Real Madrid this season, this has likely been the most successful. Others should try to replicate it, and Chus Mateo needs a solution beyond playing Poirier more. 

EuroLeague Week 9 Winners and Losers: Are Partizan still the Pacers of EuroLeague, or has Bruno Caboclo changed that?

Coming off a frustrating road loss to Anadolu Efes Istanbul where they led in the fourth quarter, Partizan hosted an in-form Panathinaikos side that had them dead in the water, leading 71-61 with less than five minutes to go. It would’ve already been the second time this season Zeljko Obradovic’s club had lost back-to-back games and their second home loss of the season. Add in the fact that Kevin Punter and Aleksa Avramovic made their returns for this one, and it would’ve been a damning defeat. 

But Partizan rallied, with Punter finding his form from last season and P.J. Dozier burying a clutch stepback 3 they rallied back and forced overtime. Panathinaikos' fatigue caused a slow start in the extra period and they couldn’t come back, and went back to Greece with another loss on their record.

Partizan didn’t do anything stellar in this game that gave them the victory. They hung around long enough for Punter to find his groove, Zach LeDay led the way with 23 points, and they stole this win. 

Partizan’s comeback, though, did feature a lineup that could solve their defensive deficiencies (their 119.8 defensive rating is currently third worst in the league). With less than eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter Cabocolo subbed in for Alen Smailagic and Partizan’s lineup was Punter, Dozier, Danilo Andjusic, LeDay, and Caboclo. That unit is fast and strong, skilled and smart, it brings everything to the table including a key victory. 

They comfortably switched almost everything, letting Punter and Dozier guard post players and bring help on the catch, while also moving LeDay and Caboclo onto perimeter players as needed who could move their feet with Kostas Sloukas, Jerian Grant, and Kendrick Nunn. They not only held their own but also made entry passes difficult. 

The defense wasn’t perfect, likely due to Caboclo being with the team for a limited time, but it was disruptive and effective, and the best Partizan have looked on that side of the ball all season. Their offense has always been elite, even with key players missing time their offensive rating of 120.7 is second-best after league leaders Real Madrid. 

But until Round 11, they haven’t been able to stop a snail. Caboclo could change that. He won’t make them world-beaters on the defensive end, but with how good their offense is they just need to approach league average. If they can get there, they’re back in the Final Four hunt. 

EuroLeague Week 9 Winners and Losers: Monaco gets some light revenge on Olympiacos

In a league full of historic rivalries, Olympiacos and Monaco are a modern one, developing over the past few seasons with a brutal five-game playoff series in 2021 and a Final Four matchup last season. So far, Olympiacos has come out on top in both but this was their first meeting without Sasha Vezenkov present, and Mike James Monaco got some revenge. 

The game itself was not excessively eventful. James led the way for Monaco with 24 points and took over in the closing minutes to seal the victory, and Olympiacos had ten players log points in this one. Monaco’s defense was impressive in this one, they pushed Olympiacos out of their comfort zone. Their closeouts on the Reds shooters were impeccable. This Olympiacos squad like many Bartzokas teams thrives on spot-up three-pointers, and Monaco refused to give this away. 

They forced shooters to be decision-makers, and the tactic wasn’t flawless with Isaiah Canaan finishing with 20 points but they did prevent the likes of Thomas Walkup and Alec Peters from having a significant impact until late in the second half. The two combined for only seven points in the first half. 

On the Olympiacos side of things, the lineup selection based on Monaco’s defensive game plan was perplexing. With Monaco running them off the line, they needed more players comfortable slashing to the rim and making plays on the run. Two players capable of that on their roster — Shaquielle McKissic and Ignas Brazdeikis — barely featured in the first half. Brazdeikis did not feature at all, and McKissic went in with less than four minutes to go. But as soon as both players entered the game, they made a positive impact as quality counters to Monaco’s defense. 

Winning on the road against Monaco is not easy, and the reality is that this game was tied with two minutes to go before James decided he was going to take over. But Georgios Bartzokas needs to become more comfortable either playing guys like Brazdeikis and McKissic or at least adjusting his rotation based on what opponents are doing. We talked last week about how this Olympiacos teams strength is their depth, but that depth is only an asset when utilized. It was not utilized to the best of its ability in Round 11. 

EuroLeague Week 9 Lines of the Week

Campazzo’s 33 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds in Real Madrid’s loss.

Nicolas Laprovittola’s 28 points and 9 assists.

EuroLeague Week 9 Quote of the Week

Jabari Parker has found success in EuroLeague because he’s embraced it, instead of treating it like a step down.

EuroLeague Week 9 Clip of the Week

Zach LeDay messing with Matthias Lessort, his former teammate, was pretty good.