In the strongest basketball series of the Old World, not only stars such as Mike James and Facundo Campazzo shine this season, but also those who are currently playing the best basketball of their lives and have significantly raised their level this season.
For the Nigerian-born winger, it is worth turning the clock back to the summer of 2021. After a few seasons in various league levels in France, Moneke finally got his chance in Spain, Europe’s strongest national league. Manresa is not Real Madrid or Barcelona, but it is certainly good enough as a first stop, and the quality of the team was also evident by the fact that they played in the Champions League.
In Manresa’s shirt, Moneke repeatedly proved that he is a EuroLeague-level player. In the Spanish Championship, he averaged 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in the 2021-22 season, they reached the finals in the Champions League, and the 27-year-old player was selected as the most valuable baller.
However, Moneke did not head to the EuroLeague after that, but to the NBA. However, his time with the Sacramento Kings was short-lived and the African joined Monaco halfway through the season, although he was not the type of player the EuroLeague’s top team needed. They needed a winger with a good shooting arm, but Moneke has never been a sniper.
So it’s no wonder that Moneke Monaco’s career ended in a few months and without much success. But it is also clear that Saša Obradovic did not use him in a role that would highlight Moneke’s strengths and allow him to shine. This season at Baskonia, however, he has been allowed to spread his wings.
Moneke’s performance index rating (PIR) of 21.6 is the second best in the EuroLeague, falling behind only Tornike Šengelia, who has been at the top of the big teams for many years. Moneke shoots with excellent accuracy – 60.6 percentage from twos and 51.7 from threes – 16.7 points per game, grabs 6.6 rebounds and also works hard for a man on defense. Let it be said that in Monaco, which was also his debut season in the EuroLeague, he averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds, more than four times as many points!
Examples of Moneke’s style:
It was already clear last season that the Lithuanian is one of the most important players of Baskonia. Particularly in the defense and taking rebounds. When Sedekerskis was absent for a few months due to an injury, he was missed by Baskonia players, coaches, and fans equally.
Last summer added confidence that the 25-year-old winger could make a big leap ahead in the EuroLeague. Sedekerskis, who helped Lithuania finish sixth at the World Cup, played some very nice games, shining for example against the top countries such as USA and Serbia.
Sedekerskis is one of the best defensive players in the EuroLeague, with good instincts, a strong body, quick feet and long arms. This means, for example, that it is not a problem for the Balt to act effectively against opposing defenders. On offense, the Lithuanian is very smart: he perfectly understands that he is not much of a basket hunter, but he moves very smartly without the ball, he is more accurate than average on long shots, and against certain opponents, he likes to bounce the ball and ram himself to the basket with the help of his strong body.
Sedekerskis, who joined Baskonia more than a decade ago, is averaging 10.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and two assists this season. The shooting percentage is roughly as good as Moneke’s: 64.7 percent on twos and 42.9 percent on threes. Last season, Sedekerskis recorded 5.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and one assist per game.
This is the sixth Euroleague season for the Greek, and although Mitoglu was very good in the 2020-21 season as well, his exploits this year are much, much more significant given the context.
The 27-year-old baller joined Olimpia Milano in the summer of 2021 after a very good season at Panathinaikos in Athens. However, at the beginning of the season, he suffered a leg injury whilst playing against Kazan UNICS, and a few months later he tested positive for doping, which kept him away from the game for almost a year and a half.
The mentioned leg injury and getting entangled in the web of doping are connected. Mitoglu told the court that he used the help of a “doctor” to recover from the trauma, who promised that some pills from Russia would work wonders. If the positive doping test is considered a wonder, then he was right…
Last summer, Mitoglu, who rejoined Panathinaikos during the doping break, was allowed to return to professional basketball in full, and in the jersey of the Greek national team, he showed excellent performances at times before the World Cup. However, in the end, the man from Thessaloniki missed the big tournament due to an injury to the little finger on his left hand.
Due to the injury, the start of Mitoglu’s EuroLeague season was also delayed. He made his first appearance in the fourth round but has since been indispensable. Of course, the injuries of Ioannis Papapetrou and Juancho Hernangómez also play a role here.
Mitoglu plays an average of over 33 minutes, brings 15.9 points (the shooting percentage is essentially identical to Sedekerskis – 63.6 two-point shooting, 42.4% three-point shooting) and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Okay, regarding Peters, it cannot be overlooked that his very good performances do not cause a massive surprise, because he was one of the elite wing players of the EuroLeague in 2020-21 in the Baskonia shirt. However, they will make one raise eyebrows since in the previous season, the American was completely overshadowed.
Sure, it’s hard to see the sun standing behind Olympiacos’ leader Sasha Vezenkov, but Peters deserves huge credit for the way he’s replaced the Bulgarian. The Yankee is not as good a pitcher or rebound taker and does not have as good a physique as the European, but in each of the three elements, Peters is only slightly inferior to Vezenkov. The result? He’s a damn good basketball player!
With 12 Euroleague matches this season, Peters has already surpassed his previous season’s point score, which he collected in a whole season, i.e. 37 games. His shooting percentage is simply amazing: 92.3% on free throws, 62.9% on twos and 54.9% on threes. Add 5.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists and we have a pretty good replacement for Vezenkov.
Examples of Peters’s style:
If, for example, the shooting cannon Andreas Obst had a steep decline in terms of how fit he is, after the victory of the German team in this year’s World Cup, and is currently injured, Thiemann, together with NBA men Dennis Schröder and Franz and Moritz Wagner, is among those who have raised their level even more after the big tournament.
The clear leader of ALBA Berlin will enjoy an even bigger role in the German team, as the second main man in the paint zone, Luke Sikma, left the club after the previous season. And although representing ALBA in the EuroLeague is not the easiest thing in the world mentally – the club has won only two out of 12 games – hats off to Thiemann: one would not want to see anyone else but the balanced German as a leader of a young and inexperienced (in terms of EuroLeage) team.
The 29-year-old center is not the tallest of its kind in the world at 205 cm, but Thiemann is a very smart and physically strong player. At the same time, the world champion and EuroBasket bronze medalist, born to a father from Cameroon and a mother from Germany, is also dangerous from behind the three-point line, although he is not as good a shooter as, for example, Sedekerskis, not to mention Peters.
Thiemann is averaging 13.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season. In the best season of his EuroLeague career so far, he averaged eight points and four rebounds in 2022-23 – the improvement is evident.
Although it is difficult for ALBA as a team, Thiemann’s colleagues must be praised for at least two things: they fight tremendously, and their team leader is often given the ball in the right place at the right time. This season, Thiemann has hit 58 shots from the field, 35 of which have been assists. The lion’s share of the remaining 23 hits have come from the offensive rebound, in which he is one of the leading men in the EuroLeague.