History has shown that the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 is one of the toughest phases in any basketball competition, and experts agree that this season's Group E is among the strongest ever assembled in the competition. As such, FC Barcelona's undefeated record after eight games in Group E is a marvel to behold and a good reason why its most dominant player last month, center Ante Tomic, is Euroleague Basketball's slam-dunk choice as bwin MVP for February. As Barcelona defied the odds to become the first 8-0 team in Top 16 history, Tomic has made the most intense stretch of the season look easy. He started February by scoring 16 points in a double-digit home win, but that was his low point of the month. He ended it by stringing together the best back-to-back performance index ratings ever recorded in the Top 16. In the process, Tomic also posted the first 25-point, 15-rebound performance since the great Arvydas Sabonis of Zalgiris Kaunas did the same 10 years ago this week. It marked the second February in a row that Tomic has won the same award, which is more than a good omen for Barcelona and its fans look to return to the Final Four. While other teams prepare for six more rounds of Top 16 drama, Barcelona could qualify for the playoffs as early as this week and then concentrate on clinching first place and homecourt advantage. All that becomes more than likely if Ante Tomic keeps playing like he did in February as the bwin MVP of the month!
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its 10th season. Although statistics and performance index rating (PIR) are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance. The award for February was based on the three games that all Top 16 teams played between February 13 and 28. Euroleague Basketball partner bwin is the sponsor of the MVP of the Month award. Just as the best Euroleague player each month combines performance and leadership for success, so does bwin's sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.
Tomic opened February with a performance that would be more than a good game for most players, 16 points and 4 rebounds on 7-for-10 two-point shooting in a 80-70 victory over second-place EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. But it obviously wasn't up to the standard Tomic has in mind for himself this time of year. On the road a week later, he posted new career highs in points, 24, and PIR, 36, as Barcelona defeated host Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 68-80. Tomic shot 8 for 9 on two-pointers and 8 for 11 at the foul line while accumulating 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and block in that win, all adding up to his first weekly bwin MVP honor of the season. Very few players stay hot enough to be the best of the week twice in a row, let alone in consecutive away games, but Tomic did more than that in an 84-89 overtime victory against Anadolu Efes Istanbul to close the month of February. And this time, he really broke the bank, bettering his personal highs from a week earlier with 26 points and an index rating of 40, while adding another career best, 15 rebounds. His performance ratings of 36 and 40 are the highest in consecutive weeks in Top 16 history.
There might be a good reason why Tomic dominates February: his birthday falls in the middle of the month. Having turned 27 on February 17 this season, the All-Euroleague first-team choice from one year ago is showing he gets better with age. He finished February averaging 22 points on incredible 74% two-point shooting, both higher than he did as bwin MVP for February in 2013. As such, Barcelona fans will be able to relive the experience of applauding their center's great performances when Ante Tomic receives his award at an upcoming home game.