All-EuroLeague big man Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Istanbul was at his best on Thursday as he put his athleticism and heart on display to lead his team to victory and claim MVP honors for Round 20 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season. Vesely starred in Fenerbahce’s 85-80 come-from-behind victory over Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including a pair of highlight reel alley-oop slams. He also collected 7 rebounds and 2 steals for a performance index rating of 30, which was just 1 off his career high in addition to being the most of any player in Round 20. This marks just the second time in his career that Vesely has earned MVP of the round honors. Two players were tied with the second-highest index ratings of the round with 27: Khem Birch of Olympiacos Piraeus and Thomas Heurtel of Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Birch dominated inside with 15 points and a career-best 14 rebounds in the Reds’ 83-77 home win over Brose Bamberg. Heurtel led a late comeback attempt, but his side lost 80-77 at CSKA Moscow despite 24 points and 4 assists from the point guard. Rounding out the list of Round 20’s top performers were Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade center Ognjen Kuzmic and Galatasaray swingman Blake Schilb, who tied with index ratings of 24. Kuzmic shined in a 72-66 victory over his former team, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens, with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Schilb tallied 21 points, 7 assists and 2 steals in defeat.
Individual leaders: Shane Larkin of Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz, 4 steals
Heurtel moved into the list of top 10 scorers for the season with his 24-point night, which was the highest scoring tally in Round 20. Heurtel is now ranked ninth with 13.8 points per game. Former Alphonso Ford Trophy winner Keith Langford of Unics Kazan remains the league’s top scorer for the season with 22.3 points per game. Kuzmic and Birch shared the lead for Round 20 with 14 rebounds each. Kuzmic now leads the league with 8.1 rebounds per game; Birch is sixth with 6.9. Real Madrid guard Sergio Llull dished 9 assists in his team’s victory over EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, which marked the most of the round. Llull is ranked fourth with 6.0 assists per game; injured CSKA playmaker Milos Teodosic leads all players with 7.6 assists per game this season. Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz playmaker Shane Larkin climbed into third place in steals for the season after collecting 4 of them in a road win at FC Barcelona Lassa. Larkin is averaging 1.6 steals per game; Charles Jenkins of Crvena Zvezda leads the league with 2.1 steals per game. Three players – and none of them centers! – shared the top spot for blocks in Round 20 with 2 each. They were guards Luka Doncic of Madrid and Sonny Weems of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and forward Nikita Kurbanov of CSKA Moscow. Injured center Ekpe Udoh of Fenerbahce owns the league’s best average with 2.1 blocks per game. Three players posted double-doubles in the round: Birch, Kuzmic and CSKA big man Kyle Hines (13 points, 10 rebounds).