With more and more former (and future) NBA players packing the Turkish Airlines Euroleague -- Europe's premier club basketball league (and basketball's answer to the Champions League) -- and more and more games on NBA TV, NBA.com/global will take a weekly look at the players to know and teams to track in the 2013-14 season. For more on the playoff chase, head to the Euroleague home page.

NBA TV's Euroleague Game of the Week coverage continues with Olympiacos Piraeus vs. FC Bayern Munich on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Two Undefeateds Remain; Mirotic Among Elite
Through seven weeks of Euroleague action, just two teams remain without a loss -- and it's pretty much who you'd expect.

Coming into the 2013-14 campaign without a number of key parts from its title run last year, Olympiacos Piraeus has kept the parade going, rolling out to a 7-0 start thanks to the work of reigning MVP Vassilis Spanoulis and upstart Fordham product Bryan Dunston, who's leading the league in blocks and sitting in the Top 10 in scoring.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, looks to be the class of the Euroleague this year. At a perfect 7-0 clip, they're tops in points per game and among the best five teams in points-allowed. Much of that is thanks to the combination of former NBA guard Rudy Fernandez and future NBA player (and current hot commodity) Nikola Mirotic, the power forwards whose rights belong to the Bulls. Both Fernandez and Mirotic have risen to the top-7 in Performance Index (the Euroleague's measure of efficiency). They're joined by Sergio Rodriguez, Ionassis Bourousis, Sergio Llull and Felipe Reyes in the Top 50.

Game of the Week: Olympiacos Piraeus vs. FC Bayern Munich
Watch on Sunday (1 pm, NBA TV) when the reigning Euroleague champs -- featuring 2012-13 MVP Vassilis Spanoulis -- take on American-born star Malcolm Delaney and German power FC Bayern Munich.
NBA TV's Euroleague Game of the Week coverage continues with Budivelnik Kiev at FC Barcelona on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. ET

Turks Tops In Table
Fenerbahce Ulker blew out of the gates against OKC in this year's first Global Game, surging out to a 28-20 lead in the first quarter. But the Thunder, as they've been known to do, settled things down, worked the ball inside and tossed the Turks out of their own building with a 75-55 edge the rest of the way.

Fenerbahce? They haven't lost since.

The lone remaining undefeated team in the Euroleague is now out to its best start of the century, led by sparkplug scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, who's putting up 20.2 points and a 20.6 Index Rating and whose NBA rights are held by Brooklyn. But he's had help. Former NBA player Linas Kleiza's off to a hot start, as is forward Emir Preldzic, whose 19.6 average Index Rating ranks sixth in the league -- two spots behind Bogdanovic.

Game of the Week: FC Barcelona vs. Budivelnik Kiev
Watch on Sunday (1 pm, NBA TV) when the Spanish power's blend of legends (led by Juan Carlos Navarro) and future NBA players Alex Abrines and Kostas Papanikolaou takes on Kiev and its collection of once and future NBA players, from Blake Ahearn and Micah Downs to DaJuan Summers!
NBA TV's Euroleague Game of the Week coverage continues with Olympiacos Piraeus at Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. ET

Catching Up: Week 1 Roundup
Well, Nikola Mirotic made us look a lot smarter.

The Real Madrid big man (whose rights belong to the Bulls) earned Euroleague Week 1 MVP honors after going for 18 points (including 3-for-4 from behind the arc), along with five rebounds, two steals and a block in Madrid's win. This, a week after we wrote that of all players in the Euroleague, he's your guy to watch.

Other big performances from NBA-rights players came from Mirotic's teammate Sergio Llull (Houston rights), who went for 17 points and three rebounds, Fenerbahce Ulker's Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn rights, 21 points and 4 rebounds), CSKA Moscow's Sasha Kaun (Cleveland rights, 16 points and 9 rebounds), FC Barcelona's Kostas Papanikolaou (Houston rights, 13 points and 4 assists) and Ante Tomic (Utah rights, 13 points and 2 rebounds) and Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius' Renaldas Seibutis (19 points and 1 rebound).

Game of the Week: Olympiacos Piraeus at Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul
Watch on Sunday (1 pm, NBA TV) when reigning Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis and defending champs Olympiacos Piraeus take on former NBA players Nate Jawai and Carlos Arroyo and Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul!
NBA TV's Euroleague Game of the Week coverage opens with Panathinaikos Athens at Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. ET

A whole lot of hoops is about to come back into your life.

So with the 2013-14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season beginning this week -- including the debut of NBA TV's Euroleague Game of the Week (Panathinaikos Athens at Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius, airing on tape delay on Sunday at 1 pm after tipping off Thursday) -- we'll keep it short.

When the 24 top club teams in Europe tip off this week, taking their first steps toward a spot in the Euroleague Final Four in Milan, you'll want to focus on three things:
  • The Contenders
  • The Legends
  • ...and the Guys That Will Help Your NBA Team

Normally, they're spread all over the continent, from Moscow to Athens, Anatolia to Milan. But for now, since you've got D-Rose highlights to catch up on, AI nostalgia to give into and 150 fantasy rankings to argue with, they're all here.

>> Global Games Coverage: The Hawks, The Soviets and The Trip That Changed it All | 2013 Schedule | All-Time Photos

The Contenders

Outside of the scalding postseason runs from Spanish powers Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the 2012-13 season brought a whole lot of parity to the Euroleague. But heading into a new year, a few teams look like favorites to take home the final prize -- one that's belonged to a Greek team five times in the past seven years (Olympiacos twice, Panathinaikos three times). Olympiacos Piraeus

Greece's premier club just picked up its second straight Euroleague title last May, when Piraeus came back from 17 down to drop Real Madrid in the final. Now, Euroleague and Final Four MVP Vassilis Spanoulis and a roster with a few missing pieces from 2012-13 look to become the sixth Greek team to win the title

Real Madrid

Always a powerhouse, Madrid brings a blend of high-level veterans -- Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez -- and rising stars -- led by Nikola Mirotic -- as it looks to avenge its 2012-13 Finals loss and claim its first title since 1994-95.

CKSA Moscow

Packed with depth -- 2012-13 Euroleague First Teamer Nenad Krstic is pegged to come off the bench right now -- CSKA's riding high after a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the preseason. One of Europe's great all-time teams should be at least in the final eight this year, thanks in large part to a backcourt that includes American point guard Jeremy Pargo and lanky shooting guard Miloš Teodosić.

FC Barcelona

Knicks 2012 pick Kostas Papanikolaou is set to pop for a team that also features 2012-13 Euroleague First-Teamer Ante Tomic at center. And that's just the frontcourt. Throw in OKC pick Alex Abrines at shooting guard, along with legend Juan Carlos Navarro and you've got a team blended to near-perfection.

The Legends
Juan Carlos Navarro, FC Barcelona

"La Bomba" -- Mr. European Basketball to you -- has played for FC Barcelona since 1997, with one brief trip to Memphis in 2007-08. A regular fixture in the NBA's games abroad for the past 15 years, he's a five-time Euroleague First-Teamer and two-time Second-Teamer. Synonymous with FC Barcelona and Spanish basketball, he's a living legend on the continent.

Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos Piraeus

The premier player in the Euroleague last year -- a year in which Spanoulis, who played a stint with the Rockets in 2006-07, became the first three-time Euroleague MVP since Toni Kukoc -- does everything well. And, at 31, he's coming off a career-high in minutes per game -- not to mention assists per game (at 5.5, to go along with 14.7 ppg) -- so there's still something left in the tank.

Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow

The former NBA center is most efficient and dominant big man in the league, garnering First Team Euroleague honors in 2012-13 and anchoring a team that just beat the T-Wolves in the preseason.

Rudy Fernandez, Real Madrid

The former NBA guard made his way to the First Team last year, too, as the driving force behind a Real Madrid team that looked like a lock to bring home the title.

Miloš Teodosić, CSKA Moscow

The 6-foot-5, Serbian-born Moscow gunner just hung 26 points, nine assists and five rebounds on the Timberwolves in the preseason.

The Guys That'll Help Your NBA Team
Nikola Mirotic, Real Madrid (Rights owned by CHI)

If you're going to watch one player this year, make it Mirotic. Even if you're not a Bulls fan.

The potential heir apparent to Carlos Boozer was Second Team All-Euroleague at center in 2012-13, falling just behind Ante Tomic and a resurgent Nenad Krstic. He's smoother than the other two, with an inside game that looks something like Jonas Valanciunas. Keep an eye on him before you can watch him on NBA LEAGUE PASS, likely next year.

Ante Tomic, FC Barcelona (UTA rights)

Tomic is coming off the best season of his career in 2012-13, when the 7-foot-2 Croatian center earned First Team All-Euroleague honors. Tall, and with an evolving post game, he's still just 26 years old.

Bojan Bogdanovich, Fenerbahce Ulker (MIA rights)

Bogdanovich's season got off to a loud start when he went for a team-high 19 points -- including a 4-for-8 mark from behind the arc -- against the Thunder in Global Games Istanbul. At 6-foot-8, he's the perfect size for an NBA swing, with the shooting numbers (48.9 percent from the field in 2012-13) to back it up.

Alex Abrines, FC Barcelona (OKC rights)

Abrines can shoot. That's what we do know. The Thunder -- who picked him in June's Draft -- are just waiting to see if he can get any stronger or faster. One of the Euroleague's best rising sharpshooters, Abrines plays like a raw version of Rudy Fernandez. But playing for one of Europe's elite clubs, against top-tier competition in both league and Euroleague play, should help him pick up his pace.

Livio Jean-Charles, Asvel Villeurbanne Lyon (SAS rights)

Generally speaking, the Spurs don't make mistakes overseas.

It took Manu a few years in Europe to develop into the Hall of Fame-caliber player we've watched for a decade in San Antonio, and it may take Jean-Charles the same. But for now, he's one of the hottest rising stars in the Old Country, with the bouncy swingman shooting onto the scene at last year's Nike Hoop Summit, when he went for 27 points and 13 boards against the USA Jr. Select Team. 2010-11.
For the second straight year, Olympiacos Piraeus rallies back from a big deficit to claim the Euroleague title

With a 17-point lead over Olympiacos Piraeus after the first quarter of the Euroleague championship game and a season of sheer dominance behind them, by the time the sun started setting over London on Sunday, Real Madrid looked like it would coast to its 10th Euroleague crown.

Then Vassilis Spanoulis got going.

The Euroleague MVP and former NBA guard (Rockets, 2006-07) scored 22 points over the final two quarters, sparking a second-half surge by Olympiacos to lead the Reds to their second straight title, with a 100-88 win over Madrid. Fellow former NBA player Acie Law helped the effort, dropping 20 of his own (to go along with five boards and five assists) in the win. And despite 21 points from Madrid's Rudy Fernandez and 17 from Sergio Rodriguez, Olympiacos took its third overall title.

A year after a crushing loss in the Finals, CSKA Moscow returns to its 10th Final Four in 11 years -- thanks to the work of the former NBA big man

The system ain't perfect. But for what it's attempting to do -- create a sort of democratic, objective way of deciding the top player in a league that mashes together 18 countries and dozens of different styles -- it works. Better, at the moment, than the other organization that's trying to do the same thing.

The Euroleague's Performance Index Rating looks a lot like PER, just without the adjustment for time on the court or pace of play. So, sort of like a PER for beginners. It factors in shooting percentage, assists, turnovers, rebounds and the rest of the core stats. But it also takes into account a number of things -- easy things, obvious things -- that the American box score doesn't. A different sort of language, even. Things like fouls received vs. fouls given. Shots blocked vs. blocked shots.

And by whatever metric you want to use, nobody's been able to do to the Euroleague what CSKA Moscow and former NBA center Nenad Krstic has managed this year. He's only earned MVP of the Week honors once in 2012-13, when he went for a PIR of 28 after notching 17 points, eight boards and four assists in a win over Brose Basket Bamberg in Week 9 of Top 16 play. But for the season, nobody's produced with the consistency, efficiency or tenacity that Kristic has.

The presumptive league MVP leads everybody in PIR, at 17.85 for the year, which puts him a half point ahead of second-place Bobby Brown, the former NBA and Montepaschi Siena guard who's been named MVP of the Week three times. Brown's had higher peaks, sure. He finished with a PIR of 50 in Week 2 of Top 16 play, when he needed just 18 shots (8-for-12 from 2-point range, 4-for-6 from 3) to pile up 41 points -- thanks in large part to his 13-for-13 mark from the foul line. Two months prior, he'd gone for 34 points while taking just 11 shots from the field on the strength of 16-for-21 shooting from the stripe.

But Brown's had downs, too. Four times in his final seven games, he finished in single-digits in PIR, with his shot faltering a bit. For all his production (18.8 ppg, 5.3 apg), he finished the year shooting just 41 percent from the floor for a team that missed the quarterfinals.

Krstic, meanwhile, has driven CSKA into the Final Four after a year in which he's scored 13.6 ppg on 63 percent shooting from the floor (including a scorching 1-for-1 mark from 3-point range) -- a number that swelled to 72 percent in the quarterfinals, where Krstic went for 15.8 ppg. He's pulled down just 4.6 boards a night, but that's come in 23:53 minutes.

He's had some help. Sonny Weems has put up 13.7 points and 2.2 assists a night. Victor Khryapa was named MVP of the Game 4 stage of the quarterfinals with the highest PIR of the round, at 29.00 -- two games after taking the MVP mantle in Game 2. But all season long, with CSKA set on avenging a last-second loss in the 2011-12 Euroleague Final, Krstic has been the one in front.
CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona Regal and Olimpiacos Piraeus Join Real Madrid in London

After Real Madrid -- led by April MVP Sergie Llull -- swept into the Final Four, the three other teams have punched their tickets to 02 Arena on May 10.

After Barca made things tough on themselves, dropping two in a row to Panathinaikos Athens, the Spanish power came back with a 64-53 win in Game 5 -- led by superstar Juan Carlos Navarro. In Istanbul, Olympiacos Piraeus came back from 15 down to take out Anadolu Efes, 82-72, with 2012 Final Four MVP Vassilis Spanoulis notching 19 points and five assists.

The pair joined Quin Snyder-led CSKA Moscow, which took down Caja Laboral Vitoria, 85-94 to take the series, 3-1 and head to its first Final Four in 11 years. Sonny Weems and Vladimir Micoy combined for 15 points in a third-quarter run that kept CSKA ahead for good. For the game, Victor Khryapa went for a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double, with Weems and Nenad Krstic racking up 19 each.

The action starts on May 10, when Moscow and Olympiacos meet at 1800 CET, followed by Barcelona and Real Madrid at 2100 CET.
After a three-game sweep of Maccabi Electra, Real Madrid takes the first spot in the Euroleague Final Four

Heading into the Euroleague quarterfinals, the two great Spanish powers -- Real Madrid and Barcelona Regal -- were doing it at, well, different speeds.

Barcelona hadn't lost since the icy heart of winter, rolling off 12 straight weeks of wins to gallop into the quarterfinals. Real Madrid, on the other hand, stumbled a bit. After rolling out to nine wins in 10 games to start the Top 16, Madrid took three straight losses before winning its final game of the round.

Then fortunes turned a bit. Real Madrid stomped Maccabi Electra in three games, winning each one by 12 points or more -- thanks in large part to the work of Rudy Fernandez and two players with NBA futures: Nikola Mirotic (rights held by Bulls) and Sergio Llull (Rockets), who went for 14 points and 4 boards and 26 points with three boards, respectively, in back-to-back games.

Barcelona, meanwhile, won Game 1 and promptly moved within a game of elimination over the next two games. Falling in Games 2 and 3 to Panathinaikos Athens, Barca stopped the slide with a win in Athens -- after Juan Carlos Navarro went for 11 of his game-high 17 points in the foruth quarter -- to even the series. The date and time for the decisive Game 5 will be announced soon.

Elsewhere, the two other series -- Caja Laboral Vitoria vs. CSKA Moscow and Anadolu Efes vs. Olympiacos Piraeus -- have rolled into Game 4's, with Olympiacos and Moscow a game away from reaching the Final Four in London. Both games are set for Friday.
The former NBA guard was named bwin Player of the Week as Real Madrid opens up to 2-0 start
Rudy Fernandez' brilliance came in waves during his NBA career.

And one of them just crashed onto Maccabi Electra.

In the first game of Real's two straight wins over Electra (by a combined score of 154-116), the former Blazers and Nuggets guard turned out a Euroleague-best Performance Index Rating (an approximation of the NBA's efficiency rating). Going for 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting with six boards, two assists, a block and five drawn fouls, he helped Los Blancos blow out to a hot start. Runners up for bwin Player of the Week honors went Nenad Krstic of CSKA Moscow (a former NBA player), Georgios Printezis of Olympiacos Piraeus and Semih Erden (another former NBA guy) and Kerem Gonlum, both from Anadolu Efes Istanbul.

For more updates from the first two games of the best-of-five quarterfinals series, head to the Euroleague's game center.
With CSKA Moscow heading into the Euroleague quarterfinals, head coach Ettore Messina reflects on his time spent coaching with the Lakers

Stefanos Triantafyllos
Special to NBA.com

Ettore Messina talked to NBA Greece about the NBA experience and what a privilege it was to work with Kobe Bryant. He discussed what ideas he took from American coaches, which players impressed him and what regulation he would change to improve European basketball.

Read the story in its original form on the NBA's official destination in Greece!

The experienced Italian coach, who led CSKA to the first spot in the Euroleague's Top-16 phase, sat behind the bench of the Lakers last year, where he lived the American dream and learned what it means to "work as a coach in the NBA."

He worked with Mike Brown in L.A. as an assistant coach, trying to help the team by transferring features from the European playing style to the NBA, such as spacing and the exploitation of the offensive transition. As he mentioned in the interview with NBA Greece, he gained a lot from this experience and altered his coaching philosophy as a result.

He mentioned the differences between coaching in Europe and the NBA and he also talked about the specific players and coaches that got his attention. Moreover, he bowed his head to Kobe Bryant and explained which NBA rule he would love to see in the Euroleague.

What kind of impact did the NBA experience have on your coaching philosophy?

"It had a great impact, despite the fact there are major differences with European basketball in terms of rules, the court's dimensions, the number of games during the regular season. The experience was really interesting and important to me."

What is the biggest difference that you came across referring to the players' mentality?

"First of all, everybody nowadays is open to foreign opinions, to players, coaches and ideas. Secondly, I saw a great determination and will for improvement. There is great competition and although the practices differ from those in Europe due to the constant travelling and playing, every player emphasizes their individual work. All the players, from the superstars to the last player on the bench, work hard on the fundamentals.

The players really understand the game. In general, I think that people in Europe have a false idea about the NBA. I have changed a lot of my ideas and I came across something entirely different than what we think in Europe."

The biggest difference in tactics?

"The game is different in the NBA. There are many defensive rules and the players there are bigger, stronger and faster in every spot, compared to the European players. Moreover, there are more timeouts and the coach can have a different impact during the game.

We shouldn't forget that the game's duration is different. Eight more minutes is a significant amount of time. So all this changes the coaching approach in terms of rotation, or tactics, even though the main approach to the game is the same, such as spacing, timing, the way the teams run pick-n-roll or post-up situations."

Which is the most important thing that you picked up from the Lakers?

"It is not one, but many important things. I stole a lot of little things, from teaching offense and defense, especially in terms of footwork and movement without the ball, to tactics. And from special situations -- at the end of the game or in short clock situations -- to the way the coaches utilize the video to cover the lack of practice time.

I also found it useful to see the way the coaches emphasize practice without contact. In that way, they pick up the intensity and decrease the danger of injuries, bringing the work out close to a game-situation level."

And which is the most important thing you gave to the Lakers?

"This is a question you can ask the other coaches and the players. Coach Brown wanted me to emphasize our team, and not the opponents. We talked a lot and exchanged ideas over spacing and the way we could use a transition offense. It really helped me a lot."

Who was the coach that really got your attention?

"There are many really good coaches in the NBA. It was an honor to work with Mike Brown, who is an excellent coach. I saw many good coaches and not only on the top-level teams. Some coaches don't have a big name for themselves, but did a great job organizing their team. I really liked Monty Williams of the Hornets and coach Corbin of the Jazz, who carried the Sloan legacy."

And which were the players that impressed you?

"It's really easy to talk about Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant or LeBron James. If I had to pick a player that is close to the European playing style, someone who is not a super-athlete, but really fundamental sound, that would be Kevin Love. He is a good athlete, but not an exceptional one who dunks and flies over the rim, but a player that understands the game really well, passes, shoots the ball, plays one-on-one, is a good defender... "

How did it feel to coach Kobe Bryant?

"We all know that he is one of the best players in the history of the game. A person who is very self-demanding. This is his 16th season in the NBA and he is always on the top level. The way he sees the game and demands from himself and everybody around him is something really challenging. He is a leader. It was a privilege to work with him."

If you could bring one rule from the NBA and apply it in the Euroleague, which would be it?

"I would extend the 3-point line. Maybe add the defensive three seconds rule, but I am not so sure if this could be applied in Europe. So, I would probably change the 3-point line. We see that 3-point shots affect the game and many times the team that shoots better from behind the arc wins the game. I think that there are other aspects of the game that come before the 3-point shooting."
With one week left in Top 16 play, Barca's got home-court locked up. But that's about all we know.

Every spring, Barcelona breathes again.

Winter retreats back into the hills and the Mediterranean rolls its breezes up Las Ramblas and into cafe windows and the leaves burst out of the trees in Park Guell, the acres upon acres of Gaudi-designed Candyland sitting atop the city.

Which is good. Because whoever takes on Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the Euroleague is gonna be headed there.

With just one week left in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16, the only team to have locked up home-court advantage calls the capital of Catalonia home. Thanks to an 11-game win streak that gave them the Group F title -- including a win over Montepaschi Siena in Week 13, in which former NBA player Nate Jawai was named bwin MVP for the week -- FC Barcelona Regal looks like the clear favorite to not only keep burning through the quarters, but claim the title at the Euroleague Final Four in May.

From there, things get a little murky.

When Week 14 opens, eight more teams have a shot at either a playoff berth or home-court advantage in the quarters (April 9). And it's all close: according to the Euroleague's website, those eight teams feature 75 possible combinations to determine playoff positioning or qualification.

As far as Week 13 goes, the teams that had to win did, as Alba Berlin got 12 points and three assists from Derrick Byars to drop Zalgiris Kaunas; CSKA Moscow rode Sonny Weems' 21-point, four-assist night to clip Real Madrid (who had 24 points and six dimes from Rudy Fernandez).

Among players with NBA connections (whether former or future), Jordan Farmar notched 13 points and five assists for Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Marcus Williams went 22-7-7 for Unicaja Malaga, prospect Milos Teodosic stayed hot with a 17-point, seven-assist day in a win over Real Madrid, Bostjan Nachbar and Matt Walsh combined for 26 points and 10 boards for Brose Baskets, Paul Davis and Sergey Monya went for a combined 28 and eight for BC Khimki, Andres Nochioni exploded for 24 points and six boards (while teammate Maciej Lampe had 21 and four), Bobby Brown kept rolling with 15 points and six assists and Kostas Papanikolaou -- whose rights belong to the Blazers -- had 16 and three rebounds for Olympiacos Piraeus.

After a standstill week, this round of action brought a little more excitement

Spring, allegedly, is here. But on both sides of the Atlantic, winter's still got its feet up.

The prolonged arctic wave stuck around last week, with snowflakes in London sprinkling a few white dots into the traditional March all-gray. Meanwhile, most of the continent lurched to a standstill when white stuff sent plane and trains scurrying for shelter.

And in Week 11 of Top 16 play, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague followed suit. With Barcelona Regal remaining the lone team to have secured a spot in the quarterfinals -- and each team on the cusp taking a loss -- the playoff race stayed frozen in place. That all changed in Week 12 -- thanks, largely, to one game.

Three more teams secured spots in the Euroleague quarterfinals this week, with CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid and Anadolu Efes Istanbul all marching into the playoffs after CSKA's win over Unicaja Malaga. Malaga had muddled up the race in its previous game, when Week 11 MVP Luka Zoric earned bwin MVP honors after leading Malaga to a win over Real Madrid. But this time around, a combination of NBA prospect Milos Teodosic (13 points, 5 assists) and former NBA player Sonny Weems (13 points, 3 assists) offset former NBA player Marcus Williams' team-high 12 points for Unicaja.

The overall performance of the week belonged to BC Khimki Moscow's Petteri Koponen, who came off the bench to put up 23 points and seven assists for the week's highest Performance Index Rating (roughly equivalent to efficiency) and the bwin MVP award. Koponen, whose rights are held by the Dallas Mavericks, missed just one shot and turned the ball over only once -- but his finest moments came at the end of the third quarter, when he either scored or assisted on all of BC Khimki's points in an 11-2 run to close the quarter. Former NBA players Sergey Monya and Paul David got into the act for BC Khimki, with 18 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds and 14 points with 4 boards, respectively.

Other big days from NBA talents -- future and former -- came from Sharrod Ford (16 points, 9 boards for Brose Baskets), Rudy Fernandez (17 points, 3 steals for Real Madrid), Nikola Mirotic (17 points and 3 boards for Real Madrid; rights held by Bulls), Erazem Lorbek (14 points, 4 boards for Barcelona; rights held by Spurs), Carlos Navarro (14 points, 6 assists), Amte Tomic (14 points, 8 boards, 4 assists; rights held by Jazz), Maciej Lampe (21 points, 6 rebounds), Bobby Brown (19 points, 8 assists) and Vassilis Spanoulis (19 points, 4 assists).

The former Laker and Nets point guard has caught fire of late, giving one of the most decorated teams in European basketball an inside track at its first Euroleague quarterfinals in seven years

Five Marches ago, Jordan Farmar -- then a second-year guard for the L.A. Lakers -- found himself three months from his first-ever trip to the NBA Finals. Leaving UCLA after two years and going late in the first round to his hometown Lakers a year prior, Farmar had translated well to the NBA, parlaying a cartoonishly athletic skill-set into a defined role for one of sports' greatest dynasties. And as the Lakers rolled into their first of three NBA Finals, Farmar added 9.1 points (on 46-percent shooting) and nearly three assists in 20 minutes a night.

A whole lot's happened since then.

Five years after that season -- the most productive of Farmar's NBA career -- the two-time NBA champion finds himself in Turkey, playing for Anadolu Efes Istanbul, the most successful team in the history of the Turkish Basketball League. And even abroad, he's no stranger to winning.

Through 11 weeks of Top 16 (second-stage) play in the Euroleague, Farmar's got Efes in position to make a run for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague crown. Standing at 9-2 after a win over Brose Baskets Bamburg on Mar. 14, with three weeks to go in the round, Anadolu Efes sits behind only Real Madrid in Group E and needs just one more win or a Unicaja Malaga loss to qualify for the eight-team quarterfinals. The trip would be Efes' first quarterfinal berth in seven years.

And Farmar -- who played the early part of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season in Israel, came back and averaged 10.4 points in 39 games for the Nets, then signed a multi-year deal in Turkey this year after the Hawks waived him this fall -- is one of the biggest reasons why.

Over Efes' 21 weeks of competition in the Euroleague to date -- divided into a 10-week regular season, which saw them sneak into the Top 16 after going 5-5, and its 11 weeks in the knockout round -- Farmar ranks 12th in the Euroleague in Player Index Rating (15.24), a rough equivalent of the NBA's efficiency metric.

Most recently, his 29-point night against Brose Baskets gave him a rating of 26, which placed him just a notch behind Unicaja forward Luka Zoric, who earned his second bwin MVP award of the year by picking up a 33 PIR with a 21-point, 12-board outing (including two blocks and two steals) against Real Madrid.

And just as Top 16 play tends to bring out the best in Zoric, whose PIR has ballooned from 11.0 during the 10-game regular season to 16.1 during the second phase, so has it for Farmar. After an opening quintet of games that saw him explode into Euroleague play -- including a 25-point, nine-assist, eight-board game against Olympiacos Piraeus in Week 2 (for a 36 PIR) -- he stumbled in the final five games. During that stretch, he scored in double-figures just once and even put up a negative rating in Efes' final two games of the first stage.

But playing alongside fellow former NBA players Semih Erden and Sasha Vujecic, Farmar's taken a bigger role of late, going for 52 points over his last two games after an eight-game run that saw him put up just 12.25 a night (though it did come on 46 percent shooting). Overall, since Top 16 play started, he's hit on 46.4 percent of his shots, including 41.5 percent of his treys. His biggest leap, however, has come in his ability to get to -- and hit from -- the foul line. After taking just 2.1 free throws in the regular season, he's put up 4.5 a game over his past nine games. And he's hit 92.3 percent of them.

With three weeks left before the Top 16 gives way to the quarterfinals, Barcelona remains the only team with a guaranteed playoff berth. But the spots should start filling up fast.
Group E

Panathinaikos Athens defeated Alba Berlin 82 - 58

Leading scorers Panathinaikos Athens: Jonas Maciulis – 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals; Stephane Lasme (former NBA player) – 14 points and 3 rebounds

Leading scorer Alba Berlin: DaShaun Wood – 9 points and 2 rebounds

Box Score

CSKA Moscow defeated Zalgiris Kaunas 70 – 61

Leading scorers CSKA Moscow: Sonny Weems (former NBA player) – 13 points and 2 rebounds; Viktor Khryapa (former NBA player) – 12 points and 8 rebounds

Leading scorer Zalgiris Kaunas: Rimantas Kaukenas – 16 point, 5 rebounds and 5 assists

Box Score

Anadolu Efes Istanbul defeated Brose Baskets 89 – 86

Leading scorer Anadolu Efes Istanbul: Jordan Farmar (former NBA player) – 29 points and 7 rebounds

Leading scorer Brose Baskets: Bostjan Nachbar (former NBA player) – 24 points and 2 rebounds

Box Score

Unicaja Malaga defeated Real Madrid 77 – 74

Leading scorers Unicaja Malaga: Luka Zoric – 21 points and 12 rebounds; Krunoslav Simon – 18 points and 5 rebounds

Leading scorers Real Madrid: Sergio Rodriguez (former NBA player) – 17 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds; Nikola Mirotic (rights held by the Chicago Bulls) – 12 points and 8 rebounds

Box Score

Group F

Caja Laboral Vitoria defeated Fenerbahce Ulker 87 – 67

Leading scorers Caja Laboral Vitoria: Tibor Pleiss – 14 points and 6 rebounds; Maciej Lampe (former NBA player) – 12 points and 4 rebounds; Andres Nocioni (former NBA player) – 12 points and 3 rebounds

Leading scorers Fenerbahce Ulker: Bo McCalebb – 16 points and 3 steals; Romain Sato – 15 points and 3 assists

Box Score

FC Barcelona Regal defeated Besiktas JK 86 – 61

Leading scorer FC Barcelona Regal: Nate Jawai (former NBA player) – 16 points and 9 rebounds

Leading scorer Besiktas JK: Cevher Ozer – 18 points and 6 rebounds

Box Score

Olympiacos Piraeus defeated Montepaschi Siena 68 – 67

Leading scorers Olympiacos Piraeus: Kostas Sloukas – 11 points and 5 rebounds; Kostas Papanikolaou (rights held by the Portland Trail Blazers) – 11 points and 7 rebounds

Leading scorers Montepaschi Siena: Kristjan Kangur – 14 points and 6 rebounds; Matthew Janning – 14 points and 4 rebounds

Box Score

Maccabi Electra defeated BC Khimki MR 80 – 79

Leading scorer Maccabi Electra: Ricky Hickman – 30 points and 2 rebounds

Leading scorers BC Khimki MR: Vitaly Fridzon – 16 points and 2 assists; Paul Davis (former NBA player) – 13 points and 9 rebounds

Box Score

Longtime archrivals Madrid and Barcelona stand atop Euroleague's two divisions after 11 weeks of Top 16 play
Real Madrid 9 2 854 800 54
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 9 2 827 796 31
CSKA Moscow 8 3 875 780 95
Panathinaikos Athens 7 4 782 766 16
Unicaja Malaga 6 5 797 813 -16
Zalgiris Kaunas 4 7 841 811 30
Alba Berlin 1 10 739 854 -115
Brose Baskets Bamberg 0 11 813 908 -95
FC Barcelona Regal 10 1 917 772 145
Montepaschi Siena 7 4 833 832 1
Olympiacos Piraeus 7 4 844 817 27
BC Khimki MR 6 5 882 810 72
Maccabi Electra 6 5 860 813 47
Caja Laboral 6 5 857 816 41
Fenerbahce Ulker 2 9 833 989 -156
Besiktas JK 0 11 683 860 -177