20 September, 2018
01 May, 2019
0 Chris Dowe (IRNZI)
to read

Power Rankings: Dinamo Sassari and Bakken Bears in charge, Ironi Ness Ziona on the rise

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) – Dinamo Sassari and Bakken Bears held their ground in the Power Rankings, but there is a new name in town in the shape of Ironi Ness Ziona, who pushed Avtodor Saratov out of their way to join the FIBA Europe Cup trend-setter club.






  The most consistent team in the FIBA Europe Cup, Steaua Bucuresti have been keeping the bottom spot warm since the first edition of the Power Rankings. Warmth is not much of a concern, when you have Bakken Bears lighting a fire under you with a 35-point margin. The end of the Regular Season can't come soon enough for the Romanians.


Don't look now, but Rilski Sportist put up a good fight in the first three games of the Regular Season. There didn't appear to be much fight left in them for the away game in Italy, with Pallacanestro Varese squashing the Bulgarians 86-59 in a one-sided contest.


It wasn't pretty in Sassari, with the limp Leicester Riders picking up their largest defeat of the Regular Season. The FIBA Europe Cup debutants from Leicester are yet to clear a single hurdle in Group H.


A win against New Heroes Den Bosch could have provided BK JIP Pardubice with a lifeline to the Second Round in Group D, but the Czechs came up short and no longer have a horse in the race. Having allowed over 100 points on average in the first three games, they did much better defensively against the Dutch visitors in a narrow 68-64 defeat.


They tricked us with Kyrylo Fesenko, who warmed up with the team but still couldn't help Dnipro in a do-or-die clash against Lukoil Levski. Only pride is at stake for the Ukrainian side in the remaining Group G games, but they are a prideful bunch so don't expect them to go easy the rest of the way.


The neutral court in Vilnius did not help to neutralize Z Mobile Prishtina, with Cherkaski Mavpy losing to the Kosovar side 92-73 in Lithuania. That's the end of the road (or end of a tree branch, one might say) for our favorite basketball monkeys.


It looks like the injury-struck Istanbul BBSK have given up. They couldn't keep pace with Pinar Karsiyaka, Donar Groningen and Spirou Basket in the Group of Death, losing all four games in Group C and picking up their largest defeat yet against Donar Groningen.


The geological commission of the FIBA Europe Cup declares with high certainty that Falco Vulcano in Szombathely is no longer active following their latest defeat to Szolnoki Olaj. There's no way back for the Gasper Okorn-coached side in Group H after dropping to 1-3; they'll be the only Hungarian side to fall short of the Second Round.


OMG, it's alive! Belfius Mons-Hainaut stayed in the race for the Second Round by defeating Tsmoki-Minsk 86-79 for their first win of the campaign. An uphill struggle awaits them in the remaining fixtures, but they looked down and out a week ago and they don't anymore.


Aris stepped on the same Finnish-made rake twice and got themselves eliminated. Having wasted a 15-point lead against Kataja Basket in Thessaloniki, the Greeks met the same fate on the road in Joensuu to wipe out from the FIBA Europe Cup in quite spectacular fashion.


There was no game-winning shot for Kristopher Richard to take in Wurzburg, with CSM CSU Oradea falling to a 91-82 defeat in Germany and subsequently to a 1-3 mark in Group A. But if there was a 10-point shot in basketball, we're convinced that Richard would've nailed it at the buzzer.



Another squandered opportunity against Alba Fehervar saw FC Porto drop to 1-3 in Group F after wasting a 16-point advantage on the road. Unluckiest team in the competition? Perhaps… But they're still in the race for the Second Round, albeit as huge underdogs against the Italian powerhouse Varese.


First it was Kristopher Richard of CSM CSU Oradea with the dagger, then it was ZZ Leiden's Darius Thompson with the flame-thrower. Sakarya BSB simply cannot get a break in the Regular Season, falling two games behind the Group A leaders s.Oliver Wurzburg and ZZ Leiden in the table and leaving themselves zero margin for error in the remaining fixtures.


The mountain climbers of the Power Ranking from Cyprus, Petrolina AEK moved up a week-best seven spots after creating our favorite alliteration of the season… by beating the unbeaten Balkan BC in Botevgrad, Bulgaria. Just count those B's!


Ever heard of the saying — where there is smoke, there is fire? In FIBA Europe Cup, the alternative variant reads — where there is Tsmoki, there might be fire but no one really knows; indicating the unpredictability of the Belarusian side. It was on display last week, with Tsmoki-Minsk falling to an 86-79 defeat to the previously winless Belfius Mons-Hainaut.


The four-position climb in the Power Rankings by New Heroes Den Bosch is more an indication of other teams screwing things up more than their own success. Squeaking out a 68-64 win over BK JIP Pardubice is not something to brag about, but a win is a win.


After soaring from 21 to 14 to 9 in a matter of weeks, Spirou Basket took a step back (seven steps back, to be precise) in the Power Rankings after picking up a 90-72 defeat to Pinar Karsiyaka, which leaves them in a peculiar situation in Group C.


Z Mobile Prishtina secured tickets to the Second Round with a 92-73 victory over Cherkaski Mavpy, improving to a 3-1 mark in Group E behind a 26-point performance from A.J. Davis, with Dardan Berisha adding 16 points and 7 assists.


The first defeat of the season in the FIBA Europe Cup prompted the Balkan playcaller Nebojsa Vidic to say this in the press conference: "We are too soft — or to be more specific — we played like girls. Probably, I insulted some girls, because they play more tough." On other news, the game provided some evidence why fouling with the score tied isn't necessarily always the best idea.


The Simpson & Mullings Cleaning Service – they will clean up any mess (especially if it's a 15-point first-quarter deficit against Aris Thessaloniki); call 1-800-KATAJA to book now!


Szolnoki Olaj are the Hungarian champions for a reason. Having beaten Falco Vulcano in the domestic Finals last year, they continued their dominance by completing the sweep of the all-Hungarian matchup in Group H of the Regular Season with an 83-66 win in Szombathely.


Darius Thompson and Maurice Watson Jr., aka Batman and Robin, went BA-NA-NAS in the fourth quarter and overtime, as ZZ Leiden registered a 99-97 win over Sakarya BSB in unquestionably the most entertaining ball game of the early FIBA Europe Cup season. If you haven't seen it yet, watch the end of the game here. Fans in Leiden are lucky to be able to witness this type of basketball first-hand.


A wide margin of defeat against Ironi Ness Ziona did not do Avtodor Saratov any favors, but the Russian side are still very much in control of their destiny in Group D. They followed up their FIBA Europe Cup defeat with a 99-95 loss to Tsmoki-Minsk in the VTB League, resulting in a seven-position drop in the Power Rankings.


Most teams in the FIBA Europe Cup would have beaten that short-handed squad fielded by Istanbul BBSK, but how many of them would have beaten the Turkish club by 38 points like Donar Groningen did?


Another close victory in Alba Fehervar's bank account, as they beat FC Porto 72-70 to become the first team to qualify for the Second Round. Are you surprised? Well, you shouldn't be – the Peter Lorant-led crew are automatic in the clutch.  


Beware, you're entering the calm before the storm range in the Power Rankings, with the trio of teams ranked 5-7 staying idle this week. All three of the teams, including the seventh-ranked s.Oliver Wurzburg who topped CSM CSU Oradea 91-82 in Group A, have shown potential to make that extra jump, but the teams ranked  higher than them are yet to make any critical slip-ups.


Things are pretty tense in the tightly-contested Group C, but Pinar Karsiyaka are in the best position to advance to the Second Round after beating Spirou Basket for the second time in the Regular Season. Things are trending in the positive direction for the Turkish side, who defeated EuroLeague side Darussafaka 100-84 in the Turkish Basketball Super League over the weekend.


After three not-so-convincing performances, Pallacanestro Varese showed they can beat teams by a gazillion points as well. The 86-59 win over Rilski Sportist was their most convincing performance yet and a nice bounce-back after that curious defeat to Alba Fehervar a week ago.


It's their time to shine. Three wins on the trot and snatching the tie-breaker against Avtodor after losing the first game by double figures has Ironi Ness Ziona turning heads in the FIBA Europe Cup. Possessing both quality and roster depth, the Nadav Zilberstein-coached competition newcomers have inserted themselves into the business end of the conversation.


After beating all three of their Group G opponents in Sofia, Lukoil Levski began their road tour with an 88-72 win over Dnipro to book a ticket to the Second Round with a couple of games left. Their victory lap is set to continue in Finland and Greece. If past experience is anything to go by, we have just unleashed the Power Ranking jinx on Levski's winning streak with bold statements like that.


Once the Regular Season concludes, we're sending an official inquiry to the NBA to consider Bakken Bears as an expansion franchise. They pummeled Steaua Bucuresti 98-63 to stay undefeated in Group E, making it painstakingly obvious that there's no match for the Danish title-holders in there. But it's alright – the Second Round and more difficult challenges are just around the corner.


The Sardinian reign in the Power Rankings continued with an impressive 95-60 victory over the visiting Leicester Riders, with Achille Pollonara making a serious case to be crowned the ruler of the second-largest island in the Mediterranean with an entertaining 22-point, 12-rebound and 5-assist showing in just 23 minutes of playing time. Having already qualified for the Second Round, they are absolutely entitled to a small celebration dance, Sardinian style. Thinking about it, they should totally do THIS as their sort of Haka before games.

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and are in no way a true, accurate ranking system. All comments are purely those of the author.