Only two teams remain undefeated five games into the Top 16, and it's safe to say that no one would have predicted one of them before the season started. But if Montepaschi Siena is currently a leading playoff contender, one major reason is Euroleague Basketball's choice as bwin MVP for January, point guard Bobby Brown. You could not imagine a much better start to 2013 than Brown and Siena have enjoyed together in January.
To begin the month, Brown set an ultra-ambitious pace by breaking the Top 16 single-game scoring record with 41 points in a comeback road win over Fenerbahce Ulker. In each of the next two games, he was also the top scorer, as Siena handed Khimki Moscow Region its first Top 16 loss, then went back on the road to beat defending champion Olympiacos Piraeus on Brown's game-winning fastbreak layup. Brown was merely mortal in last week's victory against Besiktas Istanbul, but Siena nonetheless ended a perfect 4-0 month alone atop Group F in the Top 16. Considering how he started the month and how that momentum took Siena to four wins in a row, there was left little room for doubt or deliberation in naming the bwin January MVP: it had to be Bobby Brown of Montepaschi Siena!
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its ninth season. Although statistics and performance index ratings 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 January was decided based on the four Top 16 games that all teams played between January 3 and 25. 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.
In January's first game, Brown rang in the new year with one of the greatest Euroleague performances this century, leading Siena to a 92-98 road win at Fenerbahce Ulker. His 41 points not only shattered the Top 16 record, but tied with three more players the Euroleague's overall scoring mark in a single game. His performance index rating, 50, was the second-highest in Top 16 history and sixth-best all-time. And his 13-for-13 free throws were the second-most without a miss this late in any Euroleague season this century. Somehow, Brown found the time to dish 7 assists, too. At home a week later, Brown scored 20 points as Siena came back to give Khimki its first Top 16 defeat. Back on the road against defending champion Olympiacos Piraeus the next week, Brown preserved Siena’s perfect record by racing the length of the court for a game-winning layup to beat the buzzer. On that court full of stars, Brown’s 22 points were nine more than anyone else, while he also was the top player on the floor in assists (6) and steals (3). In January's fourth game, Brown scored 7 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter of Siena's difficult 63-57 home win over Besiktas JK Istanbul. Brown finished January having averaged 24 points per game while shooting 51.5% on two-pointers (17 for 33), 44% on three-pointers (12 for 27) and 96.3% on free throws (26 of 27). He also had 4.75 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal per game for a performance index rating average of 25.5.
If he started January by joining the greatest single-game scorers of the century, Brown ended it catching other big names like the late, great Alphonso Ford, Marcus Brown and Arvydas Macijauskas among the very few players have scored 96 points in one month. He is also just the second player in the last decade to average more than 22 points after five Top 16 games. Most importantly, however, Brown has led Montepaschi Siena to a perfect month that has put it alone atop Group F of the Top 16 with a 5-0 record. Siena fans will get to celebrate the team's great start in the Top 16 when Bobby Brown receives his bwin MVP of the Month award at an upcoming home game.