Mustafa Fal achieved a monstrous triple-double figure in Pylaia and Vassilis Skoundis puts him in front of the mirror of Nikola Jokic and Nikola Vujicic…
The day before yesterday (Saturday), in the wake and in the… aftershocks of Olympiakos’ defeat by Fenerbahce, “Fos ton Spor” ran on its cover with the catchy title “Something is missing…”
The front page was illustrated by a photograph of Fal with his back turned…
If it is safe and well, it had to be revealed in a short time what was missing, then maybe the answer was given yesterday afternoon in Pylaia…
What was missing was the so-called triple-double!
Did I write triple-double?
A monstrosity triple-double figure
I am wrong and hasten to correct: as the Americans also say in such cases, this was indeed a monstrous triple-double figure.
It goes to say monstrous!
Indeed it was, because, heck, a classic center with a 2m.18 boy with (points, rebounds and) assists is not the most common thing in the world and anyway it is happening for the first time in Greece.
I mean, it’s the first time a center has done it, but—to be fair—three other players who’ve been do-or-die in the racket have done it before: less all-around Fanis Christodoulou and more power forward Sasha Volkov in Olympiacos-Ampelokipoi match in 1994 and Tory Braggs in the Aris-Marousi match, which was decided in overtime.
As you know, I’m a big secret about this case and if sports reporting were a university course I would have gotten a master’s and a doctorate in no time!
Fridriksson and… Jokic
On the 19th of last month I wrote (or to be precise I rewrote) such a topic here on the occasion of the triple-double achieved by Elvar Fridriksson in the Galatasaray-PAOK match.
I noted then that Fridriksson became… Westbrook and today I emphasize it even further.
Fal who became Jokic!!!
Yes, obviously this is where the journalistic exaggeration works that can even reach the limits of sacrilege, but in any case the “Crocodile” of Olympiakos followed in the footsteps of his Serbian counterpart, who also happens to have triple-double figures for breakfast.
He probably has them for hay for the horses he breeds in his stable in Sobor!!!
Perfect 10 and with a ton!
Yesterday, therefore, in Pylaia, in the absence of Nikola Milutinov, “Moose” shook the bank in the air, achieved a triple performance after four and a half years and entered his own glory and honor in this… Pantheon!
Fall, who stayed on the floor for 35 minutes and 33 seconds, scored 10 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out 11 assists.
He’s already wearing the No.10 shirt, so his performance was a perfect 10 and a ton anyway!
Um the other one? While his last name (Fall) in English means “fall” and “fall”yesterday the French center changed his meaning…
“Fall” means “go up” and “anode”even if – to invoke a trial betting term, most Olympiacos matches this season are offered for betting on the under!
Four assists in three matches
Until the start of the match with PAOK, Fal had handed out a total of four assists: none with AEK, three with Kolossos and one with Panathinaikos, but yesterday he lost his temper, with all that implies.
He’s considered a good passer for the position, his block and size, and he’s proven he can break the ball against traps and under pressure, but yesterday’s feat falls into the moon phase.
During his third season in Greece, Fal had as an individual record in assists the six he distributed against Peristeri on January 23, 2023, followed by the four with Aris (April 20, 2023), with Panathinaikos (June 4, 2023, first final ) and with Apollo of Patras (May 11, 2022).
The record with seven in Kaunas
In the five matches in which he has played in this year’s EuroLeague, he has averaged 2.2 assists with a career-high seven out of 16 last year in Kaunas (Zalgiris-Olympiakos (72-74), where Piraeus escaped with Sasha Vezenkov’s basket at six seconds .
Behind the seven final passes, his next best performance is the five he provided in the 2021-22 season with Maccabi, and last year (2022-23) with Panathinaikos.
I mentioned Jokic before, and in order not to leave any gaps in the narrative, I point out that the Serbian center now has 123 triple-double figures to his credit, which he has achieved in eight of his nine seasons in the NBA.
Jokic’s frequent orgies and the sycharikis of Bartzokas
Of these, he distributed the most assists on December 28 in the Nuggets’ game against the Rockets, in which he showed 19-12-18, while two other times, against the Bucks (February 15, 2018) and the Suns (May 5, 2023) “he wrote ” 30-15-17 and 30-17-17 respectively.
He’s cool, isn’t he?
Amidst his rush after the defeats by Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce and due to injuries, Giorgos Bartzokas did not show much enthusiasm for yesterday’s historic feat…
“I’m really happy for Fal, he’s been forced to play a lot due to the absences of Milutinov and Sikma, so I’ll congratulate him” he said on camera after the match.
He would have given it to him I imagine in the locker room and life goes on…
Fal (didn’t) comment on his monumental performance…
I put the negative particle in parentheses because he had talked abstractly about his ability to distribute the ball and create phases on the 19th of last August, in the midst of France’s preparation for the World Cup, in which he failed miserably…
Gober, Milutinov and the twin towers
By the way, Fal is getting used to environments with twin towers: in the French National team with Rudy Gobert, and in Olympiakos with Nikola Milutinov…
Then, in an interview with fellow journalists, he explained what, how and why he does it…
“Teams now make a lot of traps in the lowpost to deal with it pickn‘ roll thereby creating more opportunities for regional players. If they put in the shots, then no problem. Here in the National Team, when Nando de Colo and Nikola Batum are not on the pitch, the rest of the players have to become creators. Eli Okobo is a very good scorer and I am called upon to create situations by distributing the ball properly”.
“Am I explaining it well?” as the forgiven Nikos Alefantos wondered in a smug tone!
The Olympiacos plan and his playing eye!
In general, Fal has it right: he has it, he likes this creative process and yesterday he took the opportunity to indulge in a crescendo, following exactly the instructions of Barzokas…
The creation recital was a result of the orders of the coach of Olympiakos who had asked him to take the ball in the post and after the screen to mark the cuts of his teammates and especially of Kostas Papanikolaou inside the racket.
11 assists is a very impressive number, however, as someone told me, “there are games where he’s given three or four assists and left us speechless with his invention”.
Fal, as strange as it may seem for a center, is a pass-first center and his eye is constantly playing to find a teammate and feed him…
After all, this is one of the differences between him and Milutinov: he usually looks for the pass first, while his Serbian teammate, upon receiving the ball, makes a couple of dribbles to check the opposing defense and then decides what and how to do it , with first priority to move towards the basket.
“I prefer to pass, rather than nailing”
Two years ago, in an interview with NOVA, on the occasion of the five assists in the match against Maccabi, the French center had said “I’d rather pass than nail” and then here Yannis Fileris compared him, with a dose of sacrilege, as he pointed out, to Nikola Vuitsic!
By the way and to… mitigate the sacrilege, the Croatian center who in his youth was considered “the next Kukoc” (!) and wore the jersey of Olympiakos for two seasons (2008-2010) Vučić has achieved two of the rare triple-double figures in the EuroLeague…
He first did it on November 3, 2005, in Maccabi’s game against Polish Gdynia with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists and repeated it on November 30, 2006 against Olympia Ljubljana with 27-10-10.
Well, yesterday Fahl also spoke of a draft alloy of Jokic and Vujicic!