MADRID (Liga Endesa/Euroleague) - Titles are not won in January, but the evidence provided by Real Madrid so far in Spain and the Euroleague strongly suggests they will be in the reckoning for honors by season's end.
At the half-way point of the Spanish Liga Endesa, a star-packed Madrid side has 16 wins in 17 games while in Europe, Pablo Laso's team is 3-0 heading into a Top 16 clash with Unicaja Malaga.
This is a team that is loaded with players on national teams.
There is Lithuania's Martynas Pocius, Slovenia's Mirza Begic, Brazil's Rafael Hettsheimeir, naturalized Azerbaijan guard Jaycee Carroll and Spain's Rudy Fernandez, Felipe Reyes, Sergio Llull, Nikola Mirotic and Sergio Rodriguez.
The team has excellent guard play and strong rebounding.
Madrid also have players that are closing in on history.
Long-time Spain international Reyes goes into the club's Top 16 game with Unicaja just 33 rebounds away from becoming the fifth player since the competition began to grab 1,000 rebounds.
Begic, a Slovenia center who will be on show this summer at the EuroBasket in his homeland when his national team tries to book a place at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, is one blocked shot away from the top 10 in that statistical department in Euroleague history.
Madrid are playing so well right now that they brushed aside one of the best teams in Spain this season, Herbalife Gran Canaria, 90-54, at the weekend.
One of the best players in Europe, Spain point guard Rodriguez, hit all four of his shots from the arc and scored 20 points.
Rodriguez has been on a roll.
Having forced his way back into the Spain squad last summer when he played extremely well against the United States in the Olympic Final, Rodriguez nailed a go-ahead three-pointer last week with just three seconds to go as Madrid beat Zalgiris Kaunas, 75-74.
Against Herbalife, Madrid played like a runaway train, a side that is going to be extremely difficult to beat.
The club looks so good that it will be favored against Barcelona when they meet in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey next month.
Laso says nothing has been won yet.
“The team has worked well, but we know that there is a long way to go and we do not want to stay too long looking at what we have done well," he said.
"We have to take a step forward in order to improve as a team."
So far, though, there aren’t many teams that have been as good as Real Madrid.