Βy Nikos Varlas/ email@example.com
After the first three weeks of the season, nothing is decided, but many things are more than evident. Zalgiris Kaunas should be considered the dark horse of the competition, Real Madrid is on the verge of greatness, champion Olympiacos needs a new center and CSKA Moscow hasn’t yet produce basketball according to its potential. So here’s what you should know about the 4th gameday.
Eurohoops game of the week: Caja Laboral – Anadolu Efes
It’s the biggest game of the week for many reasons. The team of coach Ivanovic has a 1-2 record, but seems to be finding its chemistry. After the Euroleague win at Milan, Caja lost in Liga Endesa the game at Madrid against Real just by two points in overtime, playing without Andres Nocioni! Tibor Pleiss returned to action, Nemanja Bjelica rised to the occasion and now they have to face Jordan Farmar and his teammates. Efes has a better record (2-1), but Stanko Barac is injured and the team lost its first important game for its domestic league to Galatasaray. At Vitoria, Efes will have to prove that it can be effective on the road.
The hosts still have injury woes in the case of Nocioni and point guard Taylor Rochestie, although they have proved the past ten days that they thrive under adversity. What will be the key for the win? Efes’ three point shooting percentage. So far coach Mahmuti’s teams has a impressive 52,5% shooting percentage.
HONORABLE MENTION: That’s not the only important game and the best of the rest are the meetings between Fenerbahce – Panathinaikos and Zalgiris Kaunas – EA7 Armani Milano. At Istanbul the two opponents have the same record (2-1) and one common characteristic. They are both completely new teams that were build almost from scratch last summer. After dropping the game against Madrid, coach Simone Pianigiani doesn’t want to lose more ground, while Panathinaikos after an impressive win at Ljubljana wishes to keep riding the wave. Bo McCalebb and Romain Sato are coming from minor injuries, but they are expected to play for Fener.
At Kaunas, Zalgiris is the favorite against EA7 Milano, having been undefeated so far not only in Euroleague, but also in VTB league after facing CSKA Moscow! It will be a big test for Milan which was beaten at home by Caja Laboral for Euroleague and by Reggio Emilia for Legabasket.
Under the microscope: CSKA Moscow
CSKA will face on the road Besiktas having a 3-0 record, but this is something that have to do more with Euroleague October MVP Sonny Weems and less with the subpar performance of the team and its other starts. Weems saved CSKA Moscow twice in the Euroleague season so far and it will be interesting to see if anyone of his teammates will react and follow its lead against the Turks.
The unknown war: Mike Batiste vs Panathinaikos
Mike Batiste loves Panathinaikos, played nine seasons for the team and has many Greek league records under his belt, but last summer he decided to chose Fenerbahce/ Ulker. This is something that owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos didn’t left without a comment in a recent radio interview. According to Giannakopoulos, Batiste’s decision was part of an alleged plan aiming to disassemble the team, orchestrated by “people close to Obradovic”.
The question: Will there be a team with 0-4 record?
Three teams are left without a win in Euroleague and one of them is the Italian champions! So will they finally bounce back? In the case of Siena, after losing two games in overtime at Tel Aviv against Maccabi and at Malaga against Unicaja, it will be only natural to prevail over Elan Chalon at Tuscany. Brose Baskets and Partizan at group D are in a more difficult situation. The Germans have to beat at home Lietuvos Rytas and if they do, they will climb to the 4th place of the standings. On the contrary Partizan has to face Barcelona in Spain.
Numbers that count!