Tip off (EL 5g.): Every game counts

2014-11-12T21:25:12+00:00 2015-05-23T16:13:37+00:00.

Aris Barkas

12/Nov/14 21:25

Eurohoops.net

After the first month of action the teams know each other and now for most of them the time for missteps has passed. The first round of regular season ends and every result will be crucial for the final standings

By Nikos Varlas/ varlas@eurohoops.net

The first round of Euroleague’s regular season ends this week and with a simple look to the schedule, the bottom line is simple. There’s no game which is indifferent at this point. For the second week in a row we have six couples that are meeting for the first time, but this is just a foot note in what expected to be a thrilling two days show with 7 games on Thursday and 5 on Friday.

Eurohoops game of the week: Unicaja Malaga – Maccabi Tel Aviv

The impressive until now Unicaja (3-1) hosts defending champions Maccabi Tel Aviv (2-2) which has a tone of issues. After three straight defeats, losing Pnini for the season and among thoughts about personnel changes, the champions have to react.

For the hosts the big problem is the possible absence of injured Granger, but they seem to be the favorites, because of the home factor and also their recent performances. However Maccabi is an icon for European basketball, has the identity of a survivor and can react against adversity. The winner of the game will be the favorite for the second place of the final standings behing CSKA Moscow.

Honorable mention: Anadolu EfesReal Madrid

For the 7th season in a row the two opponents meet each other with the Spaniards having won the 11 games out of the last 12! Efes (3-1) is coming from a defeat in TBL and against Real (4-0) has the chance to cover the lost ground from the home defeat by Zalgiris. Duda’s unit so far performs great in defense, but has a clear issue in offensive production.

Efes‘ target is clear. A physical game, control of the tempo and good rebounding which can help contain the talent of Real. Still without injured Krstic, it’s a question if the hosts can defend in the paint against the loaded front line of Real, having only Lasme and Milko Bjelica at five.

No Pops and Mirza: OlympiacosGalatasaray

Unbeaten Olympiacos (4-0) without Printezis and Lojeski has to hosts Galatsaray (2-2) which is also missing Pocius. Still the names of missing players which are expected to be mentioned more than once are those of Pops Mensah Bonsu and Mirza Begic. Their last season brawl is still remembered and we expect one more really physical game. Coach Ataman loves this style of playing and the Greeks have shown in Belgrade last week that without two of their three top scorers, defense is their cornerstone. Control of the paint and shooting efficiency will be the keys.

Under the microscope: Bayern Munich – Fenerbahce/ Ulker

Bayern (1-3) couldn’t have a much worst start. After losing to Turow on the road and to EA7 Milano at home, the German champions just can’t afford one more defeat in Munich. Gavel is injured and Fenerbahce/ Ulker (2-2) needs a road win in order to solidify its status in the “group of death” after two straight defeats.

This can be a landmark game for both teams. Fenerbahce is the favorite, if you compare on paper quality and depth of roster, and can make one more step towards improvement and stability. For the hosts, this is almost a “final” and a defeat can be their Euroleague doom.

Istant remake! Unics Kazan – Nizhny Novgorod

They never met before in Euroleague, but the two Russian teams play on the same court just days after their Monday duel for VTB, a game that the guests won. Unics (1-3) has to take revenge for more than one reasons, or else they will have to fight until the end for a Top16 spot. Nizhny (1-3) wants a repeat of Monday’s triumph and if they get the win, they get also the advantage for a Top16 place. It remains to be seen if the defensive effort of Unics, which was their main issue on Monday, will be better this time.

European “El Clasico”: Barcelona – Panathinaikos

Unbeaten – as usual in regular season – Barcelona (4-0) hosts Panathinaikos (3-1). The Greeks under former Barca coach Dusko Ivanovic are coming from two impressive wins against Fenerbahce/ Ulker and EA7 Milano. It will be the 31st game between the two teams (18-12 edge for Barcelona so far) and it will be a more than interesting game, specially for the Greens. Despite being on paper one of the weakest recent version, this season’s Panathinaikos has been overachieving so far and Barcelona will be a great test on the road.

Key battles

It’s make it or break it time for many teams and that includes the match ups of Laboral Kutxa (2-2) vs Red Star (2-2), Cedevita (1-3) vs Alba (1-3) and Neptunas (1-3) vs Valencia (1-3). In the game of Vitoria it will be decided who will get the advantage towards Top16 qualification and in the other two games who will make an important step towards the second phase and who will lose more valuable ground.

Euroleague 2014-2015 – 5th Day

Neptunas

Valencia

Anadolu Efes

Real Madrid

F.C. Barcelona

Panathinaikos

Cedevita Zagreb

Alba Berlin

FC Bayern

Fenerbahce

Olympiacos

Galatasaray MP

Laboral Kutxa

Crvena Zvezda T.

Limoges

CSKA Moscow

Unicaja Malaga

Maccabi Tel Aviv

Dinamo Sassari

Zalgiris

EA7 Milano

PGE Turow

UNICS Kazan

Nizhny Novgorod