By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s the last game day for the first Top16 round. Istanbul ‘s battle magnetizes everyone, still several more interesting games are going to be held and there are many clear favorites in this 7th week of action.
The battle of best men, the first battle of the TBL, a battle of two teams with the same record (4-2)! What’s better than that? Duda ‘ s team clearly playing better defense, on the other hand Zoc’ players score eight more points than Efes! These kind of contests are judged by defense and toughness. Whoever wins will be closer to the top two at the end of the first round, especially if Olympiacos loses at Novgorod. Efes was the big winner against Fenerbahce in their championship game.
Honorable Mention: Nizhny – Olympiacos
The first match in their history. The numbers of two gladiators in the Top16 are remarkably similar in all categories. But the hosts are at 2-4 and Olympiacos at 5-1. Nizhny has a 4-0 record against Greek teams, but the match against the Reds is a different story. Nobody passed with ease from Novgorod and Bagkatskis’ team needs desperately the win at all costs in order to keep qualifying hopes alive.
So far, Olympiacos has the best defense in the second phase and wants to keep Rochestie out from Nizhny’s game. Furthermore, the Greek team will try to limit Kinsey, Thompson and Parakhouski with the goal to reach a 6-1 record and stay on top with CSKA.
The question mark: Laboral – Malaga
Spanish duels in Euroleague are quirky and unpredictable. Laboral (2-4) has no other choice, if it wants to stay close to qualifying positions. On the other hand Unicaja is searching for its second win in a row, because it doesn’t want to be limited to a sidekick role then.
The Basques score more, Malaga specializes in offensive rebounds, but hasn’t good shooting rates so far. The match will be judged on who has more possessions and best efficiency on three points shots.
Under the microscope: Maccabi – Alba Berlin
Here we focus on winning streaks. Maccabi (5-1) has prevailed nine consecutive times over Alba (2-4) and it is the favorite to get another win (10th), getting the sixth successive win in the group. Maccabi is the clear favorite, and Alba is very weak when playing away of Berlin.
Panathinaikos (4-2) hosts Red Star (1-5), which isn’t in its best shape. An other problem for the Serbs is that have already lose three home games. Panathinaikos is the big favorite of this match, in a special game for Nelson, who is gonna face his previous team. It’s the first match in the history of these clubs in Top16.
Barcelona (3-3) hosts Galatasaray (2-4). The Turks have thousands of problems and need the win desperately after its bad start. Those problems and Arroyo’s injury make us believe that Barcelona is closer to home win.
Zalgiris (2-4) is the host, bur Real is the clear favorite. The Spaniards score more than the Lithuanians and recently they have improved enough in its defense.
Finally, in Moscow, CSKA (5-1) hosts Armani Milan (1-5) after a 3 straight losses’ period in Euroleague (Olympiacos) and VTB league (Lokomotiv, Himki). Losses that ended a 30 games winning streak! This cunjucture and the Italian weakness far from Milan, makes the Russians the absolute favorite of this game.