Tip off (Top16 11g.) – Fight for the standings

2015-03-18T21:25:52+00:00 2015-05-23T16:13:26+00:00.

Aris Barkas

18/Mar/15 21:25


Top16 is getting near its end and now is the time to fight not only for the qualification, but also for the best spots in the final standings. Expect big games in Athens, Vitoria, Istanbul and Unicaja

By Nikos Varlas/ varlas@eurohoops.net

Top16 is getting near its end and now is the time to fight not only for the qualification, but also for the best spots in the final standings. Expect big games in Athens, Vitoria, Istanbul and Unicaja.

Eurohoops Game of the week: PanathinaikosReal Madrid (20/3 19:00 CET)

Two teams, 14 Euroleague teams combined and a game of big importance. Panathinaikos has to win in order to seal the qualification to the play offs, while Real Madrid (9-1) needs the win in order to secure the top spot of the standings. Every game between those two opponents in Athens was decided in details and that may turn out to be true again, even if Real Madrid has shown a big improvement during last weeks.

So far in the season, Panathinaikos has lost at OAKA only to Barcelona (twice) and it’s a much more solid team when playing at home. The difference for the Greens in Athens is made by defense and outside shooting efficiency. That’s why we expect a big game with obvious quality gap in favor of Real being counterbalanced by the home gym of the Greens.

Honorable mention: Laboral Kutxa – Olympiacos (20/3 21:00 CET)

The hosts need a home win (4-6) in order to stay alive at the qualification race against Anadolu Efes and Olympiacos (8-2) has to react after losing to Fenerbahce/ Ulker in order to stay on the two top spots of the group standings. Despite their three previous contests this season – 2-1 for Olympiacos so far – this game will be totally different. The Reds will be missing Vasilis Spanoulis and the Basques will have a big opportunity for the win. It will be a game of tempo and will be probably decided on the defensive performance of Olympiacos in the back court.

The question mark: Anadolu Efes – Nizhny Novgorod (19/3 19:00 CET)

Efes is not performing well during the last few weeks, has a 4-6 record and it’s coming from a bad home defeat in TBL. The hosts will try to rebound against Nizhny (3-7), a team which had destroyed them in the first round. So the first question is if Duda’s team will get its revenge and also how much gas is left in the tank of Nizhny, the Cinderella of this season’s Euroleague.

The fact that Efes is coming from a domestic league defeat and also that they have let 109 in the first game against Nizhny, can be a motive for Ivkovic to push his players. The question is if Nizhny Novgorod will be once again out-maned but ready for the challenge.

Under the microscope: Unicaga Malaga – CSKA (19/3 21:15 CET)

The hosts (2-8) will play for their fans and their pride against CSKA (8-2) which simply can’t afford to lose a game at this point, being third in the tie with Fenerbahce/ Ulker and Olympiacos. Still the fact that there will be no pressure for Malaga, despite its injury woes, could make things interesting.

Duel of the Giants: Crvena Zvezda – Barcelona (19/3 19:15 CET)

Zvezda (3-7) at Belgrady has the obligation to fight, specially with a small chance of qualifying still in existence. Barcelona (7-3) is on the way to the home court advantage, but also needs this win. Despite the guests’ quality, the energy of the crowd can help the hosts and give us a close game. In any case the duel of the centers, Marjanovic vs Tomic, will be more than interesting to watch.

The rest of the games

Fenerbahce/ Ulker – EA7 Milano (20/3 19:00 CET)

One year ago, in a similar game, the Italians (3-7) had beaten Fenerbahce (8-2) in Istanbul. Now, things are different. Coach Obradovic and his players have 7 wins in a row, they have the upper hand in the home court advantage race, they have improved their weaknesses and now they just need to be steady at home. They are the favorites.

Μaccabi T.A. – Ζalgiris Kaunas (19/3 20:05 CET)

Maccabi (6-4) is the favorite against a respectable opponent like Zalgiris (4-6), but the Lithuanians on the road are not a big threat. However, Maccabi has its share of issues lately and if the Israelis let Zalgiris into the game, then anything can happen.

Alba Berlin – Galatasaray (19/3 22:00 CET)

Alba (4-6) weathered the storm of a tough schedule and will try to get a miracle qualification in the last four games. The game against crippled Galatasaray (2-8) is expected to be a positive step on that direction.