By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Even when some have slim mathematical chances to advance (and here are the qualification scenarios), a total of eight teams are still in the running for those quarterfinal tickets heading into the sixth and last round of the Top 16.
In Group E, Partizan Belgrade clinched first place already, joining Unicaja Malaga of Group H with the only 4-1 records across all groups. Should both teams win this week, cumulative point difference becomes the separator between them for the right to home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Partizan comes into Round 6 having won its Group E games by a total of 55 points. Unicaja has won its Group H games by +25. The Spaniards, then, would have to win this week by 31 more points than Partizan does to deny the Serbian powerhouse the home-court advantage in any potential semifinal or final series.
Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul and Segafredo Virtus Bologna will challenge head-to-head for second place in Group E. Both have 3-2 records, so only the winner of their – suspended at the moment – showdown will survive. Rebounding could spell the difference: Virtus ranks second in defensive rebounds (27.5 drpg.) and Darussafaka second in offensive boards (12.6 orpg.). Darusaafaka is first in total rebounds (38.9 rpg.), with Virtus right behind (38.7). When they met in Round 2 in Bologna, Virtus defeated Darussafaka 83-72 while winning the battle on the boards 47-42.
Anything can happen in this group, even a four-way tie. If EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Germani Brescia Leonessa both win, all four teams will have 3-3 records. Again, the higher cumulative score difference between them will decide the final standings.
Oldenburg (2-3) vs. Promitheas Patras (3-2) on Tuesday will feature two of the EuroCup’s best centers, Rasid Mahalbasic for the hosts and Loukas Mavrokefalidis for the visitors. Promitheas has the EuroCup’s best defense, allowing just 70.8 points per game. Oldenburg is ranked fifth in scoring at 82.5 points per game. In Round 2 in Patras, Promitheas topped Oldenburg 81-70, outrebounding its opponent by 39-26.
In this group’s other game, Brescia (2-3) vs. Umana Reyer Venice (3-2), both teams largely in do-or-die situations, because a four-way tie would eliminate the visitors Reyer regardless of the score. Brescia ranks last in the group in both three-point (30.2%) and two-point (46.3%) accuracy. Reyer will look to turn those misses into easy transition points. Defense is Brescia’s main weapon; expect the hosts to collapse the paint to prevent Mitchell Watt from dominating for Reyer. In Round 2, Reyer beat Brescia 68-60 with 19 points from Jeremy Chappell. In the Italian League, however, Brescia won 70-64 with 22 points from Awudu Abass.
As for Group G, UNICS Kazan (3-2) has already qualified for the next round due to its tie-break advantage over Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul (2-3) and Rytas Vilnius (2-3). UNICS visits AS Monaco (3-2) in the critical game in this group in Round 6. If Monaco wins, it will be first and UNICS second, regardless of the result. In order to do so, Monaco must rely on its strong defense at home. Monaco allows 77.9 points on the road but just 70.3 at home, forcing opponents into 17.6 turnovers on average. That kind of aggressiveness will be needed against UNICS, a team of deadly shooters led by Errick McCollum and Jamar Smith. In Round 2, Monaco upset UNICS in Kazan, 78-84, dishing 18 assists and picking up just 8 turnovers.
Even if Monaco loses, it has good chances to finish second due to its tie-break advantage against Rytas. Monaco also exchanged 12-point wins with Galatasaray but has a much better cumulative points difference (Monaco +26, Galatasaray -27). If those two teams end up tied, Galatasaray would need to win and Monaco to lose by a combined margin of at least 54 points in order for the Turks to advance.
This is the only Top 16 group that is decided, with Unicaja having secured first place and Tofas Bursa second. However, expect both teams to continue fighting in Round 6, because their final Top 16 records will help determine home-court advantage in the semifinals and finals, should they advance further.