By Nikos Varlas/ email@example.com
Τhree gamedays are left until the end of the regular season, five teams have already gained their ticket to Top16, many more will do the same this week, but there are still some others which will have to fight until the last moment in order to avoid a premature finish of their Euroleague season. The most competitive and unpredictable league of the last years is in full swing!
Eurohoops game of the week: Zalgiris Kaunas vs Olimpiacos
If something have change in comparison with the big win of Zalgiris at Pireaus (61-79) is the outlook of the defending Euroleague champion on the court. The Reds have three wins in a row with a large point margin in their favor, they are playing good basketball and they travel to Kaunas in order to be tested against probably the most consistent team of the league.
The players of coach Joan Plaza are coming from the win against domestic arc-rival Lietuvos Rytas and want to seal with a win the top spot on group C, two weeks before the end of regular season. Olympiacos after the impressive showing against Anadolu Efes wants to continue its hot streak in Lithuania. With a win in Kaunas the Reds will qualify to the Top16 and they will have the chance to finish first on their group standings. It’s a big time game that no one wants to miss.
HONORABLE MENTION: Real Madrid proved against Khimki that it doesn’t like to leave any loose ends concerning the top spot of group A and that’s why wants one more big home win, this time against ambitious Fenerbahce/ Ulker. Real is the favorite in a game that’s expected to be a high scoring affair. Fenerbahce still is on Top16 course, but hasn’t yet met the high expectation that come with its roster. The Turkish team needs to prove that it can be part of the elite, after Madrid, it has to travel in Athens in order to face Panathinaikos and just being qualified in the Top16 in the fourth spot of the group standings is not exactly a roaring success.
Do or die: Caja Laboral vs Milano
This category was added last week in our preview and it will be used many times until the end of Top16. At Vitoria Caja Laboral (1-6) has its back against the wall as it hosts EA7 Armani Milano (3-4) after its domestic win for Liga Endesa against Unicaja Malaga. One more defeat for the Basques will mean the end of their Top16 dreams. Coach Zan Tabak searches for his first career Euroleague win, while Sergio Scariolo will have the luxury after a positive result to relax and search without any pressure for a possible addition in the back court of his team.
Also, at Belgrady Partizan hosts Lietuvos Rytas and the situation is really simple. The winner will have the chance to stay on the hunt of Brose Baskets and the loser will say goodbye to Top16. Is it time for a last stand in Hala Pionir?
Under the microscope: Anadolu Efes
After a really impressive October and the sparkles on the court, Efes seems to be missing something (as Vujacic said sometimes they just don’t play basketball) and will be tested in Zagreb against Cedevita and its new coach Aco Petrovic. The question is if Efes is hitting a slump, or if last week’s game against Olympiacos was just one of those bad nights. The answer will be evident on the court and that also applies to Cedevita which still has a mathematical chance to stay in the Top16 race of group C.
The question: Siena vs Unicaja
After its bad 0-3 start (which proved to be a bit coincidental) Siena found its leader in Bobby Brown and by producing much better basketball has won four consecutive Euroleague games. Will its hot streak continue? On the other side Unicaja Malaga will have to drop a road game for the first time this season, in order for this to happen. How times have changed!
Numbers that count!
- Aco Petrovic returns to Cedevita’s bench and will make his debut in the game against Anadolu Efes.
- Panathinaikos‘ Kostas Tsartsaris will reach in the game against Union Olimpija the milestone of 218 Euroleague games and will share at least for a week the 3rd place in the all time list with his former teammate Jaka Lakovic.
- Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Chalon having a 13 wins streak against French teams.
- Caja Laboral last week registered the worst offensive performance in Euroleague’s history. Just 45 points…
- He is sizzling hot on the court! Bobby Brown is the top Euroleague scorer, has the best index rating, the most made free throws (38) and the most made three pointers (21)!