This Week’s Games: Midway point brings legendary derby – News

The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season reaches its midway point with Round 17, taking place a day earlier than usual – on Wednesday and Thursday – due to end-of-year holidays in several corners of Europe. Check out all the upcoming action here, including one of the must-watch occasions of European basketball.

Get ready for the Greek derby

One of the most passionately followed sporting events in the world will offer its latest edition on Thursday evening when Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (4-12) welcomes local rivals Olympiacos Piraeus (11-5) for the Greek derby.

Panathinaikos, next-to-last in the standings, can certainly feel it is a better team than the win-loss column suggests. The Greens pushed leaders FC Barcelona very hard last week, previous two home games, and came out on top in a domestic league meeting with Olympiacos just a few weeks ago.

Olympiacos, meanwhile, has based its climb to third place on an outstanding defense that has allowed just 72.6 points per game, fourth-best in the competition. In that context, a key player will be Panathinaikos’s top scorer, Daryl Macon, who will head into his first EuroLeague Greek derby aiming to show he can lead his team to victory on the biggest of occasions. Olympiacos has the competition’s best two-point shooting conversion rate (57.9%), so feeding the ball inside to the likes of Sasha Vezenkov and Moustapha Fall will be a priority for the Reds.

Streaking UNICS seek upset in Barcelona

UNICS Kazan (10-6) has established a position in the top half of the standings and a growing reputation as a giant killer by already overcoming Real Madrid, AX Armani Exchange Milan and CSKA Moscow this season. And on Wednesday Velimir Perasovic’s team – which has won seven of its last eight games to rise to fourth place – will face its biggest test yet. UNICS visits league-leading FC Barcelona (14-2), which heads into the game at Palau Blaugrana with confidence sky-high after a run of eight consecutive victories and boasting a perfect 7-0 record at home.

A key to the game will be whether UNICS has the ability to slow down Barca’s league-best offense, which has averaged 83.6 points per game. the Russian team has certainly shown that ability in its most recent wins, holding CSKA and Zalgiris Kaunas to just 67 and 53 points, respectively, in last week’s double-round action. Barca’s injury-hit roster is being stretched to the maximum and it will be far from easy to overcome red-hot UNICS, for whom former Barca star Mario Hezonja will be particularly keen to deliver a big performance.

Champs face test from in-form Zvezda

After a brief blip, the double-round week saw reigning champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul (8-8) return to form with consecutive victories over Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv as backcourt stars Vasilije Micic and Shane Larkin took turns earning respective MVP of the Round awards. Efes’s climb up the standings will be tested in Wednesday’s early tip-off by dangerous Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (7-9), which has won three of its last four games and put up a strong fight against Barcelona in the only defeat during that run.

Zvezda will be battling against history because it has never won at Efes and has lost five straight against the Turkish team in all venues. Zvezda will probably look to run its offense through the inside presence of Nikola Kalinic and Luka Mitrovic, who have provided the heartbeat of the team during its recent run. Zvezda fans are particularly delighted by the excellent form of Mitrovic in his second spell for the club. After setting a career high with 8 assists in last week’s win over FC Bayern Munich, his all-around game will be needed in Istanbul.

Titans go head-to-head in Madrid

A pre-Christmas cracker will be held at the WiZink Center in the Spanish capital on Thursday night, as second-placed Real Madrid (13-3) takes on CSKA Moscow (10-6) in a meeting between the two most successful teams in European basketball history. Ten-time continental champion Real has been a perfect 8-0 at home so far this season, while eight-time winner CSKA has won three straight on the road after a previous run of three straight away defeats.

CSKA has been dominant over Real in recent years, winning six of their last seven games, including an 89-96 victory in Madrid earlier this year. For that to happen again, Dimitris Itoudis’s team will look to use the versatility and range of big men Toko Shengelia and Johannes Voigtmann – both good perimeter shooters to pull Walter Tavares, the home team’s dominant shot-blocker, away from the basket. But Real is far more than a one-man team and the return of Anthony Randolph after nearly a year out has given another dimension to the capabilities of Pablo Laso’s roster. Randolph returned to action with solid performances in last week’s victories over ALBA Berlin and Milan, and will now look to send a reminder of his talents by helping Real to a festive victory over an old rival.

Red-hot against ice-cold in France

Two teams heading in very different directions meet in France, where LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne has lost four consecutive games – and seven of its last eight – whereas Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul has breathed fresh life into its season with a run of four straight wins. Those results have left the two teams with 7-9 records, locked in a five-way tie for ninth place just short of the playoffs positions, once again emphasizing the competitiveness of the league and showing that every game really does matter.

The veteran duo of Nando De Colo and Jan Vesely have been key for Fenerbahce, but the Turkish team will also be heartened by an improved defense in last week’s victories, holding dangerous Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv to 79 points before totally shutting down Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, which scored just 53 points in Fenerbahce’s latest win.

That sounds particularly ominous for ASVEL, which has desperately struggled for offensive production during its recent losing run, scoring no more than 66 points in any of its last four games and averaging just 61.5. If ASVEL coach T.J. Parker isn’t able to coax an offensive improvement out of his team, Fenerbahce could keep on marching up the standings.

Source link

You might like

About the Author: NBA NEWS SITE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *