Baskonia (9-10) arrives to Istanbul in search of a victory that would extend its winning streak to three games, dig the team out from the negative record it has carried since Round 3, and allow it to enter the final third of the regular season holding a playoff position. Last-place Darussafaka (2-17), on the other hand, is on a four-game losing streak during which it did not score more than 74 points. However, Darussafaka has been a tough cookie on its home floor, where five of its seven losses have come by six points or fewer.
Center Michael Eric has had a few quieter games in recent weeks, but still serves as Darussafaka’s second-best scorer (11.5 ppg.) and second-best rebounder (5.4 rpg.). Eric is especially strong and dangerous on the offensive glass, where he ranks fourth in the competition with 2.6 rebounds per game, but he will now go against Baskonia's big and deep front court, which features one of the best big men in the EuroLeague this season in Vincent Poirier. The Baskonia center is the team's second-best scorer (11.7 ppg.), and also league's third-best overall (7.4 rpg.) and offensive rebounder (3.0 rpg.). Expect a big battle on the boards between these two men.
Earlier this season
Baskonia topped Darussafaka 82-56 in Round 5, using a strong finish to the second quarter and a good opening of the third to run away to a big win. Currently injured All-EuroLeague forward Tornike Shengelia paced the winners with 13 points and 6 rebounds, while big man Vincent Poirier collected 10 points and 10 rebounds. On the other side, veteran center Oguz Savas scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half for Darussafaka.
Keys to victory: Darussafaka
Darussafaka has struggled to score the entire season, and ranks second to last in that department (74.2 ppg.), but its defensive ability to slow down opponents is what has allowed the team to be competitive. Darussafaka allows 79.0 points per game on home floor, and its interior line, led by Eric and Jeremy Evans, holds opponents to a league-low 45.3% two-point shooting in home games. The duo's work inside, and the ability of Toney Douglas to score buckets, is what kept Darussafaka in most games in recent weeks.
Keys to victory: Baskonia
In each of the last two games, Baskonia managed to overcome slow starts but got stronger as the games progressed and eventually pulled victories in the fourth quarter. However, both of those games were at home, and Coach Velimir Perasovic's injury-plagued team will not be able to afford another slow start in this important road clash. It will be key for Baskonia to match Darussafaka's energy from the opening tipoff, and allow playmakers Marcelinho Huertas and Luca Vildoza to set the tempo of the game in the absence of Jayson Granger.