This is an attractive game between two teams in very good shape. Gran Canaria (5-7) is currently on a three-game winning streak. Marcus Eriksson has been unstoppable, averaging 18-7 points in those three games. Gran Canaria also got solid contributions from Ondrej Balvin (9.7 ppg., 6.7 rpg.) and Nikola Radicevic (8.3 ppg., 6 apg.) during that stretch. Baskonia (5-7) has won three of its last four, downing powerhouses like Panathinaikos, CSKA and Maccabi. Toko Shengelia (13.9 ppg.) has been its top scorer until now, followed by Vincent Poirier (11.8) and Matt Janning (11.4).
Ondrej Balvin is playing with great confidence lately and was really productive last week. He had a PIR of 21 against Buducnost and followed that with a PIR of 31 in Spanish League action. Balvin must use his size and mobility against Poirier, whose game-winning dunk against Maccabi gave him a confidence boost. Poirier must be aggressive and use his polished post skills against one of the few players in the competition taller than him.
Did you know?
These teams face each other for the first time in European club competitions, although they have obviously played many times in Spanish League action, 72 times to be exact. Baskonia has a 51-21 lead in that all-time domestic series, but when the games were played in Gran Canaria, they have an even 17-17 split.
Keys to victory: Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is playing with a new pace, averaging 94.5 points and 24.5 assists in its last two wins. Albert Oliver and Radicevic combined for 20 assists against Buducnost and that will be a critical key for Gran Canaria; running the offense through its point guard duo to keep everybody happy. Anzejs Pasecniks and Balvin must use their size to dominate in the paint, getting Poirier into foul trouble, if possible.
Keys to victory: Baskonia
Both teams faced each other in Vitoria-Gasteiz a month ago and Baskonia recorded a 91-76 win behind 16 points each from Luca Vildoza and Shengelia. Baskonia limited Gran Canaria to just 25% three-point shooting (6-of-24) and that will be a key factor again -- preventing Eriksson, D.J. Strawberry and Radicevic from getting good shots. At the same time, Baskonia must get Shengelia and Poirier involved, as this team's offense runs through its rock-solid frontcourt.