Game Center Round 13: Temperatures rise with start of December’s double week
December’s week of two rounds starts in Round 13, where four of the Spanish teams will enjoy remaining in their countries as Real Madrid plays Valencia Basket and FC Barcelona Lassa faces Unicaja Malaga. Action begins in Istanbul, where Marko Guduric of Fenerbahce Dogus welcomes his former teammates from Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. And in the Russian capital, Khimki Moscow Region forward Tyler Honeycutt will play host to his last team, Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul vs Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Reigning champion Fenerbahce (8-4) will aim to bounce back from a streak-ending home loss last week with the visit of red-hot Zvezda (5-7), which has won three games in a row to move within a game of the top half of the standings. Potent offense has been the key to Zvezda’s recent surge, with an average of 91 points per game in its three wins. James Feldeine has been particularly hot, scoring 29 and 26 points in the last two outings, so stopping him will be a key for Fener, which will be keen to recover its usual defensive stinginess after allowing Zalgiris to score 90 points last week.
Zalgiris Kaunas vs Brose Bamberg
Two teams high in confidence meet in Kaunas as ambitious Zalgiris (7-5) and Brose (6-6) look to build on the confidence derived from Round 12’s victories over last season’s finalists. Finding a way to contain the long-range scoring threat of Kevin Pangos will be vital for Brose, with the guard netting the league’s third-highest number of three-pointers so far this season (2.6 per game) at an impressive conversion rate of 50.8%. Brose’s last three wins have all come through overcoming double-digit deficits, so there’s no room for Zalgiris to feel comfortable until the final buzzer sounds.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens vs Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Two traditional heavyweights meet in Athens as Panathinaikos (8-4) looks to at least maintain its share of third place with the visit of a Maccabi team (7-5) that needs to improve its away form after losing its last two road games by 22 and 15 points. Panathinaikos may be without injured leader Nick Calathes for this week’s games, so Lukas Lekavicius can expect an increased responsibility after averaging less than 13 minutes on the floor so far this season. Maccabi leads the league in rebounds (38.2 per game) and the battle for boards between the athletic Alex Tyus and James Gist will be well worth watching.
Real Madrid vs Valencia Basket
After recapturing the feel-good factor with last week’s convincing Clasico win over Barcelona, host Madrid (6-6) will look to establish further momentum against another Spanish opponent, Valencia (3-9). The visiting team, which has lost eight consecutive games, will have to find a way of stopping Luka Doncic, who ranks among the league’s top five performers in no less than 11 different statistical categories. The teams have made the most (Madrid, 10.2 per game) and third-most (9.7 per game) three-pointers in the competition, so expect plenty of long-range shooting from the likes of Doncic, Jaycee Carroll, Erick Green and Sam Van Rossom.
Khimki Moscow Region vs Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Wednesday’s action tips off with Khimki (7-5) aiming to retain its place in the top half of the standings against visiting Efes (3-9), which hopes its recent change in coach will be accompanied by a change in direction after losing four of its last five games. Efes has the unwanted distinction of being the only team in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague to concede 1,000 points this season and will need to step up its defensive efforts to stop red-hot Alexey Shved, who has averaged 26.7 points and scored 14 three-pointers in his last three games.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs CSKA Moscow
An eagerly awaited rematch of last season’s semifinal – and many other famous recent duels – is also a battle for first place as second-placed Olympiacos (9-3) welcomes first-placed CSKA (10-2), which has won four consecutive road games at an average of 91 points per game. Although Nando De Colo and Sergio Rodriguez attract most of the headlines, equally important to CSKA’s success this season has been Cory Higgins, who has averaged 13.6 points per game and reached double figures in the last seven. But if anyone can stop CSKA’s offense, it’s surely an Olympiacos team that has allowed fewer points than any other team (70.6 per game).
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan vs Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz
After suffering four consecutive single-digit losses, Milan (3-9) will seek an overdue win against a Baskonia team (6-6) that has been getting lots of those recently, recovering from a 0-4 start to move to the brink of the playoffs places. The Spanish team has particularly impressed on offense, averaging 80.7 points per game – fourth-best in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague – and will be optimistic about continuing that trend against a Milan team that has the fourth-worst defense, allowing 81 points per game. That means Milan’s offense will have to click, and the return from injury of leading scorer Andrew Goudelock (13.3 points per game) is therefore particularly timely.
FC Barcelona Lassa vs Unicaja Malaga
Round 13 is rounded off by an all-Spanish affair as Barcelona (4-8) aims to end a three-game losing slide against an Unicaja team (4-8) with renewed confidence after gaining its first win in six attempts last week. A career-best performance from James Augustine was crucial to Unicaja’s success against Khimki last week, and his rebounding ability will be vital against a Barcelona team that perversely leads the league in defensive boards (27.9 per game), but ranks a long way last in offensive rebounds (7.7 per game). Conversely, Unicaja is 15th in defensive rebounds (21.6 per game), but third in offensive boards (12.5 per game).