Game center, Round 12: Old rivals meet again
The headline in Round 12 will be El Clasico, with the Spanish capital serving as the site of this meeting between Real Madrid and archrival FC Barcelona Lassa. In Germany, three players will meet their old teams when Daniel Hackett and Brose Bamberg take on Janis Strelnieks, Brian Roberts and Olympiacos Piraeus. Friday will feature another clash between powerhouses CSKA Moscow and Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, this time in Moscow where Maccabi has not won since 2004 on an Anthony Parker three at the buzzer. Also on Friday, Coach Velimir Perasovic and Anadolu Efes Istanbul will host the coach’s former side he took to the EuroLeague Final Four twice, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul vs Zalgiris Kaunas
In-form reigning champion Fenerbahce (9-2) will look for its fifth successive victory with the visit of a dangerous Zalgiris (6-5) team that has already won three road games this season.
Zalgiris will find it tough to score against the home team’s league-best defense, which has allowed only 67, 69 and 68 points in its last three outings. The long-range shooting skills of Kevin Pangos will be crucial to Zalgiris’s hopes, with the guard ranking third in the league in three-pointers made (2.5 per game), although Fenerbahce is hardly struggling in that department either as James Nunnally leads the competition in three-point accuracy (60%).
Brose Bamberg vs Olympiacos Piraeus
Brose (5-6) is aiming to snap a two-game losing streak and maintain at least a share of eighth place with the visit of co-leader Olympiacos (9-2), which has veteran leader Vassilis Spanoulis back in the saddle after missing the first 10 games of the season through injury.
Brose coach Andrea Trinchieri has ordered his team to improve its rebounding and could try to achieve that by giving a debut to newly-signed big man Dejan Musli against an Olympiacos team that ranks third in the league in defensive boards (25.8 per game). History is on the home team’s side: Olympiacos has lost in each of its three previous EuroLeague trips to Brose Arena.
Unicaja Malaga vs Khimki Moscow Region
Host Unicaja (3-8) is hoping to climb off the foot of the standings by ending a five-game losing slide against Khimki (7-4), which has won its last two games to strengthen its position in the top half of the table. Unicaja has allowed the third-highest number of three-pointers in the EuroLeague (9.5 per game), and that stat will give every encouragement to Alexey Shved after the competition’s joint leading scorer sank five shots from downtown last week. Unicaja also needs to better protect its rim after blocking the joint-lowest number of shots in the league (1.7 per game).
Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona Lassa
Thursday’s action is rounded out with a highly significant Clasico between two Spanish rivals desperate for victory. Madrid (5-6) has lost six of its last seven games, while Barcelona has not yet won on the road this season. It’s obvious that finding a way to stop Luka Doncic will be key to the visitors’ hopes; the remarkable 18-year-old leads his team in scoring (20.9 ppg.), rebounds (6.1 rpg.) and assists (4.2 apg.). Big man Kevin Seraphin, who leads Barcelona with 13.5 points per game, will look to exploit Madrid’s injury problems by dominating inside the paint.
CSKA Moscow vs Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Friday tips off with an intriguing matchup in Moscow as co-leaders CSKA (9-2) welcome Maccabi (7-4). CSKA has by far the league’s best offense with an average of 88.2 points per game, including 89, 92 and 92 during its current three-game winning streak. Maccabi has recorded more rebounds than any other team, 38.8 per game, and also leads the league in blocked shots just ahead of CSKA (45 to 44), so the battle of the boards will be crucial. But Maccabi has the league’s second-worst free throw conversion rate (67.4%), and surely can’t afford such inaccuracy if its wants to prevail in the Russian capital.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz
In-form Baskonia (6-5) will seek its third consecutive road win with a trip to face an Efes (3-8) team that badly needs to improve its defensive resistance after conceding a league-high 83.8 points per game.
Baskonia’s success is largely explained by solid shooting percentages, converting 54.9% of two-point attempts (third best in the league) and 39.5% of three-pointers (sixth best), while Efes’s strength is its inside game; Vladimir Stimac (14.2 ppg.) and Bryant Dunston (10.9 ppg.) both average double digits in scoring, while the Turkish outfit has claimed more offensive boards than any other team (13.1 per game).
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens vs AX Armani Exchange Milan
Panathinaikos (7-4) seeks a swift return to its winning ways against a Milan (3-8) side that has lost three in a row. The visiting team is battling against recent form: Panathinaikos has won all five home games so far this season and averaged 84 points in the process, while Milan has a 1-4 record on the road. The Italian side could try to slow down Panathinaikos’s offense by sending the home team to the foul line rather than allowing uncontested shots – the Greens have the worst free-throw conversion rate in the league, making just 65.4% of their attempts.
Valencia Basket vs Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
After converting 31 three-pointers in its last two games, both of which ended in victories to climb away from the foot of the standings, on the rise Zvezda (4-7) will look to inflict more misery upon a Valencia team (3-8) that has lost seven in a row. The Spanish champ will feel like a much-needed victory is getting closer after losing by just 1, 8 and 3 points in its last three outings and has converted the league’s second-highest number of three-pointers (9.8 per game) ahead of a contest which could easily become a long-range shoot-out considering Zvezda’s recent record.