Unicaja got off to a great start to the Euroleague season, winning its first three games and sealing its ticket to the Top 16 weeks before the end of the regular season. Its main weapon has been offensive rebounding - Unicaja is averaging more than any other team in Euroleague history (15.6 orpg.). Fran Vazquez is playing some of the best basketball of his career and Vladimir Golubovic has been great in a backup role. From Mindaugas Kuzminskas to sharpshooters Ryan Toolson and Kostas Vasileiadis to playmakers Stefan Markovic and Jayson Granger, everybody feels important in Coach Joan Plaza's team.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Coach Plaza will find some familiar faces in his team's Top 16 opener against Olympiacos Piraeus. Olympiacos newcomers Tremmell Darden and Oliver Lafayette played for Zalgiris when Plaza coached the team in the 2012-13 season. Last season, Darden went on to reach the Euroleague final with Real Madrid and Lafayette lifted the Eurocup trophy with Valencia Basket. They led Zalgiris to its best season in years, reaching the VTB League semifinals and finishing first in its Euroleague regular season group, including a victory over Olympiacos on the road.
GOING FORWARD: Unicaja is using a lot of players - some 11 players averaged at least 15 minutes per game in the regular season. Eight player – all but Vazquez, Kuzminskas, Granger and Carlos Suarez – are newcomers, so even though all of them adjusted pretty well, the best may be yet to come for Coach Plaza's team, especially since the team has only won one game of its last seven. Unicaja is in its 10th consecutive Top 16 and only a handful of teams have reached this achievement. However the club only survived this phase in 2007, which will be a huge motivation for Unicaja to try to reach the playoffs.