Zalgiris will try to use home support to keep its momentum going when it hosts ASVEL on Friday. After opening the seasons with a pair of losses, Zalgiris bounced back with a 13-point victory over Real Madrid a week ago and now will be looking to build on it with the French champions in town. ASVEL, however, is coming off its worst EuroLeague loss this century, a 41-point drubbing to the hands of FC Bayern Munich, and will surely want to leave a better road impression this time around.
ASVEL and Zalgiris have played eight games in their history, four of them this century, and have an even 4-4 record, with the home team winning all of the games. The last time ASVEL played in the EuroLeague - in 2009-10 season – Zalgiris won season opener on home floor 71-52. Since that game, Zalgiris allowed fewer than 52 points in a EuroLeague game just once.
Any lessons learned?
ASVEL should not soon forget last week when they allowed Bayern to make 10 of 12 three-point shots (83.3%), which was the second-best three-point shooting night in the competition this century. Improvement must be immediate against Zalgiris, which made 50% in their win last week. Zalgiris is known for its good shot selection behind the arc which results in them taking fewer three-point shots, but shooting with higher accuracy. Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and his marksmen Marius Grigonis and Arturas Milaknis will surely try to exploit, and ASVEL hopes to show improvement.
Zach LeDay was a key man in Zalgiris win over Real, with 26 points and 9 rebounds, and his 5 on the offensive glass were particularly important. Dating back to last season, in every game he played more than 21 minutes, LeDay has pulled down at least 6 rebounds. LeDay spends time both as a power forward and as a center, and his toughest task in this one might be dealing with ASVEL's center Tonye Jekiri who ranks second in the EuroLeague with 9.7 rebounds per game. In the battle of two 25-year olds, with his 2.12 meters Jekiri has 10 centimeters on LeDay, and winning that rebounding battle might be one of the keys in this contest.
Keys to victory: Zalgiris
Sometimes it seems so simple, but cutting down on turnovers while sharing the ball on offense did wonders for Zalgiris last week. After dishing 23 combined assists in two losses to open the season, Zalgiris had 22 assists in a win against Real. In that same game, Zalgiris committed just 8 turnovers, a massive improvement after averaging 15.0 in the first two games. The same will be a recipe in this one for Coach Jasikevicius' side with ASVEL in town.
Keys to victory: ASVEL
After getting blown out last week in Munich, it is going back to basics for ASVEL. Which means, solidifying the defense, taking care of the ball and getting after the rebounds. ASVEL averaged 13.5 offensive boards in two home wins to start the season, but then just managed 6 total offensive boards against Bayern. In part, that was due to 18 turnovers. It is close to impossible to win on the road with those numbers, and ASVEL will have to make sure it takes care of the ball and control the boards to get a chance to grab its third win in four games.