Baskonia plays its first game at home after three consecutive showdowns on the road, and in it will face a familiar opponent – Olympiacos and Baskonia are set to face each other for the 39th time since the turn of the Millenium. The Reds come off an overtime home loss against Zenit St Petersburg and will look to bounce back right away. Expect a noisy, spectacular basketball atmosphere in what will be the first EuroLeague game in Buesa Arena since 2019 Final Four, and the first EuroLeague home game for Baskonia since April 26.
The games between Olympiacos and Baskonia are a modern classic in the competition - they never faced each other before 2001. Olympiacos has a 23-15 record in the all-time series but Baskonia is 12-7 at home against the Reds. Olympiacos has won in three of its last four visits to Buesa Arena, including an 80-85 victory last season. Nikola Milutinov led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Vassilis Spanoulis has traditionally played well in Vitoria-Gasteiz throughout his career. On October 27, 2016, Spanoulis dished a career-high 15 assists, leading Olympiacos to a 90-95 road win. He has dished 8 assists in each of his last two visits to Buesa Arena, too, for an average of 9.7 over his last three road showdowns against Baskonia.
Of course, Spanoulis is much more than his outstanding passing skills. He is a natural-born leader, unbeatable at crunch time due to his experience and great determination. At age 37, Spanoulis still plays a critical role for Olympiacos. He will face a good on-the-ball defender in Pierria Henry. In the last two games, Henry has averaged 15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals, good for a PIR average of 20.0. Two different players with a great winning mentality, face to face.
Keys to victory: Baskonia
Baskonia is struggling from beyond the arc (27.9%) and from the free-throw line (62.1%), ranking 17th in each category, so improving those numbers will be mandatory. To do that, Baskonia must get its best shooters - Matt Janning, Luca Vildoza, Nik Stauskas - involved on offense, generating good shots for them. Baskonia must use its bench depth at the center position - Youssoupha Fall, Michael Eric and Achille Polonara, to stop Milutinov down low, which will be one of the biggest keys to this exciting showdown.
Keys to victory: Olympiacos
Olympiacos ranks second overall in offensive rebounds (14.7 orpg.) mainly because of Milutinov, who pulled down more than half of those (7.7 orpg.) to lead the player standings. Olympiacos ranks third in turnovers (14.7 per game) and just 13th in assists (14.3 ppg.). Taking better care of the ball will be mandatory against a strong defensive team like Baskonia. Olympiacos needs a strong effort from Augustine Rubit, Milutinov, and Georgios Printezis to stop Toko Shengelia and Fall around the basket.