CSKA Moscow has lost its last two games and hopes to bounce back at home. Will Clyburn (19.2 ppg.) has been its top scorer until now, followed by Mike James (17.6 ppg.) and Daniel Hackett (10.4 ppg.). Valencia Basket is undefeated on the road after big victories in Madrid and Kaunas. Bojan Dubljevic (14.8 ppg., 5.0 rpg.), Nikola Kalinic (10.8 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) and Klemen Prepelic (8.8 ppg., 3.8 apg.) have been Valencia's pillars until now. Expect a fun-to-watch game at Megasport Arena.
Two of the best forwards in the competition are set to face each other. Clyburn is proving that his injuries are a thing of the past by scoring 18 points or more in each of his team's last four games. He must use his explosiveness and athleticism against Kalinic, who is seeing more responsibilities on offense this season. Kalinic has a high basketball IQ and very good post skills, which he tries to use often. Both of them are experienced and have played against each other many times, which adds more anticipation to this matchup.
These teams have faced each other six times and CSKA has a 4-2 record against Valencia. It is also undefeated against Valencia at home. Last season, CSKA beat Valencia twice in regular-season action. It registered a 71-96 road win in the teams' season opener behind 22 points from Darrun Hilliard and defeated Valencia in Moscow 81-70 with 19 points and 10 rebounds from Johannes Voigtmann.
Keys to victory: CSKA
Valencia will try to spread the floor with its big men who can pull the trigger from downtown. That will force players like Nikola Miluitnov, Johannes Voigtmann and Nikita Kurbanov to stay alert in all pick-and-pop situations, as well as preventing Valencia from taking quick shots early in each possession. On offense, CSKA must rely on James and Clyburn to make the difference with their all-around skills and expect Toko Shengelia to have a strong game at power forward against Louis Labeyrie and Derrick Williams.
Keys to victory: Valencia
Valencia needs to bring Nikola Milutinov out of the paint to generate space for others to attack the basket and expects Dubljevic and Mike Tobey to do so with their shots from downtown. It needs to find a way to prevent James from running CSKA's up-tempo offense. As such, Sam Van Rossom and Guillem Vives must be ready to make Valencia play at the right rhythm and look for anyone who generates an advantage on offense. From Prepelic to Williams to Fernando San Emeterio, Valencia has a lot of potential mismatches.