An intriguing Round 8 collision between FC Bayern Munich and Valencia Basket will feature a clash of veteran star small forwards, Vladimir Lucic for the hosts and Nikola Kalinic for the visitors. The two Serbian countrymen have been putting up career-best numbers to start this season, playing big roles in as their teams have got off to good starts, with Bayern tied for second in the standings with a 5-2 record, while Valencia sits right behind at 4-2.
Both players are athletic, physical and strong, which makes them excellent defenders, and both have been delivering on offense this season, too. Lucic ranks fourth in the league with an average performance index rating of 19.9 and is tied fourth with 57.1% three-point accuracy as he leads Bayern with 15.0 points per game while also pulling down 4.6 rebounds. Kalinic is Valencia's second-best scorer with 11.3 points and has been effective all-around, posting 3.5 points and 2.5 assists in a starting role.
Lucic, 31, who grew up with Partizan NIS Belgrade and made a brief debut in the 2009-10 season, now goes against another former team, Valencia, which he helped to win the 7DAYS EuroCup title in 2014. Alongside Bayern, those are the only two teams that Lucic has played for during his professional career. He has made 106 appearances over eight seasons total in the EuroLeague. Kalinic, 29, was a 2017 EuroLeague champion as a starter that season with Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. This is his seventh EuroLeague season and has played 172 games going into Friday.
Over their respective careers, Lucic has been the better scorer, with a career average of 9.3 points compared to Kalinic's 7.5 per game. Entering this season, Kalinic has been far more involved in his teams' playmaking, collecting more than twice as many career assists as Lucic, and has used his bigger volume of games to score more total points and grab more total rebounds. However, Lucic had a slightly better career rebounding average going into this season (3.4 compared to 3.0) and has shot the ball better.
These two players have met often since the early days of their careers back in Serbia. Friday will mark their sixth EuroLeague game against each other but it's the first time they do so wearing their current uniforms.
Kalinic's teams had a 4-1 edge in the first five games, with Lucic's only win coming in the 2018-19 season when Bayern beat Fenerbahce 90-86 in double-overtime. Lucic had 9 points in that game, which is one of two times in their head-to-head games that one of these two players scored in single digits. The other time was their first EuroLeague clash, in Kalinic's debut season, when Crvena Zvezda downed Valencia and Lucic was held to 1 point.
In all other games, however, both players have been very productive. Lucic posted 13.7 points in their other three games while Kalinic scored in double figures in all five games that they've played against each other to date. The Valencia forward averages 11.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in games against Lucic, and last season he had 10 points and 5 assists in Fenerbahce's win over Bayern. Lucic collected 14 points and 7 rebounds in that game.
Those numbers are very much in line with their great offensive production to start this season. Now, just as Kalinic seeks to continue his big role in Valencia's success so far, Lucic will need to be on top of his game against his countryman to continue leading Bayern in that team's best-ever start to the season.