Euroleague basketball predictions included under each mini game preview.
The Round 11 opener will see Zalgiris Kaunas head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius welcome several familiar faces when the Lithuanian champs face Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens. Saras won the EuroLeague and three Greek championships with the Greens, was a teammate of current playmaker Nick Calathes, played for Panathinaikos boss Xavi Pascual at Barcelona and coached Lukas Lekavicius last season. Another coach facing his former side will be Neven Spahija of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, who led Valencia Basket to the 2010 EuroCup crown. Among three Friday fixtures will be a clash of EuroLeague titans with Olympiacos Piraeus facing Real Madrid.
Crvena Zvezda vs Anadolu Efes
After climbing off the bottom of the standings by snapping a long losing streak with a big win at Real Madrid, Zvezda (3-7) will seek to build further momentum against an Efes (3-7) team going in search of its third road win of the campaign. Zvezda’s success last week was built on converting a club record 17 three-pointers and it could look for long-range bombs again in a meeting of the competition’s two worst defenses, with Efes allowing one more point (822) than Zvezda (821) in the opening 10 games. It’s also a clash between the two top offensive rebounding units: Efes averages 13.5 offensive boards per game, just ahead of Zvezda’s 13.
Olympiacos vs Real Madrid
A heavyweight battle will see league-leading Olympiacos (8-2) go in search of a fifth straight win with the visit of a Madrid (5-5) team in danger of heading into freefall after losing five of its last six games, including three straight on the road. Los Blancos’ problems have been on the defensive end, allowing an average of 90 points during its five losses. But Madrid does still possess the league’s second-highest scoring offense with 84.7 points per game, and will certainly challenge Olympiacos’s second-best defense, which has conceded just 70.8 points per game so far.
Barcelona vs Fenerbahce
Reigning champion Fenerbahce (7-3) is on a roll after winning five of its last six games to advance to third in the standings, but will be tested against a Barcelona (4-6) team that has gained four convincing home wins already this season. It’s the league’s best defense – Fenerbahce has allowed an average of just 70.5 points per game – against the third-best offense, with Barcelona averaging 82.4 points. Don’t miss the inside battle between two of the EuroLeague’s most explosive big men, the hosts’ Kevin Seraphin (13.6 ppg., 4.6 rpg.) and visitors’ Jan Vesely (13.8 ppg., 4.4 rpg.).
Zalgiris Kaunas vs Panathinaikos
Red-hot Panathinaikos (7-3) and newly-crowned monthly MVP Nick Calathes will take their five-game winning streak to face a Zalgiris (5-5) team aiming to keep hold of its place in the upper half of the standings. Panathinaikos has scored exactly 82 points in each of its last three games and will look to impose itself around the rim against a Zalgiris team that has blocked fewer shots – 1.7 per game – than any other team, while the hosts look to maintain their ball-sharing abilities after averaging 19.5 assists per game, which is third best in the league.
Brose Bamberg vs CSKA Moscow
Brose (5-5) has precisely alternated wins and losses over the last six games and will hope that sequence continues with the visit of co-leader CSKA (8-2), which has won three consecutive games on the road. The German champ faces a major task in trying to stop a CSKA offense that has scored at least 90 points on five occasions already this season, and Brose could help itself in its defensive endeavors by improving its tally of steals after averaging just 4.9 per game – the third-lowest in the league and well short of CSKA’s league-best 8.4 thefts per game.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv vs Valencia
Valencia (3-7) has the unwanted distinction of owning the league’s worst recent record after losing its last six straight games. Maccabi (6-4), which will attempt to extend that streak by gaining its sixth home win of the season, boasts a serious advantage in rebounding after claiming 39.4 boards per game – the most in the league – compared to Valencia’s 32.4, which is next to worst in the EuroLeague. The Spanish champion could look to make the most of its superior three-point shooting, having converted 39.8% of its shots from downtown compared to just 32% from Maccabi.
Baskonia vs Unicaja Malaga
A Spanish derby features two teams heading in different directions with Baskonia (4-6) setting its sights on a place in the top half of the standings as it welcomes a Unicaja team (3-7), which has sunk to the bottom of the standings with a run of four straight losses. If the game becomes a shoot-out, Baskonia would fancy its chances, boasting significantly better shooting percentages than the visitors in all categories. But Unicaja has been slightly better defensively, allowing 78.9 points per game compared to Baskonia’s 79.8, and will therefore surely prefer a low-scoring contest.
AX Olimpia Milan vs Khimki Moscow
Milan (3-7) will aim to snap a two-game losing streak with the visit of a Khimki (6-4) team that has its confidence restored after getting back into its winning ways last week. The two teams have identical overall performance index rating averages of 84.4 per game and everything points towards a close game in the fashion capital. Milan will look to dominate the paint through one of the competition’s hottest players, Arturas Gudaitis, who has averaged 13.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in the last three outings, while Khimki will inevitably again rely heavily on Alexey Shved, who has scored at least 16 points in every game so far this season.
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