The Top 16 is proving as competitive as ever, with as many as 10 teams sharing 2-2 records after four games. That means that anything can happen from Top 16 Round 5 going forward, with every team holding options open to clinch a playoff spot. Expect more of the same unpredictability this week in three games to be played on Thursday, followed by five more on a busy Friday. Don’t miss it!
Teams in red – Playing Thursday
Teams in green – Playing Friday
In the only game in this group on Thursday, the Top 16’s sole undefeated team, Fenerbahce Istanbul (4-0) hosts Cedevita Zagreb (2-2). James White and – if available – Luka Zoric of Cedevita will play against their former team. Not only is Fenerbahce the only undefeated team in this phase, it also leads the Top 16 in index rating (108.8 per game), scoring (90.3 ppg.), rebounding (38 rpg.) and blocks (4.25 bpg.). Cedevita is allowing opponents to hit 58% of its two-point shots, but doing a much better job (33.3%) in three-point shots.
On Friday, Unicaja Malaga (2-2) hosts Anadolu Efes Istanbul (2-2) in Top 16 action for the fourth straight year. Efes point guard Jayson Granger plays against his former team for the first time after playing there in the last couple of seasons. Unicaja has the best defense in the Top 16 (71 ppg.) but allows more points (77.5 ppg.) at Martin Carpena Arena than on the road. Efes ranks first in assists (20.9 apg.) and three-point shooting (23%). The battle under the baskets will be exciting: Efes ranks second in defensive rebounds (26.1 drpg.) and Unicaja leads the 2015-16 Euroleague in offensive boards (13.2 orpg.).
Also Friday, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade (2-2) welcomes Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (3-1) to Pionir Arena. Zvezda will need to stop Malcolm Delaney, who leads the Top 16 in index rating (25.8 per game). Lokomotiv trails everyone in two-pointers made (15 per game) but is first in three-pointers (12.5 per game). Zvezda trails everyone in rebounds per game at home (28.5) but has forced opponents to shoot just 24.4% from downtown at Pionir.
Finally, in a first meeting ever between them and a must-win game for both teams, Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (0-4) visits Greece to face Panathinaikos Athens (1-3). Darussafaka wants to become the first team to reach the playoffs after a 0-4 start in the Top 16. It ranks second in protecting the ball with just 11.5 turnovers per game. Panathinaikos is the lowest-scoring team in the Top 16 (68.3 ppg.) due to its poor three-point shooting percentage (29.2%).
In the earliest game of this round, CSKA Moscow (2-2) welcomes Brose Baskets Bamberg (2-2) to the Russian capital. CSKA has never lost against Bamberg in 10 previous showdowns. CSKA center Kyle Hines goes against his former team. Nando De Colo, who leads the 2015-16 Euroleague in scoring (19.1 ppg.) and index rating (22.7 per game) will be back in action after missing two games due to injury. CSKA is the highest scoring team in the competition (89.9 ppg.) this season and also leads the 2015-16 Euroleague in index rating (107.2 per game). Bamberg leads the Top 16 in defensive rebounds (27.8 drpg.) and is third in three-point shooting (42.5%).
Also on Thursday, in the Game of the Week, Real Madrid (2-2) goes against Olympiacos (2-2), in a rematch of last season’s final. Madrid has allowed more points than anyone since the start of the Top 16 (86.7 ppg.). Olympiacos has the best defense overall this season, allowing just 70.1 points per game to opponents. Los Blancos are allowing opponents to score 58.8% of their two-point shots and 40.7% of their attempts from downtown. Madrid must bring those numbers down against the Reds, whose reputation as a tough, physical team is backed by numbers, ranking sixth in steals (6.5 spg.) and first in fouls committed (24).
On Friday, FC Barcelona Lassa (2-2) takes on Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz (2-2). Barcelona has a 39-1 home record in its last 40 Top 16 games, only losing against Laboral. Barcelona leads the Top 16 in fewest turnovers (10 per game) and is second in three-point percentage (43.6%), hitting more than 10 triples per game. Laboral ranks second in rebounds (37 rpg.) in the Top 16, led by Ioannis Bourousis, who recorded its seventh double-double against CSKA last week. Pau Ribas and Brad Oleson played for Laboral in the past.
Also on Friday, Khimki Moscow Region (3-1) hosts Zalgiris Kaunas (1-3). Paulius Jankunas of Zalgiris played for his opponent, just as Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis did for Zalgiris throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s. Zalgiris leads the Top 16 in two-pointers made (93) and free throw shooting percentage (85.3%). Khimki ranks first in steals (9.25 spg.).
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Other than Nenad Krstic, who is sidelined long term, Efes Coach Ivkovic has a full roster to choose from.
Luka Zoric did not play last week due to a hamstring problem and he also missed the latest Adriatic League game this weekend.
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade
Luka Mitrovic remains unavailable due to a knee injury.
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul
Oguz Savas and Serhat Cetin have not played for Darussafaka in recent weeks.
Coach Zeljko Obradovic will have a complete roster to choose from.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Sergey Bykov returned to action this past weekend in VTB League action.
Nikos Pappas made his comeback this past weekend in the Greek League derby against Olympiacos.
Dimitris Diamantidis is doubtful for the game against Darussafaka.
Vasilis Charalampopoulos did not play in the Greek League this weekend, but is probable against Unicaja.
Point guard Stefan Markovic will be sidelined for at least two months due to a leg injury.
Brose Baskets Bamberg
Head coach Andrea Trinchieri is expected to have a full roster to face CSKA Moscow.
Nando De Colo will be back for the game against Brose Baskets.
Joel Freeland is still marked by the club as questionable for the game.
Pavel Korobkov remains sidelined due to a knee injury.
FC Barcelona Lassa
Carlos Arroyo will be sidelined at least until early February after suffering a left calf muscle tear in practice.
Juan Carlos Navarro did not play in the last Spanish League game against Valencia due to minor injuries.
Khimki Moscow Region
Paul Davis and Ruslan Pateev remain sidelined with long-term injuries.
Khimki signed big man Josh Boone, but he does not become eligible to play in the Euroleague until Top 16 Round 8.
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz
Davis Bertans is nearing a comeback, but is not available yet.
Patric Young is sidelined long-term due to a torn ACL.
Matt Lojeski has missed six consecutive games, but is nearing a return.
Olympiacos signed forward Kostas Papanikolaou, but he does not become eligible to play in the Euroleague until Top 16 Round 8.
Rudy Fernandez (back) is out again this week after undergoing back surgery.
Jonas Maciulis will likely sit out the game against Olympiacos due to ankle problems.
Veteran center Robertas Javtokas will miss the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury.
Vytenis Lipkevicius remains sidelined. He has not played in the Euroleague yet.