Eurocup gets into full swing with 18 games in Regular Season Round 3. There is a growing sense of must-win pressure for some team without victories yet, while eight unbeaten clubs have chances to grab control of their respective groups with their third wins in as many games. The action starts with three games on Tuesday, while the remaining 15 games are slated for Wednesday
On Tuesday, EWE Baskets Oldenburg (0-2) plays it first home game of the season, welcoming Dominion Bilbao Basket (1-1). Oldenburg has a 5-5 record on its home floor over the past two seasons. One of those victories wins came against Bilbao in 2013-14, when the teams split regular season home wins. Oldenburg must beware of a Bilbao defense that forces a league-high 20 turnovers per game so far. In two games on Wednesday, Union Olimpija Telekom (1-1) hosts Telekom Baskets Bonn (1-1) in the first meeting ever between those two sides. Bonn is winless in four meetings against Slovenian teams this century, and Olimpija hopes to extend that streak. Dolomiti Energia Trento (1-1) plays host to the group leader JSF Nanterre (2-0) in another first encounter. Trento registered its first Eurocup win ever one week ago, and now aims to protect its home floor again.
Last season’s Eurocup runner-up, Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas (2-0), welcomes Enel Basket Brindisi (0-2) to town on Tuesday. The hosts have knocked down 24 triples through the first two games, the most of all Eurocup teams so far this season, and aim to continue with success at home, where they have won 16 of their last 17 Eurocup games dating back to early 2011. Wednesday brings a pair of matchups between four teams tied in the middle of the standings. MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (1-1) plays at home against Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (1-1) for the first time ever. In a showdown of two classic Eurocup teams, Le Mans Sarthe Basket (1-1) hosts ALBA Berlin (1-1) and the Round 2 MVP Dragan Milosavljevic. The two sides have not met since 2009-10 season, when they played each other four times, and ALBA won three of those. Le Mans has the Eurocup’s highest three-point shooting accuracy, 48.6%, going into Round 3.
In the only battle of unbeaten teams this week, ratiopharm Ulm (2-0) hosts Valencia Basket (2-0) in Group C’s lone Tuesday game. The two team splayed during the regular season two years ago, splitting home wins. Valencia enters this game as the competition’s second-ranked defense, while the hosts have sixth-best scoring so far. SLUC Nancy (0-2) welcomes CAI Zaragoza (1-1) in an early must-win game for the home side, which has done well against Spanish opponents in the past four years, winning four in a row before losing its last two decisions, against Valencia. In another first official meeting, newcomer Umana Reyer Venice (1-1) is at home against Proximus Spirou Charleroi (0-2). The visitors come into the contest with a 2-12 record away from home during the past three Eurocup campaigns.
Eurocup newcomer Trabzonspor Medical Park (1-1) hosts Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (1-1) in an intriguing encounter of two teams meeting for the first time ever. Historically, Buducnost has not had much success on Turkish soil, holding a 9-2 all-time record after having lost the last seven games in that country. Its last win in Turkey came in 1999. Unics Kazan (2-0) welcomes Aris Thessaloniki (1-1) for their first battle in 16 years. No Eurocup team has been as dominant in the first two weeks as Unics, which ranks third in scoring with 89.5 points per game. Another newcomer, Steaua CSM Eximbank Bucharest (1-1) will go for its second consecutive home win against last year’s semifinalist Banvit Bandirma (0-2), whose point guard A.J. Slaughter was the top scorer in Round 2 with 29 points against Unics. However, the visitors are still winless despite being the best offensive rebounding team in the competition, pulling down 18.5 of their own misses per game.
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (1-1) hosts Avtodor Saratov (1-1), a newcomer that is also the highest scoring team in the competition so far, with 94 points per game. But offensive-minded Rytas is not far behind, ranking fifth with 88 points thanks in part to its 22 assists per night, second best through two games, and 10.5 three-pointers, third best. In a battle of black-and-whites, PAOK Thessaloniki (1-1) welcomes Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (1-1). Both teams are coming off losses. Although Besiktas already has a road win this season, it also has allowed the most points in the first two Eurocup rounds. Hungarian champion Szolnoki Olaj (0-2) hosts Zenit St. Petersburg (2-0) for the second year in a row. The two teams beat each other at home last season. Szolnoki’s 96-94 win over Zenit in Round 1 last season was the club’s first Eurocup victory ever. This time, Szolnoki enters this contest as the lowest-scoring offense in the competition, while Zenit is one of eight undefeated teams.
AEK Athens (0-2) and Eurocup’s index rating leader, Loukas Mavrokefalidis, host Nizhny Novgorod (2-0). It is AEK’s second consecutive home game against a Russian team after not having faced a single club from that country since 2001. Nizhny is known for high-scoring offense, but so far its defense has stood out, allowing just 72 points per game, tied for third lowest in Eurocup. In search of its first win of the season, Neptunas Klaipeda (0-2) welcomes Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (1-1). The visitors would get a big boost if the Eurocup’s current top scorer Tony Mitchell returns to the lineup. Oktyabr’s swingman scored 39 points in the opener, but missed last week’s game due to slight injury. In a high profile showdown, Galatasaray Istanbul (2-0) tries to go for three out of three when it hosts Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (1-1). Only one team has scored more points than Galatasaray (81.5 ppg.) in the first two weeks of action. The Israeli champs have hit only 5 three-points shots in the first two games, however, Jerusalem showed fine defense last week, having held Neptunas to only 59 points.
Make sure to follow all the action from Regular Season Round 3 on Eurosport and right here at Eurocupbasketball.com!
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