The 2015-16 Eurocup reached the midway point of the regular season this week. Going into Round 5, there are three unbeaten teams that will try to keep their perfect records intact, while the three winless teams hope to end their struggles and get back in the races to make it to the Last 32. Interestingly, three of this week’s 18 games feature clashes between German and French clubs. The action starts on Tuesday with four games, and the remaining 14 will be played on Wednesday
On Tuesday, JSF Nanterre (2-2) welcomes Telekom Baskets Bonn (2-2) for the first time ever. Bonn came out as a winner in its only away game so far this season, while this will be just the second home game so far for Nanterre. Union Olimpija Ljubljana (2-2) and Round 4 co-MVP Zach Wright host EWE Baskets Oldenburg (1-3) in the Slovenian capital on Wednesday. Both teams won close encounters last week and plan to build on that momentum. Olimpija also hopes to stop its streak of three straight losses at home against German teams and improve its all-time 1-6 record against them in the Eurocup. Group leader Dolomiti Energia Trento (3-1) aims to protect its perfect home record against Dominion Bilbao Basket (2-2). Newcomer Trento has won three games in a row, but Bilbao has won both of its road games so far this season by making a total of 27 three-pointers in those two wins. Something will have to give in the first-ever meeting between two teams.
In two games on Tuesday, Le Mans Sarthe Basket (1-3) plays host to MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (2-2) in their first official head-to-head contest. Le Mans returns home, where it has yet to pick up a victory in the competition this season, having registered two losses by a combined 9 points. Ludwigsburg has played only one road game in the first four weeks. In a high-profile showdown, Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas (3-1) hosts Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (3-1) with the winner guaranteed at least a share of the group lead at the halfway point of the regular season. Gran Canaria ranks near the top of many offensive categories, including: tied for first in three-pointers made (11.5), third in scoring (87.0), and tied for third in assists (19.5). On Wednesday, Enel Basket Brindisi (0-4) will be looking for its first-ever Eurocup win at home against ALBA Berlin (2-2). The Berliners have attacked the offensive glass really well in the last three games, averaging 14.7 offensive rebounds during that stretch.
Among three games scheduled for Wednesday, ratiopharm Ulm (2-2) welcomes SLUC Nancy (1-3), which has historically been a tough opponent for German teams. Nancy has a 9-1 all-time record against them after having won seven straight games in a streak that dates back 14 years to the 2001-02 season. Winless Proximus Spirou Charleroi (0-4) hosts unbeaten Valencia Basket (4-0). Valencia’s defense allows the competition’s second-fewest points per game, 69.3, to opponents, while on offense it makes only 9.5 turnovers per night, tied for the league’s best. Spirou’s four losses have been by an average margin of just 6 points. Umana Reyer Venice (2-2) hosts CAI Zaragoza (3-1) for the first time ever. Venice has won two tight games at home this season, holding both Nancy and Spirou below 70 points, while CAI has a win and a loss on the road in Group C action this season.
In the Wednesday opener, Unics Kazan (2-2) hosts Trabzonspor Medical Park (3-1) for the first time. Unics is looking to bounce back after losing two straight. Trabzonspor’s success comes with ball movement. Only one team has more than its 21.3 assists in the last three games, but Trabzonspor has lost its only road game of the season so far. Banvit Bandirma (1-3) welcomes Aris Thessaloniki (3-1). The hosts are the best offensive rebounding team, pulling down 15.8 of their own misses per game. But Aris has done a great job defensively. It ranks first in points allowed (67.5), in blocked shot (5.0) and three-point defense, allowing opponents just 20.7% accuracy from the three-point line. In addition, no team takes better care of the ball than Aris, which is tied for league-low 9.5 turnovers per contest. Newcomer Steaua CSM Eximbank Bucharest (1-3) plays Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (2-2) in the Romanian capital. Buducnost has never in its history played official game against a Romanian team. The Montenegrin champions allow the Eurocup’s third-lowest 70.7 points per game, but that number rises to 75 points on the road.
In a high-profile game, Zenit St. Petersburg (4-0) puts its undefeated record on the line against Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (3-1). Last season Besiktas swept their regular season series, winning an overtime drama in St.Petersburg by 86-90. The Turkish side also has victories in both of its away games this season and aims to snap Zenit’s unbeaten run. In another classic showdown, PAOK Thessaloniki (1-3) welcomes Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (1-3). Rytas ranks first in forcing turnovers (18.8), but it has not translated into victories or points, considering that the team is in the middle of the pack with 80.5 points per game. The Lithuanian powerhouse only has one win this season, but that came on the road. Szolnoki Olaj (0-4) hosts Avtodor Saratov (3-1), which boasts the competition’s highest-scoring offense. The hosts have made the most turnovers this season, 78 in four games, and they will have to take better care of the ball against Avtodor, which scores 93.8 points per game, more than 4 points better than the next-best offense in the competition.
In a high-profile match on Tuesday, unbeaten group leader Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (4-0) and Round 4 co-MVP Errick McCollum face visiting Nizhny Novgorod (2-2). In its four victories, Galatasaray has averaged 89.5 points per game, second-best in the competition. Nizhny, which has dropped it last two decisions, ranks in the middle of the pack in points allowed, conceding 78.3 per game. Neptunas Klaipeda (2-2) welcomes AEK Athens (2-2) and Eurocup’s scoring leader, center Loukas Mavrokefalidis, who could be a tough matchup for a Neptunas team that allows a league-high 59.3% two-point shooting. AEK has not played in Lithuania since 2007, and has not won on Lithuanian soil since 2001. Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (1-3) hosts Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (1-3) for the second consecutive season, and last season Oktyabr won both games, including a 78-79 thriller in Jerusalem. The visitors have their offense go through D.J. Cooper, the only Eurocup player who averages double-digit assists (10 apg.) through four games.
Get ready for a great week of drama! Follow it on Eurosport and on Eurocupbasketball.com!
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