The 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season reaches its halfway mark this season with another round of exciting games. A showdown between two of the last three undefeated teams, some powerhouses playing already critical games at home, a rematch of classic games in the competition and much more is coming your way! It all starts with five games on Thursday, followed by a full night of seven tipoffs on Friday. Don’t miss it!
In this group’s only Thursday game, FC Bayern Munich (2-2) faces Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade (1-3) for first-ever meeting between the two teams. It will be a special game for Bayern coach Svetislav Pesic and Zvezda center Vladimir Stimac, who face their former teams. Bayern leads the 2015-16 Euroleague in steals (10.3 spg.) and even when Zvezda has rebounded well (13.3 orpg., 5th overall), it ranks last in index rating (58.2) and next-to-last in assists (14 apg.). Strasbourg (1-3) welcomes Euroleague reigning champion Real Madrid (2-2) on Friday for the first time since the visitors won both their games in the 2013-14 Euroleague season. Madrid is the best rebounding team in the competition (41 rpg.) compared to Strasbourg’s 34.2. Madrid is third in fouls drawn (23.8) so Strasbourg must match that intensity in this exciting game. Also on Friday, Fenerbahce Istanbul (3-1) and Khimki Moscow Region (3-1) battle for first place in a showdown that also pits the Euroleague’s winningest coach – Zeljko Obradovic of Fenerbahce, with eight titles – against the winningest coach of the Eurocup – Rimas Kurtinaitis of Khimki with three titles. Khimki ranks high in steals, points and assists. Fenerbahce is top three in offenisve rebounds and free throw percentage.
In a battle between powerhouses, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (2-2) hosts Olympiacos Piraeus (3-1). Efes coach Dusan Ivkovic meets the team he took to Euroleague titles in 1997 and 2012, while Bryant Dunston earned back-to-back Euroleague Best Defender trophies with Olympiacos. This will be their 30th meeting all-time with Olympiacos leading the series 16-13. Olympiacos is second in rebounds (40.8 rpg.) and blocks (4.5 rpg.). Efes ranks really low in free throw percentage (63.5%) but is first, by far, in three-point shooting percentage (46.4%), hitting more shots from downtown (11.5) than any other team. Limoges CSP (1-3) faces EA7 Emporio Armani (1-3) in what is already a critical game for both. Limoges is 23rd in rebounds (30.5 per game) and is last in free throw percentage (62.1%) so there is a lot of room for improvement. Milan has a league-low 42.1% two-point shooting percentage. Two hot teams face off when Cedevita Zagreb (2-2) welcomes Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz (3-1) to the Croatian capital. Cedevita has collected back-to-back road wins while Laboral is on a three-game winning streak, including two victories in overtime. Laboral leads the Euroleague in scoring (92.8 ppg.) and Cedevita ranks fourth in two-pointers made (22.8).
In a direct battle for first place, FC Barcelona Lassa (3-1) hosts Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (4-0) for the first time ever on Thursday. Two Euroleague-winning coaches, Xavi Pascual of FCB Lassa and Georgios Bartzokas of Lokomotiv, go face to face in this one. Lokomotiv allows just 68 points per game, the second-best defense in the league, while Barcelona ranks fourth (68.3). Barcelona has the second-fewest turnovers, just 10.8 per game, as compared to Lokomotiv’s 18. Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir (1-3) and Stelmet Zielona Gora (1-3) face off in an important early game for two teams who split home wins in the Eurocup last season. Karsiyaka is the Euroleague’s lowest-scoring team (65.8 ppg.), due in part to its league-low 23.7% three-point shooting, and so will have it tough against a Zielona Gora defense ranked fifth in three-point defense, holding teams to under 7 shots from the arc made each game. Panathinaikos Athens (1-3) faces Zalgiris Kaunas (2-2) on Friday looking to maintain its 9-0 home record against the visitors, who are 2-0 on the road this season. Zalgiris big men Ian Vougioukas and Robertas Javtokas won Euroleague titles with Panathinaikos. The Zalgiris defense limits opponents to a league-low 11.8 assists while Panathinaikos dishes 19 on average, so something has to give when these two classics battle for Top 16 position.
In a highly-anticipated showdown between undefeated teams, CSKA Moscow (4-0) takes on Unicaja Malaga (4-0) on Friday. CSKA leads the 2015-16 Euroleague in index ranking (116.3 per game) and Unicaja ranks third (99.5). Unicaja is last in defensive rebounds (19.8 drpg.) but second in offensive boards (13.8 orpg.). Both teams are taking good care of the ball – Unicaja is first in assists-to-turnover ratio (4.55) and CSKA is third (4.2). CSKA has a 10-1 home record against Unicaja, whose only win in the Russian capital came in the 2012-13 Euroleague Top 16. Also on Friday, Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari (0-4) looks for its first win against Brose Baskets Bamberg (2-2). Sassari ranks second in points allowed (87.2 ppg.) and last in assists (12.8 apg. to Bamberg’s 17.3). Sassari is second in fouls committed (23 per game) with Bamberg right behind at 22.8. Bamberg is fourth in two-point shooting percentage (56.9%) and Sassari leads the Euroleague in free throw percentage (85.4%). Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (1-3) visits Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (1-3), with both teams needing to bounce back. Darussafaka leads the competition in fouls drawn (24) but does not take advantage of it (69.6%) at the free throw line. Maccabi is last in steals (3 spg.) and just 19th in defensive rebounds (22.5 drpg.). Maccabi star Jordan Farmar played for Darussafaka last season. It is Darussafaka’s first visit to Tel Aviv.
Don’t miss the action and follow it all on the new Euroleague TV, on social media and of course, as always, right here on Euroleague.net!
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