Game Center: Quarterfinals, Game 1
The 7DAYS EuroCup reaches its most decisive stages of the 2016-17 season as three-way playoffs series will be played until there is one team left standing with the trophy. The action starts on Tuesday with Game 1 of the quarterfinals in four series: Valencia Basket vs. Khimki Moscow Region, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Zenit St. Petersburg, FC Bayern Munich vs. Unicaja Malaga and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem vs. Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas.
VALENCIA BASKET vs. KHIMKI MOSCOW REGION
It is safe to say that Valencia Basket versus Khimki Moscow Region is the ultimate EuroCup showdown. Not only have these two teams won five EuroCup titles between them, but they have met many times on their respective paths to glory. Khimki prevailed when they played in the 2009 quarterfinals, the 2012 final and the 2015 eighthfinals while Valencia took the 2014 quarterfinals by one point. Khimki has posted terrific offensive numbers this season. It ranks third in scoring at 88.1 points per game, third in offensive rebounds (11.9 orpg.) and sixth in assists (19 apg.), which has helped it to shoot the ball with very good percentages (56.1% on two-pointers and 37.7% on threes). On the other hand, Valencia arrives to the quarterfinals with the best defense in the competition, allowing just 71.4 points per game, which is 11 points fewer than Khimki gives up. Valencia has forced opponents to shoot 49.5% from two-point range and 34.4% from beyond the arc. Khimki features Alexey Shved, the top scorer in the competition (22.2 ppg.), so stopping him will be one of the keys for Valencia in this thrilling series.
LOKOMOTIV KUBAN KRASNODAR vs. ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG
Both teams know each other well, but above all this will be a clash between offense and defense. Zenit arguably features the most dangerous offense in the competition. Zenit has scored at least 80 points in each game this season and leads the EuroCup in scoring (89.3 ppg.), three-pointers made (10.9 per game) and assists (22.4 apg.). Sharpshooter Ryan Toolson ranks second in scoring with 21.2 points, and Janis Timma is seventh with 16.8 points on average. It makes Zenit the only EuroCup team with two players averaging more than 15 points. Playmaker Stefan Markovic, with his 9.4 assists per game, is the runaway leader in that category. Lokomotiv had the EuroCup's top defense in the Top 16, allowing opponents the fewest points (70.7) and rebounds (25.7), despite forcing the fewest turnovers (10.8) and collecting the second-fewest steals (5.3). In its last five EuroCup home games, Lokomotiv has not allow more than 68 points. The team that manages to be loyal to its playing style will probably have most chances to make it to the semifinals.
FC BAYERN MUNICH vs. UNICAJA MALAGA
Bayern went through the Top 16 undefeated and has won nine EuroCup games in a row. It has been the most dominant team when it comes to controlling the paint. Bayern ranks first in rebounding (39.4 rpg.) and fourth in offensive rebounding (11.6) for the season, while allowing the second-fewest rebounds (31.1), as well. Bayern has the best perimeter defense, holding opponents to league-low 31.9% three-point shooting, but now confronts a Unicaja team that threatens from long range arguably more than any other team in the competition. Unicaja averaged Top 16-best 11 three-pointers made per contest while ranking third with 40.5% accuracy from that distance. Bayern's defense did a little better, holding opponents to 73.4 points per game compared to Unicaja's 75.9. The big difference, however, has been on offense, where Unicaja scored a Top 16-low 72.7 points, while Bayern had third-best scoring offense, posting 86.3 points per contest. For Bayern, this is its second consecutive season in the EuroCup quarterfinals. For Unicaja, this season marks its debut in the EuroCup, but only because the club had previously spent 15 seasons in the EuroLeague.
HAPOEL BANK YAHAV JERUSALEM vs. HERBALIFE GRAN CANARIA LAS PALMAS
Gran Canaria reached the EuroCup Finals two years ago and made it to the semifinals last season. Jerusalem won the competition in 2004 and is looking for its first EuroCup semifinals spot since 2006. Gran Canaria leads the 2016-17 EuroCup in performance index ranking (106 per game) and steals (10.1 spg.). It is has the competition's second-best scoring rate (89.2 ppg.) and ranks third in assists (20.1 apg.). Jerusalem is rebounding the ball a little bit better (33.1 rpg. vs. 32.3) and also tops Gran Canaria in blocks (2.43 bpg. vs. 2.14). Jerusalem ranks second in fouls drawn (22.9 per game) and free throws attempted (323). Gran Canaria leads the EuroCup in two-point shooting percentage (60.4%) but Jerusalem is third in three-point shot accuracy (38.7%). These teams faced each other last season and Gran Canaria beat Jerusalem twice in the Last 32 group stage. Both teams have changed a lot this season, becoming even more consistent, so expect nothing but a hard-fought series which could very well go down to the wire.
It will be the first-ever playoffs night in EuroCup history, so sit back, relax and enjoy the show!