7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season, Round 4: Eyes turn to top-of-table clashes
There is much to play for in Round 4, in which three groups will see the undefeated group leader (Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, Valencia Basket and UNCS Kazan) face the team directly behind in second place. And in each case, the group leader is the road team! The action in Round 4 features five Tuesday games followed by seven contests on Wednesday. With each shot that is taken, the race for the Top 16 heats up!
The top team visits the last place team in the group when Germani Brescia Leonessa (0-4) hosts Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (3-0). The two teams have performed similarly on the offensive end with Brescia averaging 78.3 points per game and Zvezda 79.7. However, Brescia has allowed the second-most points this season (91.3 ppg.) and Zvezda the fifth fewest (71.7 ppg.). In a clash between the teams tied for second place, Galatasaray Istanbul (2-1) faces AS Monaco (2-1). Galatasaray is unbeaten at home, while Monaco boasts a perfect record on the road. Monaco has the EuroCup's best defense thus far with only 66.3 points allowed per game. MoraBanc Andorra (1-2) welcomes ratiopharm Ulm (1-2) in a game that could have major implications in the race for the Top 16. MoraBanc is fourth in the competition in scoring with 87.3 points per game. Ulm's 40.3 rebounds per game are second-best in the EuroCup this season.
The top-scoring team in the competition with 94 points per game, ALBA Berlin (2-1) looks to stay near the top of the group when it hosts last-placed Arka Gdynia (0-3) on Tuesday evening. Arka, which is ranked third from the bottom in scoring with just 71.0 points per game, will have to pick up the pace to match EuroCup assist leader Peyton Siva (11.0 apg.) and the emphatic ALBA offense. In a battle of teams tied for fourth place, Limoges CSP (1-2) hosts Tofas Bursa (1-2) on Tuesday. Limoges is looking to bounce back after back-to-back losses and doing so against the team that has allowed the most points in the EuroCup this season; Tofas's opponents are averaging 93.7 points per game. In the lone Wednesday game in Group B, Cedevita Zagreb (2-1) looks to grab a share of first place by beating Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (3-0). Cibona won its only other home game against ALBA in Round 2. The teams are among the best in defense in the EuroCup; Lokomotiv has allowed 69.7 points per game, which is fourth fewest in the competition and Cedevita has allowed only a smidgen more (72.0 ppg.).
An exciting showdown is expected at Aleksandar Nikolic Arena on Tuesday when Partizan NIS Belgrade (1-2) hosts LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (2-1). Partizan has not lost at home this season. While the teams have produced similar numbers offensively, ASVEL's defense has held teams to just 69.3 points, which are the third-fewest in the competition. Dolomiti Energia Trento (1-2) looks to snap a two-game slide when it takes on winless Turk Telekom Ankara (0-3). Both teams need to boost their shooting; Trento is last in the EuroCup in two-point shooting percentage (43.6%) and Turk Telekom is not far behind (45.7%). In the Only Group C game on Wednesday, Zenit St. Petersburg (2-1) and Valencia Basket (3-0) fight for first place. Despite injuries keeping its backcourt in flux, Zenit boasts one of the top offenses in the EuroCup this season with 88.7 points per game, however, Valencia has allowed a mere 66.7 points on defense, which is fewest in the EuroCup. Zenit hopes to have, for the first time this season, its top two point guards - Brandon Jennings and Gal Mekel - available together.
This Tuesday showdown between former EuroCup champs Unicaja Malaga (2-1) and UNICS Kazan (3-0) is the first ever between the two sides. Unicaja has dominated the paint in making a EuroCup-best 64.4% of its two-pointers. UNICS is ranked second in scoring (91.7 ppg.) and third in both assists (21.0 apg) and steals (8.7 spg.). On Wednesday, Rytas Vilnius (1-2) hosts Fiat Turin (0-3). This will be the third home game for Rytas so far. Rytas has scored the fourth-fewest points in the EuroCup (71.3 ppg.), but Fiat has allowed the fourth most (88.0 ppg.). And Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt (2-1) play just their second home game of the season when Mornar Bar (1-2) arrives. Coach Herbert's side is in good spirits after snagging their first road win at Rytas Vilnius last week. Interestingly, Mornar edged Fiat in its lone road game, but has dropped both of its games at home. While Skyliners is in the bottom half of the EuroCup offensively with just 74.0 points scored per game, Mornar has allowed the third-most in the EuroCup (91.0 ppg).