Three-time champion Valencia is on a six-game winning streak in the competition and wants to keep its great momentum going through its best players, such as Will Thomas, Matt Thomas and Bojan Dubljevic, the competition's all-time top scorer. Zvezda comes off a loss against Unicaja Malaga and is ready to challenge one of the powerhouses in the competition, led by Joe Ragland, Billy Baron and Stratos Perperoglou. It is an already critical showdown in the playoff race in Top 16 Group G, so expect a good atmosphere at Pabellon Fuente de San Luis.
Joe Ragland is playing some of his best basketball in Zvezda, using his driving skills and step-back jumpers to make the difference in most games. Ragland is averaging 14.4 points and 6.4 assists this season for a performance index rating of 15.9. Valencia has a good number of reliable point guards, but Ragland will likely see most of his minutes against Sam Van Rossom (10.3 ppg., 55% 3FG, 5.6 apg.), an experienced playmaker who knows the competition inside out.
Did you know?
Zvezda has won in each of its last two visits to Valencia. It beat Valencia 68-77 in 2014 and 82-86, both in EuroLeague action. In the two teams' only EuroCup showdown at La Fonteta, Valencia edged Zvezda 82-80 behind 19 points from Vule Avdalovic. Marko Keselj played the game for Zvezda, briefly joined Valencia in the 2012-13 season and returned to Belgrade in 2017.
Keys to victory: Valencia
Valencia is shooting the ball extremely well this season, both inside (59%) and outside the arc (40.3%). That has helped the team rank second in assists (21.3 apg.) and that ball circulation, with Will Thomas and Dubljevic as its main frontcourt players, but with everyone involved on offense, will be critical to winning the game. Alberto Abalde and Matt Thomas must be ready for a big defensive battle against Billy Baron, a sharpshooter with unlimited range.
Keys to victory: Zvezda
Zvezda has been able to stop its opponents in the paint, limiting them to just 49.7% whooting in two-pointers and 32.6% from downtown. Being able to get good looks and keep Valencia to lower shooting percentages will give Zvezda a good chance to win if it locks down the defensive rebounds. With Mouhammad Faye still out, Mike Zirbes and Michael Ojo must step up on rebounding duty and stop Dubljevic down low.