Valencia Basket (5-2) travels to Belgrade, Serbia to play Partizan (2-5) knowing that a Zenit home win against Trento would led the Spanish team advance to the Top 16. Partizan's options to stay in the Top 16 race depend on a win over Valencia. Last week, the hosts lost to Zenit on the road by just 4 points, despite Vanja Marinkovic's 11 points. Valencia was back on the winning track against Turk Telekom with Mike Tobey leading five players in double digits with his 15 points.
Earlier this season
In their only other prior matchup ever in the EuroCup, Valencia won at home by 79-71. Will Thomas had 17 points for Valencia and Tobey also had 15 for his team. Partizan was led by Marcus Paige's 14 points. It was a close game in the first half and only in three Valencia managed to build a solid cushion until the final buzzer. Partizan was punished by a 3 of 18 form the arc, and despite grabbing more rebounds and having less turnovers than Valencia, the hosts ended up taking the win.
Jock Landale and Louis Labeyrie are putting together solid performances in the paint for their teams this season. Landale averages 10.7 points and 7.1 rebounds and Labeyrie also has 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds for Valencia. When they met in the previous game, Landale was limited to a punishing 4 points for Partizan while Labeyrie had 12. This time around, it's Landale's turf and Partizan will be fighting for survival. Much of the action in the game will go through the paints on both ends, and these two players will be at the top of the list of protagonists.
Keys to victory: Partizan
Partizan has the third weakest offense in the competition (75.7 ppg.) and it plays against a perennial contender for the EuroCup title. However, playing in Belgrade is always an asset for Partizan and the fact that the hosts play for their lives against Valencia, could make all the difference. A good shooting selection would make the team go a long way, especially considering that the last time it met Valencia it was only four baskets behind on the final buzzer.
Keys to victory: Valencia
Valencia knows it does not depend on itself this week to advance. That lack of pressure could help the Spanish team to add a new win that would make it easier next week to advance. The guests have the fourth best defense in the league (75.1 ppg.) and has got back an iconic player like Rafa Martinez back at full throttle after his injury. In the last weeks the team has faltered a bit after a strong start, but if Valencia sticks to the plan, it will have the upper hand in the game in Belgrade.