Last 32, Group M analysis

Dec 31, 2013 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Last 32, Group M analysis
Budivelnik Kiev
Union Olimpija Ljubljana
Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem
Banvit Bandirma
All four teams in Group M have reasons for optimism due to their impressive rosters and proven stars. Budivelnik Kiev, a Eurocup semifinalist last season, is back and stronger than ever after Darjus Lavrinovic helped the club make a splash in its Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut. Union Olimpija Ljubljana, led by forward Deividas Gailius, who is enjoying a breakout campaign, won seven games en route to finishing first in regular season Group C. A decade after it won the ULEB Cup, Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem is blossoming again. Two-time Euroleague champ Yotam Halperin, a former All-Euroleague and All-Eurocup selection, leads a veteran squad that was second in Group E. And under head coach Dimitrios Itoudis, Banvit Bandirma is getting better all the time and a serious threat to make noise in the Last 32.
WINNING WITH DEPTH, TEAMWORK
Casey Jacobsen - Brose Baskets Bamberg - EB13
Deividas Gailius
Union Olimpija and Hapoel Jerusalem have one thing in common that has proven quite effective this season: both have several go-to guys, which makes these two teams nearly impossible to shut down. Five different Olimpija players averaged double figures in performance index rating during the regular season. Hapoel bettered that with six players, and each of them – guards Yotam Halperin and Derwin Kitchen; forwards Ronald Dupree, Lior Eliyahu and Josh Duncan; and center Art Parakhouski – is scoring between 11.4 and 13 points per game! Olimpija forward Deividas Gailius is his team's top scorer, but the Slovenian powerhouse's other stars stand out in categories that are tougher to measure on an individual basis; as a team, Olimpija ranked fifth of the 48 regular season teams in points allowed (69.8 ppg.).
Drake Diener - Dinamo Banco Sardegna Sassari - EC13 (photo Cedevita)
Ronald Dupree
THREE-POINT ACES
Darjus Lavrinovic - Budivelnik Kiev - EB13
Darjus Lavrinovic
The top scorers on Budivelnik Kiev and Banvit are big men, Darjus Lavrinovic for the former and Chuck Davis with the latter. However much of their ability to get the shots they like comes from three-point marksmen on the wings, who open up space inside. For Budivelnik, Blake Ahearn and Daequan Cook are best-known for their outside shooting, while Janis Strelnieks knocks down threes at an impressive rate. Banvit relies on Klemen Prepelic as a chief option from downtown, though power forward Cevher Ozer and point guard Stefan Markovic also help Davis. The ultimate message is clear; to be able to stop Budivelnik and Banvit's bigs in the paint, opposing teams must find the right perimeter defenders to deny their marksmen open looks from three.
Chuck Davis - Banvit (Photo banvitbasketbol.com)
Chuck Davis
OUTLOOK
Each of these clubs has plenty of experience at Europe's top levels, whether as a club (Olimpija played the Euroleague in every previous season of the current millennium; Budivelnik did so this season), through the coaching staff (Banvit boss Itoudis won five Euroleague crowns as an assistant at Panathinaikos) or the roster (Hapoel boasts a pair of former Euroleague winners). That mix ensures that Group M will be competitive and that the battle to advance will likely last until the final games. In addition to the aforementioned keys, any team that wins on the road becomes an instant favorite; after all, Olimpija, Hapoel and Banvit suffered just two home losses combined this season and Budivelnik's Lavrinovic led the Euroleague in home-court scoring.