A battle of masterminds
Two legendary coaches meet for the first time since 2009 in this series. Dusko Vujosevic joined Limoges early in the Last 32 and led the club to the eighthfinals by knocking off mighty Valencia Basket in the process. Vujosevic has led Partizan to 22 domestic titles plus the 1989 Korac Cup plus Euroleague Final Four appearances in 1988 and 2010. Aito has won four different European club competitions in his career - Saporta Cup, Korac Cup, FIBA Eurocup and ULEB Cup - and reached three Euroleague finals with Barcelona (1990, 1996 and 1997). Aito also won nine Spanish League titles with Barcelona. Expect a great tactical battle in both games with these great coaches.
Gran Canaria: Strength at home is key
Gran Canaria has the home-court advantage in this home-and-away series, which could be critical if you look back at the club's results in recent seasons. Indeed, Gran Canaria has been rock-solid at home, winning 23 of its last 25 games in front of its fans in Eurocup action. The only two teams able to beat Gran Canara at home were Khimki Moscow Region in last season's Eurocup finals, 66-91, and French side Strasbourg, which registered a 76-85 win at Gran Canaria arena in the Last 32 this season. Gran Canaria, however, is 6-3 at home against French teams, with losses to ASVEL Villeurbanne and SLUC Nancy in the past.
Limoges: Two-leg series bring back good memories
Limoges CSP has not played a home-and-away series since 2000, but I am sure none of its fans have forgotten it. In the 1999-00 Korac Cup, Limoges was led by Marcus Brown and
Coach Dusko Ivanovic as went 5-1 in the group stage to advance to the sixteenthfinals, from which points home-and-away series would determine who advanced until one team was left standings. Limoges swept Unics Kazan in the first round, went on to thrash Kyiv in the eighthfinals and had to battle hard to defeat Turk Telekom on point difference to advance to the semifinals. Limoges stopped Girona in the semifinals by tying the first game on the road and winning by 12 points at home. Once in the finals against Unicaja Malaga, Brown scored 31 points in the first leg to lead Limoges to an 80-58 win, which was more than enough to control the series and lift the trophy. Limoges also won the French League and the French Cup titles in that historic season.
Limoges: a history against Spanish teams
The first leg against Gran Canaria marks the 50th game Limoges will play against a Spanish teams. Some of its biggest wins and most painful losses came against teams from the Iberian Peninsula. Not only did Limoges beat Unicaja for the Korac Cup in 2000, it also lifted the Saporta Cup trophy after beating Joventut Badalona in 1988 and downed Real Madrid in the 1993 Euroleague semifinals on its way to its only continental crown. On the other hand, Limoges lost the 1987 Korac Cup finals to Barcelona, lost 81-36 in the 1994 Euroleague against Real Madrid and Los Blancos also prevailed in the 1995 Euroleague semifinals. Amazingly enough, Limoges has an even record in 49 games against Spanish teams - 24 wins, 24 losses and one tie in a two-leg series against Girona in 2000.
Diversified offenses - the best way to succeed
In its six games in the competition until now, Limoges has had eight different double-digit scorers. Three of them - Will Daniels, Nobel Boungou-Colo and Ali Traore – have reached double digits in scoring four times, showing everyone can score on this team. Seven players average 6 points or better, with Boungou-Colo leading the team at just 13.4 points per game. The same could be said about Gran Canaria, a team in which everyone feels important. Gran Canaria had 11 players score in double-digits during the Last 32. Only four active players - not counting the injured Kyle Kuric - average double digits in scoring, with Alen Omic leading everyone at 13.7 points per game. In other words, both teams have a lot of options on offense and good scouting will be more important than ever in this particular series.