Calculations are upon us
Going into the second half of the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season means that some teams are getting close to qualifying for the Top 16, and the early candidates are the three unbeaten squads – Darussafaka Istanbul in Group A, FC Bayern Munich in Group B, and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in Group C, all of whom will advance if they win this week. The situation is quite different in Group D, however, where three teams have 3-2 records and three others are at 2-3. On the other hand, with no teams being winless after five games, it will likely be at least three more rounds before the first teams are eliminated from the Top 16 contention. Every single team still very much has its destiny in its own hands.
Round 6 tidbits
Each team has its own story of how it got to its current record, and the recap of Cedevita Zagreb’s regular season so far is one of the more curious ones. Cedevita has 2-3 record in Group A, despite leading by double-digits in each game this season. The first of those three losses was at home, against Fiat Turin, the team that Cedevita travels to face this Wednesday. The game between Bayern and the 2016 champion Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul has a very different feel than what it was before their opening week matchup. The two teams have gone in the opposite directions since that Round 1 game, which Bayern won 69-86. Bayern is one of three undefeated teams in the competition, and has a competition-high +102-point scoring difference. Galatasaray, one the other hand, is coming off only its first win of the season and at 1-4 shares the worst record in the competition. Lietkabelis Panevezys will be in the new territory, playing its first official game in Israel when it visits Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem. One of the Lietkabelis players who does have the experience, and a good one, of playing against Jerusalem is the Round 5 MVP Adas Juskevicius. He was a member of Lietuvos Rytas Vilinus in 2014-15 season, when Rytas beat Jerusalem twice with a double-digit margin during the EuroCup regular season.
There will be some serious banging on the boards when Lokomotiv hosts Limoges CSP in Group C. both teams are ranked among the top three offensive rebounding teams so far this season. Lokomotiv ranks second with 11.4 offensive boards per game and Limoges is tied for third with an 11.2 average in that department. Interestingly, Limoges is also tied for last place in defensive rebounding with 20.6 per contest. There is a shootout alert issued for St. Petersburg where Zenit will hosts Herbalife Gran Canaria. The two teams not only share first place in Group D, but also feature high-scoring offenses. Gran Canaria ranks second in scoring (89.4 ppg.), having scored a total of 447 points so far, just 1 behind the league-leader RETAbet Bilbao Basket, while Zenit is tied for fourth place (86.4 ppg.) Their first meeting, which went in Gran Canaria’s favor 97-87, could scoring-wise be close what we are about to see this Tuesday, too.
Looking for déjà vu
Apart from expecting to see some scoring déjà vu in St. Petersburg, a couple of individuals will certainly try to go for a repeat of what they did in Round 1 when they first meet this week’s opponents. In Round 1, ratiopharm Ulm's Trey Lewis bagged 26 points in his EuroCup debut, a season-opening come-from-behind win over Tofas Bursa. Since that game Lewis has had his ups and downs, scoring more than 10 points only once in the last four games. Fiat Turin’s Trevor Mbakwe had a career-best performance index rating of 28 in a Round 1 victory over Cedevita. Mbakwe has been one of the leaders for Fiat, a newcomer in the competition, with 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for a team-high average performance index rating of 18.8 this season. But Fiat is on a two-game losing streak, and some déjà vu against Cedevita would go a long way towards the team from Turin getting an extended stay in the competition.
Facts from downtown
Triple threats Scottie Wilbekin of Darussafaka and Klemen Prepelic of Levallois Metropolitans face off in Group A, while Zenit’s Kyle Kuric goes against Gran Canaria’s Marcus Eriksson. In each case, the opposing players have combined to make 32 triples through the first five rounds. Wilbekin and Kuric are the league co-leaders – along with John Roberson of ASVEL Villeurbanne – with 17 triples made so far, while Prepelic and Eriksson have hit 15 apiece. Life will be pretty tough for Gran Canaria, which allows the fourth-highest accuracy from three-point range (40.2%) and knows what kind of threat it faces in its former player Kuric as well as his backcourt mate Demonte Harper. Kuric is on a 37 game-streak of making at least 1 triple, and 32 of those games he played with Gran Canaria. A real challenge could be in for ASVEL’s Roberson who goes against a Dolomiti Energia Trento defense that allows a league-low 27.9% from behind the arc.