First place in Group E will be at stake when Joventut Badalona hosts AS Monaco. Joventut (2-0) is on a four-game winning streak and is 13-1 at home in the EuroCup in the last two seasons. Vladimir Brodzianskiy (19.0 ppg.), Ante Tomic (16.0 ppg.) and Shawn Dawson (14.5 ppg.) are leading the team in the Top 16. Monaco (2-0) has won its Top 16 games by an average margin of 23.5 points behind Rob Gray (21.5 ppg.), Mathias Lessort (14.5 ppg., 5.0 rpg.) and Marcos Knight (12.5 ppg., 5.0 rpg.).
Two of the best centers in the competition go against each other. Lessort and Tomic are different kinds of big men, too, which adds more anticipation to this matchup. Lessort is an aggressive, physical center who set the Monaco record in offensive rebounds (8) against Unicaja. Tomic is a taller, more-experienced player with great passing skills and finesse. Joventut and Monaco run their respective offense through their centers, so this matchup should be critical for the outcomes of the next two games.
Joventut and Monaco face each other for the first time since the 1982-83 season. Those meetings were in the Korac Cup, where Monaco beat Joventut twice. Monaco rallied past Joventut 75-80 on January 12, 1983, behind 23 points from Rich Laurel, and also prevailed at home, 97-96 in overtime on February 2, 1983. Joventut, however, is 5-0 against French League teams in EuroCup action, downing Gravelines twice, and each Le Mans, Nanterre and Bourg once.
Keys to victory: Joventut
Joventut is the top-scoring team in the Top 16 (95.0 ppg.), shooting the ball with very high percentages (59.2% 2FG, 43.1% 3FG, 81.0% FT). It also leads this phase in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.15. Keeping this ball circulation and getting Brodzianskiy and Tomic involved down low should be the biggest keys for Joventut against a top-class defensive team. Joventut is allowing 88.0 points in the Top 16, much more than in the regular season (79.2 ppg.), so there is plenty of room for improvement.
Keys to victory: Monaco
Monaco allowed the fewest points in the regular season (72.4 ppg.) and has lowered that number in the Top 16 (68.0 ppg. allowed). The Principality powerhouse is forcing opponents into low shooting percentages (46.3% 2FG, 34.4% 3FG) and many turnovers (16.0 per game). Monaco is also averaging 13.0 offensive rebounds in the Top 16. Monaco should be loyal to its basketball identity to get a good chance to win in Badalona: intensity, hustle and great defensive focus, as well as controlling the game's tempo.