This week: Looking ahead at the Top 16

Nov 11, 2019 by Print
This week: Looking ahead at the Top 16

Qualification possibilities

No teams have yet qualified for the Top 16, but there are five teams with 5-1 record, and one with 4-2 record, that intend to change it in Round 7. In Group A, Segafredo Virtus Bologna and Promitheas Patras hold 5-1 record, and can each qualify with a win on Wednesday. Both teams can also qualify if they lose. Virtus would qualify simply if Promitheas wins, while Promitheas can secure its Top 16 if it loses, but both Andorra and Virtus win.

In Group B, Partizan NIS Belgrade (5-1) will secure Top 16 if it beats Tofas Bursa (3-3) on the road, and in Group C it is UNICS Kazan (5-1) that can qualify with a road win over Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana (1-5). Another team that can qualify from Group C is Joventut Badalona (4-2), which will qualify if it beats and sweeps Germani Brescia Leonessa (3-3) combined with Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul (3-3) winning against Nanterre 92 (2-4). In Group D, Unicaja Malaga holds 5-1 record, and it can qualify if it defeats the visiting Asseco Arka Gdyinia (3-3), and get some additional help. Along with a win, Unicaja would also need either Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (0-6) or Galatasaray Doga Sigorts Istanbul (4-2) to win on the road.

Staying hot

It will be interesting to see if some of the hottest teams in the competition can continue their respective winning streak. Promitheas has won its last four games, and obviously a fifth straight win would secure it a place in the next stage. However, EuroCup newcomers are travelling to Monaco to face the only team that did beat the so far. Umana Reyer Venezia (4-2) opened the season with two losses, but is not a four-game winning streak which includes back-to-back road wins, a 72-81 victory at Ryzas Vilnius and an impressive 13-point triumph at the previously undefeated Partizan. In Group C, UNICS holds the longest streak in the competition this season with five straight victories, which it takes in the Slovenian capital against a desperate Cedevita Olimpija which was winless until last week and is trying to turn things around. Which is exactly what EWE Baskets Oldenburg (3-3) has remarkably done. Oldenburg lost its first three games, but then won its last three, including last two on the road at Arka and Buducnost. Now, Oldenburg will try to make it four with Galatasaray paying a visit.

Loko in a tough spot

On the other hand, some teams badly need to end their slides before things start to turn really complicated for them, and a prime team in that position is Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (2-4). A former champion which holds a EuroCup record for most consecutive wins with 20, and has done it twice, currently holds a three-game losing streak, which ties for the longest losing run for Lokomotiv in competition history. To avoid making it an unprecedented four in row, Lokomotiv will need to win on the road against red-hot Venice. What makes Loko's situation worse, is the two other teams with 2-4 record – Limoges CSP and Rytas – play each other. And with Rytas already holding a sweep over Lokomotiv, dropping to a 2-5 in a share of fifth place would make it hard a hard spot for Lokomotiv to climb out of. In their first clash in Round 2, Lokomotiv used its defense to force 18 turnovers and allow just 63 points. However, in other five games this season Lokomotiv has allowed at least 75 points four times, and will need to find its defensive mojo in Venice to end the losing run.

Staying out of trouble

Monaco (3-3) and Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul (3-3) are two other teams that have compromised their position in the standings in recent weeks, and need a win to end their slide. That's especially true for Darussafaka, which opened the season winning three out of four games in Group C, only to drop the last two on home floor by a combined 6 points, against UNICS and Cedevita Olimpija. This week Darussafaka visits Nanterre 92 (2-4), and another loss would put it in a dog-fight for a Top 16 spot, so the team will put faith in its competition-best defense which allows just 68.8 points per game. Meanwhile, a win would make it a sweep for Darussafaka over Nanterre, and put the team from Istanbul in a comfortable position after Round 7. Monaco has also lost its last two, but unlike Darussafaka, Monaco's losses came on the road. What makes Monaco's situation even better, it holds a two game advantage over a pair of 1-5 teams in its Group A – Maccabi Rishon LeZion and ratiopharm Ulm – so a game against red-hot Promitheas is not a must-win. However, Monaco has scored more than 77 points only twice this season, and is shooting just 30.1% from three-point range, fifth-lowest mark in the competition.

In triple-double hunt

Last week Codi Miller-McIntyre of Cedevita Olimpija was one assist shy of a triple double. In a road victory over Darussafaka he had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. There have previously been seven triple-doubles in EuroCup history, and the last player to do it in December 2015 has been Quino Colom. In UNICS Kazan uniform he collected 15 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. It's been almost four years since that game, and Miller-McIntyre came as close as it gets to join the prestigious club. He was the closest to a triple-double this year, but he is just one of half-dozen player flirting with a triple-double this season. As a matter of fact, Julyan Stone of Venice was also not far from achieving this feat last week, when he had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists in a road win over Partizan. Ulm's teenage sensation Kilian Hayes had 15 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in Round 5, while Trento's point guard Aaron Craft had 11 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in Round 2. In the opening week of the season, Tofas playmaker Tarik Phillip made a memorable debut with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists against Limoges, and that same round Oldenburg big man Rasid Mahalbasic had 15 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists against Arka. Every round so far there has been a performance that came close to a triple-double territory, and the hunt to reach this achievement continues in Round 7.