The 7DAYS EuroCup returns with the Top 16, the second group stage of the competition. The best two teams in each round will advance to the playoffs and the competition will be tougher than ever. That also applies to the EuroCup FabFive Challenge, as with 16 teams instead of 24, there are fewer options and less room for surprises.
For the EuroCup teams, not only surviving but finishing as high as possible in the Top 16 is vital because all qualifiers to the playoffs will be ranked according to their final place, record and any applicable tie-breakers after this phase. What that means is that qualifying by finishing first or second is not the only goal. The higher team according to that Top 16's final cross-group ranking will have home-court advantage in any subsequent best-of-three playoff series, up to and including the finals.
So in this phase, you can certainly expect the best teams to keep using their strongest rotations well after they have qualified. But at this point, that's is a long-term issue. The Top 16 is just getting started! As always, keys to success in FabFive include looking for injury replacements who will suddenly get more minutes than usual as well as trying to identify potentially high-scoring games where more points will go through the basket.
With all that in mind, here are some FabFive suggestions for Top 16 Round 1:
Range 1 (0 to 3.99) – Miralem Halilovic of Boulogne Metropolitans 92 was expected to have a big role in the team but injuries and problems have him averaging 3.5 points until now. With Assem Marei leaving Metropolitans, Halilovic is set to become a main scoring option for his team. Expect him to get better and better.
Range 2 (4 to 7.99) – Same game, different player. Reggie Lynch should have a much bigger role for Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar from now on. Alan Williams is out for the season due to a knee injury and Lynch has started to deliver in both the EuroCup and the VTB League with some double-digit scoring nights. A solid choice.
Range 3 (8 to 11.99) – Alen Omic of JL Bourg en Bresse is out for at least six weeks due to a knee injury. (Get well soon, Alen!) Meanwhile, Zachery Peacock must step up and play a bigger role in Bourg's frontcourt. Peacock is a former French League MVP and is ready to take more responsibilities going forward.
Range 4 (12 to 14.99) – Dolomiti Energia Trento enters the Top 16 in style, facing a big challenge: going against another black-and-white dressed team, Partizan NIS Belgrade, in the Serbian capital. Its best players must step up and one of them is definitely big man JaCorey Williams, an explosive scorer and finisher.
Range 5 (15.0 or higher) – Even when it is not recommended to have two players from the same team, Danilo Andjusic of Bourg is a solid choice. He is having a career-best season and is an outstanding shooter. Bourg has always stepped up in tough times during the season, so Andjusic should play well against Buducnost.