By: Sam Meyerkopf and Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
If you love math, then this is your week. If you hate math, but love basketball, you should check out the Euroleague’s breakdown of possible scenarios as Groups G and H get down to businesss tonight:
Panathinaikos Athens is qualified. With a victory in the next game, it will win Group G.
Unics will advance with a victory in the next game, and will finish first.
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan is out.
Fenerbahce Ulker can only advance with a victory AND a victory of the Greens.
FC Barcelona Regal is qualified and group champion.
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv is also in the Playoffs as second in Group H.
UNICS (3-2) vs. *Panathinaikos (3-2)
Sam: Here we have Panathinaikos with a chance to clinch first place and avoid Barcelona, and UNICS with playoff hopes hinging on this very game. What a contest it should be. Even though they lost to Milano last week and it seems there might be too many cracks on this team to make a Championship run, Panathinaikos has so much more experience than UNICS does in big games. Panathinaikos.
Nick: I’d rather wax my chest than play Zeljko Obradovic when he’s got something to gain. And believe you me: avoiding Barcelona in the playoffs is quite the prize. Panathinaikos.
Emporio Armani (2-3) vs. Fenerbahce Ulker (2-3)
Sam: No big deal, but Mirsad Turkcan is only averaging 11.5 boards since his return to the team, and they’ve flat out looked much better. Turkcan’s rebounding and veteran leadership has righted the ship for Fenerbahce, but is it too little, too late? Milano is surging, but Bojan Bogdanovic stays hot, Roko Ukic continues to be in control of the offense, and Fenerbahce comes out with an advancing win in Italy. OH MY ISTANBUL, Fenerbahce is in the Playoffs. Fenerbahce Ulker.
Nick: This summer, Bojan Bogdanovic, James Gist and Curtis Jerrells breathed new life into Fenerbahce Ulker after last season’s meltdown. Then, a locked out Thabo Sefolosha showed up in mid-October to give a boost to an already talented team. The man trusted to lead them to a hometown Final Four was Neven Spahija.
I bought the hype. Now, Fenerbahce heads into an enemy territory in which their enemies—Milano—have been their own worst enemies all season long. To clarify: Milano has played poorly for most of the season and now, thanks to two straight unlikely wins against UNICS and at Panathinaikos, they have a shot to knock off the Turks. There’s really nothing left for Spahija to say at this point. His guys need to go out and, for once, look like the team they can be on the road. Fenerbahce Ulker.
Zalgiris Kaunas (0-5) vs. Bennet Cantu (2-3)
Sam: Both teams are playing for nothing, but in a battle that doesn’t matter, I’m taking the team that has played with the most heart of any Euroleague team this year. Also Doron Perkins was an absolute animal last week. Bennet Cantu.
Nick: Still in its infancy, Zalgirio Arena has proven to be an elite European facility and has the potential—if the game’s weighty enough—to produce some of the continent’s best atmospheres as well. Today, however, the Pressure Scale is empty, yet rest assured that Kaunas’ finest will still pour into the stands to root for their beloved Green & White. I think local joker Mantas Kalnietis will let them leave with a triumphant taste in their mouths, if only a hint. Zalgiris.
*Barcelona Regal (5-0) vs. *Maccabi Electra (3-2)
Sam: After getting knocked down by Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final and then narrowly escaping Cantu with a one point win, we have to start questioning when Barcelona is going to stop just going through the motions. Even after getting scratched a few times, Barcelona will still take care of a Maccabi team that have a bunch of parts that don’t fit together. Barcelona Regal.
Nick: I’m bored. Barcelona.