by Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
Nine weeks with 12 games apiece and we know three things: Maccabi and Montepaschi are the best, Cibona is the worst, and the other 21 have been frustratingly fickle. With 14 of 16 Top 16 spots reserved, four games in two groups capture our interest heading into the regular season’s final week. Here’s what you need to know:
Group C’s Battle: Cholet Basket (4-5) and Lietuvos Rytas (3-6)
Here’s the deal: Cholet wins and they’re in; Lietuvos Rytas needs a win and a Cholet loss to advance (Rytas owns the head-to-head tiebreaker on point differential). If they both lose, Cholet is through to the Top 16. The match-ups…
Fenerbahçe Ülker (6-3) vs. Cholet Basket (4-5)
An easy win against the EL’s doormat, Cibona, has replenished Cholet’s confidence stores, but Fenerbahçe have a similar objective as they try to get back on track heading into the Top 16. FB Ülker are losers of two straight and a third could slide them down the group’s third spot and set them up with tougher match-ups in the next round. With Roko Ukic out for Ülker, Cholet’s Vule Avdalovic gets the check in the point guard battle; Vule’s 13 assists last week—one shy of the EL record—allowed Sammy Mejia to orbit around the rock and toss it in when he got the touches. Mejia’s the anti-Kobe: his team is 3-1 when he gets up 15+ shot attempts. After leading the EL in boards during the league’s first half of play, Randal Falker has lost his flare, collecting only 2.7 per game over his last three. Fenerbahçe has the size to rebound effectively, but Gasper Vidmar was their only source of athleticism under the glass and now his leg’s torn up. Darjus Lavrinovic’s flat-footedness should have Randal Falker licking his chops.
Cibona vs. Lietuvos Rytas
The last time these two faced off, Jonas Valanciunas rocketed up draft boards with a beastly 15 points (6/7 shooting), 9 rebound, 2 block effort in just 22 minutes while Milko Bjelica snagged 10 off the glass en route to a +20 rebounding edge for the Lithuanians. Rytas shot an insane 74 percent from inside and didn’t have a single shot blocked, swatting away five themselves. One mustn’t read between the lines to recognize Cibona was simply outclassed on the interior, and here’s something that doesn’t help: Cibona will go to war without their most prolific big man, the young Leon Radosevic. In Vilnius, the Sarunas Jasikevicius pick-up is starting to look less like a symbolic gesture and more like Continue Reading…