By: Sam Meyerkopf & Nick Gibson
Week three of the Top 16 can be a turning point for a lot of teams. An 0-3 start can be detrimental for trying to clinch a playoff berth, while getting a win to move to 1-2 can bring your team some new life. We’ve got three games on the Wednesday slate today, and if Milano shows up ready to play in Russia, they could all be close ones.
UNICS Kazan (2-0) vs. Olimpia Milano (0-2)
Sam: Last week in Athens you kept waiting for UNICS to bend a little bit, to crumble ever so slightly. But they didn’t flinch and walked out of Panathinaikos’ house with a road win against the supposed Group G favorite. If UNICS can show that kind of resilience on the road against a championship contender, a home game versus the worst team still left in the Top 16 should feel like a vacation. UNICS Kazan.
Nick: Vladimir Veremeenko is everything scouts hoped he’d be about three years earlier, Petr Samoylenko has hit his prime at age 34, and Henry Domercant is a bona fide MVP candidate. Mason Rocca can’t guard ’em all. UNICS Kazan.
Olympiacos (0-2) vs. Anadolu Efes (1-1)
Sam: Everyone gets beat up when the go to play CSKA in Moscow, so I won’t harp too hard on the performance or lack there of by Efes last week. Olympiacos also lost last week and looks to currently have the big man depth of your local high school junior varsity team. These teams have talent but not consistency, so in a coin flip I’ll take the team with the best player, Vassilis Spanoulis. Olympiacos.
Nick: He’s not perfect, but Joey Dorsey brings them something their defense has been missing all season long: length and quickness. It’s up to the Olympiacos guards to keep Oliver LaFayette and Tarence Kinsey out of the lane, and Joey Dorsey out of foul trouble. Olympiacos.
Real Madrid (1-1) vs. Gescrap Bilbao (1-1)
Sam: Real Madrid doesn’t lose twice in a row at home, even with Alex Mombru rolling and returning to his old stomping grounds. Jaycee Carroll is shooting 33% from deep in the Top 16, a number that can’t stay that low for long. Real Madrid.
Nick: Time to put that home embarrassment against Siena behind them. No better way than to conquer a Spanish foe. Bilbao.