Category Archives: Basketball Previews

Euroleague – Final match preview

This season’s Euroleague ends on Sunday, May 15, when the teams of CSKA and Fenerbahce decide the new champion of Europe, and in the hereafter follows the final match preview, which is scheduled for 20 hours. Match for third place in this year’s Final Four tournament between Lokomotiv Kuban and Laboral Kutxa will be played on the same day at 17 hours.

In the Euroleague final without any doubt will find two teams that have shown the most throughout the season. In the final will meet old acquaintances, teacher and student, Zeljko Obradovic, who in his career won the Euroleague trophy as much as 8 times and his former assistant from the era of Panathinaikos, Dimitrios Itoudis. CSKA reached the final relatively easy, controlled the entire course of the semi-final match against Lokomotiv Kuban, and Nando De Colo demonstrated which is why MVP of the regular part of the competition and the best scorer of the Euroleague. Although the final result does not reflect the real balance of power on the court, CSKA during the entire encounter knew what they want and most importantly, the players knew how to implement it. On the other hand was seen real drama in the second semi-final duel, and the general impression is that the Laboral Kutxa dropped the victory in the finish of the regular part, when Kostas Sloukas brought the tie to his team and another 5 minutes to correct the errors. Then came on the scene masterful Bogdan Bogdanovic, who 9 of his 18 points scored in overtime. It was obvious that the players of Fenerbahce played under a lot of pressure loaded by burden of favorites, and big problems to the frontcourt made Ioannis Bourousis, which opened space to other players of Laboral Kutxa.

Fenerbahce achieved a historic success and advanced to the final of the elite competition, and it seems that some players of the Turkish team played the semi-final match with a lot of reserves, and it is expected to provide the best in the final. Unlike Laboral Kutxa, CSKA at this tournament did not come as an underdog and is difficult to repeat another bad day of some players of Fenerbahce. Also, CSKA does not have such a quality and versatile center as is Bourousis, and the team of Fenerbahce play probably the best defense against the pick and roll, so that inside game of the Moscow team could be completely cut off. The chance of CSKA is lying in the games of Russian players, notably Andrey Vorontsevich and Vitaly Fridzon, including Nikita Kurbanov and recently recovered Viktor Khryapa. In the final, a lot is expected from one of European best point guards, Milos Teodosic, who also played a lot inferior semi-final match. On the other hand, Luigi Datome should realize the advantage on the forward position, primarily because of the difference in strength compared to his guards.

In the final, especially when it comes to teams of this quality, it is very difficult to predict the eventual winner. Both teams have certain advantages, but also disadvantages, that opponent can exploit, but is expected that inspiration of the individual bring crucial prevail. Great matches produce great players, and it is certain that some of the participants in this match we will watch for the last time in European basketball, whose quality from year to year decline. However, the players who will be on Sunday night found on the court guarantee a spectacle.


Eurocup Finals – Battle for the trophy and a place in the Euroleague

On Friday, 22 April will be played the first final match of the Eurocup between the French Strasbourg IG and Turkish Galatasaray, and this will be a battle for both the trophy in the second tier competition in Europe, as well as for a place in the Euroleague for the season 2016/17. The first match will be played in France, while the second meeting is scheduled on April 27 in Turkey, and today we will present both clubs, as well as their road to the finals of the competition.

French Strasbourg IG is a club with a long tradition, which from the bench is headed by an experienced coach and national coach of France, Vincent Collet, and the place in the finals have fought after in the semi-finals eliminated the biggest surprise this season, the Italian Trento. One of the players in which the coach Collet has great confidence is an American point forward Mardy Collins, who found himself in this season’s All-Eurocup First Team. Strasbourg IG is a very experienced team, that knows how to play on the result, and their place in the final is not a big surprise this season, and should bear in mind that Strasbourg in the first part of the season played Euroleague and that the team is assembled in line with that. On the road to the finals, Strasbourg firstly was better than the German Oldenburg, and then in a thrilling quarter-final duel eliminated the unpleasant Russian Nizhny Novgorod. Disadvantages of French representatives in relation to Galatasaray may be less fond of players in the paint, but the fans certainly looking forward to the return of forward Kyle Weems, who in the meantime recovered from injury.

Galatasaray is one of the clubs that is constantly near the top of the European basketball, but they always lacked something for big result, and now they got a chance to win a European trophy, but also to return to the Euroleague. The team from the bench is led by Turkish national team head coach, Ergin Ataman, who was at Galatasaray since 2012. Turkish club to the finals came after they firstly eliminated two teams that were in the first part of the season competing in the Euroleague – Pinar Karsiyaka and Bayern, while in the semi-final duels with Gran Canaria was seen great drama, and Galatasaray in overtime thanks to a better score-difference in two matches managed to eliminate a high-quality Spanish team. Management of the club over the previous summer has allocated substantial funds for the playing squad, and the team during the season supplemented. Even two players of Galatasaray found themselves in an All-Eurocup First Team, the point guard Errick McCollum and swingman Vladimir Micov, while the center Stephane Lasme found in All-Eurocup Second Team, which speaks about this season’s games of the mentioned players. Besides them, in the second part of the season, the club strengthened and point guard Curtis Jerrells, who arrived from UNICS. His role is to relieve McCollum in the offense, who is primarily brilliant scorer and Strasbourg IG players will have a very difficult task to stop these players. Potential problem for Galatasaray can pose an injury of the power forward Caleb Green, whom should replace Charles Davis. Galatasaray possesses greater depth than Strasbourg IG, and is a slight favorite before this duels, but they will have to demonstrate on the court.

Decisive battles for the Euroleague Final Four – Day second

Euroleague enters the final phase, and on 13 April are continuing decisive quarter-final battles for the placement on the Euroleague Final Four in Berlin, and today we will present day second quarter-final couples that are beginning their duels on 13 April. Second matches of these quarter-final series will continue two days later, and then the series are moving on the court of weaker ranked participants of the playoffs, and these encounters are scheduled for 19 April, and if neither side by then does not record 3 wins, fourth match will be played on April 21, while the eventual fifth match is on the program on 26 April.

The first couple that begins its duel on the second day are Lokomotiv Kuban and Barcelona. Although Lokomotiv Kuban in this duel comes with the home court advantage, Barcelona has overcome crisis of results and it seems that in the right moment raised form before the most important matches of the season, so this will be a very interesting and equalized series, and would not be a surprise that these teams play all five matches. These rivals have already met this season in the first phase of the Euroleague and the score is 1-1, and each team has achieved a triumph on its court. However, that does not mean anything, because both teams have progressed significantly in the meantime. Coaches of both teams have already won the Euroleague trophy – Georgios Bartzokas 2013 with Olympiakos, while Xavi Pascual led from the bench Barcelona to their last title of European champion in 2010. By looking at rosters of these teams, it seems that Barcelona possess more quality and more experienced roster, but Lokomotiv Kuban this season playing very disciplined and concentrated throughout the match and are capable to make a problem to every opponent. On the other hand, Barcelona this season opted for the composition which is a combination of youth and experience, and have the highest quality at the guard positions, where playing Tomas Satoransky and Carlos Arroyo, followed by the legendary Juan Carlos Navarro, Pau Ribas and super-talented Alex Abrines. The player from whom all starts in the game of Lokomotiv Kuban is certainly point guard Malcolm Delaney, who plays perhaps the best season in Europe, and if the Barcelona players be able to stop him, will be closer to victory.

The last quarter-final pair that will fight for the Euroleague Final Four are Laboral Kutxa and Panathinaikos. These two teams have often met during the last 15 years, and the Greek team is more successful in those duels. However, Panathinaikos last seasons is not so dominant force in Europe, especially since Zeljko Obradovic left the bench after 13 years, which are considered as the most successful in the history of the club. The previous seasons club wandered, and often changed coaches, and now the chance has received the current coach of Serbia and a student of the legendary Obradovic, Aleksandar Djordjevic. To him and the players before the start of the season Management set as a goal placement on the Euroleague Final Four, and on that way now is standing Laboral Kutxa, which this season playing remarkable. Coach Velimir Perasovic, who once was a rival of Aleksandar Djordjevic on the court, doing an outstanding job today in a team that in a very difficult group F of Top 16 phase took second place, leaving behind teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Olympiakos, which sufficiently speaks about the power of the club from Vitoria. Panathinaikos has unconvincingly started a new season, but after the arrival of players like Elliot Williams, Vince Hunter and Marquez Haynes, the club started playing much better and got into a series of victories, so now full of confidence going on a duel with Laboral Kutxa, which on other side has its own trumps, primarily veteran center Ioannis Bourousis, who plays one of the best seasons in his career. A potential trouble for the team from Vitoria could represent an injury of the French guard Fabien Causeur. There is also a brilliant shooter Davis Bertans which only because of severe injuries now does not play in the NBA. Latvian shooter recently returned on the court, and already a few weeks ago has with a shot for 3 points in the last moments brought his team victory over Real Madrid. Coach Perasovic has found the right role for him in the team and his job is pretty clear – shoots when is in the open position, or runs out of blocks and shoot the basket. In this series is very difficult to predict the final winner, as both of these teams have their own advantages and flaws, so we expect a lot of tactical circumvention of two coaches.

Decisive battles for the Euroleague Final Four – Day First

This season’s Euroleague is heating up and decisive quarterfinal battles for the Final Four starting already on 12th and 13th of April, which this year will be held in Berlin, in Mercedes Benz Arena from 12 to 15 May, and today we will present the first two quarterfinal couples, which are beginning their series on the first day. The placement on the Final Four will achieve the teams which first reach 3 victories. The second matches are scheduled for 14 and 15 April, while the third and the eventual fourth duels are scheduled for 18 and 19 April and on 20 and 21 April, and the potential fifth matches will be played on 26 April.

The first quarter-final duel is scheduled on April 12 in Moscow, where CSKA and Crvena zvezda Telekom will start the battle for Berlin. CSKA is the team with by far the most participation on the Euroleague final tournaments in the 21st century, and the most important trophy in European club basketball has won 6 times, of which twice in this century (2006 and 2008). The club that from the bench led Dimitrios Itoudis without any major problems comes to the very end, however, in recent years have played weakest exactly the most important matches. CSKA is a big favorite against almost every team with which is meeting, and this is the case against Belgrade’s Crvena zvezda Telekom, which is one of the most pleasant surprises this season. One of the trumps of Crvena zvezda Telekom in this quarterfinal series can be a home court, on which this season were beating some of the best European teams. Besides, red and whites have shown that they can play very well on visiting court, but still the Russian powerhouse is a heavy favorite, primarily because of the great experience of the team. Deciding duels in this series will be leading in the paint, where Andrey Vorontsevich and Kyle Hines on one side, and Maik Zirbes and Quincy Miller on other will lead exhausting battles. Backcourt of CSKA is one of the best and Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo are one of the best tandems in Euroleague and Stefan Jovic and Tarence Kinsey expects a very difficult task. Statistically, CSKA is the team that this season in the Euroleague is scoring the most points in average, while the trademark in the game of Crvena zvezda Telekom is very quality defense. Although it could not be said that they expects an easy task, CSKA is a big favorite in this series, due to the quality and experience, but also because home court advantage in an eventual fifth game.

The second pair which will its first quarter-final clash begin on 12 April are Turkish Fenerbahce and defender of the trophy, Real Madrid. This will also be the biggest quarterfinals derby, and it is for certain that we are expecting a very thrilling series. These teams have met in last season’s semi-final, when Real Madrid was more successful, while they this season met twice and the result is 1-1 in wins, and each team has triumphed in front of their fans. Both teams in recent seasons cultivate a similar style of basketball, with very quick turn of play and have several players who can play in various positions. Fenerbahce is a team that without any doubt has shown the most this season, while Real Madrid won placement both in the playoffs, and also earlier in Top 16 secured just in the last rounds. The great handicap for the team of Fenerbahce represents the injury of Jan Vesely, who along with Luigi Datome and Bogdan Bogdanovic makes the main axis of the Turkish representative. Apart from the outstanding play in defense, Jan Vesely after returning from the NBA has significantly expanded his offensive repertoire, so his absence will be almost impossible to compensate. Real Madrid had minimally changed the roster which last season won the Euroleague, and the team had left Ioannis Bourousis (instead of whom has arrived Willy Hernangomez); followed by Facundo Campazzo which is on loan at the team of Murcia; Marcus Slaughter who has strengthened Darussafaka; then Salah Mejri, who has decided to try his hand in the NBA. The team has left and K.C. Rivers, which in the first part of season played for Bayern, but in December has returned to Real Madrid. Players who have arrived in the Royal club during the previous summer certainly possess an exceptional quality, but probably the biggest boost of Real Madrid is remain of Sergio Llull, who decided to stay in Europe despite the offer of Houston Rockets, which will supposedly and this summer try to engage the explosive guard. Llull and Sergio “Chacho” Rodriguez are the players from which very much depends game of Real Madrid, so guards of Fenerbahce will have an extremely difficult task to stop the organizers of the game of the Madrid club. On the other side, another returnee from the NBA league, Luigi Datome, as well as one of the best shooters in Europe, Bogdan Bogdanovic, are playing the entire season at a very high level and often represent unresolvable enigma to all opponents. The team of Fenerbahce may have a crucial advantage on the bench, considering that the coach of the Turkish team Zeljko Obradovic is the most successful European coach, that behind him have a handful of big matches such this and certainly has maximally prepared his team and studied all the weaknesses of the rival. A slight advantage in this series is on the side of Fenerbahce, which masterly playing the entire season, and there is also home court advantage, which may decide the winner of this quarterfinal.

Euroleague – Preview of Top 16 Round 8

This week, after a break continues the Euroleague and hereinafter follow the preview of Top 16 phase round 8 of the most elite basketball club competition in the Old Continent.

The first duel in the Group E is scheduled for Thursday at 18:30 pm, when the Turkish Darussafaka will welcome the Spanish Unicaja. After a brilliant played the first phase of the Euroleague, Darussafaka in the Top 16 played several fairly weak matches, and with one victory they are at the bottom of the group. Unicaja also splendidly played the first part of the competition, while in the second half of the season not shine, with only two achieved triumphs and five defeats, and the great impact on slightly weaker performances is certainly the result of serious injury of the starting point guard Stefan Markovic. For the Spaniards this match is of utmost importance, in order to try to get involved in the fight for the playoffs of the Euroleague, but expects them extremely dangerous opponent, by whom have already suffered defeat on away in the first phase.

On the same day, Lokomotiv Kuban will on their court play their match against Cedevita. The Russian team looks great on the court during the whole season, constantly playing in a high rhythm, so with the score of 5-2 hold second place in Group E table. Team recently joined the brilliant shooter Matt Janning, which in tandem with Malcolm Delaney can inflict major problems to every opponent. Lokomotiv Kuban coach Georgios Bartzokas has already won the Euroleague and brilliantly preparing his team for all matches. On the other hand, Cedevita with the score 2-5 is already written-off, but they played the best matches of the season they when they were written off in advance. However, in the match against this opponent have very little chance to win.

Derby match will play home Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce. Greek powerhouse does not shine this season, in the meantime have engaged two signings to reinforce competition in the team, but also to try to ensure the playoffs of the Euroleague, given that they are on division of the 3rd and 4th place in the table, with only one win over Anadolu Efes. In the guest is coming team that is unbeaten in the Top 16 phase, and considered by many one of the favorites to win the Euroleague this season. Starting with the most trophy European coach Zeljko Obradovic, through great players like Jan Vesely, Luigi Datome, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Bobby Dixon, it seems that the team of Fenerbahce does not have a weak spot. Trump card of Panathinaikos can be home court and noisy crowd, but we’ll see for how much this will be enough to jeopardize the powerful Turkish team.

The last match in Group E will be played on Friday, and Crvena zvezda Telekom will in front of their fans try to make another feat this season and beat Anadolu Efes. The Belgrade club played some great games this season, especially at home, when the respectively were beaten Real Madrid, Khimki and Lokomotiv Kuban, so they are now in an excellent position ahead of the second part of the Top 16 and with a score of 4-3 occupy third place in the group. Anadolu Efes this season very well selected the team, are filled in all positions, but recording results below expectations, so to them this match is extremely important in order to reach the play-off. Potential problem for Crvena zvezda Telekom is the fact that they will not play in their hall in Belgrade, but were forced to host Turkish team outside of Belgrade, in the hall where they were not played a match. However, the previous meeting of these rivals was extremely exciting and resolved in the last seconds, so we certainly can expect basketball spectacle.

The first match in Group F will be played on Thursday in Russia between the home side CSKA and Khimki. CSKA is a team about which is all known, for years are at the top of European basketball, and in recent seasons they eluded the Euroleague trophy in the final moments. Khimki this season formed a powerful team, but they do not have the continuity of results as their rival, whom they managed to inflict defeat in the first match of Top 16 phase. CSKA is expectedly in first place in the group, with the score of 5-2, while Khimki occupies the third position with one win less. The club from Moscow will certainly be very motivated to revenge Khimki, but also to provide the best possible placement before the playoffs, so the slight advantage is on the side of CSKA.

On the same day, German Brose Baskets will on their own court play the match against Real Madrid. The defender of the trophy without any difficulty celebrated in the first match of the two teams, but it should be noted that Brose Baskets is the team that this season has played some spectacular matches and defeated several favorites. Madrid side is in the fourth position in the group, while Brose Baskets is in 7th place, but with only one win less than rivals. After a few unexpected defeats, Real Madrid lifted form in the previous period, so should expect to win in Germany.

The last match on Thursday will be played in Spain, where will meet Laboral Kutxa and Zalgiris. The team of Velimir Perasovic playing great the whole season in the Euroleague, especially in the defense phase, so is not easy for anybody against them. Confirmation of this is their placement in an extremely difficult and balanced Group F, in which are on the second place with only two defeats. Zalgiris has achieved only one victory in the Top 16 phase, some matches were unfortunately lost this season, but all but the home side’s triumph would be a big surprise.

With the match between home Barcelona and Olympiakos concludes the eighth round of the Euroleague. Both rivals are in an uncomfortable position in the group, and with the score of 3-4 are in the division from fifth to seventh place, so the team that triumphs on Friday will achieve great advantage over the continuation of the competition. This is the match where is no clear favorite; previous duel of these teams, played in Piraeus belonged to Olympiakos, and now Barcelona will try to defend home court. It is certain that there will be a lot of pressure on the players of both teams, especially on the players of Barcelona, who have the difficult task of winning on their court. This will be one of the matches where the inspiration of the individual can solve the match and where it is extremely difficult to predict a winner.