The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague took a week off last week so Europe’s leagues could hold their domestic cup competitions. However, the competition is back this week for Round 23 and we are at the first stage of deciding games. If CSKA Moscow defeats Baskonia Vitoria on Thursday, the Russian Turkish Airlines EuroLeague leaders will settle a playoff berth.
Heading into this week’s eight games around the continent, three clubs will be entering already having tasted success this campaign. Barcelona, Zalgiris Kaunas, and Anadolu Efes Istanbul all won their domestic cups over the weekend.
CSKA Moscow vs. Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz
CSKA Moscow tips off the week by hosting Baskonia Vitoria looking to extend its 17-5 record and clinch a playoff spot. Baskonia (10-12) like high octane offensive hoops and CSKA is not shy about hitting the bucket either. So, expect a high scoring team between the league’s highest and fourth highest scoring teams. CSKA is currently plundering an average of 89.2 points per game and has looked the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague team to beat this season.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul vs. AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan
Reigning champs Fenerbahce (15-7) will look to stay in the chasing pack behind CSKA Moscow at home to struggling Milan (7-5). The Turkish club is hunting a fifth consecutive home win, but Milan could be a threat if its gets cooking. Italian champions Milan are scoring 80.6 ppg, more than Fenerbahce, but the Turkish club has the best defence, only allowing 73.3 points per game. Fenerbahce is a firm favorite to take a win in Round 23.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Valencia Basket
Another club chasing CSKA is Olympiacos (15-7) and the Greek giant faces an inconsistent Valencia (8-14) team. The Spanish champions can raise their game, but it has not happened enough this season. However, CSKA Moscow fell victim to a Valencia with all cylinders firing in Round 22, so Olympiacos will be aware of the danger in this home game. That said, the Greek team has not lost to Valencia in its last six games against the team.
Unicaja Malaga vs. Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Maccabi Tel Aviv currently holds the final qualification berth with a 12-10 record after a solid rebuilding season. Yes, seven games are left, but the race is now on. Unicaja Malaga (9-13) could get back into contention with a home win this week. Maccabi likes to work the basket, hitting 47.4 two-point efforts per game and has been hot scoring in recent weeks (89, 111, and 94 points from the last three games). Malaga will need to slow the game down to stop the rampaging Israeli team.