An early rematch of the epic Euroleague Final Four semi-final between CSKA Moscow and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv highlights round two of the regular season this week.
Maccabi came back from 15-points down to stun CSKA in their last meeting in Milan this past May. Tyrese Rice drove down the lane for the game-winning lay-up with 5.5 seconds left to give the Israeli side a memorable victory on that night, as CSKA’s players and supporters buried their heads to their hands, wondering how that game slipped away?
Thursday’s Group B encounter is a new battle, as two teams that are no strangers to each other lock horns for the 33rd time overall, in one of the Euroleague’s most glamorous fixtures, regardless of what stage it is.
“We are certainly improving and our main task for now is to play consistently for longer stretches during the game,” CSKA Moscow coach Dimitris Itoudis said. “I’d like also to call our fans again to come and support us. As I said before the season they have to set their expectations and show the team that they really want us to perform well and to bring them big wins.”
“CSKA and Maccabi have a great history of games, their meetings always bring high expectations and spectacular basketball,” CSKA guard Milos Teodosic added. “They beat us on the way to the title last year so we definitely have something to prove here. I think it will be a difficult game. Even though David Blatt is gone they kept the system, core players and the same desire to fight.”
Victor Khryapa and Demetris Nichols are still absent for the Russians, so Andrey Vorontsevich will once again see more court time. Maccabi have no injury concerns as Jeremy Pargo, fresh off a 20-point showing in the win against Limoges, returns to face his old club.
One of the Euroleague’s more intriguing battles in Group C pits EA7 Milano and Barcelona together at the Mediolanum Forum on Thursday, as the hosts look to register their first win of the new season, while Barca look to build on their 83-81 win over a strong Bayern Munich outfit last week.
The last time these sides faced each other, Alessandro Gentile had a career Euroleague night, as he posted 24 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in Milano’s 91-63 rout of Barcelona.
The Liga Endesa champions though returned to the Mediolanum Forum for the Final Four but, like the Italian champions did, Real Madrid routed them 100-62, so the Forum has not been too kind to Xavi Pascual and his side over the course of the year, something they would love to change on Thursday night.
Also in Group C and the Euroleague game of the Week for round two pits Bayern Munich and Panathinaikos together at the Audi Dome as Bayern host their first home game of the season looking to finish better down the stretch against one of Europe’s most decorated clubs.
“Panathinaikos Athens is a very experienced team with a great club history,” said Bayern coach Svetislav Pesic. “They have an outstanding coach and I know how they will compete against us.
“We have to keep a special eye on Nikos Pappas and Vladimir Jankovic. Both players are in an excellent condition right now. We have to take it to the limit if we want to control the game and enforce our game plan.”
Pesic’s opposite number Dusko Ivanovic could not have prepared his team for a tougher start on the road this season. The Panathinaikos playcaller is aware of Munich’s strengths as the two teams face off on Thursday.
“We are facing a high-quality team, with an excellent coach and also good and experienced players,” Ivanovic said. “We know that this is not going to be an easy game. Our opponents have quality and especially at their home, they are a very dangerous opponent for every team. We know that we have to play hard and we must be ready for a very difficult game.”
Other games this week:
CSKA Moscow vs Maccabi Electra
Bayern Munich vs Panathinaikos
PGE Turow vs Fenerbahce
EA7 Milano vs Barcelona
Neptunas vs Red Star
Galatasaray vs Valencia
Unics Kazan vs Real Madrid
Zalgiris vs Nizhny Novgorod
Dinamo Sassari vs Anadolu Efes
Limoges vs Cedevita Zagreb
Unicaja Malaga vs ALBA Berlin
Olympiacos vs Laboral Kutxa