Panathinaikos coach Dusko Ivanovic has said that Fenerbahce are one of the favourites to reach this season’s Euroleague Final Four ahead of their Group C clash in Athens on Thursday.
Ivanovic will lock horns with opposite number Zeljko Obradovic, who spent 13 seasons with Panathinaikos, leading them to five Euroleague crowns, 11 Greek league and seven Greek titles. In the green side of Athens, Obradovic has god-like status bestowed upon him.
“It is a big game against a very strong team,” Ivanovic said. “In my opinion Fenerbahce Ulker is one of the favorites to qualify to the Final Four. Also we have to say that a legend for Panathinaikos, Zeljko Obradovic, is coming to Athens. We will try to do our best, to play smart and to be energetic in both sites of the court, in order to win this game.”
For Obradovic, who was overcome with emotion when he came back to the OAKA for the first time last season, is downplaying this present occasion, preferring to concentrate on the task at hand and try to remain undefeated in Group C.
“Another very important game for us,” Obradovic said. “The last time we played against Panathinaikos in Athens was very difficult. We must keep our concentration for 40 minutes, something we didn’t have the last games.
“We always play with ups and downs and if you want to play a good game, your concentration must be kept for 40 minutes.”
One of Obradovic’s key ex-pupils and current Euroleague all-time assist king Dimitris Diamantidis is currently one assist away from reaching a milestone 1,000.
Another of the Turkish teams looking to stay unbeaten when week three concludes is Anadolu Efes as they get ready to host Zalgiris in Istanbul in a Group A clash.
Efes coach Dusan Ivkovic, a Euroleague winner with Olympiacos in 2012 has admitted that the busy scheduling leading to this fixture could be his side’s downfall as the Turkish side play three games in six days, but the legendary Serbian knows his stars will be ready.
“The Zalgiris Kaunas game will be the third game in six days for us,” Ivkovic said. “Our schedule is very tough. After the two games on the road against Sassari in Euroleague and against Tofaş in Turkish League, we have only two days for the Zalgiris game. No time to prepare.
“Zalgiris Kaunas is one of the very positive teams with many many young talented players like Anadolu Efes. They played two games in Euroleague, first one in Madrid and they were very good and ahead in the first half. The second game was against Nizhny Novgorod, which was an easy home victory. We have to be very well-prepared for the game.”
The hosts might be without Stephane Lasme, who has back issues, and Croatian Dario Saric, who has an ankle problem. Both will be assessed closer to game-day.
On the other hand, Lithuanian champions Zalgiris are on a high after registering their first Euroelague win of the season last week, but Paulius Jankunas is readying his team for a tougher prospect than what Nizhny Novgorod were last week.
All of our players will have to give everything on the court,” Jankunas said. “We cannot allow them to get away, because it will be very difficult to come back when you play on the road. Anadolu Efes plays with double energy at home, so we have to stop them from the first minutes.”
Unics Kazan vs Dinamo Sassari
Anadolu Efes vs Zalgiris
Real Madrid vs Niznhy Novgorod
Alba Berlin vs Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
Panathinaikos vs Fenerbahce
Red Star vs Valencia
Cedevita Zagreb vs CSKA Moscow
Unicaja Malaga vs Limoges
Bayern Munich vs EA7 Milano
Barcelona vs PGE Turow
Neptunas Klaipeda vs Olympiacos
Laboral Kutxa vs Galatasaray