Barcelona take on regular foe Panathinaikos for already the third time this season in Group E of the Euroleague Top 16 on Friday night with the Catalan side still reeling from their poor showing in Berlin last week.
Barca lost 80-70 to ALBA Berlin at the O2 World and will no doubt aim to put things right against a side where they boast an impressive record against. The Liga Endesa champions have won the previous six meetings against their Greek counterparts, and 20 of the 32 encounters between the two.
Barcelona have won the two games in the regular season as well.
Panathinaikos’ Loukas Mavrokefalidis believes that his side have to be energetic at both ends against the experienced Barcelona.
“We know that is is going to be a very difficult game, so we have to stay focused and be energetic on both sides of the court for 40 minutes,” he said. “We lost both games we played against Barcelona during the regular season, se this is a lesson that we have to play much better if we want to win.
“We played very bad against PAOK for the Greek League so we have to improve our game and play with extra motivation against Barcelona.”
Real Madrid host Galatasaray on Thursday in Group E as the Liga Endesa side aims for five Euroleague wins in a row, where as Galatasaray looks to end a torrid run of eight straight Euroleague losses on the road, which dates back to last season’s Top 16.
The Turkish side have however won two straight games and hope to cause what most people would believe to be an upset in the Spanish capital.
Real Madrid may be without Jonas Maciulis and Gustavo Ayon for the contest though as both players are suffering with shoulder injuries. Ioannis Bourousis has missed practice this week due to the flu but should be available, albeit for limited minutes.
“We have a new opponent, Galatasaray, with lots of talent and good players on all positions,” Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso said. “They have two players who set the tone of the game: Arroyo and Erceg. From there, Micov, Pcius, Guler, Arslan … All of them know how to find their situations because Galatasaray is a dangerous team that knows how to play offence with patience.
“We are eager to play at home again, supported by our people. Galatasaray is trying to dominate the tempo of the game, and they have people who dominate the pick and roll.”
The two teams faced each other in the Top 16 for the very first time last season, the Spanish giants won on both occasions.
In Group F, Olympiacos looks to go 2-0 in the Top 16 as they host EA7 Milano in Piraeus.
The Italians were stunned last week at home by Nizhny Novgorod and the task doesn’t get any easier against the 2012 and 2013 winners, who have won nine straight Euroleague games at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
For Reds guard Vassilis Spanoulis, this game presents another opportunity to close in on third place in the all-time Euroleague leaders for assists, which is currently held by Pablo Prigioni, who has amassed 798 dishes. Spanoulis is currently 35 behind.
Thursday’s game will also see the return to Athens of EA7 Milano’s Linas Kleiza, who led Olympiacos for the Final Four in Paris back in 2010. He won the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy and was named to the All-Euroleague First Team in that season.
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv vs Red Star
Real Madrid vs Galatasaray
CSKA Moscow vs Laboral Kutxa
Olympiacos vs EA7 Milano
Zalgiris vs ALBA Berlin
Barcelona vs Panathinaikos
Nizhny Novgorod vs Fenerbahce
Anadolu Efes vs Unicaja Malaga