Home EuroLeague Last week of Top 16: Preview

Last week of Top 16: Preview

EuroleagueHalf of the teams in Euroleague quarter-finals are already known. Only two teams have no chances of advancing and will be playing purely for their pride and could mix the cards for other teams. Žalgiris lost against Olympiacos to bury their hopes of reaching  quarter-finals while Efes Pilsen have only one win in their account but it was against Panathinaikos.

Montepaschi will host Efes Pilsen and will try to take the 1st place in Group D. This doesn‘t seem like a hard task after Turkish club released their key player Drew Nicholas. Efes Pilsen lost twice against Partizan and were defeated by Panathinaikos which puts them in the bottom of the group.  Situation is different for the Italians. They already booked their place in quarter-finals. If they win at home in Siena, they would finish first and will meet 2nd placed team from Group E.

Second match of the group is going to be one of the most interesting in the last round of Top 16. Serbian champions Partizan will take on Panathinaikos in Pionir. The team that wins this cruacial game will advance to the quarter-finals. Although on paper Panathinaikos are the favourites to win this one anything could happen. There are no easy games for the visitors in Pionir and Serbs will do their best to kick defending champions out of the competition. Partizan will face Panathinaikos for the 4th time this season already. The Greens won all three previous meetings but the biggest winning margin was 4 points so that suggests yet another exciting game.

Neven Spahija, former coach of Lietuvos Rytas who is now in charge of TAU Ceramica could help his former team. In Group E TAU Ceramica will play a meaningless game in Istanbul after they secured not only the place in the quarter-finals but also 1st place in the group. It doesn‘t matter for the Spaniards wether they lose or win but it does matter for Aris and Rytas. Fenerbahce must win this game in order to finish 2nd after their main competitor Lietuvos Rytas failed to defeat them by 4 or more points in Vilnius last week. Fenerbahce could advance if they lose this game but then they would be dependant on the result in Thesaloniki where Aris will be hosting Lietuvos Rytas.  If Aris win by between 6 and 31 points then Bogdan Tanjevic‘s men are through.

Lithuanian vice champions Lietuvos Rytas can qualify to quarter-finals if they win against Aris or lose by 1-5 points and Fenerbahce lose. In any case Rytas‘ final position could be decided in Istanbul. Neither Matthew Nielsen or Marijonas Petravičius will be available fo this game but they are expected to make a comeback in the next stage if the team gets there. Aris also have chances to finish 2nd but their task is huge. They must win by at least 31 points and expect Fenerbahce to lose. Even though Turkish side is the only that has everything in their own hands few scenarios are possible.

Both Olympiacos and Maccabi have new coaches and both teams are getting better and better. The Reds had a considerably bad regular season as they finished 5th in Group A and qualified to Top 16 among four last teams. With Panagiotis Giannakis appointed as a head coach the team started to show different face. After losing their first two games in Top 16 the club won their three last matches. In the last game theu face Final 4 hosts Real Madrid. The winner of this game will go through. Spaniards won their first meaning 80-70 abd they will try to repeat their performance in Greece.

Maccabi will host Žalgiris in Tel-Aviv. Lithuanian champions is a team that defeated Maccabi with the biggest margin – 19 points but that happened when Žalgiris had chances to qualify. This time the final result will only affect Maccabi‘s position. If Israeli champions win, they are 1st and if they lose they are 2nd which mean that they would face CSKA Moscow.

Russian giants, CSKA Moscow, are already through to the next stage. CSKA will travel to Spain to meet Barcelona. Spanish club must win this in order to finish 2nd. The first meeting of these clubs eneded with CSKA celebrating an easy win 72-55. Barcelona have nowhere to hide. Only a win would keep them in the fight for the title.

Even though Lottomatica qulified for the Top 16 as the best 6th team they could make it to the quarter-finals if they manage to defeat Unicaja away in Malaga. The future of the winner of this game will depend on Barca‘s game as it was mentioned before.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
*Montepaschi – Efes Pilsen 20:15 CET
Partizan – Panathinaikos 20:15 CET
Fenerbahce Ulker – *TAU Ceramica 20:15 CET
Aris – Lietuvos Rytas 20:15 CET

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Olympiacos – Real Madrid 19:00 CET
*Maccabi – Žalgiris 19:00 CET
Barcelona – *CSKA Moscow 19:00 CET
Unicaja – Lottomatica 19:00 CET

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