Four thrilling EuroLeague encounters will be spread out over two days, highlighted by Barcelona’s trip to Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv on Wednesday and 24 hours later, Olympiacos welcome champions CSKA Moscow on Thursday in a rematch of the memorable 2012 championship game played at this year’s Final Four venue: the Sinan Erdem Dome.
On that day, Olympiacos stunned the heavily favoured Muscovites on their way to back-to-back EuroLeague successes but after years of Final Four disappointments, CSKA finally got their hands on the coveted trophy last season in Berlin in another classic final against Fenerbahce, where they won in overtime.
And so far this season, CSKA are unbeaten as they prepare for arguably their toughest test against an Olympiacos side that have moved on from their opening night loss to Real Madrid and have won their last three games. Historically the visitors hold a 17-14 record against Olympiacos, including a sweep of their two Top 16 games last season, although the Reds eliminated CSKA from the last three Final Fours in which they met.
Also on Thursday, Real Madrid hosts Galatasaray in the Spanish capital as the Liga Endesa looks to build on last week’s win at EA7 Milano, while the Turkish side searches for its first win in the EuroLeague at the fifth attempt.
And unfortunately for Galatasaray, the history books do not favour them as they are currently 0-4 in past EuroLeague encounters against the 2015 champions with the last three of those games ending in double-digit wins for Real.
∞∞∞ BEFORE THURSDAY’S ACTION ∞∞∞
Barcelona travel to Tel Aviv on Wednesday night to face an in-form Maccabi side that has won its last two EuroLeague fixtures.
Both sides own 2-2 records so far this season with Barcelona coming up with an 89-71 win the last time the two sides met in the EuroLeague. It will also be a return to Tel Aviv for Barcelona point guard Tyrese Rice, who won the EuroLeague title with the Israeli giants in 2014. Petteri Koponen, who recently returned to action following a car accident in the off-season, believes that Rice’s knowledge of the team is key.
“We have won our last two games, [in EuroLeague and Spanish League],” Koponen said. “They were tough and close, but we won them. We will now try to go to Tel Aviv and take the win there, too. The coaching staff is doing a great job. They are preparing what we want to do and we try to execute on the court what they tell us.
“Tyrese Rice knows a lot of their players and how Maccabi usually plays. But we just need to play as a team, and do what the coaching staff is asking us to do, which will be a key to the game.”
Fenerbahce will look to maintain their unbeaten start when they host winless Unics Kazan in Wednesday’s other EuroLeague encounter.
The deck might be stacked against Unics, but with free scoring Keith Langford on the roster, and a nothing to lose attitude heading into the trip to Istanbul, the Russian side are aiming to spring the league’s first real surprise result of the season.