The EuroLeague’s top three are all in action on Thursday night as CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid and Fenerbahce all look to maintain their good overall form so far this season.
League leaders and reigning champions CSKA Moscow have the trickiest of the three games played as they travel to the fashion capital to play EA7 Milano. While the Muscovites have only tasted defeat in the EuroLeague once this season, the hosts on the other hand are desperately looking to snap a three-game losing streak that has seen their strong start to the campaign turn into a 4-6 record that doesn’t reflect their team on paper.
But a team with seemingly nothing to lose, like Milano can be dangerous.
“They are not unbeatable,” admitted Milano coach Jasmin Repesa. “They lost to Darussafaka earlier in the season. They lost last Sunday in Kuban. But obviously to have a chance we need to play 40 minutes of great substance, attention, intensity and no letdowns.”
“Milan has a very talented roster,” said CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis. “They play much better when energized by their crowd, they show high-scoring basketball, and they average more than 90 points at home. So we have very difficult game in front of us.”
Second placed Real Madrid will square off against an improving Zalgiris in the Spanish capital as the Liga Endesa champions bids to get back to winning ways.
Madrid were narrowly beaten by a point to Fenerbahce in one of the games of the season thus far, but a exciting games do not matter unless you get the win and Real failed in their task.
They host the Lithuanian champions, who after a poor start have gradually built a 4-6 record and have shown glimpses of danger, winning three of their last four games. However, Real have won the last six encounters between the two sides.
Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso informed the media earlier this week that talisman Sergio Llull has not practiced all week due to a knee injury and is doubtful for Thursday’s game.
Fenerbahce are also at home on Thursday, as they host Crvena Zvezda at the Ulker Sports Arena, aiming for their fourth straight win.
Last season, Fenerbahce showed their dominance over their Serbian counterparts by beating Red Star in all four of their meetings last season by an average of 13.5 points; those were also the first four between the clubs ever in the EuroLeague.
“They had some unfortunate losses, so they will be searching for their chance in every game,” says Fenerbahce’s Nikola Kalinic, who faces his old club.
“But we will be ready. The key part of the game, as we saw in the last few, is when we play focused, hard and start the game good, we usually don’t have a problem the whole game. So I think that will be the key.”