After scoring 100-plus points in their last two home games, Anadolu Efes will aim for a hat-trick but faces one of the EuroLeague’s meanest defensive sides in Barcelona on Friday at the Abdi Ipecki Arena.
But despite their defensive prowess, Barcelona have been vulnerable this season, as they travel to what is arguably basketball’s capital city with the end of season Final Four not to mention next summer’s Eurobasket tournament being held in Istanbul.
Allowing just 73.7 points per game so far this season, Barcelona have been stubborn, but are only 5-5, a record equalled by Anadolu Efes, who are free scoring at 95.5, a EuroLeague-high.
“We are talking about the first-place team in the Turkish League,” says Barca coach Georgios Bartzokas. “It’s a team based on athleticism and offensive talent. They have a great roster, a good coach and this will be another difficult game for us. We expect a game that is typical of playing on the road in Istanbul.”
∞∞∞ PRIGIONI MAKES GRAND RETURN, FRIDAY ∞∞∞
Pablo Prigioni returns to his only EuroLeague team of choice after four years in the NBA as his Baskonia side host Darussafaka Dogus.
Baskonia can solidify fifth place with a win over a tough Darussafaka Dogus side who remain the one in CSKA Moscow’s 10-1 record but it won’t be easy.
“Darussafaka is a team built to reach the Final Four,” admits Baskonia coach Sito Alonso. “The most important thing is that they know the EuroLeague very well and have the ability and experience of playing in the EuroLeague, from the coach to the players.
“It is a team that depends a lot on its outside line based on the versatility it has in different positions, which mostly works to their favour.”
Alonso though now has a welcome headache at the point guard position heading into Friday’s encounter. Even though Prigioni will be making a return, it remains to be seen just how much playing time the 39-year-old veteran will receive given that Shane Larkin, another former NBA veteran is the team’s leading scorer at 13.5 points a game.
∞∞∞ GREECE’S TOP TWO AT HOME ∞∞∞
Olympiacos host Unics Kazan in Piraeus while done the road Panathinaikos will welcome Galatasaray to the OAKA on Friday night.
The last time Olympiacos were at home, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv were victorious, but it was different for the Greens, who defeated Darussafaka Dogus 86-80 in Athens.
“It’s a very important game for us,” said Panathinaikos big man Chris Singleton. “We need to protect our home court. We have lost three out of four games in the EuroLeague and it’s time to get back to winning.”