EuroLeague preview: CSKA look for revenge over Crvena Zvezda
After being one of the victims in Crvena Zvezda’s seven-game winning streak that was cut short last week, CSKA Moscow look to avenge their loss in Belgrade when the two sides meet in the Russian capital on Thursday night.
The Muscovites are one of the most dangerous sides when at home this season having only lost once when in Russia. They also might be facing a Crvena Zvezda side that is still reeling not only from last week’s loss to Anadolu Efes, but also to Partizan over the weekend.
Or on the flip side, Red Star could be a wonder animal and might be travelling to Moscow with something to prove. But for CSKA, they lost ground on leaders Real Madrid with a loss to on the road to Fenerbahce and are desperate to climb their way back up to the EuroLeague summit.
Either way, this should be an intriguing contest in Moscow.
∞∞∞ CAN MADRID EXTEND LEAD AT THE TOP SPOT IN KAZAN? ∞∞∞
With the head-to-head over CSKA and a one-win advantage over the Muscovites in the EuroLeague standings, even a defeat to Unics Kazan on Thursday would see Real Madrid remain top.
However, the Liga Endesa giants will be looking to get a result in Russia to keep that cushion going or even extend it, should Red Star get a result in the Russian capital.
Unics Kazan go into this game knowing that only a win will do as we enter a vital stage in the EuroLeague season where every result matters. A victory for the strugglers will go a long way to seeing them vanish from the bottom half of the table.
That especially goes for Kazan’s Quino Colom, who has missed a chunk of the season due to injury.
“For me it is a special game because we play against one of the Spanish teams. But most of all, this game is special because I was sidelined for almost one month and I missed several EuroLeague games,” Colom said. “Now I am back and I really want to help the team because we are not in a good position right now. I will do my best to help the team take this win.”
∞∞∞ TWO TEAMS LOOKING TO GET STREAKS GOING ∞∞∞
Both Anadolu Efes and EA7 Milano secured wins last week. They meet in Istanbul on Thursday looking to get a winning streak going and move on up the table.
For Anadolu Efes, they replaced neighbours Darussafaka Dogus in the eighth and final Playoff spot last week with a win over Crvena Zvezda and are looking to maintain or even better their Playoff position.
For Milano, they head to Turkey’s largest city and host of this season’s Final Four looking to get out of the bottom two. Admittedly, it will take long odds for the Italian giants to make the Playoffs, let alone book a place for Istanbul in late-May, but recently Jasmin Repesa’s side have shown tremendous heart and fighting spirit in their last three games.
“We are playing much better now, it’s a shame we don’t have one or two more wins,” Respesa conceded. “There’s still a lot of basketball to play and the approach has to be the right one to get the best out of it. For us, every game is huge. We are aware of that.
“Efes is the highest-scoring team off open-court opportunities and offensive rebounds. We’ll need to stay disciplined and play hard for 40 minutes forcing them to play five on five in half court and confirm the high-quality game we had in Madrid.”
∞∞∞ TWO TEAMS AT DIFFERENT ENDS OF THE TABLE MEET IN TEL AVIV ∞∞∞
Third from bottom Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv play host to seventh placed Baskonia in Israel on Thursday with the hosts looking to restore pride and make their outside chances of a Playoff spot more credible while the Vitoria side look to avoid sliding down the EuroLeague table.
The visitors have fallen from fourth to seventh in the space of four rounds, while Maccabi’s 2014 triumph seems a lifetime ago as they have struggled with team chemistry and a lack of stability both on the court, most notably the loss of Sonny Weems and on the sidelines with numerous coaching changes.
∞∞∞ CAN PANATHINAIKOS RISE TO FIFTH? ∞∞∞
Panathinaikos host Brose Bamberg on Thursday knowing that a victory and a Crvena Zvezda defeat in Moscow will see them rise up to fifth in the EuroLeague standings.
Bamberg, on the other hand are just outside the top eight in 11th, however are two wins from that coveted final Playoff place.
“It will be for sure a tough game,” Bamberg’s Jerel McNeal said.
“They play very physical and they play in an arena with great atmosphere. We have to go out there and match their physicality and intensity. And hopefully we can stick around and make it a competitive game.”