Barcelona and Galatasaray clash on Friday night in the Catalan heartland as both teams fight for their right to move on up the EuroLeague table.
For the basement side Galatasaray, their chances of a Playoff spot are now dead in the water but mathematically they still have a shot. The hosts Barcelona are in unfamiliar territory, languishing in 12th spot. But they are still just two wins from eighth seeded Anadolu Efes and a lot can change in just one round of action, so a victory in-front of their home crowd could go a long way.
The last time the two sides met in Istanbul, Galatasaray routed Barcelona 78-64 in the ninth round with Sinan Guler and Blake Schilb combining for 36 points and 13 assists.
That duo remains a central piece of the Galatasaray attack as Guler (11.8 ppg., 5.7 apg.) and Schilb (9.4 ppg., 4.2 apg.) run the show.
Barcelona will rely on Tyrese Rice, who leads the way with 14.6 points a game but the American has had support in recent weeks from the EuroLeague’s all-time leading scorer Juan Carlos Navarro and Petteri Koponen, both of whom have come back from injuries over the course of the season.
∞∞∞ THE ISTANBUL DERBY BECOMES THE NORM ∞∞∞
With 24 Istanbul derbies this season in the EuroLeague, a game in the city every week plus a Final Four to come, the Turkish hotbed is home away from home seemingly for everyone.
Darussafaka Dogus hosts Fenerbahce on Friday in the city’s newest venue; the compact Volkswagen Arena.
And the hosts are playing with something to prove. They have lost three straight games and as a result, have dropped out of the Playoff picture and are in ninth. Fenerbahce on the contrary has been victorious in its last four games and are one of the main challengers to top spot, currently occupied by Real Madrid.
One of Fenerbahce’s seven losses this season though came at the hands of their neighbours, with Darussafaka coming away with a 71-64 win at the Ulker Sports Arena.
“We certainly need a win after three losses in a row in the EuroLeague,” Darussafaka’s Dairis Bertans said
“In particular, last week in Milan, we controlled the game for 25 minutes, we were playing great. But at the end we let them win. Obviously this week’s game will be much, much harder because Fenerbahce is on the good way right now. But we have to fight the way we did in the past. Everybody in the team has to step up.”
∞∞∞ ONE OF THE HOTTEST HOME TEAMS HOSTS ZALGIRIS ∞∞∞
Olympiacos has won six in a row at home and looks to keep in touch at the top when they face Zalgiris in Piraeus on Friday.
In their own right, Zalgiris is fighting for a playoff spot and their cause has been helped in recent weeks with three straight victories. One of these wins included CSKA Moscow as the Lithuanian champions dethroned the Russians off the top and it leaves Olympiacos a chance of making more noise towards the summit.