Third placed Olympiacos travel to a sold-out Ulker Sports Arena in Istanbul on Thursday night to take on fourth placed Fenerbahce, not only looking to solidify their position but to also do the season double over their Turkish counterparts as the EuroLeague returns from its week-long break.
The last time the two sides met in Piraeus, Olympiacos ran out 71-62 victors, thanks to 14 points by Matt Lojeski. For Fenerbahce, Jan Vesely had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Fenerbahce will be looking to return to its winning ways after it last loss, while the Reds will try to extend their current winning streak to four games.
“It is a very difficult game for us,” said Olympiacos; Errick Green. “They are a great team, especially in their court, in front of their fans. There is a sellout, it is going to be difficult, we must be focused and try not to lose our concentration. We have important players out, but everybody must step up and do his best.”
For Fenerbahce, a victory in front of their loyal home crowd is a must if they want to stay in the mix for top spot. Lose here and they will in reality be fighting for home court advantage in the Playoffs.
∞∞∞ CSKA KEEN TO AVOID ANY SLIP UPS ∞∞∞
CSKA Moscow hosts Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv on Thursday knowing that they need to keep winning in order to stay in touch with league leaders Real Madrid.
The Muscovites, who were at the summit for the majority of the season thus far know that any slip up will benefit the newly crowned Copa del Rey champions as they return to EuroLeague action on Friday.
Strugglers Maccabi were unfortunate to come away with a narrow 80-76 loss to CSKA in Tel Aviv when the two sides last met and will know the importance that this match has on them as they look to make an outside bid for the Playoffs.
“We’re going to be ready to fight and motivated for the game in Moscow,” said Maccabi forward Colton Iverson. “They have some key players like Teodosic, De Colo, all averaging more than 16, 17 points a game. We need to focus on stopping them, play physical and try to get a road win.”
∞∞∞ TWO SURPRISE STRUGGLERS CLASH IN THE LAND OF FASHION ∞∞∞
Two teams that had never been in such dire situations ever in the EuroLeague will meet on Thursday when EA7 Milano (7-15) hosts Barcelona (8-14).
In their last meeting, back in Round 14, Barcelona comfortably won at home, 89-75 behind 19 points by Ante Tomic. But since then, the Italians, fresh off a domestic Cup success have improved and will be a difficult and different preposition for the Catalan side.
For Milan coach Jasmin Respesa, it’s about finishing the season strong.
“The math is still giving us hope but realistically we’re too far from the playoffs,” he said. “It’s regretful because we lost three or four games that we could have easily won, just think about Bamberg where we lost in overtime, Galatasaray where we had the potentially winning shot, Efes where we lost a game that appeared won already, even the Madrid game.
“I mentioned four games and two were enough to stay in contention. Now we want to do our best, win as many games as possible and develop our young players for this very high level of competition.”
∞∞∞ CRVENA ZVEZDA HOSTS GALATASARAY ∞∞∞
Two teams that were at the opposite ends of the spectrum not a month ago, meet each other now in different situations as Crvena Zvezda welcomes Galatasaray to Belgrade on Thursday.
The Serbs have won three of the six previous games between both sides in the EuroLeague this century, the last one being a narrow two-point road win in week two of the competition as late points by Stefan Jovic handed Red Star an 85-83 win.
A road win in Barcelona allowed Galatasaray to escape the last place in the standings and arrives to Belgrade with high morale and in a positive trend, while the hosts are dealing with two straight losses after their longest winning streak ever.