EuroLeague preview: Real Madrid look to solidify top spot

EuroLeague
Photo: EuroLeague

Fresh off their Copa del Rey win last week, Real Madrid will look to maintain their place on top of the EuroLeague when they host Darussafaka Dogus on Friday.

The Liga Endesa side are currently on an eight-game winning run but they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season to their opponents as Darussafaka inflicted an 81-68 defeat on Real back in December.

“We have used this week to recover the physical level, as we had to give a big effort to win the King’s Cup,” said Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso. “All the players are available. Darussafaka was the better team in Istanbul, they have a balanced team and we must focus on this game if we want to win.

“They have many new players who are adapting well to a new coach and they had great moments this season. They are fighting for the playoffs and they remain solid overall, which says a lot about the work of coach David Blatt. They have lots of individual quality an that’s their main danger.”

∞∞∞ BATTLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PLAYOFF PLACES ∞∞∞

Eighth placed Anadolu Efes host Baskonia, who sit one spot above in seventh on Friday with both sides going into the game with contrasting form.

Baskonia travel to Istanbul having lost five of their last six games while Anadolu have won three of their last four.

“It’s gonna be a tough game just like every EuroLeague game,’ said Anadolu Efes’ Derrick Brown.

“Baskonia is a very good offensive team. We have to stick to our game plan and try to take care of home court advantage. We are waiting for our supporters for an amazing game.”

∞∞∞ PANATHINAIKOS HOST UNICS IN ATHENS ∞∞∞

A team in a desperate situation will have one of its last chances against a team that is getting strionger week by week when Panathinaikos welcomes strugglers Unics Kazan on Friday night in the Greek capital.

Both teams rank among the five weakest offences in the league, but Panathinaikos makes up for it with the third best defence in the EuroLeague (75.6 ppg.) while Unics allows for more than 80 points per night.

Unics Kazan defeated Panathinaikos 83-81 in Round 12 when they last met. Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

So the Greens will look to impose their defensive level helped by the crowd at OAKA, and if they manage to stop the league’s leading scorer Keith Langford, they will be on their way to the win.

Two teams looking to force their way into the playoffs mix go head to head as Brose Bamberg (8-14) hosts a Zalgiris Kaunas (9-13) team which saw a three-game win streak end in the last round.

In a game which could come down to details, two factors which may prove crucial are: free-throw shooting, in which Bamberg ranks second and Zalgiris third, converting 81.2 percent and 81 percent, respectively; and steals, with these teams claiming the lowest tallies in the competition, Zalgiris with 5.1 per game and Bamberg with five per game.