Two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum clash on Thursday night when ALBA Berlin (3-7) hosts FC Barcelona (7-3) for Round 11. This will be the 13th time that these two teams face each other in the EuroLeague this century and Barca has won 11 of the previous 12. ALBA started the season 3-0 but is currently on a seven-game slide, including a Round 10 loss at Olympiacos Piraeus, 86-76, despite Jaleen Smith's 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Barcelona has won five of its last six games, including the last one against Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, 96-84, behind Jan Vesely's 18 points.
Reeling ALBA welcomes rising Barcelona
On paper, few would say that the real situation is what it is. ALBA leads Barcelona in all main statistical categories except for turnovers and shooting percentages from all ranges. The hosts still lead the league in total rebounds (37.2) and assists (22.0) but that has not translated into wins lately. ALBA will have to put its offensive fireworks to the test against the third-best defense of the league and will also have to close tight on defense and try to improve the 81.9 points it allows per game. At the same time, players like Tamir Blatt, Louis Olinde and Luke Sikma will have to step up and join Smith in taking ALBA's driver's seat to try to break the losing spell.
Barcelona (7-3) lands in Berlin fresh off a double-round week sweep that boosted the Catalan side to fourth place. The visitors are among the four best shooting teams from the field in the league and that fuels a strong offensive performance, which could be a way to get the eighth win of the season in the German capital. Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius has been complaining about the defensive performances of his team lately, and ALBA's genuinely offensive DNA will be a good test to for that defense. It won't be easy against a wounded ALBA team the day that Oscar da Silva returns to the city where he made his EuroLeague debut last season.