This week's action in the EuroLeague got underway with a dominant win for Real Madrid on Tuesday, with 10 games coming on Thursday and Friday that includes a rematch from last season's semifinal.
This week: Colossal tests among playoff-chasing teams
Tuesday, November 28
Reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Real Madrid stretched its perfect start to 10-0 with a comprehensive 70-99 mauling of Maccabi Tel Aviv in a lop-sided Round 6 contest, originally scheduled for earlier this month. Maccabi, who played as hosts in Belgrade's Aleksandar Nikolic Hall, dropped to 5-5 after losing the first quarter 21-36, having allowed the biggest score ever in a single quarter of a EuroLeague game.
Thursday, November 30
After sweeping aside Maccabi, 70-99, on Tuesday, Real (10-0) continues its own double-round week by travelling to face a Fenerbahce (5-5) team that has won all four games at home so far this season. Expect a highly physical battle in a game featuring the league's top three shot blockers, with Real's Walter Tavares (1.7 bpg.) followed by teammate Vincent Poirier (1.6 bpg.) and Fener star Georgios Papagiannis (1.4 bpg.). Real firecracker Mario Hezonja is enjoying a very accurate season, making 60.5% of his two-point attempts and 44.4% from deep. On Thursday, he will face another player with explosive scoring potential, Marko Guduric, who will look to regain his best form after returning from injury in last week's loss at Virtus.
In a rematch of last season's semifinal, a big showdown awaits between the teams currently placed fifth and sixth as Monaco (6-4) welcomes Olympiacos (6-4). The Reds are on a three-game winning run and boast the league's third-best defense, allowing just 75.5 points per game. Monaco snapped a losing streak in dramatic fashion thanks to Jaron Blossomgame's game-winning putback dunk in Baskonia, where Mike James again excelled with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. November MVP candidate Alec Peters will test Monaco's perimeter defense after scoring at least two triples in each of his last four games, while the host also possesses plenty of long-range weapons including Alpha Diallo, who has made 43.3% of three-point attempts this season including 2 of 3 at Baskonia last week.
Maccabi (5-5) will play its second home game of the week in Belgrade with a visit from rock-bottom ALBA (1-9), which is still waiting for its first road win of the season. Although ALBA will be aware of Lorenzo Brown's role as Maccabi's main playmaker, the German team will also need to focus on its former player Tamir Blatt, who ranks fifth in the league for assists with 5.4 per game. Although it has struggled in nearly every statistical category, ALBA does lead the league in steals, with Gabriele Procida ranked third overall with 1.8 per night. And those ball-hawking abilities will be very important to disrupt the rhythm of a fast-paced Maccabi offense, led by Brown and Blatt, which averages 20.4 assists per game, second-best in the competition. Maccabi, which suffered a humiliating 70-99 loss against Real on its home floor, will be looking to bounce back as quick as possible.
After grabbing one of the most remarkable wins in EuroLeague history with last week's double overtime triumph at ASVEL, Bayern (4-6) will look to build further momentum against a Virtus team (7-3) still riding high in the playoffs places. Bayern boss Pablo Laso will center his gameplan around trying to stop Tornike Shengelia, the top-ranked player in the competition with an average PIR of 22.6. Another threat from the Italian team is the shooting of Marco Belinelli, who averages 13.1 points per game on 44.6% three-point shooting. Bayern can counter that with Sylvain Francisco, whose late pair of triples were crucial to the victory at ASVEL and now has at least one three-pointer in nine of this season's 10 games.
In a meeting between two of the four teams currently tied for 12th place, rapidly improving Milan (4-6) will look for another win with a visit from Zalgiris (4-6), which has lost five of the last six, including three straight on the road. After powering the Italian team's Round 9 victory over Zvezda with a career night of 32 points on 6-of-7 three-point shooting, Maodo Lo will look to continue to provide leadership to a Milan backcourt that has underdelivered at times this season. He will be countered by Keenan Evans, who has remained consistent during an up-and-down season for Zalgiris by averaging 15.0 points on 45.5% three-point shooting, including multiple triples in four of the last five games.
Increasingly confident Panathinaikos (6-4) will look to extend its four-game winning run with a trip to Partizan (4-6), which has struggled for consistency in failing to win two consecutive games all season. Partizan big man Frank Kaminsky enjoyed a breakout game with 24 points in last week's narrow loss against Efes, and he will look to continue that form as he faces the tough task of bettering all-action former Partizan star Mathias Lessort, who has averaged 12 points and 6.5 rebounds during the Greens' winning streak. It should be a high-scoring game between the second and fifth-highest scoring teams in the league, with prominent roles likely for in-form forwards James Nunnally (13.3 ppg., 3.9 rpg.) and Dinos Mitoglou (17.3 ppg., 6.1 rpg.).
Friday, December 1
Zvezda (3-7) will look to recover quickly from last week's pummeling at the hands of Milan by overcoming an Efes team which is finding its groove with three wins out of four. Zvezda desperately needs to improve its perimeter defense after taking in 93 points against Milan, including 17 three-pointers with a 63% conversion rate. That's especially important against one of the best long-range shooters out there, Shane Larkin, who has drained 10 triples in his last three games. Darius Thompson is also recovering his best form with at least 16 points in the last four games, and Zvezda will hope that Nemanja Nedovic can continue his upturn in productivity after reaching double-digits in the last four straight.
Valencia (5-5) will look to end a four–game losing slump with a Spanish derby against Baskonia (5-5), which is also eager to return to winning ways after last week's late loss to Monaco. Baskonia boasts the second-best road record in the league (3-1), while Valencia is just as strong at La Fonteta with four wins and just one defeat. This game has plenty of significance as it will break a tie between two teams on the fringes of the playoffs places. Baskonia will look to dominate physically through two of the competition's top five rebounders, Tadas Sedekerskis (9.3 rpg.) and Chima Moneke (6.6 rpg), while the host will rely on the scoring power of Chris Jones (11.4 ppg., 52.4% 3PT).
The week's action concludes at Palau Blaugrana, where second-placed Barcelona (8-2) will look to make it six home wins in a row with a visit from next-to-bottom ASVEL (2-8). Nando De Colo authored a stunning game-winner in last season's game between the teams, and ASVEL will hope he can return from injury to take on a Barcelona backcourt that will be waiting on the fitness of Rokas Jokubaitis. A key battle will be waged between the calming presence of Tomas Satoransky, whose dependable all-round game gives him averages of 7.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists, and dynamic ASVEL playmaker Paris Lee, who co-leads the league in steals (2.0 spg.) and ranks fourth in assists (5.9).