Anadolu Efes, Fener out for consecutive wins
Its rival Kirolbet Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz suffered one of its worst road losses ever at Panathinaikos last week, 100-68, and will look to bounce back at home.
But Efes is the hottest team right now with five wins in a row and Shane Larkin earning November most valuable player honors and shattering the all-time scoring record in a single game with his 49 points against Bayern Munich last week for a 104-75 win.
The victory meant the top spot in the league for Efes, as it regained the driver’s seat from Barcelona Lassa, which was defeated by CSKA Moscow 96-67 on Nov. 29.
“Matt Janning and Nik Staukas [of Baskonia] is very affective in three-pointers and strong in offense,” Efes coach Ergin Ataman said, also praising Tornike Shengelia and Pierria Henry.
“We have to defend these players and hold the rhythm of the game to win,” he said.
“Baskonia has always been a difficult away rival but we want to win.”
Efes has to take care of rebounds as Baskonia is the best team in the league in that aspect with 37.7 rebounds per game. However, Baskonia seems to be struggling to move the ball on offense since it holds the Euroleague’s worst assists record with an average of 13.9, so if the visitor manages to put pressure on the ball on defense, it might find the way to run and win again on the road.
This will be the 19th time that these two teams meet each other in the Euroleague. The Istanbul side holds the winning edge in the series, 8-10.
The Turkish champion has won the last three meetings between them, including two road wins in the Basque Country the last two seasons. Efes will look to make it a third in a row in as many years.
Fenerbahçe, another Istanbul giant, will look to keep its momentum going when it hosts ALBA Berlin, after winning back-to-back games for the first time all season.
Zelijo Obradoviç’s side’s latest two wins came by double-figure margins of victory. It is 4-0 when the team has scored at least 80 points and Fenerbahçe has averaged an unthinkable 54.4 percent accuracy on three-pointers as a team in those games.
An improved rebounding effort that leads to good shots in transition could be just what Fenerbahce wins for another victory as it has been suffering from the league’s worst rebound record.