Fenerbahçe, Efes to play home games in Turkish Airlines Euroleague
League leader Fenerbahçe welcomes joint-second CSKA Moscow for a big Round 13 battle, while Anadolu Efes plays Buducnost Voli Podgorica at home.
Fenerbahçe has pulled a game clear of everyone else by stringing together an eight-game unbeaten run, and will look to double its advantage over CSKA by claiming victory from a match-up that has provided thrilling finishes in recent years, including an ice cool buzzer-beating game winner by Nando De Colo in last season’s game in Istanbul.
With so many gifted performers on both rosters and a pair of head coaches, Zeljko Obradovic and Dimitris Itoudis who know each other inside-out after working together for more than a decade at Panathinaikos, it’s impossible to predict which most important elements might decide the game.
But one factor to have emerged in recent weeks is versatile Fenerbahçe swingman Marko Guduric, who has stepped up with a series of big performances to clinch victories, including a 13-point burst in the space of five late minutes at Maccabi Tel Aviv and a clutch pair of triples to repel Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan’s attempted comeback last week.
“We visit the current Euroleague leader, a team that plays good basketball this season, that plays physical and very deep on each and every position, having two or three high-quality players to cover every spot,” CSKA coach Itoudis told the Eruoleague’s official website.
“We have to stay on the same level of competitiveness from first to last minute to win the game,” he added.
CSKA player Kyle Hines noted that Fenerbahçe is “a tough and aggressive opponent.”
“We have to match up their aggressiveness and stay focused all game long,” he said.
“Our games are always interesting, both of them came down to one last shot in the previous season. The game is very important for both teams mentally, confidence-wise, it will set the tone for what the team wants to achieve in the end of the season.”
Efes, bolstered by a series of exciting summer signings, made a flying start to the season, but is now struggling to maintain momentum.
The two losses suffered by Ergin Ataman’s side came against top-class opponents Madrid and Olympiacos. But Efes is a team which has not been accustomed to winning many games in the last few years. As such, self-belief could start sapping if the losing run is extended.
Elsewhere, Barcelona will try to end a three-game losing streak when it hosts Olympiacos.
The Greek side has climbed up to the after winning four of its last five games in the Euroleague and another loss for the home side would pile on the pressure ahead of Barcelona’s trip to Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Dec. 20.