Winter is coming, and the Euroleague Basketball season is already here. Europe’s biggest Houses have duelled for the win in their first Game for the Throne a week ago. Let’s go through the battles of Week 2.
In the first match of Week 2 Anadolu Efes Istanbul hosts EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. Both teams won last week and proved that they are among the usurpers of the Throne. Anadolu controlled the game from minute 1 against Limoges and the perfect passing game derailed their opponents. Armani Milan must find a way to prevent Anadolu’s bigs to score from the paint to stop the curse against the Turks. Armani has a 0-10 record in Istanbul against Efes one of the longest streaks in Euroleague.
Talking about streaks, Limoges CSP has not won a single road game for more than a decade, and the game against KK Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia is ” The Battle of the Battles” for the decadent House of the Limougeauds. Cedevita from the other part, played well for 30 minutes against Olympiacos but lights went off in the last period. This is a must win game if they wish to get closer to the next round.
Just two years ago, they were the owners of the Throne. Now, they fight to get back what used to be theirs, but their young dragons are not yet mature. Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv found out the hard way that they need to fix some things first before moving to the next level. CSKA Moscow crushed them and now they have to get over the 31 points defeat. Unicaja Malaga won’t be an easy prey. They are young, quick and know how to control the rhythm. They have the chance to steal the Game and send the message to the other candidates.
Euroleague Basketball and Uefa Champions League are two different things, and FC Bayern Munich struggles to find the way their football colleagues have already walked. For the moment, the Throne Room is a forbidden place unless they learn how to play defence and stay focused during the clutch time. BC Khimky Moscow, from the other hand, showed how the job is done last week, killing the Lady Catelyn of Euroleague Real Madrid. This is the chance to take their game to the next level and become an elite member of the Euroleague Basketball teams.
The most important battle of the day is the one between Panathinaikos Athens and Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir. The Turks showed their teeth against Barcelona last week and won their first ever game in Euroleague Basketball. Karsiyaka plays a very physical fixture and Panathinaikos might struggle in offence. Panathinaikos played three important matches in the last two weeks, winning twice its eternal rival Olympiacos. Fatigue is an important factor for the game and the Greeks need to find a way to boost their energy.
Last game for Thursday will be in Madrid, where the wounded Real Madrid will try to return back on track. The main pieces of the team come from a difficult campaign in Eurobasket last month and their batteries are running low. However, against Crvena Zvezda Belgrade they have the chance to show Euroleague usurpers who’s the King of the Throne. The Serbians have presented a new upgraded version of their team and will definitely create problems to the Spanish transition game.
Moving to Friday games, the first battle of the day is a former Soviet Union civil war. Zalgiris Kaunas will try to repel the white walkers of Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar. The Russians took the scalp of Panathinaikos last week and are marching towards the wall that seperates them from the elite teams of Euroleague Basketball, using their front-court as a battering ram. Zalgiris must control the air traffic and play hard defence to protect their home advantage.
Brose Baskets Bamberg meets another rookie team in Euroleague Basketball, Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. This battle will be focused on the backcourt, where the home team guards will try to control the pace of the game and force their opponents to poor shot selections. The Turks will try to eliminate preshow jitters and exploit their physical dominance in the wings.
Far away from the north and near the west end of Euroleague Basketball land, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria hosts another ambitious successor of the Throne, Olympiacos Pireus. Another classic rivalry between two prestigious clubs. Laboral Kutxa has a 10-4 home winning record against the reds and will try to benefit from the opponent’s bad momentum. Olympiacos has lost twice from its Nemesis Panathinaikos (the second time was last Monday) and is already in a mini-crisis. The new members of the team are still adjusting and outside scoring is a problem to solve.
”The Throne is mine!” shouted CSKA Moscow last week and its voice was heard all over Euroleague. The Russian warriors took no prisoners against Maccabi Tel Aviv and made a clear statement of who’s the boss this year. This week they are campaigning against Dinamo di Sardegna Sassari. Their goal is to control the pace of the game and end the match from the first half. Sassari will try to be competitive and follow the score as long as they can before the inevitable comes…
Penultimate game of the week Strasbourg against Fenerbahce Istanbul. The turkish elite club gathered ”la creme de la creme” of the top level players that were available this summer and are ready to conquer the Euroleague Basketball Throne. The team is far away from being ready and for the moment winning games is enough. Strasbourg will try to push back and resist, but the poor depth of the bench is a big problem against a team with 12 soldiers ready to join the battle.
Last but not least, FC Barcelona hosts Stelmet Zielona Gora in a routine game. The Catalans lived a traumatic experience last week in Izmir against Karsiyaka and will try to heal their wounds. I expect them to enter the game with lots of energy and passion. Defence will give the energy to finish balls at offence. Can Zielona Gora resist? What will to the God of defeat? Not today.
The Game of Thrones is months away, but we can enjoy the fascinating the Euroleague Basketball Games for the Throne that take place every week for the whole winter! The journey is a very long one and is still early to decide who’s gonna be the next King or Queen, but we can relax, watch the games and enjoy the ride.
Images from: instagram.com/euroleaguebasketball/