Euroleague Round 5 Focus: A great battle

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Are you ready for Euroleague’s Round 5?

In round 4, Anadolu Efes won the battle of Istanbul against the favourites Fenerbahce and Zalgiris beat Panathinaikos in Athens for the first time in Euroleague history. Apart from Bayern Munich beating Baskonia in Germany, the results had no other upsets in store. The favourites met expectations, as we are already a month into the Euroleague season.

A giant MVP for October

The incredible Walter Tavares has been the stalwart of Real Madrid’s defense, which ranks best in the league, as they have cruised to a perfect record (4-0). They have been touted the favourite before the start of the season and they have looked the part during the opening month. The 2018 champions will be facing a tough challenge to maintain their unbeaten run, as they will be visiting Lithuania for a duel against a Zalgiris Kaunas team fresh off their first victory against Panathinaikos in Athens.

The giant from Cape Verde has been a rebounding and blocking machine this season, leading all Euroleague players in both categories. He is one of the rare players whose impact is larger than his counting stats; his mere presence deters players driving to the rim. So many plans get altered when guards are not willing to drive all the way to the basket. Tavares is the catalyst to Real’s great defensive results.

Euroleague Round 4 – Top 10 plays

CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos Piraeus face off

Both teams have enjoyed great starts to their Euroleague seasons, relying on solid coaching and roster continuity for their success. CSKA Moscow enjoys a very positive record against the Reds, beating them 17 times in 21 contests. The Final Four, however, is another story altogether. Olympiacos has proven the nemesis of the Russians, beating them all four times they faced off in the Final Four the last seven years. The most notable of these victories was, of course, the Championship Game in 2013 in Istanbul, when Olympiacos achieved one of the greatest comebacks in Euroleague history to take the trophy home.

The game will also be a battle of two of the most respectable coaches in European Basketball. Both coaches intent to play a fast-paced offensive game and CSKA’s second-best offence in the Euroleague can largely be attributed to their ability play fast without making a lot of mistakes, an area Olympiacos still struggles as coach Blatt tries to incorporate this summer’s signings and shape the team according to his philosophy.

A battle of giants in Barcelona

Barcelona and Maccabi Tel-Aviv place second and third respectively in Euroleague Final Four appearances. Surprisingly, neither has advanced to that stage since 2014. Consequently, the goal for both those Euroleague giants is to assert themselves as major contenders en route to the F4. Ante Tomic has been the focal point of Barcelona’s offence and the powerful frontline of Maccabi will look to neutralize his threat, as they have done with Olympiacos’ Nikola Milutinov, keeping him to 4 points.

The rest of the games

Anadolu Efes will travel to Milan to face Armani as the two teams want to prove they have improved from the past year’s disappointing performances. Both sit on 3-1 records behind exciting guard play from newcomers Beaubois – Larkin for Efes and James – Dedovic for Milan.

Elsewhere, Panathinaikos will travel to Podgorica looking to bounce back after a shocking defeat at home against Zalgiris. In theory, Buducnost doesn’t possess the offensive quality to threaten Panathinaikos, ranking last in points per game, but the Greens will have to prove their superiority on the court after a rocky start.

Khimki has not enjoyed the best of starts. Coming into the season with lofty aspirations, they remain the only winless team besides the underdogs Buducnost. Herbalife Gran Canaria has looked good despite their unfavourable schedule and go into the game without pressure. It is a must-win game for Khimki, as they will play against a seemingly inferior opponent in front of their fans.

Finally, in Istanbul, Fenerbahce should have no problem against Bayern Munich. What is interesting is the battle of two of the most prominent Serbian coaches. Zeljko Obradovic has more Euroleague silverware than any other coach. He has won the competition nine times, coaching five different teams in the span of 25 years. Dejan Radonjic, on the other hand, is one of the most up and coming Serbian coaches. He is currently in his first full season outside of Balkans, spending his career with Buducnost and Crvena Zvezda. Look for Nihad Dedovic to continue his hot start of the season for the visitors. Radonjic will turn to him and Derrick Williams to pursue any chance of upsetting Fenerbahce.

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