Ricky Rubio played for Barcelona for the first time between 2009-11. In 2010, he helped the Catalans win the EuroLeague title. Source: Imago Images
Ricky Rubio played for Barcelona for the first time between 2009-11. In 2010, he helped the Catalans win the EuroLeague title. Source: Imago Images

EuroLeague Round 27: What to expect and who to watch?

Basketball OlyBet 27.02.2024

Round 27 of the EuroLeague brings us nine thrilling matchups. To gain a better understanding of what to expect from these games and who to watch, sit back, relax, and delve into our preview of the round!

The previous EuroLeague round was played on February 8th and 9th, followed by a break for domestic cup competitions and national team qualifiers. Since a lot has happened during these three weeks, it’s not wise to focus much on the previous EuroLeague rounds in this preview, as they hold little relevance now. Many teams have been training hard during the break, while some have lost players due to injuries.

ALBA Berlin vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv (29 February, 21:00 EET)

ALBA is at full strength after a long time, as one of the team’s pillars, Louis Olinde, returned to the court during the German Cup games. The forward last played in the EuroLeague in mid-December, with a lengthy absence due to a concussion.

During the national team break, Maccabi lost power forward/center Roman Sorkin, who will be sidelined for about four weeks due to a knee injury. While the absence of the Israeli national team player is a setback, it’s not a crisis, as Maccabi has other decent options who will now get more minutes.

Against ALBA, guard Joe Thomasson, acquired from Granada in the Spanish league, is expected to make his EuroLeague debut. Looking at his statistics in Spain, he seems to be another scoring-oriented player, but Maccabi has plenty of them. The backcourt will still be led by Wade Baldwin and Lorenzo Brown, while bench players Tamir Blatt and John DiBartolomeo provided solid rest minutes for the stars.

Although there is a gap of eight wins between the two teams in the standings, Maccabi cannot underestimate the German powerhouse, especially considering that four out of ALBA’s five wins have been at home. True, out of nine encounters held in Berlin against Maccabi, the club coached by Israel Gonzalez has only won one, and that was almost two and a half years ago.

Virtus Bologna vs. Valencia (29 February, 21:30 EET)

Virtus is experiencing a crisis in form, having lost three out of their last four EuroLeague games and exiting the Italian Cup in the quarterfinals. However, it’s crucial for them that their leader, Tornike Shengelia, seems to be regaining top form.

The Georgian power forward had to take a few weeks off due to back issues but shone in the Italian Cup quarterfinals and in two games for his national team. It’s worth noting that Virtus’ decline coincided with Shengelia’s health concerns, and it’s understandable that the key player needed a couple of games to shake off the rust. His performances in the last couple of weeks indicate that Shengelia has managed to overcome this challenge.

It’s also important for Virtus that they return to EuroLeague games at home, where they have won 11 out of 13 battles this season. By the way, the clubs have met four times in the EuroLeague, and the home team has always emerged victorious.

In this matchup, two teams known for their defensive foundation will face each other. Although their first encounter ended with a fairly normal scoreline, with Valencia winning 79-71, it wouldn’t be surprising if neither team surpasses the 60-point mark on Thursday.

Valencia is pleased with the return of their key center, Brandon Davies, from injury, as he played excellently before the break and almost at the level of his better days. The center’s return could give more room to breath to forward Semi Ojeleye, which could further boost the effectiveness of the American. Ojeleye has scored at least 18 points in the last two EuroLeague matches.

Source: Luca Sgamellotti/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Partizan Belgrade vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul (29 February, 21:30 EET)

Partizan, currently standing first behind the play-in line, suffered another defeat to their city rivals Zvezda in the Serbian Cup final, leaving head coach Željko Obradović pondering on how to improve the team’s form. As noted by the Serbian, Partizan has lost too many matches this season where they actually had control. There’s no room for such errors anymore, with only eight rounds left until the end of the EuroLeague regular season.

Partizan allowed their players to join the national team, but players like Bruno Caboclo, Jaleen Smith, Zach LeDay, and Mateusz Ponitka had to limit their participation to just one match, as Obradović demanded their return to Belgrade. This was likely done to prepare as well as possible for the match against Efes.

Efes is also at full strength, as center Daniel Oturu and sharpshooter Mike Daum have recovered from injuries during the break.

Expect plenty of points from this matchup as both Partizan and Efes excel on offense. Moreover, their first encounter this season ended with Efes winning 100-94.

However, strong defensive efforts will be required, as otherwise, Partizan’s Kevin Punter and Efes’s Shane Larkin could make life difficult for their opponents!

Real Madrid vs. Panathinaikos Athens (29 February, 21:45 EET)

Nothing in the world is eternal, but in this season’s EuroLeague, there’s one thing as certain as can be. Namely, Real is the only team that hasn’t lost a single game at home, with 13 wins out of 13 matches. Admittedly, some of these victories have been narrow, with two of Real’s last five home games going into overtime and the largest margin in the remaining three being just seven points.

Real benefits from the fact that they have no injury concerns. The same cannot be said for Panathinaikos, as Luca Vildoza is not traveling to Spain, and backup center Kostas Antetokounmpo injured his knee while playing for the Greek national team.

Looking at history, Real is the clear favorite, as they have won a whopping 16 out of the last 17 battles against Panathinaikos. Real’s home record against Panathinaikos during that time span stands at a dozen wins out of a dozen matches.

It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on Panathinaikos’s guard Kendrick Nunn. The American, who is attempting to return to the NBA, can put on a spectacular show on offense, as evidenced by him scoring at least 20 points in the last two EuroLeague games. However, he hasn’t managed to put together three such games in a row.

Source: Gianfranco Cavassa/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Fenerbahce Istanbul vs. Baskonia (1 March, 19:45 EET)

During the break, Fenerbahce made a sensible decision by extending the contract of Amine Noua, who initially joined the club on a one-month deal. The French forward has particularly shone with his defensive play and energy, and he’s no slouch on offense either.

Baskonia didn’t want to allow Vanja Marinković, Nikos Rogkavopoulos, Codi Miller-McIntyre, Maik-Kalev Kotsar, and Sander Raieste to join their national teams, but they didn’t have any leverage to prevent them. Fortunately, nobody got injured, and for Round 27, Lithuanian key player Tadas Sedekerskis should return from an injury break. Center Khalifa Diop will certainly miss the game as he underwent wrist surgery, but he hasn’t had a significant role this season anyway.

While Fenerbahce is indeed one of the best home teams in the EuroLeague, winning 11 out of 12 matches, they haven’t been able to overcome Baskonia in the last four games. If they want to break this trend, they’ll need to put in extra effort defensively, as Baskonia has scored at least 92 points in their last three EuroLeague matches.

By the way, if Baskonia’s sharpshooter Markus Howard manages to hit at least one three-pointer against Fenerbahce, he will become the first player this season to make 100 three-pointers.

Zalgiris Kaunas vs. Olympiacos (1 March, 20:00 EET)

Under the guidance of head coach Andrea Trinchieri, who was hired midway through the season, Zalgiris has been quite impressive in their recent home games, to say the least. Additionally, the Lithuanian powerhouse is in good form, having won the Lithuanian Cup, and they have three consecutive victories in the EuroLeague.

However, Zalgiris also has some concerns. Center Laurynas Birutis, who has been in good form, missed the national team games due to injury but should be back for the EuroLeague. Unfortunately, Trinchieri won’t be able to use Dovydas Giedraitis due to injury.

Olympiacos, who defeated Panathinaikos in the Greek Cup final, has all key players available, with minor injuries affecting Giannoulis Larentzakis and Naz Mitrou-Long, but the possible absence of either isn’t a significant setback.

Olympiacos has won five consecutive games against Zalgiris and has been the best in Lithuania in the last two encounters. However, this time, particular attention should be paid to Zalgiris’ leader Keenan Evans, who has scored over 20 points in six of the last eight EuroLeague games.

Source: Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

ASVEL Villeurbanne vs. Milan (1 March, 21:00 EET)

The break was much needed for ASVEL, as the EuroLeague’s bottom team got to train long and peacefully under current head coach Pierric Poupet for the first time. Moreover, the team leader Paris Lee, who injured his finger in the previous round against Baskonia, and EuroLeague legend Nando de Colo, who got injured in December, are back in the lineup.

Milan is more or less at full strength. However, sharpshooter Billy Baron, who has been plagued by injuries this season, is sidelined, and there are question marks over Stefano Tonut, who injured his wrist while playing for Italy.

Historically, March has been a tough month for ASVEL. Their win percentage in that month is only nine, and they have scored an average of 72.1 points, the lowest in any month in the EuroLeague.

Fortunately for them, Milan struggles away from home, as they have won only two out of the last 15 EuroLeague games played on the road.

Bayern Munich vs. Crvena Zvezda Belgrade (1 March, 21:30 EET)

During the break, Bayern welcomed back one of their key players, Devin Booker, who excels particularly in rebounding. Also returning is Leandro Bolmaro, who missed the previous EuroLeague round. Zvezda, who won the Serbian Cup final, also has all their players available.

Both clubs have experienced numerous narrow defeats this season, making the EuroLeague season essentially over for Zvezda, as reaching the play-in would be a miracle. Bayern still holds a slim chance, although probability theory is not in their favor.

Bayern has won their last three home games against Zvezda, but this season, the German powerhouse have only managed consecutive victories once. However, they have an opportunity now, having defeated Zvezda’s eternal rival, Partizan, away in the previous round.

Source: Christina Pahnke/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Barcelona vs. Monaco (1 March, 21:30 EET)

Barcelona, alongside Fenerbahce, is the only other club this season in the EuroLeague to have lost just one home game, having won 13 matches. Monaco is one of only three clubs with a road win percentage of at least 50, with seven wins and seven losses, trailing only Real (9-4).

It’s worth noting that Monaco, aiming to reach the final four for the second consecutive season, has secured two consecutive away victories in the EuroLeague. However, these wins have been very narrow, by two and three points.

Barcelona is at full strength, and on Friday night, the club’s former player Ricky Rubio may take to the court again. In the summer, the point guard announced he would take time off from basketball to deal with mental health issues, and a few months later, it was revealed that his NBA career was over.

Rubio returned to elite basketball in the recent FIBA window, where Spain suffered two defeats, and the playmaker understandably showed signs of rust. In the second game against Belgium, he hurt his knee, so his participation against Monaco is uncertain.

Monaco, also at full strength, has won their last two EuroLeague meetings against Barcelona. However, Barcelona is indeed strong at home, as their last three EuroLeague home games have ended with Barcelona winning by at least 16 points.

It’s worth noting that if Monaco manages to defeat Barcelona, they will set a club record – the representatives of the principality have never won six consecutive matches during their EuroLeague campaigns.


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