Mike James is almost certain to dethrone Vassilis Spanoulis from the EuroLeague scoring record throne this week. Source: Alfonso Cannavacciuolo/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Mike James is almost certain to dethrone Vassilis Spanoulis from the EuroLeague scoring record throne this week. Source: Alfonso Cannavacciuolo/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

EuroLeague Round 28: What to expect and who to watch?

Basketball OlyBet 05.03.2024

Round 28 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!

Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs Bayern Munich (7 March, 19:30 EET)

The game of Efes suffers primarily due to defense. They excel in offense in the EuroLeague, but their defense is abysmal, allowing opponents to score an average of 121 points per 100 possessions. In the previous round, Partizan Belgrade scored 100 points against them.

If Efes wants to keep alive hopes of reaching the play-in’s, they have no choice but to win against Bayern. However, the German club is also fighting for a place in the top ten, and they are only one win behind Valencia, who currently sits in the last play-in spot.

At a time when injury problems do not plague Efes, Bayern has some key players with question marks over their availability. Guard Sylvain Francisco missed the previous round, and the sharpshooter Andreas Obst didn’t participate in the weekend German league match.

Historically, Bayern has been successful against Efes, winning six out of the last seven encounters. Another point in favor of Pablo Laso’s team is that they are currently on a two-game winning streak away from home in the EuroLeague.

Offensively, Bayern will probably rely on their big man Devin Booker and Serge Ibaka. They are in excellent form, and one of Efes’s biggest defensive weaknesses is guarding the paint.

Monaco vs Crvena Zvezda Belgrade (7 March, 20:00 EET)

No team in the EuroLeague is in as good form as Monaco, who have won six games in a row. This streak sets a record for the team in the toughest club competition in the Old World. They have won five consecutive home games, and by defeating Zvezda, they would match their team’s best streak in the EuroLeague.

On Thursday night, Mike James is almost certain to make EuroLeague history by becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer. Currently, the American has 4444 points to his name, and to surpass Vassilis Spanoulis’s record, he needs to score at least 12 points against Zvezda.

For James, this should be a walk in the park, as his average scoring against Zvezda is 17.1 points. In the last 12 EuroLeague home games, James has scored at least 12 points in all twelve battles.

In the previous round, Monaco was without guards Jordan Loyd and Yakuba Ouattara. The latter should definitely return against Zvezda as he was only suffering from an illness. Zvezda is eagerly awaiting the return of their main point guard Miloš Teodosić, but it’s unclear whether he will participate against Monaco.

Zvezda is also anticipating the debut of forward Trey Thompkins. The 33-year-old American, who won the EuroLeague with Real Madrid in 2018, joined the Serbian giants at the beginning of February. It’s clear that great expectations shouldn’t be placed on him, as he last stepped onto the basketball court almost a year ago.

Source: Michele Nucci/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Zalgiris Kaunas (7 March, 21:05 EET)

Zalgiris is a suitable opponent for Maccabi, as the Israeli powerhouse has won six out of their last seven games against them. Interestingly, the club led by Oded Kattash has beaten Zalgiris 22 times in the history of the EuroLeague, more than against any other team in the history of the competition.

In the previous round, Maccabi thrashed ALBA Berlin 106-71 and is now chasing their second consecutive victory in the EuroLeague. While it might seem like a small feat, Maccabi, playing their home games in Belgrade, hasn’t managed to win two games in a row in the EuroLeague in 2024.

Zalgiris’s situation is the opposite. They suffered a clear defeat to Olympiacos in the previous round but haven’t lost two consecutive games this calendar year.

Two players from Maccabi have been in excellent form lately: guard Wade Baldwin has averaged 23.4 points and six assists in the last five rounds, while shooting an impressive 60% from beyond the arc. Former Zalgiris center Josh Nebo has scored at least ten points in the last three games.

Whether Maccabi’s point guard Tamir Blatt can contribute against Zalgiris remains uncertain due to a knee injury. The Lithuanian powerhouse is basically at full strength, with only guard Dovydas Giedraitis absent.

Valencia vs Barcelona (7 March, 21:30 EET)

Valencia has only managed to defeat Barcelona twice out of nine encounters in the EuroLeague, but it’s important to note that both victories came on Valencia’s home turf. In the Spanish league this season, they’ve faced off twice, and on both occasions, Barcelona has left the court as the loser.

To stop Barcelona, it’s crucial to contain big man Jan Vesely. The Czech player is in excellent form, averaging 16.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in the last five games.

Against Valencia, Vesely has the opportunity to make his own EuroLeague history as he has never recorded consecutive double-doubles. His performance of 19 points and ten rebounds against Monaco in the previous round gives him a good chance to rectify that.

It’s clear that this game won’t be a high-scoring affair. Valencia has allowed opponents to score an average of 76.4 points in the EuroLeague this season, while Barcelona has allowed 78.4 points. In this regard, they rank second and fifth, respectively.

However, what favors Valencia is that in their last five games, Barcelona has allowed opponents to grab 13 offensive rebounds on average. This is the worst statistic in the EuroLeague, and considering Valencia’s prowess on the boards and their physicality, it could be their trump card.

Source: Rodolfo Molina/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Real Madrid vs Fenerbahce Istanbul (7 March, 21:45 EET)

Real, which started the season with overwhelming dominance, has begun to falter as the season progresses, currently facing a situation where they’ve lost two consecutive games in the EuroLeague. In the previous round, they suffered their first home defeat of the season against Panathinaikos Athens.

Fenerbahce is undoubtedly a formidable opponent, and in the first encounter held in Istanbul, the hosts managed to win in overtime with a score of 100-99. True, Real had control of the game in the fourth quarter, leading by as much as 14 points at one point.

However, playing in Spain has been Fenerbahce’s Achilles’ heel. They have lost 14 consecutive away games against Spanish clubs. The last time they managed to win in Spain was in February 2020 when they defeated Valencia 93-86.

Although Fenerbahce has a quality roster, their biggest weakness lies in the point guard position, where they lack depth. Therefore, it’s crucial for Real to contain Nick Calathes, the Greek national team player who hails from the USA. Calathes has been in good form, shining in the previous round against Baskonia with 12 assists and 11 points.

And of course, Real must keep Fenerbahce away from the three-point line. Against Baskonia, Fenerbahce made an impressive 19 three-pointers with six different players finding success from beyond the arc.

Olympiacos vs Virtus Bologna (7 March, 22:00 EET)

Olympiacos’ form has had its ups and downs, but as the season progresses, the on-court peformance and results of Georgios Bartzokas’s team have been on the rise. But Virtus is a quality team and they won the first game of the season in Italy with a score of 69-67.

However, on Thursday, we might not see Virtus’ leader Tornike Shengelia on the court, as he injured his ankle in the previous round and played only six minutes. Although the Italian club stated that the Georgian did not sustain a serious injury, it’s not confirmed whether he will play against Olympiacos.

On Olympiacos’ side, starting point guard Thomas Walkup is likely to be absent against Virtus, as he injured his left ankle in Monday’s Greek league match. Coach Bartzokas won’t be able to utilize center Nikola Milutinov either.

Walkup’s injury is particularly painful considering that other guards Nigel Williams-Goss, Giannoulis Larentzakis, and Naz Mitrou-Long were absent in the previous round. It’s not clear if any of the trio will be available against Virtus.

However, Olympiacos can play solid defense with whoever is on the court. In the last five games, opponents have scored an average of 78 points against them, ranking sixth in the league defensively.

Source: Luca Sgamellotti/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Panathinaikos Athens vs ASVEL Villeurbanne (8 March, 21:15 EET)

Panathinaikos has won four consecutive games against ASVEL and has been in tremendous form in the second half of this season, winning 11 out of their last 14 EuroLeague matches. In their last seven victories, they have defeated opponents by at least ten points.

Although ASVEL sits second from bottom in the standings, Panathinaikos must not underestimate their opponent on Friday in any way. If approached casually, the French club will undoubtedly make life difficult for them.

ASVEL must pay close attention to Mathias Lessort. Panathinaikos’ center scored 26 points against Real in the previous round and is one of the most dominant big men in the EuroLeague. Therefore, the return of Youssoupha Fall is crucial for ASVEL. Fall missed the previous round’s match but returned to action over the weekend in the French league.

However, Panathinaikos shouldn’t face major problems against ASVEL on their home court. The Greek club boasts a strong defense, and they have plenty of firepower on offense from multiple players. ASVEL’s biggest issue by far has been their leaky defense.

Baskonia vs ALBA Berlin (8 March, 21:30 EET)

In the EuroLeague, only two teams have allowed opponents to score an average of over 90 points in the last five rounds. Yes, you guessed it right, those teams are ALBA (92.2) and Baskonia (92.4).

During the same period, both teams have struggled in rebounding, but unlike ALBA, Baskonia hasn’t faced significant scoring issues. ALBA’s offense has, however, been very weak, and when they face aggressive defensive pressure, ALBA tends to commit many turnovers.

ALBA is at the bottom of the table and has only won two out of their last 12 EuroLeague matches and has only managed to secure one victory away from home this season.

In the last five rounds, ALBA has allowed 19.8 assists per game, only surpassed by Maccabi (20.2) and Baskonia (20.4). This is music to the ears of Baskonia’s point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, whose average assists per game this season stands at 7.3, the best in the EuroLeague!

Representing Bulgaria on the international stage, the American has dished out 95 assists in the EuroLeague this calendar year, 36 more than anyone else. By the way, ALBA’s top player in this regard is Matteo Spagnolo, but he has only managed 38 assists.

Source: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Milan vs Partizan Belgrade (8 March, 21:30 EET)

Milan is plagued by a significant injury crisis as Alex Poythress, Shabazz Napier, Stefano Tonut, Diego Flaccadori, and their biggest star Nikola Mirotić have all been dealing with various issues over the past week. It’s unclear who among them will be available against Partizan.

Partizan’s injury report is much better in comparison, as only one key player, James Nunnally, was absent in the previous EuroLeague round, and backup point guard Ognjen Jaramaz missed Sunday’s Adriatic League battle.

The strengths and weaknesses of Milan and Partizan are precisely opposite. The Italian club boasts one of the best defenses in the EuroLeague but struggles on offense. On the other hand, the Serbian team’s defense is one of the weakest and their offensive rating is only surpassed by Real.

To be honest, it’s extremely difficult to predict which style will prevail on Friday. Partizan did win the first matchup 82-69, but Milan was up by 15 points in the middle of the third quarter. However, their lead melted away like a snowman in spring.

Individual brilliance against Milan’s solid defense could be crucial. Partizan has offensive firepower, as Kevin Punter, Zach LeDay, and Aleksa Avramović are all capable of putting up impressive scoring performances.


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