Crucial game for Baskonia at Olympiacos

Olympiacos Piraeus will host Baskonia at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Thursday evening in a game that counts for the last Round (34) of the current EuroLeague season.

Of the nine last-round games, this game is maybe the most interesting one, as it will determine the regular season winner and more importantly, the last team that qualifies for the playoffs. In case the Basque team loses in Greece then Zalgiris Kaunas has the chance to reach the playoffs if they beat Bayern Munich on Friday.

Last season Olympiacos reached the Final Four and their presence at the event was considered somewhat of a surprise. The team coached by Georgios Bartzokas was very close to reaching the final as they lost on the last shot in the semifinal and finished 4th at the end. But this year the Reds proved that last season’s performance was not by luck and they even improved this year. The Greek team absolutely deserves the 1st place and I’m sure they will want to keep it at the end of the regular season and will not rest their star players tomorrow.

For Baskonia, tomorrow’s game is even more important as they desperately need a win to avoid elimination. Joan Penarroya’s team is one of the most fun to watch for neutral spectators and their results have been above expectations this season (almost nobody expected them to be above Milan, Efes, Virtus Bologna or even Zvezda in the final standings). However, their 18-16 record (if they lose) might not be enough to reach the top 8.

Interestingly, if we look at stats, Baskonia has a better offence than Olympiacos, scoring 87 points per game on average versus 84 ppg for the Reds. However, on the defensive end, the Greek team allows far fewer points per game (75.8 versus 83.9 for Baskonia).

While the battle for the last playoff spot should be between Baskonia and Zalgiris, mathematically there is a possibility that Fenerbahce could still fall out of the top 8. For this to happen, the Turkish team has to lose in Belgrade against Zvezda and Baskonia and Zalgiris both need to win their games.

Imre Halasz

Photo credit: EuroLeague