Has Zalgiris a chance at Real Madrid?

Real Madrid will welcome Zalgiris Kaunas in the WiZink Center on Thursday evening in a game that counts for Round 25 of the EuroLeague.

Last week was dedicated to the domestic Cup tournaments in most countries and as expected both Real and Zalgiris were involved in the Final Eight and Final Four respectively.

Zalgiris won the trophy, but it wasn’t as easy as maybe most people expected. In the semifinals, the Greens coached by Kazys Maksvytis beat Lietkabelis, the team that represents Lithuania in the EuroCup. Lietkabelis managed to cut the lead of Zalgiris to just 5 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the team from Kaunas kept it cool and won by 10 points in the end. In the final, the opponent of Zalgiris was Jonava, who surprisingly eliminated Rytas Vilnius in the semifinals. The small club from Jonava played a great game in the final too against the much stronger Zalgiris and was leading by one point entering the last quarter. However, Zalgiris managed again to play a good fourth quarter and won the game 81-77.

The EuroLeague action resumes this week and contrary to the Lithuanian Cup, Zalgiris is the underdog in almost every game. So far they exceeded the expectations this season as they are strong candidates for a playoff spot, but beating Real in Madrid is an almost impossible task.

The Spanish giants will be very motivated against Zalgiris as they did not win the Copa del Rey last weekend and they want to get back on the right track in the EuroLeague, where they could climb to the 1st place with a win against the Lithuanians.

Real lost in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey Final Eight against Unicaja Malaga, the team that eventually won the Cup against all odds. It was a bad game by Chus Mateo’s men, as the Blancos didn’t really have any chance to win. To make things worse, Sergio Llull and Dzanan Musa got injured, and the availability of Edy Tavares for the game against Zalgiris is also questionable. His country’s national team is also counting on his presence on Friday, which puts Tavares in front of a difficult decision of choosing between the club that pays him and his national team, which could qualify for the first time in their history for the World Cup.

Imre Halasz

Image credit: EuroLeague