After a two weeks break, due to the National Cups, the most powerful basketball competition in Europe is back as of Thursday and Friday we have many interesting games. This is the last part of the season and now, the team will play at their maximum to improve their chances to get a play-off spot or to defend their position. I will start with the duel between Olympiacos and ASVEL Lyon because the Greeks are in a desperate need of wins, in order to have a chance at playoffs.
For Olympiacos, this season is one with ups and downs, with many surprising defeats or unexpected wins. A surprising win happened in their last game against ASVEL, were they lost 82-63, in a game that everything went wrong for Olympiacos. They’re currently on 11th position, one /win away from Milano and 2 from Valencia, the teams placed on 7th and 8th place. In their last game, they took an impressive win against current Euroleague Champions, CSKA Moscow, 72-59. Everything was balanced until the third quarter, when they show a very good defensive display letting CSKA score only 4 points, with one bucket from the action and 2 free-throws. The main contributors were: Kostas Papanikolaou (19 points and 7 rebounds), Augustine Rubit (13 points) and Nikola Milutinov (11 points and 12 rebounds). Some days ago, they added two players to their squad: Dwight Buycks who came from Chinese League where he averaged 20.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg. and 6.4 apg. and Shaq Mckissic from Besiktas. Is unknown if they are ready to play, but for sure Taylor Rochestie and Vassilis Spanoulis are out, while Brandon Paul and Aleksej Pokusevski are questionable.
The first Euroleague season for ASVEL is decent, currently placed on 15th positions, two wins away from 8th place Milano. They had lost the French Cup in this weekend against Dijon after a very balanced and tough match. They won against Strasbourg and Levallois to reach the final, but there they faced a Dijon team very motivated after they eliminate Monaco in the semifinals. Dijon had the lead more minutes, but in the last quarter, ASVEL managed to get even the score and to have a two points lead. But in the final moments of the game, Dijon scored six points in a row and secured a 77-69 win. ASVEL added a new player to their roster in Davion Berry, who came from Enisey of VTB League. There he averaged 15.8 ppg. and 3.8 rpg. He will add more strength in the offensive end for the French team but his status remains uncertain for this game.
Both teams are in a desperate need of victories and this game will be very tough for them. Olympiacos have a huge morale thanks to the win over CSKA, while ASVEL is a little bit upset of their French Cup loss. The home team will try to get the win here, even with those absentees, and complete their revenge for the ugly loss suffered in French.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc