The derby of Euroleague’s Round 15 will take place in Turkey where the team with the best record so far, Anadolu Efes will meet the reigning champions CSKA Moscow. Last season CSKA won all three matches including the Big Final when they took the trophy after a 91-83 victory. Now Anadolu must defend their home ground and get their revenge over CSKA.
Anadolu has a perfect season until now, being the first-placed team in Turkey and Euroleague. Everything seems to go right for them with a run of 15 victories in all the competitions, including two against their big rivals, Fenerbahce. In the last round of Euroleague, they travelled to Lithuania, where they faced and beat Zalgiris Kaunas 74-68, in a very good game on the defensive end. They managed to keep their opponents shooting at 40% while they shoot 48% of their shots. They won the rebounds battle, but in the assists race, Zalgiris had 4 more. They need to concentrate more on their passing and find the open man more often because CSKA is a team that defends very well and only the extra-pass can give you the advantage in the game. The main scorers for Anadolu were: Vasilije Micic (18 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists), Tibor Pleiss (18 points and 7 rebounds) and Rodrigue Beaubois (16 points). Shane Larkin had only 6 points, but I expect a big game against CSKA. Bryant Dunston is out for this game.
For CSKA Moscow, the season is almost perfect, with some defeats suffered when are away like losses against Baskonia, Real, Maccabi or Unics Kazan in VTB League. In the last round, they received the visit from Crvena Zvezda in a game with no history. At halftime, they had an 8 point lead and they continue to grow that lead in every quarter finishing with a 100-74 victory. They had a very good game according to the stats with 27 assists, 32 rebounds and only 6 assists. Their shooting was very good, with 53% of their attempts going in. Their main gun for this year, Mike James, ended with 29 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 24 minutes. He was absolutely unstoppable and leaves his mark in the game. Other big contributors were Joel Bolomboy (17 points and 4 rebounds) and Nikita Kurbanov (11 points and 4 assists). Hines, Baker, Hackett and Voigtmann had only 6 points combined, but I expect some big contributions for them in this game. Will Clyburn and Mikhail Kulagin are out for this game.
To win in Turkey, CSKA must push their limits to maximum and have to take care of the ball, execute very well and defend very well against Micic, Beaubois or Larkin. Also, they need another big game from their MVP, Mike James, because if he scores less than 18-20 points are hard to imagine how they can take this game. As a prediction, I expect an Anadolu win to take their revenge with big support from their fans.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc