The Romanian champions hosting Joventut Badalona

U-BT Cluj-Napoca will host Joventut Badalona in the BT Arena on Wednesday. The game counts for Round 7 of the EuroCup.

The Romanian champions have a 2-4 record so far and come after a tough defeat last week against Bursaspor. The game was tied at half time, but in the second half, the black and white team couldn’t keep the pace against the Turkish team and unlike their other defeats, this time they had no chance to win. Now, they face an even tougher challenge against the best team in the group, but Patrick Richard and co. proved so far that in their home arena U-BT is very hard to beat. Leo Meindl is one of the best players so far in this season’s EuroCup, Nemanja Gordic plays like he’s been part of the team for a long time and Emanuel Cate also had a couple of impressive games lately, so U-BT has weapons to surprise Joventut.

Joventut is maybe the biggest favourite to win the EuroCup this season. The team from Catalunya has players with EuroLeague experience, like Ante Tomic, Pau Ribas or Guillem Vives and also rising stars like EuroBasket champion Joel Parra or American center Henry Ellenson (who is the leading scorer of the team so far this season), to name just a few.

The team coached by Carles Duran has a 4-2 record and is currently tied for second place in Group A with two other teams. Just like U-BT, the Penya also lost in Turkey against Bursaspor, while the second defeat was last week in the Palau Olimpic against French team Bourg. Tomic and co. will be very motivated not to lose any more games they should win, as the home-court advantage is very important in a single-elimination type playoff like we have in the EuroCup.

The two teams have different strengths. Statistically, U-BT has the third-best offense in EuroCup, with an average of 85.7 points per game, while Joventut has the best defense, allowing only 73 points per game from the opponents. Even if they are clearly the favourites, it will not be an easy game for the Spanish team, as they have to slow down the offense of the team from Cluj. Also, there will be interesting matchups under the basket, where Croatian star Ante Tomic will have a battle with very productive interior players like Andrija Stipanovic and Emanuel Cate.

Imre Halasz

Photo credit: Eurocup