Both of the best teams in the competitions meet in an attractive showdown. Madrid (15-4) is in a four-game home winning streak but comes off a road loss against Buducnost. Anthony Randolph (12.4 ppg.) has been its top scorer until now but Madrid has eight other players averaging at least 5 points, including playmakers Sergio Llull (10.3 ppg.) and Facu Campazzo (9.7 ppg.). Efes (13-6) is on a four-game winning streak and willing to keep its momentum going. Rodrigue Beaubois is Efes's top scorer this season (13.1 ppg.), followed by Adrien Moerman (12.4 ppg.) and Vasilije Micic (11.9 ppg.). Expect high intensity and great basketball at Wizink Center.
Two of the best point guards in the competition meet again. Micic has been sensational this season, playing with great determination and character, shooting well from downtown (46.2%) and sharing the ball to make everything work (5.3 ppg.). He must use his size and athleticism against Llull, a former EuroLeague MVP with unlimited range, experience and outstanding clutch. Llull has been money from the foul line, too (26-of-27, 96.3%).
Earlier this season
Madrid and Efes played arguably one of the best games this season in Regular Season Round 11, on December 7. Efes dominated the game for the best part and led 74-60 after 30 minutes but Madrid came back, led by Gustavo Ayon and Trey Thompkins, and ended up getting an 82-84 win. Ayon led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds in less than 22 minutes. Llull added 12, and Moerman led Efes with 19 and 10 rebounds.
Keys to victory: Madrid
Madrid must dominate the defensive board in order to get its trademark run-and-gun basketball going. Indeed, Madrid leads the defensive boards standings (27 drpg.) and ranks high in fouls drawn (21.4 per game). It needs to stop Micic and Shane Larkin from dominating the game tempo, for which Llull and Campazzo will be very important. Jeffery Taylor and Rudy Fernandez must be aggressive against James Anderson and Krunoslav Simon at small forward, too.
Keys to victory: Efes
Efes is shooting the ball really well this season, ranking first in two-point (59.1%) and second in three-point shooting (43%). Efes, however, ranks last in offensive rebounds (8.2 orpg.), and that will be critical to prevent Madrid's fast-paced, transition basketball. Micic and Moerman are in very good shape, so Efes must keep running its offense through them and expect Bryant Dunston and Tibor Pleiss to stop Ayon down low.