Looking ahead: Group A

Nov 27, 2017 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Looking ahead: Group A

Group A features one of the 7DAYS EuroCup's three unbeaten and already-qualified teams, Darussafaka Istanbul, but also has three clear-cut favorites for the remaining Top 16 berths from this group. UNICS Kazan is in second place at 4-2, while Cedevita Zagreb and Fiat Turin both have 3-3 records, giving them a two-victory advantage over MoraBanc Andorra and Levallois Metropolitans, both of whom are 1-5.

While Darussafaka is already sure of playing in the Top 16, the math is pretty simple for UNICS, too. It can qualify for the Top 16 as soon as Round 7 with a win over Levallois. That would give UNICS an insurmountable four-win advantage over Levallois to go with its three-win margin against Andorra, which UNICS has defeated twice already. A Round 7 loss in France would complicate things for UNICS, but just a little. Having beaten both Levallois and Fiat by 8 points, and having already swept Andorra, UNICS has tiebreakers going its way, even despite a 20-point loss against Cedevita in Round 4. The tiebreakers put UNICS in a situation where it basically only needs one more win the rest of the way to secure its Top 16 place.

With Darussafaka qualified and UNICS firmly in control of its own destiny, the Round 7 game with the biggest qualifying implications is certainly Andorra hosting Fiat. Andorra must try not only to win, but also to overcome its six-point, Round 2 loss in Turin. Such an outcome would massively complicate the battle for the remaining Top 16 spots. On the other hand, Fiat has everything to gain by winning in Andorra, especially after three consecutive defeats. A victory would all but qualify Fiat for the next round and all but eliminate Andorra. The remaining regular season schedule has Andorra hosting Cedevita and Darussafaka, with a road game at Levallois in between. Fiat's last three games show Levallois and UNICS visiting Turin and a road test at group leader Darussafaka.

With four regular-season games left, Cedevita can feel pretty good about its Top 16 chances after winning three of its last four. It holds the tiebreaker over Fiat thanks to its 22-point road win in Turin. In terms of qualifying, Cedevita can only gain ground in Round 7 when it hosts Darussafaka. A win would put Cedevita on the verge of qualifying, while a loss would mean a missed opportunity, but would still leave Cedevita in a very good shape. It still plays Levallois at home and carries an 18-point win when it travels to face Andorra in Round 8.

In sum, the next two rounds feature key games for Top 16 qualifications: Andorra hosting Fiat in Round 7, followed Andorra welcoming Cedevita and Fiat hosting Levallois in Round 8. Those games will either qualify both Fiat and Cedevita or push the Top 16 decisions to the regular season's 10th and final round.

Meanwhile, with its 6-0 record, Darussafaka is in the driver's seat to claim the first place in Group A, but still has plenty of work left to do in order to actually claim it. In that race for the first place, a lot will be determined by a Round 8 clash in which UNICS hosts Darussafaka, who won their first head-to-head by 9 points. Mathematically, Darussafaka secures first place with three wins in its last four games, or two wins plus a loss in Round 8 against UNICS by fewer than 9 points. Another, and certainly the best and most simple option for Darussafaka, is to win both in Round 7 at Cedevita and in Round 8 at UNICS. That would secure the Turkish side the first place with two games to go.

Looked at from UNICS's perspective, to finish first it would need to register one more win than Darussafaka in the remaining four games, but also to beat Darussafaka by more than 9 points in Round 8.