Looking ahead: Group B

Nov 28, 2017 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Looking ahead: Group B

No team has a clearer picture and more comfortable situation after six rounds of the regular season than FC Bayern Munich, the 7DAYS EuroCup's most dominant team and Group B leader. One of three undefeated teams in the competition, sitting at 6-0, already-qualified Bayern is three victories clear of its nearest Group B followers – Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, Lietkabelis Panevezys and Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia – all of whom have 3-3 record. It makes Bayern's situation as clear as it can be at this point of the season.

Bayern can already clinch the first place in Round 7 if it beats Lietkabelis on the road, and if Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (1-5) beats Reggio Emilia and if Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (2-4) beats Buducnost. Even if that does not happen, the rest of the way Bayern needs one win and one loss apiece by Lietkabelis, Reggio Emilia and Buducnost to finish first. Moreover, Bayern still has to play each of those teams, and having already beaten Lietkabelis by 36 points, Reggio Emilia by 25 and Buducnost by 18, even one win and losses smaller than those margins will be enough for Bayern to mathematically secure first place. Barring a major collapse, Bayern should win Group B.

The battle for all other Top 16 berths is, obviously, a lot more complicated. Of the three teams with 3-3 records, Round 7 will be huge for Buducnost and Reggio Emilia.

As a matter of fact, Buducnost can take care of things for itself in the next two rounds, when it first hosts Jerusalem, then it travels to Istanbul to play Galatasaray. Having beaten each of those teams so far, two wins would give Buducnost a clean sweep of both opponents and guarantee it a place in the Top 16. Buducnost also owns a tiebreaker over Reggio Emilia, having won by 8 at home and lost by 6 on the road. However, the Montenegrin powerhouse is also on a three-game losing streak, with no better time to break it than with a win in Round 7.

At this stage of the season every win makes a significant step towards the goal of reaching the next round, and such is the case for a potential Reggio Emilia victory on the road at Galatasaray in Round 7. However, for the Italian side and the EuroCup's leading scorer, Amedeo Della Valle, a Round 8 tilt on their home floor against Lietkabelis would be even bigger because a win that night would give Reggio Emilia a sweep of Lietkabelis. Having already split victories in its series with Buducnost, and having at least a split with Galatasaray, that game looks to carry a lot of weight for both Reggio Emilia and Lietkabelis.

The Lithuanian side really has two tough games ahead, first playing at home against Bayern, a team that it lost to by 93-57 in Round 2, before travelling for that game to Reggio Emilia. Lietkabelis has one of two toughest schedules the rest of the way, with another home game against possibly desperate Galatasaray, and finishing the regular season with an always tough road game in Podgorica. Lietkabelis cannot be sure if one or even two wins of those four would be enough to make the Top 16, because some will depend on what two former champs, Jerusalem and Galatasaray, do the rest of the way.

It helps Lietkabelis that is does hold a tiebreaker over Jerusalem, but if it gets swept by Reggio Emilia, and if Jerusalem sweeps Reggio Emilia along the way, that advantage alone would not be enough for Lietkabelis in a three-team tie with those two others. When we speak of tough schedules, Jerusalem's might be the worst, with road games at Buducnost, Bayern and Galatasaray, and a Round 9 home game against Reggio Emilia. Currently sitting at 2-4, Jerusalem needs to make sure it stays alive until that Round 9 game.

The team that will be in survival mode the rest of the way is Galatasaray. It's no secret the 2016 EuroCup champion needs three or all four wins to qualify for Top 16, but Galatasaray certainly has the most favorable remaining schedule. It features home games against Reggio Emilia, Buducnost and Jerusalem, and a Round 9 trip to Lietkabelis. Galatasaray has five losses, but in last two games, both on the road, it beat Jerusalem and took Bayern to the wire. Galatasaray knows it can be eliminated by Round 8, but also that if it runs the table and wins out, it will almost surely be playing in the next stage.