Top 16 Group F analysis

Dec 26, 2018 by Print
Top 16 Group F analysis

Group F is made up of teams rich in 7DAYS EuroCup experience, with a combined 27 campaigns between them. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar won the title in 2013 and is the current runner-up. ratiopharm Ulm and LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne have both reached the quarterfinals before, though it has been a while. Ulm got to the quarters in 2013 and ASVEL in 2006. This season marks the first time Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt has advanced this deep into the competition.

Opposites attract

Group F features two teams that could not have been trending in opposite directions in their previous EuroCup appearances. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar is last season's runner-up and the 2013 champion. The team set the competition record last year by winning the first 20 games of the season, and in the process tied the longest winning streak in the competition which was previously owned by – Lokomotiv. While Lokomotiv is the club with the best winning percentage in competition history (80 wins in 101 games for 79.2%), Skyliners entered this season on a 26-game EuroCup losing streak. Skyliners were held winless over 10 games in both the 2005-06 and 2007-08 regular seasons and had a 0-6 record in the 2011-12 campaign. However, it all ended in style this season, with the team going 6-4 to qualify for the second stage of the competition for the first time in six tries. Regardless of their respective pasts, Lokomotiv and Skyliners are now pitted together and starting from zero in the race for the EuroCup Quarterfinals.

Hot coaching starts

No team enters the Top 16 with a better record than Lokomotiv's 9-1 and its head coach Vlade Jovanovic is still riding a perfect start. Jovanovic was an assistant to Coach Sasa Obradovic and was appointed as Lokomotiv's head of bench after the club split with Obradovic midway through the regular season. Round 6 game marked Jovanovic's head-coaching debut in the competition and he has yet to lose a EuroCup game. Three of his wins have come on the road as Lokomotiv re-gained confidence and once again enters the Top 16 as a favorite. Meanwhile, ASVEL also has a EuroCup debutant on its bench, but that did not prevent Coach Zvezdan Mitrovic from leading his team on a five-game winning streak earlier in the regular season and finishing second in its group with a 7-3 record. Mitrovic had his team playing the best defense in the competition, allowing a competition-low 73.9 points per game. Not bad for a couple of coaches getting their first taste of the EuroCup.

The pace-setters

Three teams in Group F feature players who have excelled in specific categories during the regular season. Arguably, the most impressive of them all is Javonte Green of Ulm whose 3.2 steals per game were the most in the league by a comfortable margin. No player who played more than two games in a season has picked pockets as successfully as Green in 14 seasons, since the 2004-05 campaign. Skyliners' Erik Murphy leads the league in three-point shooting. His 72.7% accuracy has never been matched before in the regular season by a player with at least 20 attempts. By knocking down 24 of 33 triples, Murphy is on pace to set the single-season EuroCup record for three-point accuracy. his teammate Quantez Robertson is averaging the most minutes (32:58 per game) of all players still in the competition. Robertson is also second behind Green in steals with 2.4 per game. ASVEL guard Mantas Kalnietis has dished a total of 65 assists, which is tied for the most in the EuroCup this season. His average of 6.5 is tied for second in the competition.

Familiar faces

There will be many familiar faces to one another in almost every game played in Group F. One of the most significant will be that of ASVEL guard Mantas Kalnietis, who helped Lokomotiv win the EuroCup in 2013. He played a total of three seasons with Lokomotiv. Kalnietis was also a teammate of Lokomotiv big man Jamel McLean two seasons ago at AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. McLean was a teammate of Skyliners players Jonas Wohlfarth-Bottermann and Akeem Vargas during the 2014-15 season at ALBA Berlin. Wohlfarth-Bottermann himself played for Ulm during the 2016-17 campaign. He played there under Coach Leibenath and alongside Per Guenther and David Kraemer. ASVEL head coach Zvezdan Mitrovic spent the previous four seasons guiding AS Monaco and in the first of those he coached Lokomotiv center Moustapha Fall.