Top 16 Group G analysis

Dec 27, 2018 by Print
Top 16 Group G analysis

It will be tough in Group G of the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 this season. The group has the winningest club in competition history, Valencia Basket; 2017 champion Unicaja Malaga; Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, which reached the semifinals in 2014, the last time it competed in the EuroCup; and former EuroLeague champion Limoges CSP.

Road wins count double

The four teams in this group combined to go 17-3 at home in the regular season, so road wins in the Top 16 will be worth their weight in gold. Unicaja and Valencia each are perfect on their home floors so far this season. Ironically, Unicaja, which has won nine straight home games in the EuroCup, last lost at Martin Carpena against Valencia in Round 3 of the 2016-17 Top 16. And Valencia's last home loss in the EuroCup came in the decisive Game 3 of the EuroCup Finals that season at the hands of Unicaja! Zvezda dominated in its four home wins with average margins of victory of 21.8 points. Limoges was 'only' 3-2 at home, but its two losses were by single digits against EuroCup contenders Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar and ALBA Berlin. However, last season Limoges was 3-5 at home in the EuroCup, so the team has some work to do before Palais des Sports de Beaublanc turns into the type of fortress that its counterparts in Group G already enjoy.

Big battles in the paint

It will be tough for any team to get through Group G without some big games from their big men, because each of the teams in this group has a stud center... and in some cases, two. Valencia is led by Bojan Dubljevic, who is not only a three-time All-EuroCup selection, but the competitions all-time scoring leader. He is ably aided by Mike Tobey and Louis Labeyrie, giving Valencia three serious weapons standing 2.05 meters or more. Unicaja's Giorgi Shermadini ranked fifth in the regular season in performance index rating (18.9 per game) and he split the job as starting center with Mathias Lessort. Crvena Zvezda center Michael Ojo ranked second only to Shermadini in per-minute PIR (33.7 prorated over 40 minutes). Ojo does his damage off the bench behind Maik Zirbes with 2.08-meter Mouhammad Faye serving as the regular season's top rebounder with 7.7 per game from the power forward spot. Even though injuries kept Samardo Samuels from the first three games of the season, he delivered at least 9 points in all but one game as a powerful force in the paint for Limoges. Damien Inglis and Jerry Boutsiele give Limoges more options inside.

Three-point aces

Not only will it be hot in the paint, but the four teams of Group G will keep it buzzing on the perimeter, too. The teams are all among the top 10 in terms of three-pointers made and three-point accuracy from the regular season. Unicaja was tied for the league lead with 107 triples. Among the six players with at least 10 threes for Unicaja stood out forwards Adam Waczynski and Kyle Wiltjer with 19 each. Dani Diez (13 threes at 54.2%) was Unicaja's most accurate shooter. Valencia's 100 threes were sixth-most in the competition and it was tied – along with Limoges – for second in terms of three-point accuracy at 42.9%. Valencia guard Sam Van Rossom led Valencia with 19 threes and was second in the regular season among players in three-point accuracy at 61.3%. Zvezda, which ranked seventh with 98 threes, has the regular season's most-prolific three-point sniper in Billy Baron, who led the league with 31 threes. He ranked fifth in accuracy at 54.5%. Limoges, which ranked ninth with 97 threes, turns to forward Isaiah Miles as its three-point ace. Miles, who had games of 5 and 6 threes without a miss in the regular season, is third in the league at 57.6%.

Champions galore

More than just boasting the 2017 7DAYS EuroCup finalists, Unicaja Malaga and Valencia Basket, Group G features a host of players with championships won in intentional competitions at nearly every level. Unicaja still has four players from its EuroCup-winning squad (Alberto Diaz, Dani Diez, Carlos Suarez and Adam Waczynski) and Valencia features three players (Bojan Dubljevic, Rafa Martinez and Sam Van Rossom) from its most-recent EuroCup win in 2014. Zvezda features a pair of former EuroLeague champions in Stratos Perperoglou and Marko Keselj in addition to Coach Milan Tomic, who won the EuroLeague as a player and as an assistant coach with Olympiacos Piraeus. Limoges's Timothee Bazille and William Howard are both Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament winners as are Zvezda's Borisa Simanic and Aleksa Radanov. Valencia players Fernando San Emeterio and Guillem Vives have won gold medals at EuroBasket with Team Spain as has their teammate Antoine Diot with the French national team. There will be champions on the floor in every game in Group G.