Top 16, Group E analysis

Dec 25, 2019 by Print

Group E is made up of traditional teams in European competitions. Segafredo Virtus Bologna has won five continental titles and lifted the EuroLeague trophy in 1998 and 2001. Partizan NIS Belgrade won the EuroLeague in 1992 and owns Korac Cup titles from 1978, 1979 and 1989. Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul won the 7DAYS EuroCup crown in 2017 and even though Dolomiti Energia Trento has not lifted a continental trophy, it reached the EuroCup semifinals in 2016.

Experienced guards

All four teams have experienced players in their backcourt ready to make the difference. Virtus relies on Stefan Markovic and Milos Teodosic to play big roles. Markovic is the EuroCup's all-time leader in assists (548) and steals (177), while Teodosic is the freshly-named EuroCup Regular Season MVP and a former EuroLeague MVP who chosen to the All-EuroLeague teams six times and been to eight Final Fours. Trento features Alessandro Gentile, who has won domestic titles in Italy and Greece and is finding his best level again. Darussafaka has several EuroCup champions in its backcourt, including Kartal Ozmizrak, Dogus Ozdemiroglu and Sinan Guler. Last but not least, Partizan relies on Nemanja Gordic and Reggie Redding to battle against the many experienced guards in this group. Redding was chosen to the 2013-14 All-EuroCup Second Team when he played for ALBA Berlin and Gordic is in his eighth EuroCup campaign with four different teams, all from the Adriatic League. Every mistake will be punished, as all the teams have players who have been at this level before and found success.

Battles on the boards

Three of the best rebounding teams in the regular season are featured in this group. Some of the best rebounders in the competition are also present. Virtus ranked second in rebounds (38.1 rpg.), but only won the rebounding battle in five of its 10 regular-season games. Darussafaka (37.9 rpg.) set a EuroCup record for most defensive rebounds in a non-overtime game (41, against Germani Brescia Leonessa) and tied the second-best mark for most offensive boards (26, against Joventut Badalona) in a EuroCup showdown. Partizan ranked sixth in rebounds (36.9 rpg.) and was even better on the road (38.8 rpg., fourth overall). Trento has rebounded much better at home (36.0 rpg.) than on the road (30.6 rpg.). Johnathan Hamilton of Darussafaka (4.1 orpg.) is in track to break a record for most offensive rebounds in a EuroCup season (76, Vladimir Golubovic, 2013-14 season). Other great rebounders in this group are William Mosley of Partizan (6.1 rpg.), Justin Knox of Trento (6.0 rpg.) and Vince Hunter of Virtus (5.0 rpg., 11.8 rebounds per 40 minutes).

Rim protectors

All four teams are doing a very good job of stopping their opponents to score fluently inside the three-point line. Darussafaka leads the 2019-20 EuroCup with the lowest two-point percentage allowed; opponents have only made 45.5% of their two-point shots against the Turkish powerhouse. The fact that Darussafaka is a strong defensive rebounding side defines its basketball brand - defense, rebounds and easy points in transition. Virtus has well-known scoring talent all over its team and is also doing a great job on defense; opponents make just 46.4% of their two-point shots versus Virtus. Partizan also keeps opponents under 50% inside the arc (49.4%). These three teams excel in road games, as Darussafaka ranks first (43.5%), Partizan second (46.1%) and Virtus fourth (46.8%). Trento, which has allowed its foes to shoot 53.0%, has great defensive numbers in wins (45.0% in five games, fourth overall), but has been poor in losses (60.4%, 23rd overall). In other words, when Trento protects its rim and collapses the paint, it usually wins.

Room for improvement

Every team in Group E must work on its weaknesses to be even more competitive in the Top 16 - and eventually, make it to the playoffs. Darussafaka has struggled to circulate the ball, ranking last in assists at just 13 per game. Guler is its assists leader with just 2.7 per game. Better ball movement will make Darussafaka even more dangerous. Virtus leads all Top 16 teams in turnovers at 15.8 per game. Despite its outstanding assists numbers (20.1 apg., second overall), Virtus has a poor assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27). Cutting down turnovers will make Virtus's transition offense even more efficient. Partizan has struggled from the three-point line (30.9%, 22nd overall) all season long, only hitting over 40% from downtown once - against Tofas Bursa in Round 2. Moreover, Partizan has taken 25.6 three-point shots per game, ranking fourth among Top 16 teams. Trento needs to power the offensive glass more often, as it averages only 9.8 offensive boards per showdown. More second-chance points will raise Trento's already efficient true shooting percentage (48.3%, seventh overall).