In a clash of two teams looking to end losing streaks, Zalgiris hosts Valencia on Friday night. The Lithuanian champs have lost six in a row, but played well in their most-recent defeat on the road in overtime at CSKA Moscow. Valencia has dropped two in a row and is winless in six road games this season.
Bojan Dubljevic is Valencia's unquestioned leader and a versatile big man who can control games in a variety of ways. To successfully defend Dubljevic, one needs height, speed and strength and Zalgiris center Jock Landale may have just the right mix. A EuroLeague rookie, Landale's game has taken a step up in recent weeks; he has averaged 12.6 points and 7.0 rebounds over his last five games and those numbers are quite close to Dubljevic's (13.8 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) norm. Their duel in the paint should be entertaining.
Back to where it all started
Valencia forward Brock Motum broke into the EuroLeague as a Zalgiris player five years ago and has been playing at Europe's top-level ever since. He helped Zalgiris to back-to-back EuroLeague championships in 2016 and 2017, played under Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and was a teammate of current Zalgiris players Paulius Jankunas, Edgaras Ulanovas, Lukas Lekavicius and Arturas Milaknis. Motum will also face another Australian big man, Jock Landale, in his return to Kaunas, too.
Keys to victory: Zalgiris
Zalgiris has been very effective in the paint in certain areas; it is second in the league in offensive rebounds (12.0) and leads the competition in both fouls drawn (264) and free throws made (193). However, Zalgiris is 14th in two-point shooting (49.9%) and Valencia commits the second-fewest fouls in the league (221). The hosts need to shoot better inside and from mid-range and be aggressive against a team that doesn't foul often to snap their losing streak.
Keys to victory: Valencia
Valencia is essentially a league-average team on offense; its scoring average of 79.2 points is tied for ninth in the league – right in the middle. However, it is 4-0 when the team scored more than 80 points. Conversely, Zalgiris is 2-5 when it fails to score 80 and has been held below 70 on three occasions. Those are numbers that should give Zalgiris confidence.
Marius Grigonis is out indefinitely after the foot surgery. Rokas Jokubaitis injured his ankle and will be out for 3-4 weeks.