The showdown between ALBA Berlin and FC Barcelona can be seen from many interesting angles. One of them features a clash of shooters between former teammates Marcus Eriksson, who played for Barcelona in the past, and Alex Abrines.
Eriksson is playing his second season with ALBA, but made his EuroLeague debut with Barcelona in 2015. He left Barcelona to join Herbalife Gran Canaria, and returned to the EuroLeague with that team in the 2018-19 season. Abrines is playing his second stint and sixth season with Barcelona. He started his EuroLeague career with Unicaja Malaga, joining Barcelona in 2012 and helping the team reach consecutive Final Fours in 2013 and 2014. Abrines left in 2016 season only to return to Barcelona in 2019 to showcasing his shooting skills.
Eriksson and Abrines are considered two of the best three-point shooters in Europe. Both were born in 1993 and were teammates in Barcelona in the 2015-16 season. Eriksson, however, saw limited playing time and his second stint in the EuroLeague has been very different. In the last three seasons, Eriksson ranks sixth in three-point shots made, 129, with a stellar percentage (44.0%). He did not even go to the free throw line in 25 EuroLeague appearances with Barcelona. Since then, Eriksson has hit 63-of-71 free throws (88.7%).
Right in the prime of his career, Abrines is also shooting the ball much better these days. In his first five EuroLeague seasos, from 2011 to 2016, Abrines hit 113 of 314 three-point shots (36.0%). Since his return, he has gone 42-for-93 from downtown. He ranks 16th in three-point accuracy (45.2%) in the last two seasons, and only five players with better percentages have taken triples than him: Shane Larkin, Daniel Hackett, Anthony Randolph, Krunoslav Simon... and Eriksson (46.6%).
Abrines has played more games (128) than Eriksson (80) and has also scored more points (686) than him (654). In the last two seasons, however, since Abrines returned to the competition. Eriksson had better numbers, leading his former teammate in scoring (11.8 ppg., Abrines 5.9 ppg.) and three-point shots made (58, Abrines 42). Abrines, however, leads in rebounds (72-45) despite seeing less playing time; Eriksson has been on court for 635 minutes over those two seasons, Abrines for just 500.
Focusing on this season only, both Abrines and Eriksson are shooting the ball like never before. Eriksson has been unstoppable from all angles, burying 62.6% of his shots inside the arc, 46.4% from downtown, and all 6 of his free throws. Abrines has been equally efficient, hitting 87.5% two-point shots, 42.9% three-pointers and 75.0% from the foul line.
Eriksson and players had never faced each other in EuroLeague action until last season. Eriksson missed ALBA's game at Palau Blaugrana, in which Abrines had 8 points to lead Barcelona to a 103-84 win. In Berlin, Barcelona edged ALBA 80-84 behind 17 points from Abrines, who only missed one shot. Eriksson had 11 points for the hosts.
As such, it is a great chance to see two great three-point shooters in their prime. Both of them have improved their game to become more than just pure shooters and will be ready to prove that on Thursday. Sit back, relax and enjoy this exciting matchup at Mercedes-Benz Arena.