After lazily posting the BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™ for Wednesday’s Euroleague games solely on Twitter – and going four for four picking winners, naturally – BiE returns the prognostication to its proper place, namely here. Following, then, brief takes on each of tonight’s seven matches.
Unics Kazan vs. FC Barcelona Regal – An easy one to start with, then. BiE will go with Barcelona, 79-64. There’s an interesting non-basketball tangent for this one, as the Britain-based Daily Mirror reckons the Euroleague game tonight could have an effect on Europa League football: “Spurs will benefit from the fact that the 26,000-seater stadium is expected to be half-full due to a clash between the city’s basketball team, Unics Kazan, who are hosting Barcelona’s basketball side.” Hmmm…
Fenerbahçe Ülker vs. SLUC Nancy – Tell you who’s rooting for Fenerbahçe in this one: Caja Laboral. If Nancy loses tonight, a nasty four-way tie results in the race for positions 3 and 4 in Group A. With Akin Akingbala likely to sit out with an ankle injury, surely the Turkish side will have enough to make it so. Official BiE Fearless Prediction™: Fenerbahçe Ülker 77, SLUC Nancy 67.
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Real Madrid – Israel-based Haaretz reports that Maccabi head coach David Blatt is “wary ahead of Real Madrid game,” but he seems fairly long-term minded and relaxed about his team’s lackluster start in this Euroleague season: “Maccabi has undergone some serious changes this season and we’re building ourselves slowly. We might not be at the peak of our game, but with some serious and professional work, we’ll get there. It will just take us some more time.” This week might be good in this game with long-term implications for Group C, but Madrid is just too hot right now. Official BiE Fearless Prediction™: Real Madrid 82, Maccabi Tel Aviv 78.
Bennet Cantu vs. Bizkaia Bilbao Basket – Tweeted Euroleague scribe Javier Gancedo earlier today on this one: “Difícil de pronosticar. Más talento el Bilbao, más experiencia Cantu, con una afición increíble. Ojo Leunen vs Banic.” BiE’ll take the experience and the home-court advantage, saying Cantu by six points.
Partizan Belgrade vs. Spirou Charleroi – Partizan has yet to beat a Euroleague team this season in three chances. That will change tonight. Official BiE Fearless Prediction™: Partizan Belgrade by 16. Bonus prediction: Nikola Pekovic is your EL player of the week for week three.
Emporio Armani Milano vs. Anadolu Efes – Said Efes point guard Kerem Tunçeri: “Last week, by losing to Belgacom Spirou, we lost an important advantage. Emporio Armani Milan is a new team like us. They have very good players.” True, all true … except Tunçeri forgot to mention that Milano has gelled rapidly to become one of the better teams early on in the Euroleague season, while Efes has turned the ball over 32 times in two games, a number “topped” only by Zalgiris Kaunas, KK Zagreb, Partizan and Bizkaia Bilbao. BiE says Milano keeps rolling, Efes keeps stumbling; Milano 90, Anadolu Efes 76.
Brose Baskets Bamberg vs. Unicaja Malaga – After the Maccabi-Madrid match, this should be the one to match with two evenly-matched sides and three tiers perhaps already established in Group B.
BiE admits to a bit of a copout here and so went to Germany-based heinnews for thoughts. Says Mr. Hein: “Well, this is an early must game for Bamberg, who can’t afford to lose the home games if they want to advance. It appears to be a three-way race for third and fourth place. Zagreb are not at the same level, so that means you need to beat Unicaja, especially after the blowout against CSKA. They want to show they are not that bad. Tibor Pleiss and Marcus Slaughter will have to do a good job on Joel Freeland, who appears right now to be in great form.” (Indeed, Freeland was named the ACB’s player of the month for October.)
On the plus side for the German side, Hein notes that “Bamberg got healthy, though, with a 30-point blowout at Phoenix Hagen” in Bundesliga play. Can Pleiss and Slaughter together with Brian Roberts, Julius Jenkins and Karsten Tadda bring enough defense to slow Freeland, Kristap Valters and one deep Unicaja team? Ah, BiE don’t call ‘em “Fearless Predictions” for nothing … Brose Baskets Bamberg 78, Unicaja Malaga 75.