I really think this is going to be, at last, the year of the Turkish teams. It is no good to have seemingly powerful clubs spending loads of money and getting no results. It was damaging for the clubs, but above everything it was very damaging for the status of basketball in Turkey, no doubt a valuable market for the Euroleague. Fenerbahce and Efes look well positioned to get into the quarterfinals.
Let’s start this week with the performance of the Spanish teams. As I anticipated a few weeks ago Unicaja is struggling to keep up with two competitions like Liga Endesa and Euroleague at the same time. In my opinion Joan Plaza is getting an exceptional return on his roster and has to manage very limited resources. Baskonia on the other hand is under little pressure, expectations are low and I think that is helping the team to perform at a very decent level. However Fenerbahce and Efes are my favourites in Group F. CSKA and Olympiacos continue at cruising speed their way to the Final Four.
Group E looks a little easier for the leader, Real Madrid. They are doing their homework, they only lost to Maccabi in Tel-Aviv by a mere 4 points, so they should qualify first of the group. Barcelona looks frail at times and they will have to work hard to get into the second place. They will have to fight their way into the Final Four either in Moscow or in Greece.
I do not see a clear alternative to the usual candidates to the Final Four (the Greek duo, Real Madrid, CSKA, Maccabi) other than the Turkish teams.