Fenerbahçe, Efes host rivals Khimki, Zalgiris

Published 16.10.2018 23:50

Turkish Airlines EuroLeague's second round kicks off today as Fenerbahçe hosts Khimki Moscow and Anadolu Efes takes on Zalgiris Kaunas. Both Turkish sides won their first round matches and are lacking to carry their momentum forward

Fenerbahçe started the season in style by routing Herbalife Gran Canaria behind a monster game from Round 1 MVP Jan Vesely. Khimki got a magnificent opening round effort from Alexey Shved but was undone at home by Olympiacos Piraeus.

For Fenerbahçe, another big man, Joffrey Lauvergne, had a big debut, while Khimki's new center Jordan Mickey failed to make as big an impact in his first game. Their respective efforts today could have a major impact on the game.

Kostas Sloukas is a three-time EuroLeague champion and a team leader. Alexey Shved is one of the top scorers in the game of basketball and his team's leader. Sloukas's determination and innate defensive abilities will make things tougher for Shved, though by now it's clear that there is no stopping the reigning Ford Trophy winner. How much Sloukas can slow Shved down will play a factor in this game.

Between Vesely and Shved, this game features the Round 1 leaders in performance index rating (Vesely with 34) and in scoring (Shved with 34). Both are All-EuroLeague players and starting the season in style.

Can they both keep it up? With four scorers in double figures and three more with seven-eight points, Fenerbahçe got help up and down the lineup in its first game. Keeping such balance and having virtually 80 minutes of punishing production in the paint from Vesely, Lauvergne, Ahmet Düverioğlu and Nicolo Melli puts Fenerbahçe in the driver's seat, especially at home.

No team scored fewer points in Round 1 than Khimki and no player in the league scored more points than Shved. Combine the two facts and you see that Khimki's other players struggled last week. Only Anthony Gill came close to providing his expected numbers. Coach Bartzokas must find ways to get the rest of his rotation players involved to have a chance at winning in Istanbul.

The other Turkish team, Anadolu Efes, will host Zalgiris Kaunas today. The two teams had opposite luck on opening week – Efes won, Zalgiris lost – and now meet in Istanbul for a game that promises to be as intense as they come.

Efes defeated Bayern in style on the road, while Zalgiris lost at home to Baskonia. One team will look to set a trend in front of its fans while the other will look to revert its luck on the road.

Big men Adrien Moerman and Aaron White will have a tough battle against each other in the paint. The former shined in the opening week with 11 points and 4 rebounds while the latter struggled for seven points and three boards. Expect both the take the level up a notch in this electrifying duel.

Paulius Jankunas is just two games short of becoming the fourth player in history to play 300 EuroLeague games. This game against Efes will be his 299th. In front of him are Juan Carlos Navarro (341), Felipe Reyes (323) and Nikos Zisis (310).

Efes will look to keep its perfect start in Munich rolling with this first home game. If the Istanbul team can maintain the 60 percent from the arc it featured in that opening game and spreads the points the same way, with five players in double digits, it will be hard to stop.

Zalgiris started with a loss after the season in which it returned to the Final Four. The team knows it's hard to catch up in this format, so it will have to make up for that home loss quickly. The Kaunas team will have to crash the boards harder and surpass the 21 rebounds it pulled down in Round 1, which was the second lowest mark of any team last week.

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