EuroLeague squad, Baskonia Vítoria visits the Audi Dome on Wednesday

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After two victories in the EuroLeague at Zenit and on Sunday in the BBL top game against Oldenburg (79-58), the Bayern basketball team wants to follow up with more success. After the German champs "showed character" (Sports Director Daniele Baiesi) with the 77-68 win in St. Petersburg and against cup finalists Oldenburg after a "bottomless first half" (Alex King) with a 50-17 statement after the break, the current schedule is quite a challenge: A "Spanish double game day" in the EuroLeague and at the end of the week the BBL rivalry game in Bayreuth - all this in five days.

Tickets FCBB vs. Baskonia Vítoria-Gasteiz

The program in detail: On Wednesday evening (March 4), the Spanish representative Baskonia Vítoria-Gasteiz will make a guest appearance in the Audi Dome with tipoff at 20:30. The morning after, the FCBB team will set off for an away game against one of the candidates for the title in the premier class, FC Barcelona under coach Svetislav Pesic (Friday, 21:00). And after returning on Saturday, they will travel directly from the airport by bus at midday to the next BBL game on Sunday (15:00) in Bayreuth.

Friday at FC Barcelona, Sunday in Bayreuth
"We know the program, it will certainly not be easy, but we will prepare for everything and go from game to game", said Oliver Kostic. The coach is hoping for Petteri Koponen's return this week after his thigh problems, "he is already feeling much better," the Serb said. The Finn is not yet scheduled against Baskonia. Nihad Djedovic (ankle), on the other hand, "will be absent at least until the end of the month", according to further tests on Monday. The experienced guard twisted his ankle in training before the Efes home game.

Oliver Kostic: "This is of course hard, but we get used to these things, they are part of it. And the most important thing for me is that the team has always shown character in the end. We proved that with a good team spirit everyone can be replaced."

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While the BBL-leaders wants to improve their balance in the EuroLeague to nine victories, Vítoria (10-16) is still fighting for the fourth play-off spot in a row. A win in Munich is almost a must for the Spaniards, given that they are two wins behind play-off places seven and eight, which are currently occupied by Khimki Moscow and Valencia ahead of Fenerbahce Istanbul (all 12-14). 

Co-captain Vladimir Lucic, who played for Valencia in Spain's ACB for three years, said: "It's always very difficult against them, their top performers have been together for a number of years. We suffered particularly in the first matchup in rebounding but they have three players in position five who are around 2.10, 2.20 meteres (6'11). That's one of their qualities and we just have to box out better, and each of us has to be involved."

The guests also changed coaches some time ago. The well-travelled Montenegrin Dusko Ivanovic, 62, formerly with FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Khimki and also previously on the bench in Vítoria has four wins from eleven games. Last week, Red Star Belgrade were convincingly defeated, with top scorer Tornike Shengelia (15.7ppg, 5.6 apg) leading his side 71-56 as usual.

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"Especially in the home games, rebounds are crucial"               
The upward trend is also slowly continuing in the Spanish ACB, with an away win on Saturday after two extra-time periods in Fuenlabrada (98-92), which saw Baskonia move back into the playoff ranks as eighth. Forward Shengelia shone with 32 points and 13 rebounds while distance shooter Matt Jenning scored 19 points and Nigerian center Michael Eric eleven. 

The Bavarians lost the first matchup 93-60 and the statistics are basically on a par: Vítoria has a slight advantage in rebounds (34.9 to 31.1), while the Bavarians have a slight advantage in three point shooting (38.4 to 32.7%) and assists (16.7 to 13.5).

"Baskonia is a very experienced, physical team and they still have a chance of reaching the playoffs. They have improved in recent games, especially on defense" said coach Kostic. He continued: "Shengelia is their key player, we have to limit him as much as possible. It will be important for us to bring a full 40 minutes of energy and fight. Especially when it comes to rebounding, it's not only size that counts, but also how aggressively you approach the ball. Especially in the home game the rebounds are crucial. Teamwork is very important."                          

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