Bayern in the EuroLeague at Spanish champion Baskonia Vítoria-Gasteiz

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Andrea Trinchieri's "rock band," as the head coach has dubbed his team, is already back on tour in Europe as on Thursday afternoon, the FC Bayern Basketball squad set off for the Iberian Peninsula. The surprise team of the EuroLeague will be hosting Spanish champion Baskonia Vítoria-Gasteiz on the 29th gameday in the top league. The game kicks off at 19:00 on Friday (March 12), with MagentaSport on the air at 18:45. On Sunday, the Audi Dome will host the Bundesliga duel with the Baskets from Oldenburg (18:00.)


Wednesday morning at 4 a.m. Bayern arrived at the Audi Dome from their Lower Saxony tour with games against Vechta and Braunschweig, and on Thursday morning the preparations for Baskonia began. The Munich team can once again expect to face a very physical home team that needs nothing but a win in the fight for the playoffs and has held its opponents to under 70 points and an average of 28 percent from three in its past three home games. The Basques are in tenth place with a  record of 14-14 putting them two wins behind Saint Petersburg (16-11) in a spot for the playoffs. The FCBB (18-10) are in a good spot in the standings with their outstanding season so far, winning the hard-fought first matchup 77-66.


The Basques are fighting for the playoffs again after going 5-1 in their last six games - Center Fall measures over 7ft tall
The team of Vítoria's veteran coach Dusko Ivanovic has started an impressive recovery in recent weeks: Five wins in a row were strung together before they lost 71-57 at league leader FC Barcelona last week after holding their own for a large portion of the game (40-40/24th). The playoffs are traditionally the aspiration for the club since they've reached the knockout round 13 times since 2000/2001 (two final appearances, four semifinals).

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Andrea Trinchieri says: "Baskonia's home court is one of the most difficult in Europe, many great teams have lost there over the years. I remember that even Fenerbahce with Zeljko Obradovic once lost there by 35 points. You sometimes get the impression that they are running downhill at home, they have an incredible pace in their hall. So we have to take care of two things in particular: How they run and their size, because their guards and bigs have tremendous length. We have to defend their long guys in transition as well." And then more specifically, "Defending their offense in the first seven seconds is key. We ourselves have to reduce the number of times we lose the ball and have good shot selection. Because our defense starts the offense. And of course you need good legs to run back."

The current season for the four-time Spanish champion started with the departure of star Tornike Shengelia (after six years to ZSKA Moscow). Proven playmaker Luca Vildoza (10.6 ppg, 3.7 apg) and fellow guard Pierra Henry (9.9 ppg) now lead the team while the Frenchman is the second-best provider of assists in the entire competition with 7.3 per game and also the best ball thief (1.8 Stpg) in the EuroLeague, ahead of Vildoza (1.6).

The top scorers are US forward Alec Peters and former Berliner Rokas Giedraitis (11.8 ppg each). So again FCBB will meet a frontcourt with a lot of length, besides the shooter, Italian power forward Achille Polonara (11.1 ppg) the tough players to guard will likely be Tonye Jekiri (6ft10) and Youssoupha Fall (7ft)

"Bayern has yet to win at Baskonia (0-2)," FCBB top scorer Wade Baldwin (15.4 ppg) knows, "but I think we've managed to do some new things this season. Hopefully we can continue that on Friday."


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