Created on 19-03-2021 at 06:45 AM
This season, FC Bayern's basketball players have already met a number of teams that bore the signet "team of the hour". At the very beginning Milan was the hottest team in basketball, later Kaunas and St. Petersburg came in on fire or more recently the streaking Lyon-Villeurbanne. But on Friday evening (20:30 / live on Magenta Sport), a guest will present itself in the Audi Dome for whom the description of being "on fire" would not be sufficient. Rather it should be said that they are simply the best team in Europe at the moment - Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Andrea Trinchieri, Bayern's head coach says: "They are the best team in Europe, they win everything by 20 or at least 15 points. It would be wrong to say they won't be the EuroLeague champions. They play incredibly on both sides of the court and it's fantastic to watch them. In the last five games, the game was over after ten minutes, against big teams like ZSKA, against athletic teams and also against shooting teams. They have undisputedly the best squad - but they also play like it."
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FC Barcelona around all its top stars with Nikola Mirotic may still lead the standings of the top division with a 21-8 record and they're the only team so far - a novelty before the 30th gameday - qualified for the playoffs. Talking heads in Europe are only talking about the Turkish champions, who after an underwhelming start to the season (8-9) and several injuries, have long been regarded as the top favorites for the continental crown. It's just like a year ago, when Efes reached a 24-4 record at the break
The team led by the guard duo of Shane Larkin and Vasilije Micic has won eight in a row and is now already in second place (19-10). Even more fascinating than this interim spurt has been the way Efes has been slicing through opponents' defenses for weeks. Ten wins in eleven games of the second half, interrupted only by a 85-78 loss in St. Petersburg. Seven of the games have seen at least a 20-point difference in the score. Efes' offensive machine can hardly be stopped. Co-favorites ZSKA were dismantled 100-70, as were archrivals Fenerbahce (106-74), Kaunas (89-62), and Tel Aviv (90-66) in Tuesday's make-up game.
On Tesday night in Israel, Efes coach Ergin Ataman stood in front of the microphones afterwards and spoke again of a "perfect game, I don't know what detail we could improve." No one disagreed.
However, a basketball game still involves two teams, and when considering this duel with the big favorites, it must also be included that it was Bayern who sensationally won 74-71 at Efes in November. Wade Baldwin (15 points) and Jalen Reynolds (14) turned around a close game in the final minutes, and the Munich defense shined on a memorable night.
The surprise team so far is Bayern
"Scouting them now, I don't even know where to start," Trinchieri said four months later, "but we'll figure something out. We want to show our best performance, but of course it may not be enough."
Efes also defends at a high level and the offensive potential of their preseason all-star lineup, unchanged even in Corona times, is inexhaustible. NBA candidate Micic (16, ppg, 5 apg) and Larkin (14.8 and 4.3, respectively) lead the scoring, but Krunoslav Simon (10.9 ppg), ex-Maverick Rodrigue Beaubois (9.5), center Bryant Dunston (8.6), his Rhineland colleague Tibor Pleiss (8.7) and Frenchman Adrien Moerman (6,) can take over a game by themselves at any time. In the last four games, Turkish center Sertac Sanli has averaged 14.8 points while hitting 80 percent from the floor. For Coach Trinchieri, Dunston is "the key player, even without the ball in his hands he allows the others to be what they are."
"We have to try to take away their team game".
For their part, Munich has earned the tag of "surprise of the season". "Our EuroLeague campaign has been incredible so far," Trinchieri also stressed. In fifth place (18-11), they will enter their tough remaining schedule with further games in Valencia, against Fenerbahce, Kaunas and in Barcelona. Wade Baldwin (15.3 ppg), Jalen Reynolds (14.4/6.1 rpg), Vladimir Lucic (13.5) & Co. want to show up well and fight for a close game as they almost always do.
"They are simply the best team in Europe. you wait for games like this."
"Compared to the first matchup, they are of course a different team now and are in top shape," Lucic judged. "They have quality in the whole squad, as in Tel Aviv Tibor Pleiss was decisive. So we have to try to take away their team game, with their pick-and-roll and a lot of in-and-out. It's going to be tough and a big challenge, but also a game we're looking forward to."
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