First in Milan, Friday against Red Star: FCBB faces hot Euro week
There are still five games to go before the conclusion of the EuroLeague regular season that, from Bayern Basketball's point of view it resembles a strange mixture of industrial accidents and other dramas. "We had three covid outbursts, plus all the injuries, that's probably a world record," said head coach Andrea Trinchieri, slightly fatalistic after the liberating return to theAudi Dome court against Crailsheim (93-64).
The catastrophe, the Italian also knows, is currently also taking place elsewhere and has affected the Munich team positively with the temporary exclusion of Russian teams. This means that the FCBB is now even more in the middle of the playoff race than before. But it is also a fact that Bayern (12-11) has only one home game left, on Friday (1.4., 20:30) against Red Star Belgrade - the rest will take place away, starting with the tough trip to Milan on Tuesday evening (20:30).
Irrespective of the fact that Bayern has (not only) last year's playoff spectacle in common with Olimpia, the Munich team is going "from game to game" more than ever before and refraining from making predictions. "At the moment, the goal is to master the next day," is how Trinchieri puts it. It will be hard enough in Milan: Thanks to its 17-8 record, fourth-placed Olimpia is one of the quartet with Barça, Real and Olympiakos that has already booked the playoffs and is planning for another Final Four appearance.
"With Barcelona, the best team in Europe at the moment"
"Milan, together with Barcelona, is the best team in Europe at the moment," the 53-year-old said of his hometown hosts, explaining: "Their squad is incredibly deep, talented, play hard and are very well coached. They showed all that again recently in their win at Efes. Our situation is a bit different, we need to regain our rhythm and hopefully to collectively become healthy after our season has been disastrous so far. But we're not complaining and we'll put up a great fight again, as we always do, I'm convinced of that."
Last week in Istanbul, Milan won 83-77 at the defending champions despite trailing by 15 points at the break. The number of turnovers in the second half in front of around 12,000 Efes fans: zero. There, top scorer Shevon Shields (12.3 ppg) made his comeback after a long injury.
Milan's experienced all-star squad with Nicolo Melli (8.2 ppg), Sergio Rodriguez (8.4), Malcolm Delaney (9.8), Konstantinos Mitoglou (7.6), Luigi Datome (6.7) and the great Kyle Hines in his last season (8.3) is balanced; former Bamberg player Devon Hall (10.1) is also part of a defensively strong ensemble that allows an average of only 71.6 points.
First-place in Italy
In the Italian Serie A, Olimpia (19-3) already defended its lead in the standings on Saturday with a 95-77 win over Varese.
"We have a tough game ahead of us against a very experienced squad that plays very well, especially at home," Bayern playmaker Zan Mark Sisko said. "We unfortunately don't have much time to prepare for this game, but I am confident that with the right focus, concentration and a lot of energy we will have our chance. We will throw everything in to win this game."
Bayern still have to plan without their best defender Nick Weiler-Babb (concussion) and the use of Othello Hunter, Andreas Obst and Corey Walden remains uncertain after the recent forced breaks.