The Top 16 has only just started, but tonight’s duel with Olympiacos is of utmost importance. It could make all the difference in deciding which sides progress from the group, and one thing is for sure. Barça cannot afford to lose at home. Being strong at the Palau Blaugrana is essential at this stage of the competition, where any defeat can be very costly indeed. But Barça can take comfort from the fact that their only home defeat in the competition this season was against CSKA Moscow in an ultimately meaningless fixture.
But Olympiacos of Piraeus are the same foe that put an end to Barça’s Final Four challenge last season. Since then, they have lost a key man in Joey Dorsey, but recent signing Giorgi Shermadini has covered for much of what they have been missing. But the man who is performing best on the continental stage is Vassilis Spanoulis, who’s averaging 16.3 points a game and 5.5 assists. Stopping the veritable brains in the Greek club’s roster is never an easy task, for we are talking about a man who is scoring 50% of his two-point attempts and 41% of his threes.
Other than the potent guard, three other players worthy of special caution are Kyle Hines, the 1.98 metre centre who’s getting 10 points and 6 rebounds a game, small forward Kostas Papanikolaou, with 10 points and a 52% rate for shooting threes, and power forward Giorgios Printezis, the former Unicaja man who’s averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Navarro aiming for three grand
Juan Carlos Navarro has two tournament records in his sights. The first is to beat former FCB man Gianluca Basile’s record for 3-pointers. The Italian has bagged a career total of 421 triples, while Navarro currently has 417. As Armani Jeans Milan are already out of the competition, Navarro now has a free reign to set a new landmark.
The FCB captain could also become the first player to score 3000 points in the Euroleague. He only needs 11 more to get there, and as he has hit double figures in eight of the nine games played so far this season, there is a good chance that he’ll make it against Olympiacos tonight.
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