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Marcelinho / PHOTO: ÁLEX CAPARRÓS - FCB

This Thursday Barça Regal will play its second match of the Euroleague’s Top 16, against Khimki Moscow (17.00, Esport3). It will be a complicated match for a couple of reasons. First, because Rimas Kurtinaitis’ men have yet to lose at home in the first phase of the European competition (they’ve hosted Panathinaikos, Fenerbahçe and Real Madrid). Second, Barça Regal’s last two games have been brilliant, but both of them were at the Palau. Today’s match will be a good test for the Blaugrana as they play away from home. Third, one of Barça Regal’s best players, Juan Carlos Navarro, will miss the match due to injury.

Stopping the Croatian playmaker

30-year-old Zoran Planinic, Khimki Moscow’s two-meter tall point guard, has come into amazing form while in Russia. He links up well with fantastic shooters like Fridzon, Rivers and Monya, and he knows when to take the shot and when to make a pass. He’s averages 13.4 points and 6 assists per game. His only deficiency is his accuracy from the three-point line. He’s scored 3 three pointers out of 21 attempts.

In addition to a very complete exterior game, the Russians are very powerful in the paint. James Augustine and Paul Davis make up a solid pairing in the middle and they’re fantastic when it comes to snagging offensive rebounds. Both players have played in the ACB League and the Blaugrana know what their strong and weak points are.

No previous encounters

This Thursday will be the first match between Barça Regal and Khimki. The men managed by the Lithuanian Rimas Kurtinaitis have featured in the Euroleague three times since 2006. In their last two appearances, the Russias were eliminated in the first phase (2010/11) and in the Top 16 round (2009/10). This season, however, they have an extremely powerful side.

Barça Regal, the highest valued team in the Euroleague with an index of 94.81 points, will look to win their second victory in the Top 16 round and break Khimki’s undefeated streak at home.

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